Huddersfield Town 2 Brighton 1: Terriers shock leaders

HUDDERSFIELD Town's players put down a promotion marker with this performance, and laid to rest any doubts about their character and motivation.

This defeat of pacesetters Brighton proved that Town can mix it with the best – and triumph.

A month ago Town were steamrollered by a physical Oldham side and the players had a public dressing down from chairman Dean Hoyle.

Hoyle's intervention rocked the club but once the story of the season is written his heartfelt rebuke could be hailed a master-stroke.

Three wins in four matches since, and a hugely impressive come-from-behind victory against the best side in the division sets Town up for a tilt at the title.

Brighton were not expected to be as robust as Oldham but the strong-arm tactics were evident and Town showed themselves more than ready to square up.

So much so there were some feisty confrontations during the game and on the pitch after the final whistle.

Midfielder Joey Gudjonsson spoke for the dressing room when he said: "This shows we are prepared to battle and that we can play good football as well.

"We showed we have plenty of spirit and tremendous character to come back from a goal down.

"We have set our standard with this performance and we need to maintain the tempo and intensity going forward."

This most significant result of the season sent the club towards the second half of the campaign in great heart.

The main talking point came in the 36th minute when Town captain Peter Clarke was ruled to have brought down Glenn Murray.

Clarke was booked and Brighton chief Gus Poyet brandished an imaginary red card, sparking the fury of Town fans and officials alike.

Town manager Lee Clark was unimpressed and hinted that Poyet's posturing was beneath a man of his stature, even given the heat of a promotion showdown.

Murray took the spot-kick but goalkeeper Alex Smithies guessed right and pulled off a great save.

New Zealand striker Chris Wood, on loan from West Brom, gave Town problems and he had three chances to open the scoring before Murray made amends for his penalty miss in the 54th minute.

Elliott Bennett crossed from the right and Murray slotted under Smithies ahead of back-tracking defender Lee Peltier.

Town hit back immediately with a set-piece routine. Gary Roberts's free-kick allowed Jordan Rhodes to plant a downward header past former Leeds goalkeeper Casper Ankergren and Town were level.

The game could have gone either way after that with Poyet insisting his side had done more than enough to at least avoid only their third league defeat of the season.

Town's persistence paid off when Gudjonsson's deflected shot fell nicely for centre-back Jamie McCombe to head over Ankergren with seven minutes remaining.

Ankergren went up for a couple of late corners but Town held firm and Gudjonsson said: "This is a victory we all want to build on."

Poyet tried to blame referee Andy Haines for his side's defeat and said: "The noise of the stadium got into the head of the referee. He started making decisions for Manchester United at Old Trafford."

Clarke's yellow card was his fifth meaning he misses tomorrow's Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern semi-final at Tranmere.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Peltier, McCombe, P Clarke, Carey (Ridehalgh 49); Pilkington, Johnson (Gudjonsson 46), Kay, Roberts; Garner (Afobe 59), Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Bennett, Arfield, Lee, Novak.

Brighton: Ankergren; Calderon, Greer, El-Abd, Painter; Bridcutt, Kishishev (Smith 72), Dicker (Sandaza 86), Bennett; Murray, Wood (Barnes 67). Unused substitutes: Brezovan, Elphick, Sparrow, Taricco.

Referee: A Haines (Tyne & Wear).

Man of the match: Gary Roberts.

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