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Brighton 1-0 Hull City: Adam El-Abd spoils Gedo’s Tigers debut
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Egyptian international and fan favourite, Adam El-Abd, helped spoil his fellow international teammates’ visit to the Amex with Hull City, in a game where every point and every goal counted towards a very close promotion race.
Brighton 1-0 Hull City
After the very poor effort the week before against Sheffield Wednesday, much more was expected of the Seagulls this week, even if Hull we higher in the league and pushing for automatic promotion.
Gus Poyet started a less conventional line-up, finally using Craig Mackail-Smith at the same time as Leo Ulloa, much to fans’ delight. The most confusing thing was while it appeared like a 4-4-2 in the line-up, their apparent shape on the field was very fluid.
David Lopez, known as ‘Spanish Dave’ was being used as a right wing while Spanish compatriot Andrea Orlandi was on the opposite wing, with captain Liam Bridcutt and Dean Hammond in the middle, although the latter was often out of position and rarely passed the ball to his own teammates.
Orlandi looked dangerous when the ball was at his feet and facing their goal, but along with the rest of the midfield, his efforts at the usual Brighton ‘tippy tappy’ possession football were poor to say least.
Not unlike Cahill midweek for England vs. Brazil, Adam El-Abd partnered at centre back with loanee and former England international Matthew Upson, were both left with few passing options to the midfield due to the poor movement in the Seagulls’ midfield.
On the other side, Hull were also playing a less conventional formation: wing-backs! Hull have been a rare threat down both flanks from Robbie Brady on one side and Egyptian international, on loan from Sunderland, Ahmed Elmohamady on the other flank. Their midfield was packed and their wing-backs are fast, tireless and equipped with decent crosses.
Brighton were still more dangerous though: Mackail-Smith and Ulloa were blatantly both incredibly hungry. ‘Macca’ was making endless runs down each channel, his speed and strength winning the ball then his pace and dribbling skills taking him past two players at a time on a straight-line to the goal; Leo was holding the middle well for the direct ball on the floor or in the air despite the Hull city defence’s attempts at putting his spine through his chest. These efforts included contributions from former Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion defender, Paul McShane.
There were a few chances in the first half but as it went on Hull’s defensive line dropped deeper, Brighton were more favouring possession over the risk of a through ball from 25 yards and Craig Mackail-Smith’s runs lessened due to lack of space.
Like most visitors to the Amex, Hull ended up parked on the edge of their box inviting the attack looking for the counter; which rarely got them anywhere mainly thanks to the timing and foresight of Adam El-Abd and Liam Bridcutt who would be waiting inside their own half stopping pretty much everything.
The second half was far more open and attacking, from both sides. Hull had spotted Albion pushing too far up but not moving the ball enough, as well as the lack of pace down their right side; Bruno and Spanish Dave, whilst normally good at crossing, had a bad day in that regard but also were slow on the turn and got skinned a few times.
Hull were even more “competitive” in the second half as their attempts at tackling became more aggressive, which the officials seemed perfectly fine with as long it was a Hull player coming away with the ball.
Hull were holding the deep back line in the 2nd half too, there was far less space for Macca to run into and both Craig and Leo Ulloa were pulled deeper into Brighton’s already pressured midfield to get the ball.
As previously mentioned Hammond was having a nightmare of a game, too many touches, late release and more passes were intercepted than not. Finally, after 59 minutes, Gus took him off and much to the delight of everyone there, he was replaced by former Valencia winger Vicente.
Vicente wasted no time in picking up where Hammond left off and made a lot of misplaced passes in his first five minutes but once he got into the game, the flair machine was in action.
Then with the arrival of Will Buckley who replaced Bruno and sent Spanish Dave to right back, Vicente had another flair player to play with as well as Ulloa; the excitement increased and Vicente was playing some killer balls through gaps and channels he seemed to create with the power of his mind.
With this more attacking substitution from Albion, more gaps were available for Hull and both wing-backs took the advantage. At one point it was more like Egyptian head tennis when Ahmed Elmohamady was pumping in crosses early and Adam El-Abd heading clear only for the ball to end up with Elmohamady again a few passes later, who would once more use the space well and pump in another dangerous ball. Fortunately for Brighton, Adam El-Abd was repeatedly able to battle the ball clear.
Adam El-Abd received a yellow card for winning a header which resulted in both players clashing heads. Unsurprisingly, the Hull player came off worse but stayed down for far longer than he needed.
With 20 minutes to go Hull made a double substitution and replaced both strikers!
Koren and Simpson both made way for big striker Proschwitz and a highly anticipated debut for another Egyptian international: Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’, on loan from Al-Ahly, taking the day’s Egyptian international tally up to three!
As the end of the game approached Hull were getting dirtier and the ref finally started to blow his whistle. Leo Ulloa had been bundled to the floor again and this time someone kicked him while he was down and then someone else kicked the ball at him accusing him of time wasting.
With the ref’s new found understanding of the rules of football, Brighton started to take more control in attack while Hull had to stop being carefree in the tackle.
Orlandi was awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, just to the right of the D, after once more he was hacked down while dancing between Hull players on route to the goal. Vicente and Spanish Dave both stepped up whilst the wall was being organised, which took a long time.
Hull built a six man wall in front of the near post and man marking the Brighton players made another 3 man wall nearer the far post with Adam El-Abd positioned on the inside of the smaller wall and the Hull keeper looking through the gap.
Albion fans had seen this move many times from Adam but it was obviously a new concept to Hull city…
As Vicente ran up to the take the kick with his left peg from the right side of the box, Adam looked poised to move; milliseconds before Vicente kicked the ball, El-Abd leaned left and backed into the inside of their six man wall before spinning off behind it; Vicente struck the ball with a vicious curl, it went through the space previously inhabited by El-Abd, right round the inside of the wall and kept curling into the near post, the keeper got a touch but was never going to stop it and Brighton took the lead.
Vicente, Adam, the Albion squad and all 24k Albion fans in the ground went wild with joy and relief.
The game wasn’t over and Kuszczak was called into action to save another great long shot from Ahmed Elmohamady using the space left from midfield.
Inigo Calderon was brought on for Craig Mackail-Smith in the last five minutes to bolster the Albion defence.
The game wasn’t pretty, the officials were poor and even though Hull manager Steve Bruce seemed to think they lost against the run of play and accused El-Abd’s activity in the wall as a push, Brighton prevailed and no pundit seemed to agree with Bruce’s point of view, some naming the free kick tactic and “classic” and “old school”.
It was a great show of Egyptian footballers in English football on UK telly, Adam El-Abd was arguably man of the match, with his role in the winning goal slightly tipping him above many game saving acrobatics from Albion keeper, Tomasz Kuszczak.
Hull will continue to push for 2nd place and automatic promotion with help from their influential on loan Egyptians, whilst according to Albion Manager Gus Poyet, Adam El-Abd’s Albion will be taking more chances to win games in their push for a play off place in order to get wins instead of draws, not unlike this game.
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.