This re­sult will have mas­sive im­pli­ca­tions for us, says Pot­ter

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Sam Dean

Brighton can only hope they start next sea­son with more en­ergy and ex­cite­ment than they are fin­ish­ing the cur­rent cam­paign, with this goal­less draw en­sur­ing their sur­vival but do­ing lit­tle to stir much en­thu­si­asm be­yond that.

The club will be over­joyed, at least, about stay­ing up, as will their ad­mirable man­ager, Gra­ham Pot­back-to-back ter, who has over­seen a dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion in play­ing style with­out sac­ri­fic­ing their mem­ber­ship of English foot­ball’s most lu­cra­tive club.

“I am just de­lighted,” Pot­ter said. “De­lighted for the play­ers, for the chair­man. It is re­ally im­por­tant for the club, of course. The fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions are mas­sive, es­pe­cially with how this year has been.”

The over­all jour­ney can now be of­fi­cially clas­si­fied as a suc­cess for Pot­ter, in his first sea­son as a Premier League man­ager. It has been chal­leng­ing at times, as a col­lec­tive and for him per­son­ally, yet there is ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve that Brighton can build from here.

“We knew psy­cho­log­i­cally there would be huge chal­lenges this sea­son and I think we dealt with that re­ally, re­ally well,” Pot­ter said.

They did not deal quite so well with New­cas­tle United over 90 min­utes but, at this stage of the sea­son and with only a soli­tary point re­quired, it was sim­ply a case of get­ting over the line. “We are there now,” said cen­tre-back Lewis Dunk. “The tar­get is done.”

It has been a great shame that sup­port­ers have not been al­lowed into the post-lock­down foot­balling world, ex­cept per­haps in the case of this dread­ful match. All things con­sid­ered, it was prob­a­bly for the best that fans were not around to wit­ness this half-baked, turgid en­counter.

Brighton at least had that sin­gle point to pur­sue, al­though they were

all but safe any­way. New­cas­tle, on the other hand, truly have noth­ing but pride to push for now. It showed. Steve Bruce’s team are strolling to­wards the fin­ish line and at this rate they will be nicely recharged by the time the new cam­paign comes around. “We have got a lot of tired bod­ies,” Bruce said.

Of the 584 Premier League fix­tures that have been played at least five times, Brighton v New­cas­tle is the only one that av­er­ages fewer than one goal per game. It sent a shiver down the spine to think that, in nor­mal cir­cum­stances, thou­sands of diehard Ge­ordies would have trav­elled all the way down to the south coast to watch a con­test as drab as this.

Over­all, Brighton were the more force­ful, but that should not be taken as praise. They were only slightly less life­less than New­cas­tle, who had lost their pre­vi­ous three games but did not seem par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about stop­ping the slide.

In the first half, Pot­ter’s side had brief glimpses of goal through Dunk and Le­an­dro Trossard, and Pas­cal Gross flashed wide from a tight an­gle, but none of these could be con­sid­ered clear-cut chances.

The best op­por­tu­nity fell to Trossard, with the Bel­gian’s sharp shot test­ing the re­flexes of Martin Dubravka in the New­cas­tle goal.

It said plenty about the match that the chance for Trossard came at the end of a move in which Dale Stephens had struck a mis-hit shot against the back­side of his own team-mate, and then New­cas­tle’s Emil Krafth had slipped when try­ing to clear the ball.

The game was soon slowed by a se­ries of strangely nasty fouls on the flanks, while other op­por­tu­ni­have

ties were wasted be­fore they could be­come gen­uine goalscor­ing chances. Tariq Lamptey found space down the right, for ex­am­ple, but not even five Dan Burns, stacked on top of each other at 6ft 7in each, would have reached his bal­looned cross.

Af­ter the break there was a flicker of at­tack­ing ef­fort from New­cas­tle, with Miguel Alm­iron test­ing Brighton goal­keeper Mathew Ryan, but the light died out long be­fore it could be­come a flame.

A se­ries of sub­sti­tu­tions al­lowed Brighton to take more con­trol of pro­ceed­ings as the game reached its con­clu­sion, and Adam Web­ster al­most struck a spec­tac­u­lar ef­fort from range. Dubravka was ag­ile in re­sponse. But they were never dom­i­nant and Andy Carroll nearly won it for the vis­i­tors with a late header.

Brighton (4-2-2-2) Ryan 6; Lamptey 5 (Duffy 86), Web­ster 6, Dunk 6, Burn 6; Bis­souma 6 (Prop­per 73), Stephens 6; Gross 5 (Mac Al­lis­ter 58), Mooy 6 (March 58); Trossard 6; Mau­pay 5 (Mur­ray 73). Subs But­ton, Mon­toya, Con­nolly, Cochrane. Booked Web­ster, Bis­souma, Stephens, Gross.

New­cas­tle United (3-4-3) Dubravka 7; Krafth 6, Fer­nan­dez 5, Rose 6; Man­quillo 5, Shelvey 6, Ben­taleb 5, Ritchie 5; Saint-Max­imin 6 (Joelin­ton 74), Gayle 5 (Carroll 74), Alm­iron 6 (Lazaro 86). Subs Dar­low, Muto, Yedlin, Atsu, Longstaff, Watts. Booked Rose, Ritchie.

Referee Si­mon Hooper (Wilt­shire).

No way through: Brighton’s Adam Web­ster com­petes with Fed­erico Fer­nan­dez

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