The international break is upon us, and it’s time to reflect on what’s happened during the past 4 months since the last. In that time we have extended our unbeaten run to 22 games, lost 3 home games in a row, went back on a 4 game winning streak, won back-to-back 4-0’s and of course are still in the promotion race, currently sitting in 2nd. As we enter the final furlong, it’s now time to buckle in and enjoy what the final 8 games have to offer. It could have all been different if not for the result on Saturday; Brighton could have been 3rd one point behind Middlesbrough rather than in front, had Carl Baker not fluffed his team’s chance of a point by missing a 92nd minute penalty. The result on Saturday reflects the season as a whole; we may not be brilliant but we can turn, what would normally in previous seasons be 1 point, into 3 and that’s what gets you promoted.
This game had it all; goals, red card and a missed penalty at the death; if you didn’t have a heart or panic attack, you clearly weren’t watching the same game. A bright start from the hosts carved them out a few good chances early on; first a volley from Darren Potter tested out David Stockdale, not long before a bursting run from Johnathan Williams was followed up by a tame effort. Daniel Powell had his effort blocked by Liam Rosenior in a last-ditch challenge. No real chances for a lacklustre Albion team, but they came out all guns blazing in the 2nd; substitute Tomer Hemed was brought down in the box a couple minutes after he was brought on, the Israeli stepped up and sent Dons keeper Cody Cropper the wrong way to give Brighton a 1-0 lead, much to the delight of the 7000+ supporters. Moments later it was 2-0; Jiri Skalak sent an inviting ball deep into the box, and Hemed rose highest to nod the ball home past Cropper. Jamie Murphy’s surging run down the left was followed up with a good-looking low cross across the face of goal, but Cropper just got hands to it before it got to the approaching James Wilson, for the simplest of tap-ins. Wilson also hit the side netting after beating the offside trap, after a good flick on from Hemed. MK got back into the game though through a Anthony Kay header from a Josh Murphy free-kick. It was threatening to boil over with Stockdale and Kyle McFazdean being booked during a 8 man scramble, when the Albion stopper held onto the ball; but not soon after McFazdean was given his marching orders for an elbow on Hemed, in which he received a straight red. Hemed had a glorious chance to bag a hat-trick; his took the ball down off his chest, after the ball was half-cleared by Jordan Spence, before volleying inches wide of the post from 12 yards out. The heart-in-mouth moment fell in the 90th minute, when Dale Stephens was judged to have handled the ball while defending a corner. After consulting with his linesman, the ref Chris Kavanagh, awarded the penalty much to the shock of the Brighton players, bench and supporters. Baker stepped up to are it, but he dragged the ball wide which was greeted with a massive roar from the away end, and cheers from the bench. Kavanagh blew his whistle to sent Brighton back into the top 2, and sent MK Dons into the relegation places.
Stockdale (7); Some basic saves was all he was required to do, but did well when putting off Baker for the penalty, properly would of saved it too had it of been inside of the post.
Bruno (7); Standard afternoon for him, more defending rather than attacking, but his defending was good against a difficult customer in Josh Murphy.
Goldson (7); Had some shaky moments with some passes back to Stockdale, but was strong in defending against Nicky Maynard.
Dunk (7); Reletivly easy afternoon for him, left Goldson to mark Maynard while he swept up anything in between him and the midfielders.
Rosenior (6); Not involved too much in an attacking sense, but was firm in defence.
Skalak (7); Has found it hard to adjust to English football, but got a small taste of what he can do when given a chance with a beautiful cross to Hemed.
Kayal (7); Good afternoon as usual in midfield; bit overrun in the first, but took control during the second.
Stephens (7); Harsh call against him for handball, but got justice with the missed kick. Was an asset with his passing again with good balls to the front 2.
Murphy (7); Struggled to get into the game at times, but livened up in the 2nd.
Baldock (6); Not his usual self, did all the running he could in the first before being replaced by Hemed after picking up an injury.
Wilson (6); Had a couple of good chances, but couldn’t finish them. Hard first half for him, before being replaced injured too
Hemed (9); Superb introduction, gambled on a loose ball which won the penalty, then scored a good header; maybe should of had a hat-trick after having a goal disallowed for offside, but it was a great performance from him; not sure why he didn’t start.
Sidwell (6); On for the injured Skalak to sure up the midfield as MK pressed on for an equaliser.
LuaLua (5); On for Wilson, no real threat from him, and was booked for his over the top reaction to the awarding of the hosts penalty.
MKDFC - BHAFC; Kay (70); Hemed (56pen)(62);
Att; 21,345 (7034 Brighton)