Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion (22/11/15) | Review

Game 17 has come and gone, and to be able to say Brighton are still unbeaten is something quite remarkable. The halfway point of the season is usually the time where teams decide if they can make the promotion places, that time is 6 games away, and Brighton seem to be among 5 teams vying for those 2 places. With Brighton playing 2 of those other 4 teams in the next 6 games, it will not only test their promotion credentials but could help them pull away from the chasing pack at such a pivotal part of the season. It had been 211 days since Brighton’s last league defeat (Watford 25/4/15) going into the Burnley game, and a run they were looking to increase, as they bare down QPR’s record of 19 unbeaten league games. They took a step closer to that record, but they can count themselves lucky in some ways that Burnley’s shooting was worse that shocking, otherwise the scoreline could have been different.

Burnley had gone into this game 5 games unbeaten, and have only dropped 5 points at home all season, so this game was going to be more that a challenge for Chris Hughton’s men, it was a task which seemed impossible. The game started well for the team in the high vis kit, as Solly March broke down the right wing, and after an cut back from March fell to Dale Stephens, his shot was blocked by Michael Keane, only for the ball to fall to Tomer Hemed but his shot was denied by the cross bar, however Bobby Zamora was on hand to prod the ball over the line, and give the Seagulls a 57 second lead. Just as the celebrations were dying down in the away stand, 48 seconds after the restart, Burnley were awarded a penalty when Lewis Dunk was penalised for holding Keane. It looked harsh, but it’s one of those decisions only certain referees give, and clearly Simon Hooper is one of those referees. Nevertheless the inform Andre Gray dispatched the penalty, and brought the home side level. Burnley created the next chance, when George Boyd hit a thunderbolt from a free kick which David Stockdale just managed to keep from rolling under him. Stockdale was called into action again, as Boyd crossed a dangerous ball for Rouwen Hennings, but his shot was saved.  The next chance wasn’t created until the second half when Scott Arfield flicked the ball forward towards Boyd, and after a one-two with Boyd, Arfield flashed his shot just wide of Stockdale’s post. Arfield had another great chance, after his long ball forward was met by Gray, and after his cross had evaded everyone inside the box, Arfield had the chance to put Burnley ahead, but his curling shot went wide. Chris Long had a last-gasp chance to snatch the 3 points, after Gray’s header was directed at goal, but he poked the ball wide as Stockdale was coming to claim, and both sides settled for a point.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (8); He maybe should of saved the penalty, but not for the first time this season, he has saved the Seagulls coming away with nothing. Made some great saves, and I’m sure he will continue to do so.

Bruno (7); Mixed game for the full-back; supported March and Murphy well in the first half, but had to rely more on defensive duties in the second half as Burnley looked for the win.

Greer (8); Solid game for the captain on his return. With the help of Dunk, he kept Gray quiet and left him with scraps to feed off

Dunk (6/7); Undecided between the two, he did well defending against Gray, Long and Hennings, but at times he was more interested in wrestling with the attacker, whether that be the 3 attackers or Keane from set-pieces. The penalty should of been a warning for him not to do it again, but he continued to do so, and could of easily been penalised for 3 or 4 more.

Rosenior(7); Like Bruno, a mixed game; plenty of attacking in the first half, but kept to his defensive duties in the second to deny Burnley scoring a winner.

Murphy (7); Good first half for the Scot, however, he was a little quiet in the second, but obviously doesn’t help when the opposition are constantly on the attack.

Kayal (8); Another great game from the midfield guardian. Not much got passed him, and did well keeping tabs on Joey Barton, and didn’t allow him to play his usual game. Awarded the Sky Bet Man Of The Match too.

Stephens (7); Solid game from Stephens, and just like Kayal, he didn’t allow too much through him. The partnership of these two is going from strength to strength, and will be pivotal to Brighton’s promotion push

March (7); Caused all sorts of problems in the first half, including the cut back to Stephens; bit too quiet in the second half but came back and did his defensive duties well

Zamora (8); Scored once again, and although it wasn’t a winning one, it was just as important. It helped settle early nerves, as Brighton have struggled to score away from home. Subbed mid-way through the second half may suggest that he can’t play a full game just yet which will most likely indicate Hughton will need to dive into the loan market.

Hemed (7); Should of scored really, but thankfully Zamora was on hand to get the rebound. Just like his opposite, Hemed had to live off scraps and with out Baldock chasing the long balls it was hard for him to create anything clear-cut

Subs;

Forster-Caskey (6); Replaced Zamora, and played just behind Hemed. Helped things tick over, and helped see the game out as Burnley increased the pressure.

Manu (6); Replaced Hemed, and gave Keane and Michael Duff some problems with his pace, but nothing to worry them too much.

Burnley [1]-[1] Brighton; Gray (4 pen); Zamora (1)

Att; 15662 (375 Brighton)

MOTM; Kayal

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Brighton and Hove Albion v Cardiff City (3/10/15) | Review

10 games over, nearly a quarter of the way through the season, and Brighton are STILL unbeaten!! Can Brighton fans really start thinking that this could be the season? With the second International break now upon us, Brighton still occupy the top spot, with their lead being extended on Saturday to two points, after closest rivals Middlesbrough lost away to Reading. Last time Brighton were top going into the second International break, they got promoted to the Championship later that season, as well as staying top for the rest of it too. Anyway, onto the game in hand; Cardiff were welcomed to the AMEX on Saturday, and were also in high spirits after an excellent start to the season, which saw them sit in the final play-off place going into the game. With no Hunemeier in the starting XI, Hughton re-called Dunk to the starting line-up, clearly so he could keep tabs on powerhouse forward Kenwyne Jones, which he did quite well. However, it was his strike partner and Cardiff’s top goalscorer Joe Mason who made the breakthrough, after Brighton were caught in possession in the opposing half. The ball was played down the wing to full-back Shaun Malone, who executed such a brilliant cross that any would be pleased about, even more so that Mason managed to tuck it under a disparing David Stockdale, to send the travelling Bluebirds fans into raptures after just five minutes. As the first half grew older, Brighton became more of a threat and tested second-string goalkeeper Simon Moore multiple times without any luck, with some Brighton fans wishing to have seen David Marshall in goal as Moore was performing so well. But, Brighton did get a breakthrough and once again it was Dale Stephens controlled shot which rippled the net, after his superbly timed volley found its way into the bottom corner on thirty-eight minutes. From then on the game was controlled by Brighton, with Cardiff barely getting anywhere near Brighton’s final third, only as the game began to stretch in the dying endeavours of the game did Cardiff feel/look like a threat. Brighton had chances to win it though, most notably in the ninety-third minute when a cross from Dale Stephens evaded everyone, and the diving Gordon Greer could only ‘thigh’ the chance wide of the post with the goal gaping. With performances like that, it’s defiantly frustrating to only come away with a point, but Brighton are still unbeaten and have extended their lead by a point which, come the end of the season, could mean all the difference.

Line-Up;

David Stockdale (6/7); Hard to rate a player when he had nothing to do, could of sat out their with his newspaper, but kept alert in case anything did come about.

Bruno (7); Was at fault for Cardiff’s goal for being way to far up the pitch, but made some nice plays and did provide chances which unfortunately weren’t taken.

Greer (7); Missed the chance of the season, could of put all of his critics in their coffins had he scored, but has probably gained more due to the miss. Other than that, his defensive duties were good and stopped Mason from scoring anymore.

Dunk (7); Kept Jones quiet for a majority of the game, and provided a threat from set-pieces too.

Bong (7); Had to work hard in the first half, with March not performing too well, but worked wonders with him in the second and created some brilliant chances for Baldock and Hemed.

Rosenior (7); Once again, had another sound game. Not too many chances created but linked up with Bruno and Kayal well which set up chances.

Kayal (8); Looked exposed for some of the first half, but grew into the game as Brighton started pressing forward. Provided the assist for Stephens and had a good couple chances in the second half himself.

Stephens (8); Scored for the second game in a row, as well as looking solid in midfield. Starting to see the reasoning behind Hughton’s decision to keep him instead of selling him to Derby, as the season progresses. Could be a valuable member of the squad.

March (8); Didn’t perform at all in the first half, but made up for it with a quite flawless display in the second. Had Fabio and Peltier beaten and could of had the former sent off it it wasn’t for some lenient refereeing.

Baldock (7); Had some tough chances, but should of scored the square from Rosenior mid-way through the first half. However, he is still looking a constant threat with his pace and hunger.

Hemed (7); First games back are always difficult, and this was no different. He did, however, link up nicely with Baldock to set up some chances, but was rightly replace by Zamora mid-way through the second half.

Subs:

Zamora (6); Still feels like he is not quite fit enough, little bit rusty in places but did do well holding the ball up waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

Elvis (5); Had little time to make an impact.

Brighton [1] v [1] Cardiff; Stephens (38); Mason (5)

Att. 26,399

MOTM; Stephens