What pulls teams apart as the ‘best’ is often their ability to pull out wins in games were they have played poorly. This season in the championship, teams have managed to constantly achieve this, and this weekend’s football was no different.
Brighton hosted Fulham on Friday evening, a team that has scored as many as Brighton, but have conceded an eye-watering 72 goals this season. Indeed, the defence was to be their downfall, as Brighton tore them apart with superb performances all around.
Fulham asked questions of Brighton in the first twenty minutes, but after Stearman’s foul on Wilson in the penalty area, a man who hasn’t done much wrong at the spot this year, Hemed, put the ball into the net.
Just five minutes later, Hemed had the ball in the net once again, following an in swinging free kick by Knockhaert, who found the head of Hemed, and saw the ball loop into the corner of the net.
A man who has had a tremendous affect already at Brighton is Jiri Skalak, he has delivered assist after assist this season, and he found the Football League’s right back of the season, Bruno, from a corner who drilled the ball in soon after the second half making it 3-0.
Moments before his substitution, Hemed directed the ball into the net following a shot from Dale Stephens and had his first hat-trick in English football. Hemed has now scored a very respectful 16 goals this season.
It was to be another new signing who delivered the goods in the final stages of the game as Brighton counter attacked following a Fulham offensive. Knockhaert cut in with the ball and slotted the ball into the top corner of the net and made it Brighton’s biggest win this season.
As it happened:
Brighton were not the only team to entertain visitors on Friday, as Hull pulled off a dramatic win in the final minute of the game as Snodgrass finessed one of the strikes of the season.
It leaves Hull, who has had a mixture of bad luck and poor performances in recent months, just eight points behind Brighton with a game in hand. Time is running out for Hull, but they are not yet out of the automatic race.
It was to be the midday televised game where most Brighton heads would be focused, and it was Jordon Rhodes who broke Brighton and Burnley hearts, as once again, they salvaged points in the death of the game.
Middlesbrough had control of the majority of the game against the relegated, Bolton Wanderers, but when Vela took the lead in the 61st minute, Brighton and Burnley fans were crossing every finger. The pressure however eventually took it’s toll, and Middlesbrough extended their reign at the top of the table.
The next scheduled game was Burnley’s visit to Birmingham, who is without a win their last eight games, putting an end to Birmingham’s promotion hopes. However with Birmingham’s talent, an upset was in the realm of possibility.
After Maghoma equalised following Burnley’s George Boyd’s strike in the first half, it looked as though Birmingham were going to grab a draw, until the Championship Football League player of the season, Andre Gray hammered home a volley in the 77th minute, to give Burnley a huge three points.
This Tuesday see’s a full fixture list and holds perhaps on of the games of the season, with Middlesbrough travelling to Burnley. Brighton fans will be hoping for a draw, but whatever the scenario, at least one of those top two will drop points tomorrow evening.
Brighton will host QPR, who have had an inconsistent year following three managerial appointments beginning with Chris Ramsey who was sacked in November with the team in mid-table.
Neil Warnock spent a month there in interim charge until Hasselbaink was appointed in early December, waiting eight games until his team won a game.
Since then the team has found better form, but promotion is not on the cards this season for the Hoops. However, Brighton fans know far too well what QPR is capable of, after pulling back a 0-2 deficit against the Albion earlier this season, to secure a draw.
With the two final games for the Albion being Derby at home and Middlesbrough away, you have to say that this is a must win game for Brighton.
Image: The Guardian