Brighton fell to only their 2nd home defeat of the season, as Newcastle came from behind to re-claim top spot in the Championship. In a tense and frantic game, it was Newcastle who came out with the points, with Brighton having to go back to the drawing board, and re-group for their pivotal game on Saturday away at Nottingham Forest.
Albion created their first opening inside the first five minutes when Jamie Murphy whipped in an inviting cross towards Murray, but Paul Dummett got to the ball first. Skipper Bruno came close to a first goal of the campaign with a driven strike that forced Karl Darlow into a low save. Sam Baldock then latched onto a brilliantly worked free-kick, but Darlow palmed the ball away. The Seagulls were rewarded for their fast start when referee Robert Madley pointed to the spot after Glenn Murray was pulled back in the box by Ciaran Clark. Brighton’s top scorer made no mistake from the spot and sent Darlow the wrong way with his 17th goal of the season. However, the Seagulls were dealt a blow and forced into an early change, as Sebastien Pocognoli appeared to be struggling and was replaced by Fikayo Tomori. Matt Ritchie twice came close to scoring an equaliser, as his left-footed shot clipped the bar, before he lost his footing just as he was about to pull the trigger. The Magpies continued to carry a threat going forward, and Yoan Gouffran took advantage of a momentary lapse in the Albion defence but saw his shot saved by David Stockdale. The visitors raised their game after going behind and came close again through Christian Atsu, whose shot took a nick off Lewis Dunk before going wide. Dale Stephens was next to try his luck from distance after some brilliant work by Jamie Murphy, but his shot was met with a routine stop from Darlow. DeAndre Yedlin was lucky to avoid a straight red card when he sent Baldock tumbling, but Madley only brandished a yellow. Murray almost got his and Albion’s second with a brilliant volley inside the box that was parried away by Darlow. Newcastle’s movement was a constant threat and Stockdale made a fine reaction save to keep out Atsu’s shot in the last action of the half. Following a breathless first half, the second began in the same manner when Dummett made a brilliant goalline clearance to keep out Dunk’s rising header. Baldock then found Anthony Knockaert in space and the Frenchman cut inside before being denied by Darlow. Stockdale almost had a horrible moment when his short backpass went straight to Gouffran, but thankfully the Frenchman failed to take advantage. Following a spell of Albion possession on the edge of the Newcastle box, Murphy let fly from distance but his shot went way over the target. Rafael Benitez freshened up his forward line with the introduction of Daryl Murphy, who had an immediate impact with a towering header that was saved by Stockdale. Newcastle got the equaliser in the most fortuitous fashion possible, as a mis-hit shot from Atsu took the faintest of deflections off Diame and looped over Stockdale and Tomori into the net. Newcastle then grabbed the winner in the 89th minute when Ayoze Perez met Atsu’s cross with close-range finish, sending the visitors top of the table.
Stockdale (7); Made a couple of really good saves, but nothing he could of done for either of the goals.
Bruno (7); Almost blew the roof off when he’s volley went goalwards, before Darlow parried it away. Was good at the back, until Atsu switched sides which turned the game.
Duffy (7); Looked fierce in the air with Diame and made some good challenges too.
Dunk (7); So very close to scoring from a corner early into the second half; commanding as always, looked to have the beating of Gouffran for much of the evening.
Pocognoli (N/A); Left early through injury.
Knockaert (6); Always has the potential to cause problem; had a couple of shots saved by Darlow, but it was his defensive work which was more noticeable.
Stephens (7); A lot goes through him in midfield; composed on the ball against tough opposition and made some decent passes forward.
Sidwell (6); Got stuck in to challenges and won a fair amount of them. Was slightly wasteful with his passing.
Murphy (6); Looked lively against Yedlin, but soon filtered out when Newcastle were in the ascendancy.
Baldock (6); Hard graft again from him; plenty of running and will feel annoyed after Yedlin brought him down when near clean through on goal.
Murray (7); Held the ball up well when the ball came to him, but much of the evening was chasing the Magpies back four. Well-taken penalty to score his 17th of the season.
Tomori (6); On early for Pocognoli; had a hard time early on but grew into the game well.
Kayal (N/A); On for the last few minutes to try and defend for the point.
March (N/A); Quick run-out to give Knockaert a rest.
BHAFC - NUFC ; Murray (14pen); Diame (81), Perez (89);