ON the opening day of last season, a fancied side from the south coast came to Huddersfield Town and went ahead inside just 25 seconds.
Marc Pugh was the goalscorer for Bournemouth, who went on to condemn the Terriers to a 4-0 loss –the club’s heaviest to kick off a season in 21 years – and prompt manager Mark Robins to quit later that night.
Fast forward to Tuesday night and Town fans, already reeling from the news Alex Smithies was well on his way to QPR in a near £2m deal, could have been forgiven for having a distinct sense of deja-vu.
A south coast club was again at the John Smith’s Stadium and it was early leaders Brighton & Hove Albion who enjoyed a rapid start.
This time, just 17 seconds had been played when the home defence was opened up with embarrassing ease and Beram Kayal took advantage with an accomplished finish.
Considering the unrest caused by Smithies’s impending move to the capital had been so deep that chairman Dean Hoyle had felt it necessary to call a fans’ forum to explain the club’s point of view, it was the worst possible start.
There also seemed a very real chance of Brighton following Bournemouth in inflicting serious damage to Huddersfield’s ‘goals against’ column, a feeling that only grew during a one-sided first half in which visiting goalkeeper David Stockdale did not have to make a save.
All that changed, however, at the start of the second half as Town dug deep into their character to rescue a deserved point courtesy of Jacob Butterfield’s well-taken equaliser.
“Brighton reminded me of Bournemouth last year,” admitted Jonathan Hogg to The Yorkshire Post. “They scored early in that game and we lost by four goals.
“To be fair, we showed good character to come back and get a point.
“At half-time, we had a bit of a rollicking (from manager Chris Powell), and we came out determined to perform in the second half. Which is what we did.
“If you sit back and let Brighton play, they are a top passing team and can hurt you. We had to get in their faces a lot more and unsettle them. It was what we did in the second half.”
Town’s second-half efforts were made all the more unexpected by their struggles before the break, with Brighton’s opener being embarrassingly easy.
Hogg added:“It was awful, a really bad start. Schoolboy stuff from us, really.
“The kid was allowed to run from the halfway line and Brighton scored. You see that with six, seven or eight-year-old football.
“It is not good enough at this level, not by any means. We have to knock that on the head.”