Huddersfield 1 Brighton 1: Terriers held but still plenty for Powell to savour

Jacob Butterfield of Huddersfield Town outpaces Lewis Dunk of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Jacob Butterfield of Huddersfield Town outpaces Lewis Dunk of Brighton and Hove Albion.
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IT is probably a measure of Huddersfield Town’s recent upturn that a point against a side who have finished in the play-offs in the previous two campaigns will represent a disappointment to some.

For the second season running, Town and the visiting Seagulls played out a 1-1 draw and while the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo may have wreaked havoc across parts of the country last night, there was a bit of a lull at the John Smith’s Stadium.

But given Town’s recent statistics, it is only right to adopt the glass-is-half-full philosophy with Chris Powell’s side extending their unbeaten run to five Championship matches, their best second-tier sequence since September 2012.

After a pitiful and painful derby loss at Leeds United on September 20, Town have battened down the hatches impressively since and come out of the other side somewhat rejuvenated, if still representing a work in progress as Powell is the first to acknowledge.

Scenting a third successive home league win, a somewhat rare occurence during their Championship tenure, Town had to settle for one on a raw Yorkshire night.

But their points tally of 11 from their last five matches is still a pretty commendable haul, especially given in the context of Town pocketing just five from their opening eight league outings of a season which had all the signs of being an extremely long one just a month ago.

It was a nearly night for Town, who lacked their free-flowing rhythm which saw them almost toy with poor Blackpool at times on Saturday, as lowly Brighton recorded their third away draw on the spin and fifth in their last six matches.

But on an evening when Nahki Wells was kept in reserve, flashes arrived from Sean Scannell and Harry Bunn.

Grant Holt, imperious at the weekend, had a quieter time of it, but the positive winds of change are still apparent at Town.

While their ferocious opening yielded three goals against another side down on their luck in Blackpool on Saturday, the hosts – unchanged from that fixture – had to settle for one last night as the flakey-looking Brighton defence was breached on 10 minutes.

Scannell teed up Tommy Smith, whose low cross was seized upon by Jacob Butterfield, whose first-time shot bounced off the crossbar and seemingly over the line.

Few complaints arrived from the visitors despite some momentary doubt among the crowd and a goal was given.

For all Brighton’s early possession and considered passing approach, their attacking sting was the equivalent of a butterfly, with Town the more incisive.

Genuine chances were at a premium, but the semblance of threat and intensity was there for the hosts, with the best Brighton could offer being a meek header from the recalled Chris O’Grady which was held by Alex Smithies.

But relief was at hand for the Seagulls out of nothing on 39 minutes, with centre-back and top-scorer Lewis Dunk providing an emphatic finish not in keeping with their tentative efforts for the majority of the half to level.

For the second game running, Town conceded in the lead-up to the interval, with their defence failing to clear Jake Forster-Caskey’s corner – there was a suspicion of handball in the build up – but Dunk needed no second invitation to blast in his fifth goal of the season from close range.

Bunn tested David Stockdale’s reactions with a low shot moments before the break and a rasping strike from Jack Robinson tested the Yorkshireman’s mettle early in the second half and laid down a marker.

Town were trying to turn the screw, but Brighton regrouped and regathered their composure before Holt’s acrobatic effort was held by Stockdale as the hosts sought to regain the advantage.

Bunn then fired a shot straight at Stockdale, with Brighton seemingly content to soak up any vestiges of pressure and get men behind the ball and threaten on the counter-attack.

An offside flag denied the hitherto anonymous Sam Baldock in the final 10 minutes as Albion, urged to fight to the death by their under-pressure manager Hyppia, spied a decent night perhaps turning into a special one.

It nearly turned into that when substitute Adrian Colunga’s long-range shot clipped the crossbar before ex-Seagulls defender Joel Lynch diverted Inigo Calderon’s cross narrowly over his own crossbar.

Kazenga Lualua received his second booking in stoppage time for fouling Conor Coady.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Smith, Hudson, Lynch, Robinson; Hogg, Butterfield, Coady; Scannell (Ward 86), Holt, Bunn. Unused substitutes: Murphy, Dixon, Wallace, Wells, Paterson, Peltier.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Stockdale; Calderon, Greer, Dunk, Chicksen; Holla (Ince 73), Forster-Caskey, Gardner; Baldock, LuaLua; O’Grady (Colunga 73). Unused substitutes: Ankergren, Hughes, Toko, Agustien, McCourt.

Referee: G Sutton (Lincolnshire).