It’s one of the tightest promotion races the championship has ever seen, and it WILL go to the final game of the season, after Burnley and Brighton picked up valuable away wins, while Middlesbrough were held to a frustrating draw at home to Ipswich. Basically it means that all 3 teams are locked on 87 points with only 3 goals separating them. Could it get any closer?
Brighton went to The Valley, trying to do what Middlesbrough couldn’t do last month, which was to take all 3 points. After a delay of six minutes from home supporters protesting their clubs owners, a Jiri Skalak free-kick was met by Connor Goldson at the far post, and his low pass back across goal was gratefully welcomed by Sam Baldock, who stabbed the ball home to give the Albion an early advantage. Jorge Texieria had a chance for Charlton not soon after, but his free header went wide of David Stockdale’s post. Morgan Fox also had a free shot at goal, but his tame effort went straight at Stockdale after he found himself open on the penalty spot from a Ademola Lookman corner. Johann Gudmundsson hit the side netting for the Addicks, after twisting his way through the Albion box. Baldock had a good chance early in the second half to double the lead, after being put through by Beram Kayal, but he dragged his shot wide. Charlton made him pay for the miss when Jordan Cousins dribbled his way into the box, and when his cross evaded everyone in the box, Gudmundsson was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net. Baldock had a great chance to restore the lead no more than a minute later, when a Anthony Knockaert ball over the top was met by Baldock, and after jinking past Rod Fanni his curling shot was saved by Nick Pope. It wasn’t long , however, before the Seagulls were back in the lead when Kayal spotted Skalak as open as a field on the left wing, and after playing him in, he curled a wonderful effort into the top right corner giving Pope no chance. Gudmundsson had a volley go inches over the bar, when Fox delivered in a dangerous ball, but he couldn’t keep the shot down. Knockaert was denied by Pope in the dying minutes of the game, after being laid off by sub Jamie Murphy, with a good curling effort destined for the top corner. Knockaert did win a penalty in stoppage time, when he was fouled by Fanni, after gliding in between him and Alou Diarra. Tomer Hemed stepped up and dispatched the penalty, sending Pope the wrong way and grabbing his 17th of the season. There is now only 180 minutes left of football this season, and I can guarantee you, every single minute will be nail biting.
Stockdale (6); Had a quiet afternoon, tested very little but did well to save Fox’s shot from a corner in the first half.
Bruno (6); Had a bust afternoon with Lookman once again, but stuck to his task well when it seemed he had the better of the Brighton captain.
Goldson (7); Strong, physical presence again, which was needed to contain the powerful Igor Vetokele.
Dunk (7); Made a couple of outstanding interventions, and almost played Gudmundsson out of the game with excellent marking.
Rosenior (6); Didn’t look his usual self; struggled to get the ball under control, and was beaten too easily by Callum Harriot most of the time.
Knockaert (7); Excellent game again from the Magician. Gave the Charlton defence more headaches, and could of had a couple of goals had it not been for Pope’s great saves.
Kayal (7); Like a work horse in the middle, gave Diarra little time on the ball and was a great option when attacking.
Stephens (7); Played a fantastic game, some say a bit under the radar, considering the performance of certain others. Held the ball up well, passing was on point and defended the back 4 really well.
Skalak (8); Back-to-back goals, and he looks fully settled in now. Another assist too, with his overall performance excellent, with the fans wanting more.
Baldock (7); Well-taken goal, pretty routine, but didn’t choke when the ball came to him. Gave the Charlton centre-backs a hard afternoon with his running.
Hemed (7); Not normally known for his running, but did well in partnering Baldock in chasing down loose balls. Didn’t really have a sniff at goal however, but took his penalty very well.
Bong (5); On for the injured Rosenior, and looked rusty which is to be expected for someone who hasn’t had much game time recently.
Sidwell (5); On for Baldock, but had hardly anything to make an impact.
Murphy (N/A); On for Skalak late on, but didn’t affect the game.
CAFC - BHAFC; Gudmundsson (51); Baldock (8), Skalak (55), Hemed (90+5 pen);
Att; 17,160 (3,079 Brighton)