It’s a hard one to take, however this promotion race is far from over. Although results didn’t go Brighton’s way over the weekend, it’s bubbling into a intense race for 2 spots with the top 4 separated by 7 points; 4 points if Hull win their game in hand, there is everything to play for.
After a shaky start from both teams, the first real chance of the game came from a Anthony Knockaert corner; he whipped the ball in deep and via a flick from a Burnley defender Dale Stephens vollied the ball into the roof of the net on the half hour mark. The lead, just like back in November, lasted 3 minutes and the same man grabbed the eaqualiser, Andre Gray. After a David Jones corner wasn’t dealt with inside the six yard box, Gray was on hand to blast the ball low into the net to silence the home fans. Brighton restored their advantage 10 minutes later; Jamie Murphy picked up the ball from a Beram Kayal pass and drove towards the Burnley box before laying in Knockaert, and after twisting and turning with a couple fake shots in between, his effort was deflected over Tom Heaton’s head and into the net. After the halftime break, Brighton were looking good for a 3rd with a couple chances here and there. Murphy pulled the ball back across the box just behind the oncoming James Wilson, before Knockaert hit a shot into the crowd of Burnley defenders. Murphy had a couple shots saved by Heaton, and Knockaert had a close range shot saved by Heaton purely based on his reactions. However, the moment of controversy happened in the 87th minute; a Jones corner was met by Michael Keane with his header being blocked by Lewis Dunk on the far post, but the ball travelled across the line towards the other post and as it did, it narrowly crossed the line before Steve Sidwell cleared the ball away. Burnely did get a goal awarded though 2 minutes into injury time, this time Keane managed to find plentiful of space and powered a header into the net to send the travelling fans into raptures. A share of the spoils it was, and based on the overall play, both teams can feel disappointed not to get all 3, but will be happy with 1.
Stockdale (6); No real saves to be made, but needs to command his area better from set-pieces; it’s now 4 of the last 5 goals conceded from set-plays.
Bruno (7); Good work again by the Spaniard, up and down the wing supporting Knockaert well. Came off with an injury.
Goldson (6); Was good at times, but looked a little shaky when Gray was breathing down his neck. Will be disappointed to let Keane have a free header for the equaliser.
Dunk (7); Didn’t let Gray play when he had the bal, which was rarely. Was Reletivly untroubled otherwise.
Rosenior (6); Caught a couple of times being too far up the pitch, but was good otherwise defensively, not too much to offer offensively.
Knockaert (8); Magical performance from the Frenchman; his trickery and athleticism had Stephen Ward all over the place, as well as ‘breaking a few ankles’ with his goal. Looked tired towards the end though.
Kayal (7); Was under a lot of pressure all afternoon from Barton, but made it uncomfortable from him, which resulted in him doing things that most refs would send you off for.
Stephens (8); Good finish for his goal after it was flicked on, other than that he looked good with Kayal and was first to mostly everything loose in the middle.
Murphy (7); Gave Matt Lowton a hard afternoon, and ended up being doubled up on as the game wore on. Good couple of chances which he may feel he should of taken.
Baldock (6); Came off with another hamstring injury. Constant running caused Keane and Ben Mee some problems in the opening minutes.
Hemed (6); Little to offer and struggled to make anything happen when he did have the ball. Frustrating afternoon for the top scorer.
Wilson (6); On for Baldock; almost got on the end of Murphy’s good cutback, but other than that he looked slow and really wasn’t involved as much as he had been recently.
Bong (N/A); On late for the injured Bruno, nothing for him to do.
Sidwell (N/A); On late for Hemed, good goal line clearance to prevent a Burnley goal.
Brighton - Burnely; Stephens (30), Knockaert (45); Gray (33), Keane (90+2)