Patrick Gleeson reports on Brighton’s sweeping victory at home.
Brighton thumped Blackpool 6-1 in the Sussex sunshine to move to within one win away from securing a place in the play-offs.
Goals from Will Buckley, Matthew Upson, Andrea Orlandi, David Lopez and a brace from Ashley Barnes on his return from a seven-game ban ensured the Seagulls took all three points.
A freak own goal from Dean Hammond just after half time was a mere consolation for Paul Ince’s men who were powerless to resist a rampant Albion.
Will Buckley started the rout when his curled effort clipped the underside of the crossbar and rippled the top corner after just nine minutes.
Andrea Orlandi and Inigo Calderon combined for the second which was poked over the line from close range by Matthew Upson to open his Albion account.
The hosts then scored a contender for goal of the season on the stroke of half time to effectively end the tie, with Orlandi and David Lopez linking brilliantly on the edge of the box before the former stroked the ball past Matt Gilks with the outside of his foot.
Ashley Barnes’ tireless work rate then allowed Lopez to get a goal of his own inside a minute of the restart when his powerful strike was deflected into the roof of the net.
Albion looked ruthless going forward and the visitors struggled to muster any real goalscoring opportunities themselves. That was until Matt Phillips’ cross was turned into his own goal by Dean Hammond’s powerful header.
Ashley Barnes, who was recently told by manager Gus Poyet to seize his chance following his return from suspension, then put the game to bed with a late double.
The first was a result of substitute Kazenga LuaLua’s determination as he beat two players and crossed for Barnes to hammer in a well deserved goal, and the second was a close range finish from a sumptuous cross from Orlandi on the right flank.
The victory opens up a gap of four points between Albion in fourth and Leicester in seventh.