Another home game gone, another chance gone. When Brighton played Middlesbrough they had the chance to go top, and blew it; yesterday they had the chance to close the gap at the top to 2 points after Hull lost and Derby drew, but once again they blew it. Now this may sound like a rant more than a report, but I didn’t like the way Brighton played and conducted themselves; and for the first time this season I feel that Chris Hughton got his tactics wrong. Here are some of the points which will hopefully back up the argument in question;
1) Tomer Hemed playing as a lone striker: Hemed is not the kind of player who plays upfront by himself, he thrives off another striker prodcuing the chances, and him finishing them off, and with no-one partnering him, he had to do double the work. Sort of like Craig Mackail-Smith.
2) 4-5-1 formation: Why on earth did Hughton decide that the 4-5-1 formation would be suitable? As stated above, that the first problem with it. The second, playing the wingers so deep. There was a reason why Hemed didn’t get enough chances, the wingers were far too deep; Beram Kayal was further ahead than them at times, and he’s a centre midfielder!
3) Substitutions: Why o why Chrissy did you take, who was arguably your best midfielder, off? Crofts had an absolute poor first half and started the second half almost similar, but yet he takes Kayal, the only real creative spark, off. Puzzled wasn’t the word I would of used last night. Also, he put on Manu on too late, he only gets 10 minutes to change a game; back in September when we played Wolves and he can on at half-time, he was brilliant; struggling to understand why he isn’t getting enough minutes.
Obviously this is my opinion, and not everyone will agree with it, but I feel he got it slightly wrong. Anyway, let’s get onto the game;
Brighton had the games first chance, when a long throw from Bruno towards Kayal; the midfielder dummied a pass to Jamie Murphy, before striking the ball, however it did go wide of Dean Gerkan’s post. Not long after, Ipswich had their first chance, when a clearence from Connor Goldson invitingly fell for Kevin Bru, who’s fierce half-volley, which had Stockdale beat, crashed against the crossbar. Rajiv van La Parra was next to test Gerkan, when he fainted inside of Tommy Smith, he struck his shot low and hard, but unfortunalty it was straight at Gerkan, and managed to hold on to it especially with Tomer Hemed lurking around. Hemed created the next chance, he’s hard work and determination paid off; he took on Christoph Berra and beat him, he crossed towards Dale Stephens and the midfielder’s skilled volley tipped onto the bar by Gerkan, with Murphy bundeling in the rebound; but to the dismay of the home fans the linesman had his flag up for offside, with replays showing he was a yard or 2 onside. With that being a warning to Ipswich, they stepped it up a gear. Their closing down was superb and they made it hard for Brighton to make forward passes, whcih resulted in their next chance. A back pass from Inigo Calderon towards Lewis Dunk went under the latter’s foot and set Darly Murphy away, his cool and compossed shot came off the inside of the post before deflecting in off the diving Goldson, to give the Tractor Boys a 1-0 advantage. It could of been 2-0, had it not been for the woodword yet again; Ryan Fraser crossed the ball from the left, with Bru latching on to the ball, but it hit the post before being put behind for the corner. Brighton had the best chance of the half though, from the resulting corner, Stockdale grabbed hold of the ball before setting Murphy away on a lightning-fast counter attack, Murphy managed to beat Jonas Knudsen but couldn’t beat Gerkan 1-on-1. Plenty to think about for Chris Hughton at the interval, but within minutes of the second half, Brighton came out playing like they had been for a majority of the season; their passing was quick and accurate and chances were coming. However, Ipswich had a great chance to put the game to bed when a deep cross by Freddie Sears was collected by Fraser; his low cross was toe-poked goalwards by Johnathan Douglas, but it was straight at Stockdale and easy for him to save. Fraser was at the centre of another Ipswich chance, his powerful shot was fumbled by Stockdale, but luckily no Ipswich players were around for the rebound. La Parra came close to an equaliser, his shot which was destined for the top corner, was parried away by Gerkan to safety. Substitute Bobby Zamora had the chance of the half to salvage a point for the Seagulls, a cross from Bruno into the box was met by the oncoming Zamora, his shot beat Gerkan all-ends-up, but it didn’t beat the crossbar much to the dissapointment of the player, bench and fans. Ipswich managed to hold on to the win, while as for Brighton they slumped to their 2nd straight home defeat, and will be looking to recover before Friday’s game at home to Wolves.
Stockdale (7); Wasn’t called into action that much, but was on his toes when he was needed.
Bruno (7); Up and down day for the stand-in captain, had to do his fair share of defending, but was brilliant when attacking.
Goldson (7); Positive reactions on his league debut, was sharp on the ball and wasn’t afraid to travel with it.
Dunk (6); Has become a liability in the last month or so; penatly against Burnley, sending off at QPR and now gifting Ipswich their goal. He didn’t however, let that get to him, and had a controlled second period.
Calderon (7); Much like Bruno, he had his defending duties as much as his attacking ones. Linked up well with Murphy and put in some decent crosses.
Crofts (5); As sated in my mini-rant above, I don’t have a clue how he got through 90mins, should of been taken off at half-time; passes were all over the place, didn’t look set in the holding role, and wasn’t effective going forward.
Stephens (7); Struggled in the first half, but grew into the game as it progressed and got some good passing going, which did create the few chances Brighton had.
Kayal (7); Dissapointed to be taken off, and so he should of been, argubly one of the best players on the pitch and he got subbed, fuming doesn’t come close to describing my reaction last night. During the game, however, his attacking play allowed Murphy and La Parra to get forward more and got Hemed into more attacking positions.
La Parra (8); Definatly needs to be signed up, he sort of reminds me of Craig Noone; isn’t afraid to take players on and has a wonderful crossing ability. Had Knudsen quaking at the knees all night.
Murphy (7); Should of had a goal, but unfortunatly, the linesman got a new flag for Christmas and wanted to show everybody. Other than that, he attacked well and got himself into good attacking positions.
Hemed (6/7); Couldn’t decide, had to work so hard being the lone striker, which I thought hindered his game. He is far better when there are 2 strikers up top.
Wilson (6); Came on to try and salvage something, but was a little too quiet. Had a couple of good runs, but couldn’t grab himself a chance.
Zamora (6); Had a great chance to snatch a point, but the woodwork was having a field day. Added extra bite to the attack when he came on.
Manu (5); Not given enough time to make a real impact, but the little we did see of him, he was sharp and caused some problems at the back for Ipswich, a must starter on Friday for me.
Brighton - Ipswich; Murphy (32);
MOTM; La Parra