Brighton have notoriously struggled away from home and at the John Smith’s stadium they got off to the worst possible start. A long throw caused problems before dropping for Bruno to smash clear. The veteran Spaniard uncharacteristically sliced his clearance high into the air and, as the ball looped back into the box, the onrushing Zanka towered over Lewis Dunk, Bernardo and Maty Ryan to head home and give the hosts the lead inside of a minute.
Huddersfield came into this match off the back of an important win over Wolves and scoring so early really put them on the front foot. They had Brighton pinned in for the early exchanges in the match although Ryan wasn’t necessarily tested. Brighton manager Chris Hughton was very visibly unhappy with his side’s performance in the early going.
As the half wore on Brighton started to grow into the game with Florin Andone, making his first start, only prevented from an equaliser by the body of Jonathan Hogg. The home captain threw himself in the way of a close range volley and denied the Romanian an equaliser. Andone was one of three changes with Solly March and Yves Bissouma also starting in favour of Glenn Murray, Anthony Knockaert and Beram Kayal.
The game was turned on its head just after the half hour mark. Huddersfield played the ball into the chest of Steve Mounie whose control let the ball get away from him. With Bissouma rushing in to pressure him, the Benin international went in strongly and caught the Albion man just above the shinpad.
Referee Michael Oliver wasted no time in pulling out the red card, a decision that made the man in black public enemy number one among the home fans. It was the third Albion game in a row that has seen a first half red card.
The game still remained reasonably even as Huddersfield continued to try and press even with the man advantage. Oliver once again drew the ire of the Terriers’ fans when Bradley Pritchard went down in the box and the referee waved the claim away. Replays showed that Pascal Gross had an arm around him but the force of the tumble did not match the German’s physical pressure.
Late into first half stoppage time, with Brighton pressing for an equaliser, Bruno did well to win a corner. El Capitan showed all of his experience as he took the set piece quickly to March before the defence could set up. March swung the ball into the six yard box and found the head of Shane Duffy to power home past a helpless Jonas Lossl from close range and take Albion in level at the end of a breathless first half.
Bissouma, drawing boos from the home fans every time he touched the ball for having the gall to be kicked by Mounie, almost gave the Albion a dream start to the second half. The Malian midfielder force a smart stop with a scissor kick from close range moments after kick off.
Manager David Wagner brought towering forward Laurent Depoitre on a couple of minutes later to give his side an outlet but, with a man advantage, Brighton started to control the tempo of the game.
Albion had a few half chances to equalise, the best of which was Davy Propper’s pass inches from Jose Izqueirdo’s outstretched foot, before Andone took centre stage. March was once again involved, this time spotting the Romanian’s dart into the box and whipped the ball into his path. The debutante threw himself forward and glanced a header into the corner of the net to send the travelling fans wild and give Albion a 2-1 lead with 21 minutes remaining. He was withdrawn in favour of Glenn Murray shortly afterwards but had certainly done enough to endear himself to the Brighton faithful.
Bruno went off injured to be replaced by Leon Balogun after 78 minutes and the Nigerian was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow in his first challenge of the game. Huddersfield pushed to try and find an equaliser but Albion’s extra man proved tough to break down. Despite a few nervy moments, Chris Hughton’s men had enough to see out the game and claim a valuable win on the road.
Huddersfield: Lössl, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo, Hadergjonaj, Mooy, Hogg(c), Billing, Durm, Pritchard, MounieSubs: Sobhi Ahmed, Smith, Williams, Hamer, Mbenza, Depoitre, Kachunga
Brighton: Ryan, Bruno (c), Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo, Bissouma, Propper, March, Gross, Izqueirdo, AndoneSubs: Steele, Bong, Balogun, Kayal, Knockaert, Murray, Locadia
Referee: Michael Oliver