As the first-half of a sensational first part of the season drew to a close, Brighton finished it off with a draw away at Brentford. It can be said that Brighton were lucky to walk away with a point, and quite true, Brentford dominated large parts of the game, and only David Stockdale prevented them taking the 3 points. Whether Brighton still have a hangover from their first defeat against Middlesbrough remains to be seen, but they were 2nd best from start to finish on Saturday.
The game started quite cagey, as you would expect with both teams desperate for the 3 points for different reasons; Brentford to go into the play-offs and Brighton to bounce back from their first defeat of the season. Brentford dominated the possession for a majority of the first half, but they did struggle to create any openings in the Albion defence. The Seagulls didn’t help their cause, when they did have the ball, it was given away very cheaply and allowed Brentford to form another attack. Tomer Hemed did, however, have the first clear-cut chance, when he wriggled through the Bees midfield, his curling shot though was saved by David Button comfortably. Chelsea loanee John Swift tried his luck from 25 yards, with his shot having Stockdale scrambling across his goal, but fortunately it was wide of the post. Plenty to think about at half-time for both teams, and Chris Hughton did just that, bringing on Andrew Crofts for James Wilson to bring some stability in midfield, after Brentford playmaker Alan Judge had free-roam in the first half. Jamie Murphy had a glorious chance to put Brighton in the lead; a flick on from Dale Stephens to Beram Kayal, allowed him to drive at the defence, before playing in Murphy, but his shot went over and wide, much to the dismay of Hughton and the Albion fans. Brentford’s corner routines were causing Brighton problems in the first period, and it continued in the second half; Ryan Woods saw his shot from one of the routines graze the bar. Judge was causing problems all over the pitch; he managed to break 3 tackles down the right wing before his cross-shot was tipped over by Stockdale. Judge, at the centre of the creation again, crossed a wonderful ball into the box, Philipp Hoffman’s header was incredibly saved by Stockdale, much to the shock of the player and the fans behind the goal, who were certain it had gone in. Judge had one last chance for the Bees, after the ball ricocheted around the edge of the box, Judge’s curling shot was tipped around the post from the out-stretched Stockdale. Brighton did have a penalty appeal late on after James Tarowski appeared to pull down Elvis Manu, but nothing given from the referee Darren Deadman; it was probably the right decision, although Deadman had got countless wrong during the game. The game finished 0-0, and Brighton would of been relived to gain a point at a ground, they have been quite poor at.
Stockdale (9); What can I say, once again he is the difference between 1 point and no points. 3 crucial saves at the death from Judge twice and Hoffman, meant that the Seagulls did go away with something.
Bruno (6); Struggled to get forward as much as he would of liked to with Sergi Canos causing him problems. Had a bit more time to go forward in the second half, but was restricted to defensive work.
Greer (7); Some say he isn’t up to scratch, and although I agree to some extent, he does what needs to be done well; he may be slow and can be beaten far too easily, but he reads the game well and isn’t afraid to ‘get dirty’ for the cause. Shame he got injured, which only leaves Hughton with 5 fully fit defenders for Tuesday’s game with Ipswich.
Dunk (6); Back after suspension, and did well keeping Lassa Vibe quiet, had some heart-in-mouth moments with his passing, but nothing to cause too much concern.
Calderon (6); Like Bruno, he struggled to get forward, if at all, after being given the tough job of marking Judge. He did it well though, he did stop him from creating chances, but he did leave him at times when he managed to drift infield to produce what he is good at.
La Parra (5); Jake Bidwell had him beat more often that not, and found it hard to create anything with him constantly breathing down his neck.
Kayal (7); Restricted in the first half with the poor performance of the team, but did show why his one of the best league midfielders this season in the second; produced some nice passes which opened up the defence, and should of had an assist to his name with the ball to Murphy.
Stephens (6); Like his midfield partner, hard to find anything with the ball keep being returned to Brentford, but with the introduction of Crofts he managed to get the ball down and play some passes forward.
Murphy (6); Should he of scored? I think so, but it is a hard technique when coming on to the ball first time. Other than that, a good game from the Scot, Nico Yennaris didn’t know what to do with him at times, which allowed him to get into attacking positions.
Hemed (6); Had his shot easily saved in the first, but hardly noticed in the second, which probably resulted in him coming off. I still think he is better coming off the bench.
Wilson (5); The most quietest first half I have seem him play; it was almost like he wasn’t on the pitch, no chances or shots, whether that was because Brighton didn’t create too many I’m not too sure. Hopefully he will be back with a bang on Tuesday.
Crofts (6); Brought on to help the over run midfield, and his presence really was shown; he surd things up defensively and made some neat passes to attacking players,
Manu (5); Brought on to the delight of some of the travelling fans, and changed the game; his pace and hunger for the ball resulted in the 2 centre-backs Tarowski and Dean being more wary of what was going on, although they were helped by the linesman putting up his flag for offside umpteen times.
Goldson (5); Brought on for the injured Greer, and is set to get his first league start with only 5 fully fit defenders now avaliable.
Brentford - Brighton;
Att; 12,202 (1,648 Brighton)