The promotion race has now been blown into orbit through Tuesday nights results, with 3rd place Brighton, only behind Burnley on goal difference, just 2 points off leader Middlesbrough with 3 games to go. While Brighton gave another West London side a thumping, Burnley scored a late minute equaliser against Middlesbrough to separate the top 3 by 2 points, going into crucial matches. Each team knows that if they win all their remaining games, they will be up; simple isn’t it. But there will be stumbling blocks in the way, as we approach the last 270 minutes of intense championship football. Brighton nearly fell over one of the ‘stumbling blocks’ last night, with a woeful first half display, but just as in Friday’s result, they took the game by the scruff of the neck, and killed the game off before the opposition could get a sniff of a chance to get back in the game.
QPR had the first chances of the game, the first when Massimo Luongo sliced his shot wide from the edge of the box, then Conor Washington blazing wide after finding some room in between the Albion centre-halfs. Grant Hall headed a Alejandro Faulin corner straight into the arms of David Stockdale. Tomer Hemed had Brighton’s first chance, when he tried to overhead kick the ball after Dale Stephens had headed the ball down to him, but it went over. Bruno was caught napping aplenty in the first period, and was nearly made to pay when Matt Phillips dispossessed him and hit a forceful strike low into the corner of the goal, but Stockdale managed to palm it away. James Wilson drove with the ball after picking up a pass from Stephens, but his shot was just dragged wide of Alex Smithies far post. Phillips had a long range effort go narrowly over the bar, hitting the top of the netting. Lewis Dunk then put his free header straight at Smithies from an Anthony Knockaert corner, before Knockaert scored in first half injury time with a sublime free-kick, which brought back memories of David Lopez’s against Crystal Palace 3 years ago. Jiri Skalak, quiet for much of the first half, then made a huge impact when scoring from 25 yards with a thunderbolt of a strike when Hall headed back a long Bruno ball forward. Connor Goldson then got his 2nd Albion goal from a Knockaert corner, as he looped it over the defender on the front post. Knockaert then finished the game off with his 2nd, as he curled the ball in to the far corner from the edge of the box, to make it 4.
Stockdale (6); Made a couple of routine saves, but rarely troubled.
Bruno (6); Doesn’t need telling that his first half performance was dreadful, but picked it up in the second, and gave Knockaert some attacking options
Goldson (7); Another good headed goal, and another solid defensive display against Phillips.
Dunk (7); Rarely troubled by Washington, looked dangerous from set-pieces.
Rosenior (6); Has become too quiet in recent games, especially in the first half’s, before picking it up in the second.
Knockaert (9); Class on Friday, even better Tuesday; 2 great goals and an assist to cap an excellent night for the little Frenchman.
Kayal (7); Pulled the strings in midfield, more so in the second as QPR went pushing for an equaliser.
Stephens (7); Sat in front of the 2 centre-half for most of the evening, to allow extra cover against the pace of Phillips and Washington from balls over the top.
Skalak (8); Emphatic goal, absolutely sublime finish and a solid all round performance.
Wilson (7); Work as hard as he could and gave the defenders little time on the ball.
Hemed (7); Struggled at times to get the ball, but his hold-up play was as good as ever.
Baldock (6); Hardly noticed him as he came on for Wilson at half-time, other than his usual running.
Murphy (6); Didn’t get much of the ball, but worked well when he did get it.
Sidwell (6); On for Hemed to freshen things up.
BHAFC - QPRFC; Knockaert (45+1), (84), Skalak (51), Goldson (73);