What a time to be a Brighton fan; only team unbeaten in all of the UK and now have set a new club record for the longest unbeaten league run! Words cannot describe what is going on at Brighton, but some that I would choose are; disbelief and admiration. Disbelief because of how Brighton played last year, and survived by the skin of their teeth, but admiration for Chris Hughton and his staff for turning around a relegation-threatened team into genuine promotion contenders in the space of 12 months. And I think that you will all agree that takes some doing. Having said all of that, Gus Poyet did almost the same thing, when he took over just before the halfway point back in 2009, and in his first full season in charge got the club promoted back to the Championship…Deja vu anyone? He didn’t have an extravagant unbeaten run mind you, but he did have the knowledge to get the wins which saw the Albion sit top for a majority of that season. Anyway, what’s going on present time at Brighton is special, and they haven’t got there on luck, unlike what rival fans might think. Brighton transfer business was good and quick, they didn’t wait around to do it on the last few days unlike previous seasons, and when they did make the early signings, they made immediate impacts, such as Tomer Hemed, Uwe Hunemeier, Jamie Murphy and Liam Rosenior, and lest we forget Gaetan Bong. They strengthen in areas where they though they would be vulnerable, and while they may be a couple of signing short of promotion favourites, they are well worth where they are now. Chasing that unbeaten record, the Seagulls welcomed the much hated club (or franchise) MK Dons to the south coast, looking to re-write the record books. While it wasn’t going to be an easy game, Brighton were strong favourites to win after picking up 2 valuable away points from promotion rivals in their last 2 games.
The games started as you would expect, Brighton on the front foot and looking for an early goal, which is exactly what they got, through Solly March, who has recently shown the quality we all knew he possessed but had never quite shown it. His rasping shot, which came to him after a poor clearance from a corner, flew through a flurry of defenders and flew into the back of David Martin’s net for a 5 minute lead. Brighton weren’t content with their early goal ad were looking to get another one soon after, and could have been 2-0 up only if Dale Stephens had connected better with a Murphy free kick. But the did find themselves 2-0 up with their next chance; March broke into midfield and played simple ball to Sam Baldock, who’s pass wasn’t great but somehow ended up at Murphy’s feet which allowed him to finish into the bottom left corner. MK Dons halved the deficit when Nicky Maynard hit a shot from 25 yards, and found the corner of David Stockdale’s goal. Brighton looked to restore their 2 goal advantage, when March broke down the right wing, and squared the ball across goal, only to be prodded away and for Hemed to acrobatically sent the ball into orbit. Another great chance went begging, or should I say 2, after March yet again beat the left-back to break clear to square the ball for Hemed, only for the ball to hit the inside of the post and come out. From that, Murphy picked the ball up and crossed it, but Hemed headed wide what should of been an easy finish. Second half started brightly for the visitors, and they could of felt aggrieved that they weren’t given a penalty, when Samir Curruthers was sent flying by Lewis Dunk; first instincts said it wasn’t a penalty, but after video replays, I’m scratching my head as to what the referee and linesman saw, as it was so blatant. Nevertheless, it wasn’t given. Murphy had a good chance to get a second goal, after his mazy run through the defence was met with a tame attempt on goal which was easily saved by Martin. MK Dons tried pushed on trying to find an equaliser, but failed and left empty handed, while Brighton remain unbeaten and move back up into the automatic promotion places.
Line-up; (I GOT IT RIGHT!!! 🙂 )
Stockdale (7); A sort of quiet afternoon for the Albion stopper, especially in the first half, bit more to do in the second half, but poor finishing from MK Dons made his job easier as the game went on.
Bruno (8); After starting the season slowly, he has picked up his game and is showing what most fans expect to see from the veteran right-back; good defending as well as supporting the attack when needed. It seems the captaincy has given him a much needed lift.
Dunk (7); Had a wary afternoon trying to keep Maynard quiet, but was a threat from set-pieces, and could of had 3 penalties if the referee was brave enough to give some blatant shirt pulling or ripping in this case.
Hunemeier (7); Like Dunk, had a tough afternoon keeping the MK’s attack quiet, and whilst he didn’t pose a threat on the attacking side of set-pieces, he did on the defensive side.
Rosenior (7); Seems to be making that left-back spot his own, and has fitted well into it. Linked up well with Murphy and had a few crosses which should of had attackers on the end of.
March (8); The young winger is in full stride now, and seems to have the confidence he was lacking much of last season. A great performance from him, and his goal will be one his will remember for a while.
Kayal (7); The midfield maestro was on his game again, and made things in midfield look simple at times. The passes out wide were effortless and the defensive side of his game is starting to become apparent too.
Stephens (7); The midfield paring of these 2 has been inspirational to Brighton’s run thus far, and as long as these 2 are fit and playing, it will be a tough ask to beat such a sturdy midfield.
Murphy (8); Goal-scorer once again, and is looking like he has settled on the south coast, after a slow start to life at Brighton. Created chances, and could of had a few more goals, if he had done his shooting practise last week 😉 .
Hemed (6); Although his heart’s in the right place, he needs to be taking some of these chances that fall his way, he missed 2 inside a matter of 10 seconds. Fair play to the lad though, he doesn’t give up and I do expect him to break it sooner rather that later.
Baldock (7); As I have said countless times before, this guy does not stop running; he must be a defenders worst nightmare. If he can add goals to his running game, he could be an important asset to the team when it gets down to the thick of it. Hope the injury that forced him off isn’t too serious though.
Zamora (6); Came on for the injured Baldock, but not too much from him. Didn’t have much to do other than hold the ball up and wait for support, which didn’t arrive at times.
Crofts (6); Replaced Hemed to created some stability in midfield, and with some more game time, he could make a late charge into the Wales Euro 2016 squad.
Manu (6); Got some glimpses of what the Dutch winger can do, and will be looking forward to it more often as the season goes on
Brighton - MK Dons; March (5), Murphy (19); Maynard (23)