REPORT: TOWN 3-1 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBIONA gate of over 20,000 was on hand to see Huddersfield Town produce a scintillating display which saw David Wagner’s side defeat league leader Brighton and Hove Albion on a chilly Thursday evening at the John Smith’s Stadium.
In front of the Sky Sports cameras, goals from skipper Tommy Smith, Nahki Wells and Elias Kachunga completed a Town victory over the Seagulls for the first time in nine attempts.
The Terriers thrilled the terraces from start to finish, with personal milestones being achieved in the process, as well as a home debut for German striker Collin Quaner.
After progressing into the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup, Head Coach David Wagner reinstated nine of the players who had missed out at the Crown Oil Arena.
The freshness of the Town line-up was evident from the off; Town instantly on the front foot, allowing the table-toppers no time on the ball. Rajiv van La Parra began with a spring in his step. The Dutch winger got the better of visiting skipper Bruno within the first minute of the match, earning the right-back a very early yellow card; a sign of what proceedings would follow.
The Sussex outfit was counting its lucky stars not to be behind within the opening 10 minutes. That man again Rajiv van La Parra followed up his energetic start by thundering an effort against the right hand post. After the visitors failed to clear, the ball ricocheted off a number of players before finding its way to an unmarked Van La Parra who hooked an effort towards the corner before striking the woodwork.
The hunches of a possible Town breakthrough was confirmed shortly after the woodwork came into action. Tommy Smith found himself in a decent amount of space to fire a left-footed effort past Stockdale to nudge Town ahead; Smith’s first ever goal at the John Smith’s Stadium.
After a positive drive from van La Parra, capitalising on a poor clearance from Albion left-back Sebastien Pocognoli, the ball somehow found its way to an advancing Smith who showed impressive composure a forward would’ve been proud of to send the Town faithful into delirium.
‘The Yorkshire Club’ was on a deserved high after more than matching Chris Hughton’s side both tactically and physically within the opening passages. However, a highly uncharacteristic mistake from Aaron Mooy gifted Israeli front-man Tomer Hemed the opportunity to level the scores, with which he duly obliged. Mooy’s headed pass back towards goal fell short of its intended target to allow Hemed to round a stricken Danny Ward and slot home.
Instead of allowing their heads to drop and let the Sussex outfit take over the game, the Terriers raised the intensity and the performance levels from here on-in.
It took an excellent Lewis Dunk intervention to deny van La Parra’s goal-bound effort, before Michael Hefele saw his headed attempt sail over the cross-bar from Aaron Mooy’s corner.
Van La Parra’s activity kept on increasing, this time his firmly driven shot on goal took razor sharp reactions from Stockdale to prevent Town from taking the lead once again.
The impressive reactions of Stockdale were to be beaten shortly after as Town regained the precious lead.
Nahki Wells displayed some superb agility to latch on to Aaron Mooy’s deflected through ball, resulting in the Bermudian slotting the ball confidently into the far corner to cap his 100th goal in English football.
The floodgates opened even wider on the stroke of half-time as another Nahki Wells’ effort caused chaos in the Brighton defensive ranks. Wells this time saw his fizzed attempt too hot to handle by Stockdale. The Albion ‘keeper could only parry the ball into the air on which Elias Kachunga would capitalise and nod home, imperatively doubling Town’s lead.
It was to be the first time the faithful of the John Smith’s Stadium had seen a trio of HTAFC goals in the first period since April 2015, which ended in 4-4 draw against Derby County.
There was to be no repeat of any points dropped on this occasion however as Town marshalled the proceedings with relative comfort after the break; aided largely due to a second yellow card for Brighton central defender Lewis Dunk, who was given his marching orders to his evident dismay after cynically taking out Isaiah Brown on the half way line.
Shane Duffy’s crucial block on Brown’s effort maintained the two goal advantage for the Terriers, all of this after van La Parra had the better of Sidwell but found himself denied at the near post by Stockdale once again.
Jonathan Hogg and Aaron Mooy had once again been the pivotal components of a very well-oiled Huddersfield Town machine; the Australian International himself nearly had a goal to his name, only to find his driven effort from 25 yards out be kept out by the base of the right upright.
Joe Lolley came on and produced his usual energetic display, before Collin Quaner took to the field to make his eagerly anticipated home debut after joining the Club from 2.Bundesliga side Union Berlin.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith (c); Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg; Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley, 77’), Izzy Brown (Kasey Palmer, 71’), Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells (Collin Quaner, 82’)
Joel Coleman, Dean Whitehead, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Jon Gorenc Stanković
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