Game 17 has come and gone, and to be able to say Brighton are still unbeaten is something quite remarkable. The halfway point of the season is usually the time where teams decide if they can make the promotion places, that time is 6 games away, and Brighton seem to be among 5 teams vying for those 2 places. With Brighton playing 2 of those other 4 teams in the next 6 games, it will not only test their promotion credentials but could help them pull away from the chasing pack at such a pivotal part of the season. It had been 211 days since Brighton’s last league defeat (Watford 25/4/15) going into the Burnley game, and a run they were looking to increase, as they bare down QPR’s record of 19 unbeaten league games. They took a step closer to that record, but they can count themselves lucky in some ways that Burnley’s shooting was worse that shocking, otherwise the scoreline could have been different.
Burnley had gone into this game 5 games unbeaten, and have only dropped 5 points at home all season, so this game was going to be more that a challenge for Chris Hughton’s men, it was a task which seemed impossible. The game started well for the team in the high vis kit, as Solly March broke down the right wing, and after an cut back from March fell to Dale Stephens, his shot was blocked by Michael Keane, only for the ball to fall to Tomer Hemed but his shot was denied by the cross bar, however Bobby Zamora was on hand to prod the ball over the line, and give the Seagulls a 57 second lead. Just as the celebrations were dying down in the away stand, 48 seconds after the restart, Burnley were awarded a penalty when Lewis Dunk was penalised for holding Keane. It looked harsh, but it’s one of those decisions only certain referees give, and clearly Simon Hooper is one of those referees. Nevertheless the inform Andre Gray dispatched the penalty, and brought the home side level. Burnley created the next chance, when George Boyd hit a thunderbolt from a free kick which David Stockdale just managed to keep from rolling under him. Stockdale was called into action again, as Boyd crossed a dangerous ball for Rouwen Hennings, but his shot was saved. The next chance wasn’t created until the second half when Scott Arfield flicked the ball forward towards Boyd, and after a one-two with Boyd, Arfield flashed his shot just wide of Stockdale’s post. Arfield had another great chance, after his long ball forward was met by Gray, and after his cross had evaded everyone inside the box, Arfield had the chance to put Burnley ahead, but his curling shot went wide. Chris Long had a last-gasp chance to snatch the 3 points, after Gray’s header was directed at goal, but he poked the ball wide as Stockdale was coming to claim, and both sides settled for a point.
Stockdale (8); He maybe should of saved the penalty, but not for the first time this season, he has saved the Seagulls coming away with nothing. Made some great saves, and I’m sure he will continue to do so.
Bruno (7); Mixed game for the full-back; supported March and Murphy well in the first half, but had to rely more on defensive duties in the second half as Burnley looked for the win.
Greer (8); Solid game for the captain on his return. With the help of Dunk, he kept Gray quiet and left him with scraps to feed off
Dunk (6/7); Undecided between the two, he did well defending against Gray, Long and Hennings, but at times he was more interested in wrestling with the attacker, whether that be the 3 attackers or Keane from set-pieces. The penalty should of been a warning for him not to do it again, but he continued to do so, and could of easily been penalised for 3 or 4 more.
Rosenior(7); Like Bruno, a mixed game; plenty of attacking in the first half, but kept to his defensive duties in the second to deny Burnley scoring a winner.
Murphy (7); Good first half for the Scot, however, he was a little quiet in the second, but obviously doesn’t help when the opposition are constantly on the attack.
Kayal (8); Another great game from the midfield guardian. Not much got passed him, and did well keeping tabs on Joey Barton, and didn’t allow him to play his usual game. Awarded the Sky Bet Man Of The Match too.
Stephens (7); Solid game from Stephens, and just like Kayal, he didn’t allow too much through him. The partnership of these two is going from strength to strength, and will be pivotal to Brighton’s promotion push
March (7); Caused all sorts of problems in the first half, including the cut back to Stephens; bit too quiet in the second half but came back and did his defensive duties well
Zamora (8); Scored once again, and although it wasn’t a winning one, it was just as important. It helped settle early nerves, as Brighton have struggled to score away from home. Subbed mid-way through the second half may suggest that he can’t play a full game just yet which will most likely indicate Hughton will need to dive into the loan market.
Hemed (7); Should of scored really, but thankfully Zamora was on hand to get the rebound. Just like his opposite, Hemed had to live off scraps and with out Baldock chasing the long balls it was hard for him to create anything clear-cut
Forster-Caskey (6); Replaced Zamora, and played just behind Hemed. Helped things tick over, and helped see the game out as Burnley increased the pressure.
Manu (6); Replaced Hemed, and gave Keane and Michael Duff some problems with his pace, but nothing to worry them too much.
Burnley - Brighton; Gray (4 pen); Zamora (1)
Att; 15662 (375 Brighton)