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Adam El-Abd’s Albion take five points from nine
Adam El-Abd’s Brighton & Hove Albion only took 5 points from what was perceived as an achievable 9. It saw the return of Craig Mackail-Smith and Brighton’s tippy-tappy flairful football was back to it’s best in an entertaining week of football from the Seagulls.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Leeds Utd
Like Leeds’ visit the Amex last season, it was an end to end match and like seemingly every other Leeds game, it was on the telly.
There was a great atmosphere for all: With Orldandi attacking from the middle, Mackail-Smith back, fit & up front and Buckley on the right wing; tippy-tappy football at it’s best was on display.
When Brighton were attacking it was often the Buckley and Bruno show where the levels of flair down the right wing were a pleasure to watch: Bruno drills the balls inside to Buckley, who steps over it and back heels it down the line to the feet of the full speed Bruno.
Buckley even managed to get on SoccerAM’s flair watch by chipping the ball over the Leeds left back’s head and running round him onto the ball before supplying a cross.
It was Buckley who earned Brighton’s penalty just after the quarter hour mark as he was obviously tripped in the area. As Leeds keeper Paddy Kenny went right all he could do was look back as Craig Mackail-Smith smashed it right down the middle.
Brighton kept dominating without a final product but were taken aback, along with everyone else, in the 37th minute; Leeds were awarded a penalty after Luke Varney performed a laughingly obvious dive which gave Premiership ref Lee Mason another opportunity to strut around and have a bit of limelight as he slummed it in the Championship. The consistently boo’d Diouf tucked the penalty tightly into the the bottom left corner, just millimeters away of the outstretched arm of Kuszczak who read it well but just couldn’t reach it.
Albion came out all guns a blazing again in the 2nd half and it only took 2 minutes for them to retake the lead after Buckley further humiliated the Leeds left back before cutting the ball back to the edge of the 6 yard box for the waiting Mackail-Smith to tuck it away and double his tally.
Brighton continued to dominate and the defense was staying solid, Adam El-Abd had folded up El-Hadji Diouf and tucked him neatly into his pocket.
All the action levels stepped up when Brighton were awarded another penalty on the 74th minute. Mackail-Smith stepped up to take the penalty he earned to complete his hat trick. This time Macca hit it hard and low to the left but not left enough as Padding Kenny not only guessed the correct side but also held onto the ball. The next day on SoccerAM Macca admitted to changing his mind as he ran up to the ball, he still thought he hit it well but when he looked up “the keeper had put his hat on it”!
Despite Brighton missing the penalty, Leeds did not look like scoring … but they managed it anyway… just two minutes later when Leeds’ Brown cottoned on to a rebound he managed, unchallenged, to squeeze a low shot through the defence and past the furious Kuszczak who couldn’t see it until too late.
Many believe that Brown should not have been on the field after puzzlingly escaping a second yellow card after obvious shirt tugging resulted in only a free kick.
Brighton kept ploughing through but still could not convert their chances and a fantastic game ended in 2-2. Brighton fans were upbeat at the return of the great football they played and believe that it is only a matter of time before they deliver.
Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 2 – 2 Leeds Utd
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Peterborough United
Brighton started with the same 11 that drew with Leeds with the exception of Lewis Dunk in for the injured Adam El-Abd. El-Abd reportedly tweaked his groin against Leeds and the fixture favoured a rest of Adam and a first start this season for Lewis Dunk.
Peterborough obviously came for a draw and very nearly got one.
After an uneventful first half and obviously a decent team talk from Gus: Albion were still unable to penetrate the 9 men on the 18 yard line. Brighton’s style of play often means always passing to the first man you see in space, moving the ball around forcing the opposition to chase it, then looking to exploit the gaps they leave.
However, when there are 9 men defending the goal, the only space is near the corner flag and for much of the game Albion ended up resorting to endless crosses to Barnes, Mackail-Smith and Orlandi. Neither of these players tend to win many aerial battles against giant seasoned defenders, especially when the Brighton players are at the far post behind the giant defenders and the crosses are drilled to the near post. However, Brighton kept possession and the pressure was maintained.
It wasn’t until Dobbie came on with 23 minutes left, that Brighton started to really push through the centre, started to smack the ball at the goal from distance and try to pick up the rebounds. Dobbie had a field day, he was jammed right in the mix and with no time to think he was running on instinct and showed his class.
Mackail-Smith has been unable to score against his previous club and was subbed off for Hoskins for his first game of the season. This further reinforced Brighton’s determination as the Peterborough defence did not seem so versed on how the subs play.
Right near the 90 minutes it was announced that there would be 4 minutes of extra time, so Gus made a final substitution in the 89th minute: David Lopez, who seemed in a very jovial mood in the pre-match warm-up also seemed to excel under the pressure and tension.
In the 92nd minute Dobbie started a short but direct passing move on the edge of the box that was ended by him finishing with the deftest little dink over the sliding keeper give Brighton the win!
Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Peterborough Utd
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Brighton & Hove Albion
With Adam El-Abd still rested to ensure he recovers from his groin injury, Brighton’s great defensive record took quite a hammering as they visited Wolves.
Although Brighton started off better: quicker to the ball, better use of possession and the pitch obviously suited their style of the play; it was Wolves who broke the deadlock at 22mins as their dangerman, Sako, finished a swift flowing counter attack from a tight-ish angle.
Albion were not dismayed and increased the pressure further. It took a edgy 20 minutes for Brighton to equalise from a typical cross by Bruno, cutting the ball back from the by-line for Mackail-Smith to tuck neatly away from about 12 yards.
Wolves had Karl Henry sent off with a straight red after a late, studs-up, sliding tackle on Bridcutt, which Bridcutt barely notices as he skipped away. Unfortunately Brighton were unable to capitalise on the extra man because the half time whistle was just minutes away.
Albion dominated after the break but even with the extra man they could not penetrate enough to take the lead. Then, out of nowhere, the Wolves fans piped up behind their team. This seemed to egg on the Wolves players who increased the pressure back on Albion. Bridcutt, very uncharacteristically, played Lewis Dunk at centre back, into trouble: he brought down Sigurdarson and while Brighton were waiting for the whistle, the ref played advantage and Doumbia scored in the 61st minute.
Dunk was booked and Buckley and Barnes came off the bench and replaced David Lopez and Andrew Crofts. 10 minutes later, Bridcutt made up for his part in Wolves’ last goal, playing a perfectly weighted ball through the channel for Buckley to run onto and finish with power at the near post, to restore the deadlock.
From that point forward Brighton piled on the pressure, with Bruno taking a more advanced role, a pivotal role in every attack and playing some awesome passes.
In the 89th minute Dobbie played a sneaky and what would have been a well placed back-heel to penetrate the Wolves back line and Brighton were awarded a penalty as the ball’s progress was stopped by the hand of Christophe Berra.
Dobbie stepped up for the penalty and put the ball calmly and purposefully in the top left corner!
Brighton then seemed to calm the pressure then wait for the final whistle, unfortunately for Brighton, Wolves did not have the same opinion and forced a corner in the 92nd minute; it was drilled into the near corner of the 6 yard box where Wolves centre back Roger Johnson nipped in and nodded home.
Brighton once again relaxed too much in the closing minutes and threw away the game, Brighton gaffer Gus Poyet definitely saw that as 2 points lost.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
Andy Thorpe is a Brighton blogger and season-ticket holder covering Adam El-Abd and the rest of the Seagulls for KingFut.com. You can follow Andy on Twitter: @4psta.
Images courtesy of seagulls.co.uk