Brighton laid out Norwich and gave them a good old-fashioned spanking, as they romped to 5-0 win courtesy of a Glenn Murray hat-trick, and some embarrassing defending. Alex Neil would of been eating his words Saturday evening, after slamming the Seagulls style of play, and how easy they are to figure out. It might have been some clever reverse-psychology had it worked, but was left red-faced after the game and hanging onto his job by a thread.
Brighton took an early lead thanks to Murray’s presistance in chasing down loose balls; Michael McGovern’s heavy touch allowed Murray to come in and pick his pocket, before sliding the ball into the empty net via the inside of the post, whilst Norwich players protesting than Murray had fouled the Canaries stopper. Wes Hoolahan wriggle his way through the Albion midfield, but his long range shot was well off target. Not much else happened in the first half, but it was the second half where it can alive; Anthony Knockaert coming close after beating Alex Pritchard far too easily, before curling a shot just wide. Brighton doubled their lead, when Gaetan Bong sent Jiri Skalak down the wing, and his cross was met by Murray, as he muscled his way in-between the 2 Norwich centre-halls to guide the ball past McGovern. Moments later Lewis Dunk got his first of the season, when he headed home a Skalak corner, after McGovern came for the ball but completly missed it. More sloppy defending led to Brighton’s 4th; McGovern’s poor clearence went straight to Ryan Bennett, but the defender couldn’t control it, and it allowed Murray to pip in and stride towards goal, before cooly puting it past McGovern to complete his hat-trick. Incredibly it got even worse for Norwich, Timm Klose slipped in midfield, and Dale Stephens was quick to react to the loose ball, before passing into Skalak; the Czech’s throughball into Knockaert was perfect, even though he had about 15 yards on the nearest defender, but still had work to do, and his delightful chip over McGovern after he had committed himself too early, was the perfect way to end the game. A big 6-pointer, went in favour of the Seagulls, and now open up a 3 point lead over nearest rivals Huddersfield, after they were thumped by the same scoreline at Fulham.
Stockdale (7); Barely anything to do other than the few simple saves, and was a bystander for much of the 2nd half.
Bruno (8); Made light work of Albion’s £8 million target man Pritchard, never looked in the game, and also marshaled Marcus Olsson very well.
Duffy (8); Another impressive performace, mainly aerial. Completly chocked Cameron Jerome of service.
Dunk (8); Good headed goal, and a commanding defensive performace against one of the best attacking sides in the league, although you wouldn’t of guessed it.
Bong (8); Possibly his best game; went toe-to-toe with Jacob Murphy, and won a majority of the duals. His attacking side of play was just as good.
Knockaert (8); Gave Olsson the run around in the second half, before his wonderful goal towards the end.
Sidwell (8); In very fine form, and was at his best again to hold Hoolahan to only a limited amount of possession.
Stephens (8); His 4th home start of the season; and all 4 have been clean sheets, which proves just how important he is to the midfield. Another fine display against Alex Tettey and Graham Dorrans.
Skalak (9); On any other day he would of been man of the match, but was over-shadowed by a clinical striking performance. A hat-trick himself with assists, and is looking like the threat from last season.
Murray (10); What more can you ask for from your centre-forward? 3 well-taken goals, but put in a shift elsewhere and never stopped running Russell Martin, Bennett and Klose ragged.
Baldock (8); Didn’t get his allusive goal he wanted, but his runs and mobility helped Murray play his game.
Hemed (6); Late replacement for the hat-trick hero.
Norwood (6); Unlucky to lose his starting place, but settled in well later on.
Murphy (N/A); Last few seconds for Knockaert.
BHAFC - NCFC; Murray (6) (60) (73), Dunk (64), Knockaert (84);