Leo goal papers over cracks
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.”
MARCHING ORDERS: Doncaster forward Billy Sharp is shown a red card
at goal RISING HIGH: Ulloa heads