Will Buckley brace sinks Town
A first-half brace from Brighton winger Will Buckley succumbed Town defeat against the Seagulls.
The midfielder broke the deadlock within five minutes and then capitalised on errors by Keith Southern and Joel Lynch to double his tally.
Simon Church opened his Town account in the 90th minute as Town mounted a late charge, but it wasn’t enough to earn them a point.
There were a number of milestones reached by players in Simon Grayson’s side when they took on Brighton on Saturday afternoon. Oliver Norwood made his 50th career start while Town top scorer Lee Novak lined up for his 150th appearance in Town colours.
Also, marking their centuries in club football today were Danny Ward and Simon Church, who made his second start for the Terriers. Sean Scannell and Jermaine Beckford were absent from the squad after both picking up hamstring injuries.
Town were put on the back foot early on as Craig Mackail-Smith directed a snapshot wide before Buckley directed his shot into the net to give the visitors the early advantage.
Ward earned Town’s first chance of the half after he was fouled hard by Liam Bridcutt. Adam Clayton took the resulting free-kick but his effort was caught comfortably by Peter Brezovan, who had replaced Thomasz Kuszczak before kick-off due to a finger injury.
Ashley Barnes could have doubled the Seagulls’ lead after 15 minutes but he curled his shot narrowly past the right hand post.
Town kept pushing to level the scores and with 10 minutes until the break they almost did. Ward delivered a high ball into Simon Church who headed the ball high over the bar from point blank range.
Moments later, Barnes thought he had made it 2-0 as he headed the ball into the bottom left hand corner from a left-wing free kick, but the linesman had raised his flag for offside.
However, Buckley marked his name on the score sheet once more as he latched onto a long midfield ball and composed himself to bury the ball into the bottom corner to give his side a 2-0 half-time lead.
In the second half, Town’s Paul Dixon curled in a searching ball that found the head of Novak, but his bullet header was deflected wide by the compact Brighton defence.
As the hour mark approached, Jack Hunt drove forward into the box and supplied a ball across goal to the outstretched leg of Novak; but he was unable to flick his shot on target as it rolled wide of the mark.
Buckley was denied a hat trick by Alex Smithies with a super save in the 72nd minute. The winger cut inside Dixon and blasted a powerful shot towards goal only for Smithies to tip the ball beyond the post.
Peter Clarke’s looping header in the 82nd minute could of pulled one back for Town but Bruno Saltor was on hand to head it away from danger.
Church eventually put Town on the scoreboard as he pounced on an error made by Brighton keeper Brezovan, when he was unable to deal with Wards powerful shot. With four minutes remaining the Terriers threw the kitchen sink at the Brighton defence, but they were unable to force another opening as the visitors earned the three points.
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Joel Lynch, Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Danny Ward, Oliver Norwood (Scott Arfield, 74), Keith Southern (Adam Hammill, 68), Adam Clayton; Lee Novak (Alan Lee, 68), Simon Church
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Anthony Gerrard,, Anton Robinson
Bookings Town: Oliver Norwood, 38; Lee Novak, 44; Joel Lynch, 78
Bookings Brighton: Inigo Calderon, 90+2