BRIGHTON 0 TOWN 0
Town recorded a second successive clean sheet to take a point from the AMEX Stadium, but top scorer Nahki Wells could have easily made it three for the Terriers.
Although Chris Hughton’s side had the lion’s share of possession and hit the woodwork twice, it was the Bermudian was a threat at the other end and should have scored his 14th of the campaign when picked out by Oscar Gobern late in the tie.
Nevertheless, the point mathematically guarantees another season of Championship football for Chris Powell’s men.
As is Brighton’s signature playing style, the hosts bossed possession for the majority of the opening half – but arguably the Terriers had the better chances at the other end.
Most of the good work came through striker Ishmael Miller, who was restored to the starting line-up with James Vaughan unavailable due to a knee he jarred at Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Miller’s power was a real problem for Brighton centre halves Lewis Dunk and Greg Halford when one-one-one; a situation that almost paid dividends twice in the first 45 minutes.
The first of those chances came inside 10 minutes when Miller isolated Dunk and ghosted past him with good pace to enter the right side of the penalty area, only to fire wide.
For all Brighton’s possession, ironically it was a set-piece that gave the Seagulls their first chance. Dale Stephens’ deep corner fell to Halford at the back post, but he scuffed his first-time shot into the outside of the side netting.
Joel Lynch – who started his career at Brighton – returned the favour by heading Reece James’ corner wide at the other end soon after.
Town then played their best passing move of the half to create a chance for top scorer Nahki Wells on his 50th start for the Club. Miller won the initial knockdown and found his strike partner, who played Oscar Gobern into space down the left. His hanging cross into the area was chested into the path of Wells by Miller, but the Bermudian’s first time snapshot was parried away by goalkeeper David Stockdale.
The biggest problem Town had in the half was the overlapping runs of right back Bruno. At times Miller was dropping back to help, but the Spaniard did get free in the 27th minute to create the best chance of the half. His lofted cross found winger Mustapha Carayol at the back post and his first-time half-volley struck Smithies’ crossbar before bouncing to safety.
Miller was causing havoc at the other end barely three minutes later, rolling Dunk on halfway before running past Halford on his way into the area. Unfortunately, as he did with his early chance, he prodded the ball past the far post with his preferred left foot.
Brighton’s other main threat was Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira. Playing in the ‘number 10’ slot behind striker Leon Best, he looked for pockets of space to create. He was found in one by left back Joe Bennett with a minute of the half remaining, but fired wide of target from 20 yards.
Powell tried to stem Bruno’s forward runs by switching Butterfield out to the left of the central midfield trio for the second 45 minutes and it worked, but Town struggled to find Miller with the ball in the manner they had in the first.
Indeed, the chances were few and far between. Dunk headed two corners from Stephens over under pressure from the imperious Hudson, whereas at the other end Wells blasted wildly over having initially done well to rob Halford of the ball in a dangerous area.
The technically impressive Teixeira had to be stretchered off after he injured himself in a poor tackle on Wells with 10 minutes left.
Town then created two fantastic chances to win the game. Gobern had a quiet game, but he came to life; his clever reverse pass into the area found Wells, but his first time side foot was easy pickings for the ‘keeper.
Bruno soon hit the bar with a hugely over hit cross - but then Wells missed a sitter with three minutes left. Butterfield’s low shot was pushed away by Stockdale, where Gobern picked up the loose ball and intelligently cut it back to Wells. The striker, on the spin, took aim and looked certain to score, only to hit the post with the goal at his mercy at close range.
In the seven minutes of added time, Lynch was needed to pull off a superb block; diverting old foe Craig Mackail-Smith’s goal-bound shot.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Reece James, Oscar Gobern, Conor Coady, Jacob Butterfield, Sean Scannell; Ishmael Miller, Nahki Wells (Murray Wallace, 90)
Joe Murphy, David Edgar, Jonathan Hogg, Joe Lolley, Jake Carroll, Radoslaw Majewski
Tommy Smith (20); Conor Coady (34)