Brighton climbed back to the top of the table, after beating Birmingham 3-1 at The AMEX. Goals from Glenn Murray, Tomer Hemed and Uwe Hunemeier.
Brighton were 1-0 up in a matter of minutes; some superb link-up play involving Anthony Knockaert and Bruno laid the ball on a plate for Albion’s leading marksman, whose first-time finish beat Tomasz Kuszczak for his 20th goal of the season. Blues came within inches of levelling the scores just five minutes later, but captain Craig Gardner’s free-kick cannoned off the crossbar with David Stockdale rooted to his line. Gardner then tested Albion with another set-piece, but Stockdale made a save down low to his right-hand side. The visitors were undeterred by the early setback, as two shots by Clayton Donaldson were blocked by Lewis Dunk and Hunemeier. The Seagulls were dealt a blow with half an hour gone, however, as Dunk was forced off due to a sickness bug and was replaced at centre-back by Fikayo Tomori. Albion worked an opening shortly after the re-start when Solly March whipped in a perfectly-weighted cross towards Hemed, whose header was blocked. Knockaert then saw his follow-up strike blocked. Albion doubled their advantage when Murray headed Bruno’s cross towards the far post and Hemed was on hand to nod the ball home with 48 minutes on the clock. The lead was made more emphatic just five minutes later thanks to Hunemeier’s first Albion goal – his volley taking a deflection off Donaldson to beat Kuszczak in the Birmingham goal. The German could have doubled his tally soon after with a glancing header from the corner that just beat the far post. But just as Albion were heading for yet another clean sheet, Adams grabbed a consolation when his close-range shot deflected past Stockdale in the 85th minute to end a swift counter-attack for the visitors. Blues substitute Maikel Kieftenbeld also tried his luck from distance in the closing stages, but Stockdale made a comfortable save and the game finished 3-1 to the Seagulls.
Stockdale (7); Not an awful lot of work for this to do, will be dissapointed not to have kept another clean sheet, but will be thankful that Gardner’s free-kick crashed off the bar in the first half.
Bruno (8); Defensively sound, and was a menace in attack, creating the opening goal and playing a hand in the 2nd.
Hunemeier (8); Caught out by Donaldson a couple times, but was generally on top of him throughout the game; rewarded with his first goal for the club.
Dunk (6); Made a vital block from Donaldson, before going off with sickness.
Bong (7); A surprise inclusion with the full-backs being rotated, but coped well and had some bright ideas with March in front of him.
Knockaert (8); Played a part in all 3 goals; but his judgement of passing was generally off, although he made up for it with a top work-rate.
Stephens (7); Had his work cut-out against a stern 3 man Birmingham midfield, but seemed to cope well enough.
Kayal (7); Like Stephens he had his work cut out; more of a defensive night for the Israeli.
March (7); Might of had a penalty in the first half, but his movement was superb and was a threat throughout.
Murray (8); Scored his 20th of the season, and looked like he would bag a few more; work-rate was class once again.
Hemed (8); A very quiet first half soon sprung into life in the second with his 11th of the season.
Tomori (7); Played a majority of the game after replacing Dunk, and looked comfortable in his usual position of centre-back.
Murphy (6); Replacement for Knockaert, and but didn’t affect the game too much.
Norwood (N/A); Replaced Stephens and looked to shine with a string of fancy and long range passes.
BHAFC - BCFC; Murray (2), Hemed (48), Hunemeier (53); Adams (85);