AFTER the two-week international break, Albion had to find a way to continue their recent run of success and stay in contention for promotion to the Premiership.
With eight goals in four games having only conceding three, things were looking very promising.
But the recently-promoted Sheffield Wednesday were not the easiest opponents to face. They were hungry for the double after making the landmark signing Jay Bothroyd late in August after the Albion were believed to be chasing the England forward. Albion started the match with the most promise though and Dean Hammond thought he had scored early on after a recieving a well timed threw ball but he was deemed to be offside.
Less than five minutes later Will Buckley was through on goal with only Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland to beat but a low shot close to the former Wigan stopper allowed him an easier than expected save. A foul just outside the box gave Albion another great chance.
With Brighton’s usual free kick taker, Kazenga Lualua, not in the first XI, Wayne Bridge stood up and tried to get his second Albion goal in as many games.
He hit the ball hard and straight into the wall. Rodri was the unfortunate Wednesday defender who provided the deflection needed for the shot to loop into the top left corner. Bothroyd gave Albion their only scare when a deflected shot fell just wide of Tomasz Kuszczak’s post.
Confidence was now oozing out of the Seagulls and they didn’t let anyone get in their way. On 54 minutes Spanish right-back Bruno went on a mazy run down the right flank. He took the ball through the Owls defence and into the path of Craig Mackail-Smith, who converted into an almost empty net.
This was followed by his new signature celebration, the C-Goal. Just four minutes later, man of the match Bruno made another pin-point pass, this time from the halfway line and to the feet of the onrushing Buckley. The Albion striker made no mistake, dinking the ball over the head of Kirkland and sending the Amex crowd into hysteria.
Wednesday had chances of their own though, with Bothroyd denied a goal from a bullet header from close range by Albion’s Polish keeper. With three goals and a team in excellent form the Seagulls fans could go home feeling they had got their money’s worth.
The Tuesday night trip to Watford saw Gus Poyet give new boy Andrea Orlandi a chance to shine in the starting XI at the expense of Ashley Barnes, who was on the bench.
Gianfranco Zola’s men had had a change of tactic this season because of the former Chelsea midfielder.
A passing game was the way he liked it and that was the way he got it. The opening 15 minutes was mostly Watford in Albion’s half as they neatly passed the ball around, much like the Seagulls had done against Sheffield Wednesday four days earlier. An early shot from the Hornets took a double deflection and Kuszczak was glad to see it whistle past the top corner.
Albion may have been lucky not to be a goal down but Watford were lucky not to be a man down. On 18 minutes an unnecessary lunge from Macro Cassetti on Liam Bridcutt saw him receive a dubious yellow card. Brighton made some good advances forward but failed to get the ball past Manual Almunia.
See today’s paper for a longer report by Will Muir