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FULL-TIME: Huddersfield Town 2 Blackburn Rovers 4
JORDAN Rhodes came back to haunt his former club as he scored the second hat-trick of his Ewood Park career to ensure Rovers returned to winning ways after a three-match losing run.
Stand-in skipper Rhodes, who netted 87 goals in 148 appearances for Huddersfield before his club record £8m move to Rovers in August 2012, broke the deadlock early on before Adam Hammill equalised in the 25th minute.
Rhodes, who now has 20 goals for the season, put Gary Bowyer’s battling side back in front in the 55th minute before Craig Conway extended their advantage 10 minutes later.
Nahki Wells gave the Terriers hope when he reduced the deficit in the 71st minute.
But Rhodes ensured there was to be no nervy finish when he notched his third goal of the game nine minutes from time.
Rovers made three changes to the team that started the midweek 1-0 home loss to Bournemouth as the fit-again Matt Kilgallon replaced injured captain Grant Hanley and Lee Williamson and David Dunn came in for Todd Kane and Luke Varney.
Kane and Varney were called into the action before an eventful first half was out, however, as Jason Lowe and then, most seriously, Rudy Gestede, came off to add to Bowyer’s never-ending injury woes.
The Rovers boss cut a happier figure in the fourth minute, though, when Rhodes showed his old employers what they are missing with a clinical finish.
Gestede beat Huddersfield captain Peter Clarke to a raking Michael Keane pass and flicked his header into the path of Rhodes, who slipped past Murray Wallace on the edge of the area before sending Alex Smithies the wrong way.
Rovers, with Lowe playing at right-back and Dunn operating at the tip of a midfield diamond, had the bit between their teeth and it was a compliment to them that Terriers boss Mark Robins was quick to switch the 3-5-2 formation he had started the match with.
But not before Rhodes and Dunn had stung the hands of Smithies, who then caught a looping Tommy Spurr header from a Conway corner from underneath his own crossbar.
Huddersfield missed an excellent chance to equalise in the 23rd minute when the unmarked Clarke headed an inswinging Hammill corner wide when he should have at least hit the target.
But his blushes were spared two minutes later when a quickly taken free-kick ended with Hammill, who had switched from right-wingback to the left wing, cutting inside and sending over a curling cross-shot which beat Paul Robinson all ends up before nestling in the bottom corner.
Rovers then lost Lowe and Gestede, who remained prone on the ground for several minutes after an aerial clash with Clarke before being stretchered off and taken to hospital.
The game, understandably, lost its momentum.
But before the nine added minutes were up both sides had chances to go in front with Wells dragging wide after a good through ball from Jonathan Hogg before a downward Spurr header from a deep Conway corner was hacked away at his near post by Smithies, who then pushed a Varney angled attempt past the post.
The hosts were faster out of the traps after the break and after Keane nearly put through his own goal, Danny Ward blazed wastefully over after Robinson had denied Wells, who then lifted another good opportunity over.
But it was Rovers, who had switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, who went back in front against the run of play in the 55th minute when Conway escaped down the right before cutting back on to his right foot and standing a cross up to the back post for Rhodes to loop a header in off the post.
And 10 minutes later the impressive Conway got in on the act as he collected a pass from Keane, drove forward and let fly with a 25-yard, left-footed drive which Smithies should have done better than help it on its way in off the upright.
Moments earlier Robinson had done brilliantly to prevent Keane from heading into his own goal.
But the former England number one was beaten when substitute James Vaughan headed the ball down to Wells, who spun Kilgallon before hammering in first time to end his nine-game dry spell.
But any hope the Terriers had of getting back into the match were dashed 10 minutes later when Adam Clayton, under pressure from Williamson, horribly lost possession 20 yards from his own goal.
The lurking Rhodes did not need asking twice as he brought the ball under his control before firing an unerring shot past Smithies to complete a superbly taken treble and get Rovers’ season back on track.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Smith, Clarke, Wallace, Hammill (Bunn 90), Norwood (Scannell 68), Clayton, Hogg, Dixon, Ward (Vaughan 68), Wells. Subs not used: Bennett, Woods, Gobern, Southern.
Goals: Hammill 25, Wells 71.
Rovers: Robinson, Lowe (Kane 26), Keane, Kilgallon, Spurr, Dunn (Taylor 74), Evans, Williamson, Conway, Gestede (Varney 34), Rhodes. Subs not used: Eastwood, Olsson, Feeney, Dabo.
Goals: Rhodes 4, 55, 81, Conway 65.
Referee: David Webb.
Attendance: 13, 311.
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