Brighton got back to winning ways, after defeating Burton Albion 4-1, including a landmark goal for Sam Baldock on his return to the side.
Albion created their first chance when Anthony Knockaert and Tomer Hemed linked up well on the right-hand side but Steve Sidwell’s shot went wide. Dale Stephens met Solly March’s set-piece into the box and nodded the ball onto Shane Duffy, whose close-range header went wide. After dominating possession in the opening stages, Hemed fired Albion in front with 12 minutes on the clock with a cool, close-range finish from Knockaert’s cross. The Frenchman continued to enjoy a lot of freedom down the right-hand side; he weaved in and out of the Burton defence before his subsequent shot was blocked by Ben Turner. After playing through the rest of the first half without creating too many clear-cut chances, the Seagulls doubled their lead just two minutes after the re-start thanks to Baldock. Brighton’s number nine dispatched his close-range effort beyond Jon McLaughlin from March’s in-swinging cross from the left flank, and scoring his 100th league goal. March was involved in the thick of the action again when he shimmied his way through the Brewers’ defence and was brought down in the box for a penalty. Hemed stepped up to casually convert the ball into the bottom corner, and sent McLaughlin the wrong way in the process, to make it 3-0 with 57 minutes on the clock. Chances were few and far between for the visitors, but Michael Kightly did try his luck with a shot from distance that was comfortably saved by David Stockdale. Marvin Sordell came much closer to gaining Burton a foothold in the game when he cut past Lewis Dunk but saw his shot force a fine stop from Stockdale. With the game already over as a contest, Chuba Akpom came on to make his home debut for the Seagulls as part of a triple change that saw him replace Baldock, while Stephens and Hemed were replaced by Beram Kayal and Murray respectively. The gloss was taken off the scoreline slightly when Kightly executed a brilliant free-kick to give the Brewers a consolation goal in the 75th minute. The visitors sensed the possibility of a seemingly unlikely comeback when Tom Flanagan ended a flowing move with a shot from distance that rose over the crossbar. That possibility was quashed once and for all with 83 minutes on the clock, when Murray headed home from Knockaert’s brilliant cross. Akpom was unlucky not to score after he showed brilliant composure inside the box, but his shot went inches wide of the far post.
Stockdale (7); Spectator for much of the game, couldn’t do much with the free-kick, fairly easy afternoon for the Albion stopper.
Bruno (7); Linked up well with Knockaert; solid offensively and defensively.
Duffy (6); Not much to do, but won near enough all aerial duals against Sordell and Akins.
Dunk (6); Composed when on the ball, and strong as always in defence although not much to scare him.
Pocognoli (7); Plays much better with March than any other left winger, and was always keen to get forward.
Knockaert (8); Early tackle from Flanagan left him in a little discomfort, but shook it off and provided 2 brilliant assists for Hemed’s first and Murrays goals.
Stephens (7); Brought some discipline and authority back to midfield, and showed how crucial he is to a winning Albion team.
Sidwell (7); With Stephens back in his holding role, he had the chances to get forward and create more.
March (9); Slightly quiet opening 20 minutes or so, but couldn’t fault anything else after that; great cross for Baldock, won the penalty and beat players with ease at times.
Baldock (8); Re-introduced after injury, and had another solid game with his tireless running and grab his 100th league goal.
Hemed (9); Couldn’t of asked for much more from the Israeli international; bold call to drop top marksman Murray, but used his good form to use and bagged himself 2 goals in a busy yet rewarding afternoon.
Kayal (6); Slotted into midfield well after replacing Stephens, and helped see the game out.
Murray (7); Well taken header to bring up his first goal since the end of December; looked sharp when he came on.
Akpom (6); Had a glorious chance to score on his home debut, but just missed the target.
BHAFC - BAFC ; Hemed (12, 57pen), Baldock (47), Murray (83); Kightly (75);