THE Middlesbrough goal, the only goal, the one that won the game, made painful viewing.
The Boro left-back Joe Bennett sent over a low cross into Casper Ankergren’s arms, only for the ball to escape and drop towards Boro forward Scott McDonald. His shot was well blocked by our keeper but the ball came back to the striker and was tapped in. That was in the 22nd minute. Brighton couldn’t find the home side’s net in the 90 minutes so Boro took all the points.
It would be unfair of me to say our Danish keeper’s butterfingers lost the match – but tempting. The Seagulls’ manager Gus Poyet certainly didn’t want to blame Casper, saying that defeats can be the fault of defenders, midfield, or attackers, so he wouldn’t single out his keeper. His verdict was: “The difference was the one goal and that was a mistake, but that’s football. We were away from home but there was not much difference between the two teams, which is great for the future of this football club.”
The result took Boro to third equal in the Championship while Brighton drop to seventh, three points behind Leeds in the last play-off position.
The statistics from the game don’t look good in that we were credited with only one shot on goal. This was despite an attacking line-up where Craig Noone, Kazenga LuaLua and Craig Mackail-Smith all started.
We did come very close to scoring BEFORE the Boro goal. First Noone shaved a post with his left-foot strike. A minute later, in the 16th minute, LuaLua went closer still. His powerful drive from long range hit a post but went away to safety.
This was particularly disappointing as it was Kazenga’s 21st birthday and his family was watching. The storyline COULD have been all about celebrating a birthday goal – but the woodwork spoilt this.
A slightly sad Kazenga said “It’s always nice to know your family are watching you, especially for my mum because she has never been to watch me before… I hit the post with a shot too, and it’s such a shame that it didn’t go in.”
LuaLua’s time will come and not too far in the future I hope.
A worrying feature for Albion at present is discipline. We picked up five yellow cards (to Boro’s three). It wasn’t a dirty game and from a biased Seagull’s point of view we do seem to be harshly treated by refs. On paper I think we have the worst record of all the Championship teams.
Gus is very much aware of this. He said: “It’s strange because we got shown five yellow cards for tackles when the challenges didn’t seem very bad.
“Something has got to change and we may need to talk to the refereeing association about it. We seem to be getting more than everyone else.”
It is said these things even out over a season. Perhaps we will get a few favours from the officials this Saturday?
Generally Poyet was positive about the game. He thinks his team is moving in the right direction and that they played better than they had done in the last few weeks.
I only listened to the game via local radio but my man-at-the-match reporter (a.k.a next-door-neighbour) went, along with around 700 brave Seagulls’ fans, and came back with a favourable summary. There were some good individual performances and promotion chasing Middlesbrough were made to look fairly ordinary and dull.
He thought we had more flair than Boro, and on another day, when keepers don’t drop balls, we would have had at least a draw. So our mini run of wins was ended, but not many teams will win at The Riverside.
So to this Saturday’s game at the Amex. However, mid-table Burnley won’t be a push-over.
They are just five points behind us and their away record is better than their home one.