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El-Abd-less: Albion still conceding but still unbeaten
Brighton continue to leak costly goals without their injured international defenders: Adam El-Abd (Egypt) and Wayne Bridge (England); although there are hopes of seeing Adam return on Tuesday night at home to Bristol City.
Huddersfield Town vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Without a weekday game, a fresh Albion travelled to John Smith’s Stadium to play Huddersfield Town on the back of 2 points lost when they drew with Wolves on the previous Saturday.
Brighton hit hard right from kick-off eager to pick-up where they left off against Wolves but in the hope they won’t let in as many goals.
It only took 5 minutes for Brighton to go one nil up with Brighton’s flair pair down the right combining typically well, from a well worked corner, Bruno cut the ball back for Will Buckley, on the edge of the area, whose first magic touch gave him the time and space to unleash a left foot net-buster between the keeper and his near post.
Albion continued to pepper the Huddersfield goal, Mackail-Smith and Barnes both narrowly missing the target from 2 minutes in all the way to half time with great supply by the inform Orlandi continuing to fill the void left by the still unfit Vicente.
Brighton went two-nil up in the 40th minute, with a smooth counter attacking move; Bridcutt won possession back in the midfield and quickly fed Mackail-Smith who in turn released Buckley. Buckley skipped past the only defender in the way with style, jinking the ball left to right foot before slotting the past the helpless keeper.
Even though Huddersfield had more purpose in the 2nd half and created a few more chances which evened out the shots tally to 9 a piece, it took a terribly unlucky albeit not uncharacteristic fumble by Brezovan to allow Huddersfield to score in the 90th minute. Fortunately Brighton were enough goals ahead and near enough the final whistle to survive this week.
Huddersfield Town 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Bolton Wanderers
It had been nearly 20 years since Brighton last played Bolton and it had been nearly 3 weeks since Albion fans had been to a game at their award winning American Express Community Stadium – fondly referred to as “The Amex”.
While everyone was on a high from the recent previous win there were no illusions about facing a team who were in the Premiership just a season ago and had not lost many players. Bolton have recently appointed a new manager; a new manager whose former club most recently as manager then player before that is Brighton’s very archest rivals: Crystal Palace; subsequently, however trivial or odd the origins of the rivalry, Dougie Freedman would undoubtedly be well up for the game.
However up for the game Freedman would have been, either he was unable to transfer that to his players or Brighton and Hove Albion were simply the far superior side in every way, all bar finishing.
The most sure-fire opportunity Brighton had to take the lead occurred in the 14th minute when Mackail-Smith’s cut back cross was handled by Bolton’s Darren Pratley. After Mackail-Smith’s recent penalty miss and the absence of Dobbie and David Lopez, former penalty expert Ashley Barnes stepped up to take the pen and renew the confidence in his ability from the spot.
Barnes smashed low and to his left but not left enough. Bolton’s keeper got to it and the ball bounced straight back to Barnes who, not unlike Orlandi against Peterborough, was complacent and instead of putting his laces through it, he leant back and tried to place it with a volleyed side foot that went straight back at the keeper, the ball rebounded again and this time fell to the encroaching Mackail-Smith whose shot hit two defenders before it went wide of the apparently popular left post.
Albion could have been at least 5-0 ahead at halftime with a seemingly endless number of shots hammered at the Bolton goal, most notably from Mackail-Smith from in the box then Orlandi & Hammond hitting all parts of the woodwork from distance.
Many fans felt that it was about time Brighton were hitting some shots from distance to create space and confusion on their opposer’s area and it was surely only a matter of time before the scoreline reflected the possession and shot count.
Brighton’s hard work work finally paid off in the 54th minute when Orlandi’s free kick was headed away by Zat Knight but only as far as Bruno, just inside from the right, who took a solitary touch on his thigh setting himself up to ping a perfectly weighted right foot volley into the top left corner from 5 yards outside the box.
Even though Brighton took their foot of the gas a little, Bolton still did not look like scoring and more opportunities ensued. Orlandi getting the most chances but the Bolton keeper continued to enjoy the combination of his own good positioning and Brighton’s poor finishing and kept everything out.
As the game seemed to be coming to a close, Brighton still had all the chances but continued to snatch at the goal rather than hold it in the corner flag and play for time, constantly giving away possession in the hope of tying up the game expecting to easily win the back and try again.
The fourth official announced 5 minutes extra time then 6 minutes into injury time, the Brighton fans were calling for the whistle when Brighton charged forward again with Hoskins leading the line towards goal. When Hoskins lost possession, Bolton flew back down the park, Bruno was out run down Bolton’s left by Ex-Man Utd winger, Chris Eagles, who cut the ball back to Ngog who promptly placed the ball first time in the far post through the only gap available. Brighton had only enough time to shoot straight from kick-off before referee Mark Haywood decided he’d allowed enough “Fergie Time” and the game was over before he and the other officials were loudly booed off the pitch.
Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
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