Brighton avoid late defeat at Stoke as Ryan and Knockaert make sensational stops

Mat Ryan and Anthony Knockaert put their bodies on the line to save Brighton from a dramatic late defeat away to Stoke.

Mat Ryan

As referee Bobby Madley signalled for a stoppage time penalty to the home side, for a soft but unnecessary push from Stephens on Jese, it looked like Brighton were staring defeat in the face against a relegation rival.

As Charlie Adam, who had only been on the pitch 11 minutes, stepped up and sidefooted the ball towards Ryan’s right hand side, the Australian was at full stretch to make a brilliant save. The ball rebounded kindly for Adam but the Scottish midfielder, who seemingly had arguments with teammates about who would take the penalty, appeared to think he had all the time in the world to stroke the ball into an empty net which allowed Lewis Dunk to make an excellent challenge, getting a toe on the ball and stabbing it wide.

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From the resulting corner, Charlie Adam nearly made amends by drilling it low into the near post but Ryan got down to prevent being caught out with a reaction block. The ball was cleared out of play again for another corner. This time Mame Diouf got his head on the whipped ball and Anthony Knockaert, a late substitute, was in position to head the ball off the line at the back post. Goalline technology showed that the diminutive Frenchman cleared the ball with no more than an inch before it had crossed the line.

It was a blistering end to the game but Brighton had started the game brightly.

Hughton had made one change to the side that beat West Ham last week as March started in place of the aforementioned Knockaert, while record signing Jurgen Locadia was in the squad for the first time after recovering from injury.

Jose Izquierdo, who stole the headlines against West Ham with his wonderstrike, looked full of confidence and started the match in similar fashion. His shot from an almost identical position as the previous game was tipped over by England international Jack Butland after two minutes.

The Seagulls looked dangerous in the first half and capitalised on their pressure with another excellent goal from Izquierdo.

The Colombian drove in from the touchline and played a one-two with Propper, then another with Stephens, before dropping his shoulder to shake off a defender and drill into the bottom corner.

The travelling fans, of which there were 3,237 to be part of a record attendance at the Bet365 Stadium, were in raptures.

In what was an unusually open game between two teams battling to stave off relegation, chances came and went for both sides but they went in at half time at 1-0 to the Seagulls.

At half time Stoke withdrew Darren Fletcher, to ironic cheers from the home fans, for Saido Berahino and tweaked their shape. Stoke were very much in the ascendancy as the half wore on and their extended pressure told when the ball fell kindly for Xherdan Shaqiri after 68 minutes.

The Swiss winger dropped his shoulder 22 yards out and wrapped his left foot around the ball to sweetly drive it past the despairing Ryan to make it 1-1.

With the home support roaring their team on, Stoke continued to push forward for the winner and, when Bobby Madly pointed to the spot in stoppage time, it looked like they’d found it.

Fortunately for the away support and for Chris Hughton, the popular Australian in goal stood his ground and the Seagulls leave the rollercoaster of a game with a draw that will, mentally at least, feel like a win.


Stoke: Butland; Bauer, Shawcross, Zouma, Pieters; Fletcher; Shaqiri, Allen, Badou, Choupo-Moting; Diouf

Subs: Grant; Johnson, Berahino (45), Jese (62), Adam (79), Cameron, Ramadan

Brighton: Ryan; Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Propper, Stephens, March, Gross, Izquierdo; Murray

Subs: Krul, Bruno, Goldson, Kayal (79), Knockaert (86), Ulloa (71), Locadia