|Brighton and Hove Albion 3 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 25th February 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Brighton 3-0 Town
Saturday, 25th Feb 2012 17:14
Town’s winning run was halted at four games as goals from Craig Mackail-Smith and Ashley Barnes (2) saw Brighton to a 3-0 win at the Amex Stadium. Michael Chopra had had a chip headed off the line by Seagulls skipper Gordon Greer before Mackail-Smith struck in the first half, Barnes sealing the home side's victory with two goals after the break.
Blues boss Paul Jewell named an unchanged side for the third game running as Town went looking for a fifth league victory on the bounce for the first time since 2003. The only switch came on the bench with Ibrahima Sonko taking over from Jack Ainsley.
Brighton made one change from the side which drew 0-0 at Hull in midweek, Will Buckley replacing Kazenga LuaLua.
Prior to kick-off a banner unfurled in the 2,400-strong Town support bearing the legend “Some things money can’t buy, football isn’t one: The Amex” stirred up what had previously been a subdued afternoon at Brighton’s new home.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas struck the game’s first shot inside the second minute, his 25-yard strike proving too hot for Brighton keeper Peter Brezovan to hold but the loose ball fell safely.
On nine, Arran Lee-Barrett was forced to punch away a Craig Mackail-Smith cross from the right after skipper Carlos Edwards had taken the ball away from Ashley Barnes who had been found in space on the Seagulls’ left.
Emmanuel-Thomas saw another shot blocked on 11 with neither side able to gain the upper hand in the opening spell. A minute later, Abdul Razak scuffed wide from just outside the Town area.
There was a scare for the home side in the 14th minute when Lee Martin reacted quickly to a poor Joe Mattock backpass, the Blues midfielder toeing the ball off Brezovan to Michael Chopra. The Town top scorer chipped the ball goalwards but Seagulls skipper Gordon Greer headed off the line with Martin unable to get on to the looping rebound.
But despite the Blues having had the better of the game’s few opportunities, it was Brighton who went ahead in the 20th minute. Buckley was found wide on the right by a Greer long ball and the former Watford man crossed low towards the in-running Mackail-Smith, who got between Town central defenders Tommy Smith and Damien Delaney to sweep home from six yards.
The home side had more of the ball in the period after the goal but on 29 a sharp break involving Chopra and Martin led to Luke Hyam hitting a weak shot to Brezovan.
Two minutes later, Buckley sent over another cross but just too far in front of Mackail-Smith and Barnes, Edwards putting the ball out of play. From Buckley’s resultant corner, Mackail-Smith headed against the top of the bar.
Hyam got his name in the book for a late tackle on Buckley in the 34th minute with the Blues looking somewhat second best at this stage.
At the half reached its final five minutes, the Blues started to come into it more again, a long spell of Town passing ending with a blocked shot from Martin, then Edwards sent in a cross which Greer was forced to head behind, before Martin forced Brezovan into a save down to his right.
After a mix-up between Smith and Lee-Barrett at the Town end had almost let in Mackail-Smith, the ex-Peterborough man falling when he might have seized on hesitation between the two, Martin hit another shot from 25 yards but this time wide of Brezovan’s left post.
The home side deserved their half-time lead on the balance of play, although it had been an even affair up until the goal.
But once Albion had gone in front they had enjoyed a greater share of the possession and created the better chances with the Blues unable to keep hold of the ball for any length of time, although there were signs that they were getting more into the game as the break approached.
The Blues had the ball in the net within three minutes of the restart. Andy Drury sent over a corner from the left, Smith flicked on to Chopra, who was adjudged to have handled the ball before beating Brezovan from inside the six-yard area. There were few Town protests even if it looked inadvertent.
Town were starting the second half as the brighter side, keeping the ball much better but without creating anything in front of goal. Neither side looked particularly threatening in the opening quarter of an hour and one 64 the quiet Hyam was replaced by Grant Leadbitter.
A minute later, Brighton went two ahead. Keeper Lee-Barrett kicked weakly to just before halfway and Liam Bridcutt found Barnes on the edge of the area from where he hit a low shot to the keeper’s left and into the net.
Albion weren’t far from a third soon after when Mackail-Smith crossed from the left, Buckley turned Smith but shot wide. Moments later, Chopra was booked for a foul on Buckley.
The Blues came close to pulling a goal back in the 72nd minute when Emmanuel-Thomas played a low ball across the six-yard box but no Town player was able to get the vital touch and the ball was cleared for a corner.
Jason Scotland replaced Daryl Murphy seconds later, then Delaney was yellow-carded for stopping Mackail-Smith in his tracks. Soon after, Gonzalo Jara Reyes joined him in referee Colin Webster’s book for a foul on Chopra.
Bridcutt blocked an Edwards cross-shot from the left straight into his keeper’s hands in the 86th minute with the Blues still occasionally pushing for a goal but not overly convincingly.
But it was the home side that were still looking more dangerous when going forward and Barnes made it three when played in by Reyes with a minute of normal time left on the clock. By this stage Town looked well beaten, referee Webster’s whistle ended proceedings not long afterwards.
Brighton were good for their win with the Blues not really hitting the heights of their recent form, although the scoreline probably didn’t reflect the game.
The match had been even up to the first goal and Town might have been ahead through Chopra but after Mackail-Smith’s goal, the half had been the home side’s.
In the second period the Blues had a lot of the ball but without creating too many significant chances. The second Brighton goal came against the run of play and from the type of error typical of Town over the course of the season and after that there was no way back, although the third goal gave the scoreline a flattering look.
An end to the winning run with the test now how the Blues react to that when Bristol City are at Portman Road next Saturday.
Brighton: Brezovan, Reyes, Greer, El-Abd, Mattock, Buckley (Assulin 79), Navarro, Bridcutt, Razak (LuaLua 89), Mackail-Smith (Vokes 79), Barnes. Subs: Ankergren, Calderon.
Town: Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Delaney, Smith, Cresswell, Drury, Hyam (Leadbitter 64), Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy (Scotland 72), Chopra. Subs: McCarthy, Sonko, Bullard. Referee: Colin Webster (Tyne and Wear). Att: 20,490 (Town: 2,429).
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