OS­CAR UP AND RUN­NING AT LAST

Crofts on tar­get for Seag­ulls

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dan Machin To comment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

OS­CAR Gar­cia bought him­self some breath­ing space as Brighton snared a cru­cial first win of the sea­son un­der their new boss – who claims he’ll con­tinue to live by the sword.

It looked as though the match was head­ing to­wards a goal­less draw but up popped An­drew Crofts with just over quar­ter of an hour left on the clock to snatch a much needed-vic­tory for the vis­i­tors.

Birm­ing­ham had cre­ated the bet­ter chances in the match un­til that point but were let down by a com­bi­na­tion of poor fin­ish­ing and bad luck.

The hosts rat­tled the bar twice in a mat­ter of min­utes at the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond half as they tried to seize the ini­tia­tive. Nei­ther side man­aged to find top gear as clear cut op­por­tu­ni­ties in front of goal re­mained a rare com­mod­ity.

Brighton won’t care, how­ever, as they got their first points on the board and ended a run of three straight de­feats in all com­pe­ti­tions.

“I am the kind of per­son who wants to see a per­for­mance, not just the re­sult,” said Gar­cia.“It was a good dis­play but we weren’t ac­cu­rate in front of goal.

“At this level it is im­por­tant to get points, and this re­sult makes it much eas­ier. We want to build some­thing here and it will take time.

“We had more pos­ses­sion than the op­po­si­tion, just like in our last three games, but we man­aged to make it count.

“We tell our mid­field­ers to get in the box and this is ex­actly what Crofts did for the goal. We’re look­ing for our play­ers to be com­fort­able on the ball as we want to play a pos­ses­sion game.

“I want to ded­i­cate this win to all the fans, es­pe­cially the fans that came.”

The best chance of the first half fell to Leo Ul­loa, who found him­self with a clear path to goal, but he de­cided to work the ball onto his right foot and ended up pok­ing the ball wide as he was closed down in the box.

Stephen Ward, mak­ing his de­but on loan from Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers, im­pressed down the left and al­most capped a fine per­for­mance with a sweep­ing shot from the edge of the area that flew inches over.

Birm­ing­ham burst out of the traps af­ter the restart, hit­ting the wood­work twice within a mat­ter of min­utes.

Andy Shin­nie first rat­tled the bar with an an­gled drive from the edge of the area be­fore Lee No­vak fol­lowed suit with a thun­der­ous ef­fort of his own.

But Brighton man­aged to weather the storm and hit the hosts with a sucker punch on the counter at­tack.

Kemy Agustien, play­ing on his re­turn to St An­drew’s, slipped in Crofts down the right and the mid­fielder coolly despatched the ball past Dar­ren Ran­dolph into the far cor­ner.

And Blues boss Lee Clark was fum­ing with the man­ner in way in which his side crashed to this de­feat.

“I’m frus­trated that we lost, but I’m more frus­trated with the man­ner in which we con­ceded the goal,” he said. “It was poor to say the least.

“The play­ers have seen the goal al­ready. We’ve watched it again in the dress­ing room be­cause I was so an­gry with it. That’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween us tak­ing a point.

“They had three or four play­ers in the move who were never pressed, and then the deep run­ner from mid­field has had a free run with­out peo­ple track­ing him.

“You just can’t do that at this level be­cause you will al­ways get pun­ished and that’s ex­actly what has hap­pened on this oc­ca­sion, it’s very frus­trat­ing.

“I’m gut­ted for the fans be­cause the sup­port they’re giv­ing the group of play­ers is fan­tas­tic.

“We’ve got to dust our­selves down and keep work­ing.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

SOLO STRIKE: An­drew Crofts scores for Brighton ON THE UP: Brighton man­ager Os­car Gar­cia cel­e­brates with cap­tain Gor­don Greer

BIRM­ING­HAM

FOR­MA­TION: 3-5-2

DAR­REN RAN­DOLPH

8 Made some fan­tas­tic saves and was quick of his line when he needed to be

HAY­DEN MULLINS

6 A quiet game but did what he had to do when called upon

DAN BURN Tow­er­ing in the air and solid on the deck. Did not let much past him

PAUL ROBIN­SON

7

7 A steady per­for­mance char­ac­terised by some strong tack­les

NEAL EARD­LEY

5 Put in a cou­ple of good crosses but didn’t get for­ward enough

TOM ADEYEMI

5 Worked hard through­out the match but lacked the fi­nal ball

SCOTT AL­LAN Al­ways looked to test Kuszczak but couldn’t find the ac­cu­racy

WADE EL­LIOTT Brought oth­ers into the game in what was a busy per­for­mance

SHANE FER­GU­SON

7

7

5 The game passed him by at times but you can’t fault his work ethic

LEE NO­VAK

6 Made lots of clever runs but he lacked ser­vice in the box

AN­DREW SHIN­NIE

6 Looked to make things hap­pen and went close sev­eral times

SUB­STI­TUTES BURKE 7; FOR SHIN­NIE (67) ARTHUR 6; FOR FER­GU­SON (77) GREEN 6; FOR AL­LAN (82)

NOT USED: DOYLE, HAN­COX, BART­LEY, LEE

BRIGHTON

FOR­MA­TION: 4-3-3

TO­MASZ KUSZCZAK Good dis­tri­bu­tion and dealt with crosses re­ally well

INIGO CALDERON

7

6 Got for­ward on the odd oc­ca­sion and did his job in de­fence well

GOR­DON GREER A calm per­for­mance from the skip­per who led from the back

MATTHEW UP­SON

7

7 His ex­pe­ri­ence shone through, es­pe­cially in the air

STEPHEN WARD

8 Im­pressed on his de­but and put in a few teas­ing crosses

KEITH AN­DREWS Kept Brighton mov­ing for­ward and shielded the back four all game

AN­DREW CROFTS

8

8 Con­stantly tried to make things hap­pen and was rewarded with his goal

KEMY AGUSTIEN

7 Ran the show in the mid­dle of the park with his pass­ing abil­ity

WILL BUCK­LEY Al­ways looked to shoot and tested Ran­dolph on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions

LEONARDO UL­LOA

7

6 Wasted a cou­ple of glo­ri­ous chances but kept plug­ging away

DAVID LOPEZ

5 Didn’t of­fer much go­ing for­ward and was of­ten a pas­sen­ger

SUB­STI­TUTES FORSTER-CASKEY 7; FOR LOPEZ (59) BARNES 6; FOR BUCK­LEY (68) INCE 6; FOR AGUSTIEN (82) NOT USED: ANKERGREN, EL-ABD, MAKSIMENKO, LUALUA

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