Adam El-Abd shines as Brighton finally score
The timing of the international break was very convenient for Adam El-Abd’s Brighton and Hove Albion due the large number of injuries in the first team.
The most notable being the injury of Scottish International and Albion top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith, called CMS by the fans and Macca by his fellow players. Brighton have not been able to find the net since CMS has been injured.
Adam El-Abd’s form has also impressed his manager, with Gus Poyet giving him a vote of confidence: “We keep improving. We are going to train more things. For example, to help Adam El-Abd on the ball and the movement to keep creating and controlling. I am not changing him.”
Once the break was over, Brighton then had to squeeze in 3 games in 7 days and two of them away…
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough visited the ‘Amex’ on a Saturday for first game back after the international break.
Fans’ hopes were high with the return of CMS and Crofts as well as the confidence of Adam El-Abd after his two solid 45 minute appearances for Egypt during the break, with the Pharaohs not conceding a goal with El-Abd on the pitch.
Unfortunately the Seagulls fans’ hopes for a return of the form from the start of the season quickly vanished in the 21st minute.
Middlesbrough’s Emnes was left unchallenged by the midfield as he cut inside from the right and let off a shot heading for the far side of the goal. Albion’s keeper, Tomasz Kuszczak, probably had it well covered but it then took a horrid deflection off Brighton’s centre back and Captain Gordon Greer to wrong foot Kuszczak and drop into the near post.
The team seemed a little out of sorts, possibly rushing to score anyway they could but did not play their patient game as much as usual.
CMS looked as eager as he had last season but not as clever off the ball as he has been early this season. He had two or three good chances but his finishes were not enough to beat the Boro keeper.
Albion manager Gus Poyet made an audacious substitution in the 71st minute, replacing Crofts and El-Abd for Buckley and Dobbie but to no avail, Boro just shut up shop and lined the 18 yard box leaving Albion crossing from wide to CMS, Barnes and Dobbie, all noticeably shorter than their markers.
While the fan’s were once more left disappointed, El-Abd’s performance solid and the fans are of the belief that the team just needs time to gell although some voices are calling for Gus to loan in a big striker to help score.
Result: Brighton and Hove Albion 0 – 1 Middlesbrough
Leicester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Only 3 days after the Boro game, Brighton travelled to top of the league Leicester for a damp Tuesday night away game.
Fans were not expecting a win like the previous Saturday, instead they were more than happy with a draw, a nil nil draw if Brighton’s recent scoring record continued. This was not an unrealistic expectation looking at Leicester’s recent form propelling them to the top of the Championship and Albion’s away form being better than their home form so far this season leaving a good chance of both sides cancelling each other out.
The travelling fans’ hopes were quickly scuppered after 10 minutes when Andy King managed to score at the second attempt after Adam El-Abd’s excellent tackle stopped his first shot but unluckily and inevitably the ball fell to back to King to finish calmly.
Despite possession stats of 54% / 46% in favour of the home side and Leicester continuing to dominate the first half of the game, Brighton weathered the storm well and did not look like conceding again before the break.
Albion came out a little more threatening in the second half and were rewarded with a penalty on the 55th minute mark after Will Buckley was tripped in the box. Ashley Barnes stepped up with his usual unshakable approach but his shot to the low left of the goal was well saved by Casper Schmeichel before Barnes fired the rebound into Row-Z.
It continued to be end to stuff with both teams being able to play good football but the score ended 1-0 to Leicester which was probably the fairest result with Leicester having the far better share of chances.
Even though Albion didn’t win, fans reported that El-Abd had another great game with phrases like “Adam El-Abd was superb tonight. Different class” appearing on twitter.
Result: Leicester 1 – 0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Blackpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Blackpool are a team well known for playing good football but just like Brighton, they have recently had varied set of results after a good start to the season.
Although Albion fans were not confident of a win and would once more settle for a draw, they were crying out for a goal.
As usual Blackpool’s Tom Ince was their star, the lightening fast winger that Liverpool should never have sold, was a constant threat down either wing but Albion’s defence stayed strong and consistent and the few chances that did get through were not converted by Blackpool.
At the halftime break Albion fans were pleased with the result whilst sat firmly on the edge of their seats.
Albion’s top performer in the first half was Andrew Crofts, he had covered a lot of ground supporting the forwards while still performing his defensive duties in the middle of the park.
56 minutes in Crofts’s diligence was rewarded when he forced his way forward, forcing a back pass which fell short then managed to chase that down and get a foot on it before their keeper got hands on. Croft sneaky foot caused the ball to fall to Ashley Barnes for a nervous looking but close range tap-in.
Finally Albion had the goal they’d been waiting for, however scrappy it was.
Unfortunately for the Seagulls, their lead was short lived as Blackpool leveled the score on 72mins. Somehow Blackpool’s Elliot Grandin found himself unchallenged as Phillips delivered a pinpoint cross from the right and he netted with a powerful diving header.
At this point the game opened right up, Blackpool picked up the pace and a plethora of attacks ensued on the Brighton goal but to no avail.
Meanwhile Albion looked dangerous on the break and the fan were almost treated to another Craig Mackail-Smith wonder goal as he attempted and connected a bicycle kick after another breakaway down the right from William Buckley.
Unfortunately the connection was not as solid as the ‘Pele’ style goal at Burnley earlier in the season and the score remained the same.
Frustrations appeared to rise in Blackpool striker’s Gary Taylor-Fletcher as he firmly lost the psychological battle to Egyptian International Adam El-Abd, there were a couple of clashes but no cards.
Andy Naylor – Brighton and Hove Albion reporter for Brighton’s Argus newspaper – was full of praise of Adam El-Abd: “Albion had defended stubbornly, typified by El-Abd’s great clearance”, “El-Abd has defended with typical gusto”.
Statistically it looked like Blackpool should have walked the game with their 22 shots on goal to Albion’s 6. However there is no measure of the quality of the chances and some Seagull fans felt they could have easily nicked one near the end of the game if only their finishing was better.
Result: Blackpool 1 – 1 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
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