Brighton 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
20th January 2017
It would have been a hard-hearted soul indeed who did not feel at least a modicum of sympathy for the fate of Brighton and Hove Albion last season. Unbeaten in any of their opening 20 league matches, a mid-season wobble led them into a three-horse race with Middlesbrough and Burnley for the two automatic promotion places to The Premiership - a race they would heartbreakingly lose on the final day of the regular reason. So: into the play-offs they went, where they were eliminated by none other than this evening’s opponents Sheffield Wednesday.
Many clubs may have jettisoned their manager after this failure, but Brighton kept faith with the personable Chris Hughton, and do appear to be reaping the rewards this season. Although, I do appreciate there is some considerable time still to go before the prizes get handed out.
Albion presently find themselves vying with Newcastle United at the top of the Championship, seemingly trading the top spot on a weekly basis. A win over Sheffield Wednesday this evening would return The Seagulls to the top spot as well as, perhaps more importantly, opening up a nine point gap over the chasing pack presently inhabiting those scary dog-eat-dog play-off places.
|Hey, it's Gully The Seagull|
|Sam Hutchinson & Ross Wallace|
|Looking towards the North Stand|
|Brighton v Sheffield United - January 2017|
|Ross Wallace did that rather clever thing of hitting a free-kick under a jumping wall - |
unfortunately for him, straight into David Stockdale' arms.
|The Brighton 'keeper later saved both Fernando Forestieri's initial penalty-kick, and his follow-up attempt.|
|Away fans are housed in the South Stand.|
|Panorama of AMEX Stadium, Brighton|
And win they did this evening, but goodness me they were given a fair old run for their money by an, at times, impressive looking Wednesday side, with Barry Bannon pulling the strings in midfield – and putting in a far more imperious performance that I have ever witnessed him produce in a Scotland shirt. He really did not deserve to be on the losing side this evening, I felt.
But things had all began so well for the home side; dominating early play and taking a 35th minute lead through former Leicester City winger Anthony KNOCKAERT. And whilst the Frenchman did have to perform a neat shuffle to get the ball onto his favoured left foot, he was helped by a lily-livered challenge by visiting 'keeper Keiren Westwood.
But the visitors gradually hauled themselves back into the match, and levelled seconds before the break with as odd a goal as I think have seen in some time. An innocuous-looking cross from Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri somehow bobbled off two home defenders before nestling past home ‘keeper David Stockdale. Lewis DUNK's head being credited (if that is the appropriate word) with the final touch.
After the break, the visitors came even more into things – a fact reflected in their final 10-0 corner count advantage. They were awarded a penalty-kick midway through the second-half, when home defender Glenn Murray chose to protect his good looks from the ball with upraised hands. A red card was also duly brandished, but Forestieri spoiled what had been for him an impressive evening by failing to convert the resultant penalty. Had the home side gone a goal as well as a man down at this point, it would have been hard to see Brighton coming back. But regain the lead they did, with 5 minutes remaining as Westwood and his defender Glenn Loovens appeared the leave it to each other to deal with a cross, allowing KNOCKAERT to sneak in and score the winner.
Bannon screamed at the turf in frustration, whilst his colleagues Steven Fletcher and Sam Hutchinson later vent their ire in more physical fashions, each receiving red cards for violent infractions.
|The AMEX Stadium|
The American Express Community Stadium
|Evidence of the previous evening's revelry was still apparent the following morning.|
|The Southern Rail Coastway East line stops at Falmer Station adjacent to the ground.|
We used this line to travel to the ground from Lewes, and were glad we did.
The queues of folks heading in the opposite direction to Brighton were epic.
I currently have three blogs on the go: this ‘un, a gig reviews one, plus another covering the Pan Horror anthology series. As a chap with clearly too much free time on his hands, I am considering a fourth, recording my attempts to enjoy an ice cream on every seaside pier in Britain. Morgan’s Piers I think I shall call it.
|Brighton Palace Pier|