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Brighton and El-Abd down to fifth in the Championship

Ipswich Town visited the Amex on a wet Tuesday night as underdogs at the bottom end of the Championship while ’s Brighton & Hove Albion were still top on goal difference.

The first half did not go to plan as a complacent Albion were put under a lot of pressure, Albion’s Polish International keeper, Tomasz Kuszczak, released by Manchester United in the summer, was kept very busy and showed his worth.

Albion’s Egyptian international, Adam El-Abd did very well to volley a dangerous cross clear shortly before Albion’s Orlandi broke well, supported by Barnes but Dobbie’s effort was saved easily. Orlandi then had a free kick tipped over the bar to end the run of Brighton’s main threats in the first half.

Albion’s first half lethargy was finally exploited 27 minutes in when a cross from Carlos Edwards was headed in by Daryl Murphy to put Ipswich one up.

From that point on Ipswich were happy to sit back and defend the goal, applying a lot of pressure in their own half, while looking for counter attacking opportunities.

Ipswich had definitely done their homework as last season’s Albion player of the season, Liam Bridcutt found himself very tightly marked in his usual role between defence and midfield.

This made it virtually impossible for him to take the short ball from the defence and move it around the midfield as he so often does. This left Albion’s player of the season two years ago, Adam El-Abd, with a lot of time on the ball carrying it into midfield, unfortunately he was not greeted with many options in the rest of the 1st half as Brighton seemed to be out of ideas after conceding, despite great individual first half performances from Dobbie and Orlandi.

The second half saw Brighton in a far more attacking mood and taking a few more risks pushing deep into the opposing half as Ipswich sat in. This left the El-Abd holding the back, fending off Ipswich’s attempts to counter with long balls over the top. El-Abd’s foresight and strength were more than enough to fend of everything Ipswich tried.

Albion made a welcome double substitution at 62 minutes bringing on Gary Dicker for Dean Hammond who had drifted in and out all game and William Buckley came on for Kazenga LuaLua whose lack of inclination to run onto the ball down the left was a constant frustration for the fans and more so for Brighton and England left back Wayne Bridge who on two occasions almost ran into him whilst carrying the ball from deep.
For some reason 21 year old LuaLua who is comfortably one of the fastest players in the league was reluctant to try and run past his 34 year marker onto the ball and instead stayed deep for the short ball to feet, much to the delight of the Ipswich right-back. A few fans speculated that he’d played too much Fifa after seeing his last tweet before the game.

Dicker’s eagerness to move the ball around quickly and Buckley’s constant runs up the left wing spurred Brighton forward, then when Orlandi limped off to be replaced by fellow Spaniard David Lopez there seemed more purpose to Albion’s attacks.
Brighton salvaged a point with 10 minutes to go when Albion’s right back, Inigo Calderon, made amends for his critical part in conceding Ipswich’s goal with a persevering run up the right cutting inside to drill the ball in front of the advancing Buckley, who netted easily from close range to the delight and relief of the fans..

Ipswich seemed to double their efforts after conceding but neither team looked like scoring even with 5 minutes injury time.

Adam El-Abd received a yellow card in the 90th minute for a typically strong challenge on Ipswich’s Josh Carson who had mistakenly started trying to muscle El-Abd off the ball, however, it did not look like unfair challenge, the ball was won and Adam made sure Carson was not eager to try it again.

Final score: Brighton & Hove Albion 1 – 1 Ipswich Town.

While many of the fans were disappointed and every player has had better games, Brighton & Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet took the oppositions’ defensive tactics over the last two games as a compliment telling that “Tonight again showed that everyone who comes here considers us to be a top team now … and it’s us that has to play all the football”.

Most fans are of the opinion that Brighton are sorely missing their top striker Craig Mackail-Smith who has been responsible for most of their goals this season but can take solace in the fact that Brighton have the best defensive record in the league with the likes of Adam El-Abd in great form.

Brighton travel to Derby on Saturday, at 3rd in the Championship, with a record that sees them taking more away points than home so far this season. Manager Gus Poyet is confident the team can deliver after the lessons of the last two games and with the likely return of their ever flair-full Bruno at right back.

Adam El-Abd’s go into the international break in the play-off zone following a winless week after drawing 0-0 with Derby on Saturday.

The Seagulls will openly feel disappointed that they couldn’t see any of their 11 attempts hit the back of the net, feeling the absence of the injured, Craig Mackail-Smith.

Andy Thorpe is a Brighton blogger and season-ticket holder covering Adam El-Abd and the rest of the Seagulls for You can follow Andy on Twitter: @4psta.

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