Another match gone, and another 3 points added to the tally, but it could of all been very different. As Brighton stretched their unbeaten league run to 20 games, Charlton fans, players and staff must of been in bewilderment after they threw away a 2 goal lead to leave the south coast with absolutely nothing.Let’s get 1 thing straight here, Brighton’s first half performance was totally shocking; they lacked ideas, creativity and struggled to make a 5 yard pass at times, they thoroughly deserved to be 2-0 down at the interval. However, as Chris Hughton was giving his Albion players the ‘hairdryer’ treatment, there were many in the stands firmly believing that Brighton could turn this around and actually win it. I’m one to hold my hands up and say I wasn’t apart of that group, I would of been quite content with a point especially after that first half display, but a complete change in the second half got everyone believing that they could produce one of the greatest comebacks in AMEX history. And so they did; not only did they win the game, but provided the fans with such a high quality of entertainment at the same time, something which Brighton lacked especially last season.
The game started with Charlton on the front foot, as you would expect giving their are the away team and going up against an unbeaten side, but nobody, not even the travelling supporters would of believed that they had taken a 2 minute lead when Ademola Lookman squeezed the ball into the net from a tight angle after wriggling his way past Bruno. Just as the celebrations were dying down, they picked up again after Reza Ghoochannejhad made it 2-0 after just 5 minutes when a cross from Brighton villain Ricardo Vaz Te evaded everyone inside the box, but fell kindly for Ghoochannejhad to power home the ball into the roof of the net. The travelling fans were in raptures, while the home fans had their arms crossed and looked as glum as the weather. It could of been more if it wasn’t for the ever present David Stockdale, after he kept out an Alou Diarra header after he rose highest above Inigo Calderon. Once again, Stockdale to the rescue, after he kept out Johann Gudmundsson; Lewis Dunk lost the ball carelessly on the half-way line and a swift counter attack from Charlton resulted in a chance for Gudmundsson, only to be denied by the leg of Stockdale. Charlton’s attacking waves kept coming and coming, after they broke again after Brighton lost possession from a cross they had created. Vaz Te played in Lookman on the left wing, and after a cut-in from the tricky winger, his shot was once again denied by the legs of Stockdale. Thankfully for the home supporters that was the end of the half. As you would expect, Brighton came out all guns blazing, and they pulled a goal back from loanee James Wilson, who was celebrating his first Albion start. Charlton lost the ball in their own half, and Wilson dribbled his way through the Addick’s defence to coolly slot the ball home through Stephen Henderson’s legs and half the deficit. It could of been level just 2 minutes later had Solly March’s effort been a yard or 2 below the bar, after it ricocheted off the woodwork. The job in hand for the Addicks was made harder after Patrick Bauer was given his marching orders after a last-man foul on Bobby Zamora, giving referee Keith Stroud no choice but to sent him off. From the resulting free-kick, Beram Kayal fizzed a shot towards goal, but it was deflected over the bar for a corner. As the game dragged on, you could see the gaps appearing in the Charlton defence, and with Hughton throwing on Tomer Hemed, who was dropped at the expense of Wilson, it was clear what his intentions were; overload the box and try and feed of the scraps that came. And that certainly happened, after March crossed a low ball towards Hemed; his shot was saved by Henderson but Zamora was on hand to poke home the rebound, to score in his 3rd straight game. With the Seagulls now back level and with 6 minutes plus stoppage time to play, it was clear that they were going for it all; and 22 seconds after the restart they got it all, after a cross from Rajiv van La Parra found Hemed, who’s goal-bound header was saved by Henderson, but he nor his defenders could react quick enough to save it trickling over the line, to send the home fans, players and coaching staff crazy. As the game drew to a close, Brighton were quite content in keeping the ball and make the, already tired Charlton players, run for the ball.
Stockdale (9); For me, he was by far the best player on the pitch, not so much in the second half, but in the first he was hand’s down the best player. He stopped us going in at half-time 5-0 down, and has been the story of his season so far, he has become hard to beat and is starting to look like the keeper he was when he was with Hull a few years ago.
Bruno (7); Not much joy in the first half, got easily beaten by Lookman for their first, and his attacking presence wasn’t really felt until the second.
Greer (7); Some sloppy play from the skipper and his companion in the first half, could of easily given Charlton extra breathing room it it wasn’t for Stockdale’s saves.
Dunk (7); Gave the ball away unnecessarily towards the end of a poor first half; luckily he had Stockdale to thank after another great save. Much better second half. but needs to stay on top of his defending at all times
Calderon (6); Like Bruno, he didn’t have much attacking joy in the first nor in the second. Quite restricted to how far he could venture forward with Gudmundsson lurking around all the time.
Murphy (6); Had a couple of good crosses in the first half, but not much in the second half, hence being replaced by Hemed.
Kayal (7); A very average first half from the Israeli, struggled to make passes at times, and was very lethargic when Charlton were attacking. Up his game in the second half, and most of the chances came through him including the pass to La Parra which set up the winning goal.
Stephens (7); Similar to Kayal in the first half, but improved in the second half, and provided some nice passes which allowed chances to be created.
March (8); It’s very hard for him not to have a bad game even when the team’s don’t play well. The brightest spark on the pitch in the first half, and lit up Charlton’s defence numerous times in the second, as well as semi-providing Zamora’s goal
Zamora (8); 3 straight game when he has bagged a tap-in, but he won’t care as long as he can keep doing it. His movement off the ball was marvellous, and drew the foul which had Bauer sent off.
Wilson (8); Opened his Albion account with a fine solo effort. Very quiet in the first half, but brought his ‘A’ game in the second, and produced what we can only expect more from during the season
Hemed (8); Finally broke his goal-drought with a terrific header, altough it was initially saved. Was an aerial threat when he came on and was unlucky not to score from the March cross, which Zamora got his tap in from.
La Parra (7); Had only been on the pitch a matter of moments, but produced arguably the cross of the game; Hemed couldn’t miss. Helped see the game out as it drew to a close
Chicksen (N/A); Came on late to provide vital left-back cover, when March had been operating.
Brighton - Charlton; Wilson (50) Zamora (83) Hemed (85); Lookman (2), Ghoochannejhad (5)