This result will have massive implications for us, says Potter
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