Ulloa hat trick condemns Town to defeat
Leonardo Ulloa scored a hat trick on Town’s first visit to The Amex to condemn them to their third defeat under Mark Robins.
Ulloa set the ball running for the home team in the first half before scoring two quick fire goals in the second to put Town out of sight.
James Vaughan had put Town back into the contest at 1-1 with a superb overhead kick, but the Terriers looked short of ideas upfront.
David Lopez put the icing on the cake for Gus Poyet’s men with a penalty in the 82nd minute.
Jack Hunt returned to the starting line-up in place of the injured Calum Woods in Mark Robins’ only change from the team that defeated Burnley on Tuesday night.
Although it was enforced, Hunt’s reintroduction into the starting line-up almost worked a treat on five minutes when the right-back curled a ball to the near post, which James Vaughan was inches away from connecting with.
Just prior to that, Sean Scannell had given the Brighton defence a real scare when he skipped past two defender’s down the left before winning a corner, which in the end came to nothing.
The home team’s movement up front was difficult to keep up with from the touchline so it was no surprise that the likes of Will Buckley, Leonardo Ulloa and David Lopez were finding plenty of space in the final third.
Buckley and Ulloa linked up to great effect in the 15th minute, but the former was unable to trouble Alex Smithies’ with his header after a quick counter.
Ulloa then had a header block on the line by Adam Clayton as Brighton began to up their game.
And it wasn’t long before Brighton were ahead. After watching Buckley stand on the edge of the box and fire off two shots from successive, well worked corners; the Terriers were slow to react down the right allowing Andrea Orlandi time to pick out Ulloa in the box, who beat Peter Clarke in the air to power a header past Smithies.
The Seagulls had a glorious chance to double their lead just five minutes later, but found Smithies in inspired form. As they had been throughout the opening period of the first half, Brighton were quicker to react than Town and worked a quick free-kick well to send Orlandi clear, in behind the sleeping Hunt. The winger steadied himself, but clipped the leg of the outstretched Smithies with his curled effort.
Town hadn’t posed much of an attracting threat, but went in at half-time level courtesy of another goal from James Vaughan. Scannell’s cross created a game of head tennis between the Town attackers with Neil Danns heading to Oscar Gobern who flicked the ball over for Vaughan to execute a superb overhead kick and beat Tomasc Kuszczak in the Brighton goal.
Despite the setback, Brighton began the half the more positive of the two teams with Orlandi very nearly giving the home side the lead with a volley on the turn, which flashed past Smithies’ left upright.
Theo Robinson tried to respond for the Terriers, but his left footed shot went miserable wide of Kuszczak’s goal.
At times the Terriers were struggling to cope with Brighton and had it not been for Captain Peter Clarke on two separate occasions they would have been behind. Both of Brighton’s efforts came from the boot of David Lopez who twice saw goal bound efforts blocked by Clarke on the line.
Sandwiched in behind those efforts – in the 64th minute – substitute Ashley Barnes headed a great chance from eight yards over after finding himself unmarked from Lopez’s out swinging cross.
All of Town’s resolute defensive work was undone in a crazy four minute spell, which saw them fall three goals behind.
The second, scored by Ulloa, was disputed by the Terriers after referee Gavin Ward awarded a corner despite the ball appearing to come off a Brighton player last. From Lopez’s corner, Ulloa stole a march on his man to head into the far corner.
Ulloa then grabbed his hat trick a minute later when he profited from Clarke’s miss control to round Smithies and tap home.
It got worse for the Terriers three minutes later when Paul Dixon was adjudged to have fouled fellow countryman Craig Mackail-Smith in the box. Lopez made no mistake to make the score line 4-1.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Peter Clarke (c), Anthony Gerrard (Joel Lynch, 82), Jack Hunt; Oscar Gobern (Scott Arfield 65), Adam Clayton; Sean Scannell, Neil Danns, Theo Robinson; James Vaughan (Lee Novak, 69)
Ian Bennett, Oliver Norwood, Murray Wallace, Alan Lee
Town Bookings: Neil Danns 33, Anthony Gerrard 40, Paul Dixon 49, James Vaughan 67