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El-Abd returns and CMS hits 10th as Brighton endure difficult spell

Two away games on two consecutive Saturdays for Brighton & Hove Albion, the first of which saw the Seagulls lose heavily at arch rivals the Crystal Palace before coming from behind twice to draw at Charlton Athletic where Egyptian International Adam El-Abd returned from injury to take his place in the Brighton defence and Craig Mackail Smith scores his tenth goal of the season…

Crystal Palace vs Brighton & Hove Albion

was still unavailable when Brighton’s Seagulls visited Croydon to play Crystal Palace’s Eagles.

In case you noticed that the two clubs names were similar, it was a bi-product of the two clubs’ odd, mildly trivial but none-the-less fierce rivalry. It dates back to the days when the friendly rivalry between two  managers started a spiral of events in 1976 when ex-Tottenham captain Alan Mullery was appointed Brighton manager a month after ex-Tottenham not-captain Terry Venables (later Tottenham & England manager) was appointed manager of Crystal Palace; both teams were in the same division with the same expectations.

The short version is that the two teams met in the cup, they drew the game, drew the replay, then played a 3d final game, at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. Brighton lost after being disallowed a goal and having to retake a scored penalty because Palace players encroached, the retaken penalty was missed and Brighton lost 1-0.  It is said that as the furious Mullery stormed down the tunnel and a load of boiling hot coffee was thrown over him by a Crystal Palace supporter. Mullery then pulled a handful of change out of his pocket, threw it on the floor and shouted, ‘That’s all you’re worth, Crystal Palace!’ and it went downhill from there…

Palace have had the upper the hand in the more recent matches, especially since the transfer of Glen Murray from Brighton to Palace two seasons ago after Murray was instrumental when Brighton won the league below. Murray has since topped the Championship’s top goal scorers table and put two past the Seagulls on their first visit to Amex last season.

It was another eventful game, Lewis Dunk started along side captain Greer again in El-Abd’s absence but was only on the field for 7 minutes before his poor first touch from a pass put the ball right to the feet of Bolasie who went to fly passed Dunk, who in turn flew in with one of his late lunges which more often than not results in a foul; this time it was worse because Bolasie was clean through otherwise, leaving Dunk as last man. The referee had no choice but to show Dunk the red card.

A bit of re-jigging saw Albion adopting the pose normally adopted by visitors the Amex, they put 9 men behind the ball trying to restrict Palace to long shots. Despite their best efforts, 38mins in, former Seagull now honoured Eagle, Glen Murray met the ball with a glancing header at the near post from a Bolasie corner.

Albion kept their heads up and actually took the game to Palace, just before half time Bridcutt delivered an in-swinger to Barnes’s head but it was batted away by the keeper.
For the second half Bridcutt moved  from anchor man in the middle to left back and minutes in Barnes dispossessed Zaha and sent Craig Mackail-Smith (CMS) through middle only to see  him hit the post.

Not long later Murray stormed through again after another ricochet in the Albion defence. Murray, one on one with Albion’s goalie Kuszczak, kicked it past the encroaching keeper and off the pitch, and then went down over the keeper, who’s dive missed the ball but left him in the path of Murray who promptly hit the deck. Murry easily slotted the penalty away to secure his brace but was once again respectful enough of his old team to celebrate in their face.

The game was put to bed when Greer was seen to have pushed Murray over at the far post and Palace were awarded a 2nd penalty which was converted by Garvan, not Murray.

Crystal Palarce 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion


Charlton Athletic vs

While the away game at Crystal Palace is a popular match for Brighton fans to attend, it’s rarely as popular as Charlton away. No rivalry but pretty close and a level of respect due to transferring  a few players over the years.

All 3,385 visiting fans were delighted to see the return of Adam El-Abd back to the starting eleven, in a line-up that also included Mackail-Smith, Will Hoskins and Stephen Dobbie together for the first time this season. Not unlike the game a week ago, Brighton didn’t last 10 minutes before something went wrong, with Charlton scoring from a glancing header at the near post.

It was end to end stuff from that point with Brighton having more chances: Greer ballooned over the bar after a well worked corner, Albion had a good shout for a penalty and Will Hoskins’s flick over his shoulder and the Charlton backline put Dobbie through one on one but the keeper had shut the shot down too well.

Finally, on the 28th minute, Mackail-Smith chased down another long clearance, the high ball was headed back into his path by Charlton defender Michael Morrison, Mackail-Smith’s first touch made him space before, on the run across the edge of the 18 yard box, CMS hit it on the half volley and it flew low and hard into the near post, past the diving keeper to take his tally for the season to 10 … 1-1 at half time.

From the moment Brighton restored the deadlock it looked like they would run away with the day, but Albion’s woes in front of goal contined for the rest of the half and into the 2nd, the most noticeable missed from Dobbie and Buckley.

Will Hoskins had been having a great game, his second start since coming back from pre-season injury for the second season running. He was chopped down on the edge of the box after a great run and was replaced by Kazenga Lua-Lua immediately afterwards. The resulting free kick was not converted, but seconds later Charlton countered with pace and purpose and made it 2-1 with messy, scrambled shot to the far post as Brighton did not take their opportunities to clear.

5 Minutes later, Ashley Barnes , who had replaced Dobbie 10 minutes earlier after Dobbie had missed at least one chance too many, received the ball  from wide on the edge of the box. His touch was good and his feet were too quick as he flicked the ball out of the way of the defender who then flattened him to give Brighton a direct free kick 18 yards out.

Lua-Lua stepped up again and after a little wait, Adam El-Abd hustling in their wall made some noise then ran out and wide just in time for Lua-Lua to smack the free kick at the hole he’d left behind him. The ball vanished into the sea of red shirts seemingly getting giant deflection and went from going in towards the keeper to bouncing out of the pack nicely into the far post. Fans were then treated to Kazenga’s famous somersault celebration.

Brighton looked far more likely to score than Charlton in the remaining quarter-hour but were still not able to make the most of their dominance as the match ended in a draw.

Charlton Athletic 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

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.

(Images courtesy of

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