Brighton moved a step closer to the promise land, after a huge victory against Blackburn, while rivals Huddersfield slipped up at home to Burton Albion. It was a less than convincing victory, but they don’t need to be entertaining, just as long as the 3 points are claimed after each match.
Lewis Dunk had Albion’s first opportunity of the game with a dipping set-piece from a central position that was kept out by Jason Steele. Anthony Knockaert then worked his magic after weaving in off the right flank to find Uwe Huenemier, but the German’s effort was deflected behind by Charlie Mulgrew. Dunk was again denied by Steele at his near post, before Huenemeier headed wide from the subsequent corner. Rovers barely threatened inside the opening 30 minutes, but did come close to breaking the deadlock through Lucas Joao, who ended some slick Blackburn build-up play with a volley that went wide. Glenn Murray forced a save from Steele with a low driven effort to the bottom corner, before the Seagulls were tested with two dangerous corners from the visitors. Huenemeier was called into action to block a shot from inside the box, before Stockdale tipped the second set-piece away from goal. Former Seagulls winger Elliott Bennett then got the better of Liam Rosenior on the left flank, but Jason Lowe ended the move with a deflected strike that was saved by Stockdale. In an eventful end to the first half, Beram Kayal saw his cross-shot parried away into the path of Jiri Skalak, who forced Steele into another save. Hughton freshened up his attack just shy of the hour mark, when Solly March and Tomer Hemed replaced Skalak and Chuba Akpom. The deadlock was then broken thanks to Murray, who took a touch before coolly slotting home from close range following some brilliant link-up play between Rosenior and Knockaert. After firing home his 19th goal of the season, Murray almost got number 20 moments later, but was denied by Steele. March also came close to setting up a second Albion goal, but Hemed slid his effort wide, ending a brilliant move. The hosts rode their luck just moments later though when Mulgrew saw his attempt go inches wide via a deflection, after a corner was only half cleared, but the Seagulls held on for three more crucial points.
Stockdale (6); Rarely tested throughout the game, on his way to another clean sheet. Only scare was during injury time from Mulgrew’s effort.
Rosenior (7); Looked solid against tricky opponent Bennett, but slightly lacking in attack.
Hunemeier (8); Has been a revelation since his includement after Duffy’s injury, and another stand-out performance; hard luck losing out on Man of the Match.
Dunk (7); Another big performance in a tough game; handled Joao quite well but a much different challenge when Gallagher came on.
Pocognoli (7); Back involved for the first time in over a month, and continued where he left off.
Knockaert (7); Blackburn knew he was the main threat, and snuffed out anything that involved him, but game opened up to him during the second half, and his header provided the goal.
Stephens (7); Lot’s of good work in midfield; defensively and offensively.
Kayal (7); In the squad despite tonsillitis, and never looked like it affected him with a solid performance.
Skalak (6); Lacked the attacking intent he had been producing in recent matches, and subbed off 10 minutes into the second half.
Akpom (4); DIdn’t have a great game; lacked movement and ideas, disposed regularly and passes went astray, although the booing was harsh and uncalled for.
Murray (7); Pops up with yet another match winner, taking his tally to 19 for the season. Another big performance from him when his attacking partner was out of the game.
Hemed (6); Immediate impact as soon as he was introduced.
March (6); Like Hemed, he changed the complexion of the game when introduced.
Murphy (N/A); Last minute sub to give Knockaert a breather.
BHAFC - BRFC; Murray (67);