Brighton returned to the top of the table, after their most convincing away win since Bonfire Night. A brace from Sam Baldock was enough for the Seagulls, to go 7 points clear of Huddersfield in 3rd, and leap-frog Newcastle, at least until Monday night.
Albion had an early shout for a penalty as Sam Baldock went down inside the box, but the referee awarded a free-kick in the other direction and booked the forward for simulation. Jamie Murphy had Albion’s first notable attempt on goal when he raced into the penalty area and headed over the crossbar from Bruno’s fine delivery from the right wing. David Stockdale was forced into making two saves low down in quick succession as he parried away a stinging drive from Marley Watkins before comfortably gathering Adam Armstrong’s low-driven effort. Steve Sidwell glanced a header wide of the target from Murphy’s inswinging free-kick, shortly before Anthony Knockaert’s close-range effort was blocked in front of goal. Baldock volleyed narrowly wide after working space for himself on the edge of Barnsley’s penalty area, and he then turned provider for strike partner Glenn Murray, but Tykes goalkeeper Adam Davies tipped the forward’s deflected header over. Barnsley captain Marc Roberts rose highest inside the box to meet a corner at the back post, but the defender could only direct his tame header wide of Stockdale’s left-hand upright. Sebastien Pocognoli had an ambitious volley drop wide of the target after plucking the ball out of the sky shortly before the break, but neither side were able to open the scoring as they went in level. The Seagulls took the lead in the 53rd minute and it was a wonderful individual effort from Baldock that broke the deadlock. The forward chipped the ball up for himself after racing towards the edge of the penalty area, before looping a half-volley over Davies into the back of the net. Albion broke forward at speed with only four Barnsley defenders back to prevent their counter attack, but Knockaert could only fire straight at Davies after surging into the penalty area. Tykes substitute Adam Hammill blazed over the crossbar after running on to Ryan Kent’s pass inside, before Stockdale saved comfortably from the midfielder’s second effort inside a minute. The hosts were made to pay for not taking their chances and it was Baldock again who scored for the Seagulls, as he slotted past Davies from close range after meeting Knockaert’s pass across the box in the 68th minute. Stockdale produced a fine save to deny Watkins’ low shot that was heading towards the bottom corner, before Bruno came to his team’s rescue at the back post and blocked Andy Yiadom’s goal-bound effort. Hammill fired over the crossbar for Barnsley in the closing stages as they pressed for a goal, but Albion’s defence held strong as they returned to winning ways.
Stockdale (7); A routine afternoon for the Albion stopper, due to the disciplined defending in-front of him; had to be called into action a couple of times however.
Bruno (7); Starting to rediscover his form before he was injured with another solid performace, against a very electric Kent.
Duffy (7); Didn’t let the broken nose stop the big Irishman from keeping Bradshaw and Armstrong as quiet as a mouse.
Dunk (7); Could have been penalized for handball early on, but would of been harsh as he was pushed. Another impressive performance however.
Pocognoli (7); Enjoying his run of games with Bong’s absence, and another fine performance here might have Huighton thinking he is the first choice left-back.
Knockaert (8); Assisted both goals, and while he wasn’t as efficient as some games, his presence terrified Barnsley and that allowed other to benefit, namely the front two.
Stephens (7); Played another vital role just in front of the back 4, and got through significant work to deny Barnsley the time and space in the final third.
Sidwell (7); Given the chances to get forward with his partner doing the majority of defensive work; supported the front two well.
Murphy (6); A dissapointing afternoon for the Scot, recalled to the starting XI. End product wasnt there and looked a little out of sorts.
Murray (8); Might not have scored on his return but his presence, strength and determination to win key battles up top, were all a factor in the win.
Baldock (8); Superb volley for his first, while his second was routine, but another hard afternoon of grafting for the striker, despite the yellow card.
Akpom (N/A); Last few minutes to help run down the clock.
Tomori (N/A); On for about a few seconds.
BFC - BHAFC ; Baldock (53) (68);
Att; 12,745 (1,396 Brighton)