Leo goal papers over cracks

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

LEONARDO Ul­loa kept the Seag­ulls’ play-off hopes alive with a late header, but Brighton boss Os­car Gar­cia knows his side are go­ing to have to do more than rely on clean sheets.

Un­til Ul­loa popped up with 15 min­utes left to score his first goal since Box­ing Day, Brighton were head­ing for their fourth Cham­pi­onship game with­out scor­ing against a well-or­gan­ised Don­caster side, who fin­ished with ten men af­ter Billy Sharp saw red for a clash with Gor­don Greer.

This may have been Brighton’s 13th clean sheet of the sea­son, but Gar­cia was pressed af­ter­wards on his side’s lack of goals af­ter creat­ing 19 chances in front of goal.

“One of the things we have to im­prove is be­ing more clin­i­cal, but I’m not wor­ried,” the Spa­niard said. “When you have a lot of chances and fail to score, you can lose your con­fi­dence but we kept creat­ing and fi­nally Leo took it re­ally well. Leo is en­tirely the same player we know. He is still help­ing us a lot, by creat­ing spa­ces for oth­ers. But, yes, it would be good for him to get back scor­ing goals.

“We are re­ally pleased to get back to win­ning ways.The play­ers are happy but there is a mas­sive game on Tues­day against Leeds now.

“Our per­for­mance was good enough to win. I don’t like to think in the long term, my phi­los­o­phy is short-term.”

Brighton were creative down both flanks in the first half. There were a suc­ces­sion of crosses – led by the im­pres­sive Stephen Ward on the left – but Brighton failed to find the net with nine chances on goal.

Solly March had the best of them on the half hour, but couldn’t latch on to an­other low cross with his full stretch in the six-yard box.

Ul­loa, search­ing for his first goal in seven games af­ter in­jury, turned smartly shortly af­ter the in­ter­val, but his shot fell lamely into the hands of on-loan goal­keeper Sam John­stone.

Don­caster, mean­while, were look­ing lively in mid­field and as the hour ap­proached Sharp was left to­tally un­marked at the far post, but floated his header wide. With the Amex be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rest­less, Kazenga LuaLua en­tered the fray. It was his cross with 15 min­utes left that saw Ul­loa tap in only for the Ar­gen­tine to see his goal ad­judged off­side for a sec­ond week run­ning.

But fi­nally the ta­bles turned mo­ments later when Ward’s pin­point cross on the run was met firmly by the big Ar­gen­tine. Don­caster’s af­ter­noon was fur­ther com­pounded late on when Sharp was sent off for a late chal­lenge on Greer.

And Don­caster boss Paul Dickov claimed his side we hard done by. He said: “We feel a bit un­lucky. We were out­stand­ing in our work ethic and we knew we had to weather the first-half storm.

“I got into them at half-time to have the be­lief and we cre­ated the more clear-cut chances af­ter that. Brighton are ex­pan­sive in how they play so it was im­por­tant that we kept our shape. They were def­i­nitely on the rack.

“I don’t think Billy de­served to be sent-off and to lose him for three games would be a blow. I will be speak­ing to the chief exec on Mon­day to see what the proper pro­ce­dures are.”

PIC­TURES: Dig­i­tal South

MARCH­ING OR­DERS: Don­caster for­ward Billy Sharp is shown a red card

at goal RIS­ING HIGH: Ul­loa heads

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