Seagulls left to rue missed opportunities

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Birmingham City were visitors to the Amex on Saturday, where the later kick off time of 5.30pm, due to neighbouring university scheduling, clearly suited the Midlands outfit better as out-of-form Blues came away with a surprise 1-0 win.

City hadn’t won an away game in eight and Albion were on a five-game winning streak.

On paper the Seagulls should have won the game with ease. Barnsley had beaten Lee Clarke’s Blues 5-0 at home the previous Saturday so it seemed the perfect time to take on a team in a poor form. However, Brighton were without striker Craig Mackail-Smith and right-back Bruno due to injuries. This gave Stephen Dobbie and Inigo Calderon chances to prove themselves as regulars starters.

City scored the only goal of the game with their first real chance of the game. On 27 minutes a high corner in from the left was cleared out to the right corner of the area, where, to the astonishment of the crowd, Chris Burke was on hand to smash a wonder volley back past Tomasz Kuszczak and into the top corner of his net.

An electrical failure saw the second half delayed by 20 minutes as the floodlights went out during the early part of half-time. And despite a quick on-pitch rally from Gus Poyet,the Albion boss was unable to inspire a second half comeback.

But it was (eventually) a different story on Tuesday night, when Ipswich Town were the visitors to the Amex. The Tractor Boys were sitting uncertainly in 23rd position the Championship while the Albion sat, equally uncertainly, in 1st place.

Cardiff and Wolves were snapping at Albion’s heels with the same points although with inferior goal difference. CMS and Bruno were still out injured and Kazenga LuaLua started in place of Buckley. Albion started quickly and even nearly scored inside the first minute. But similar to Saturday, Town scored against the run of play on 27 minutes, the goal coming from Daryl Murphy after a well-timed Carlos Edwards cross.

It was the second half introduction of Buckley as sub that made all the difference. He had already caused Town problems when, on 80 minutes, Calderon broke into the box and crossed along the byline where, to the relief of all in blue and white, Buckley turned the ball into the net. Ultimately Albion were thankful for the draw. They drop to third but an away game at Derby County tomorrow (Saturday) may give them the chance to bounce back.

WILL MUIR