CHIS GETS SEAGULLS SOARING
BRIGHTON boss Chris Hughton was struggling to find any negatives after his side’s win over Blackburn lifted them ten points clear of the relegation zone.
Matt Kilgallon’s first-half own goal proved decisive as the Seagulls ended a three-game winless run and condemned injury-hit Blackburn to back-toback defeats.
Hughton reserved special praise for striker Chris O’Grady whose cross into the box led to the goal which sealed victory.
“We’re delighted with the progress that we’ve made because it is difficult when you’re only a point or a couple of points above that relegation zone,” he said.
“But we’ve got a group of lads that have worked hard to make sure that we are able to steer clear of that and at the moment we’re delighted.
“With the system that we played against a team that you know are going to turn you and try to get the ball into the box, into the front two, sometimes the distances between the back and the front are going to be quite big and you’re reliant on somebody to hold that ball well for you.
“Particularly on a quite difficult pitch as well, I thought Chris was really excellent for us.”
The visitors could have taken the lead on ten minutes after O’Grady got the better of Alex Baptiste to get a shot away, but the forward’s curling effort clipped the post with a diving Jason Steele beaten.
As Brighton continued to look the better side, the creative Joao Teixeira found some space and worked a 17th-minute opportunity from distance which sailed just off target.
And the visitors’ fine play was rewarded shortly after as O’Grady fired in a 26th-minute right-wing cross and Rovers skipper Kilgallon’s diving header sailed past his own stopper Steele to give the Seagulls the advantage.
Brighton then nearly extended their lead after Teixeira latched onto Dale Stephens’ quick 44th-minute ball forward and his shot was expertly saved by a diving Steele.
Moments later, at the other end, opposite number David Stockdale produced a stop of similar calibre to deny Marshall who cut inside and fired a fierce curling effort at goal to leave the score at 1-0 at half-time.
After the break Blackburn came within inches of leveling when Jordan Rhodes’ header from Tom Cairney’s cross was pushed onto the post by Stockdale on the hour and Gordon Greer cleared with Rovers substitute Rudy Gestede lurking.
And the home side’s search for an equaliser proved elusive after Markus Olsson’s 84th-minute fierce effort from Baptiste’s layoff was palmed away by Stockdale in the Brighton goal.
Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer admitted his side were below par in the first-half, but felt a goal similar to one seen in Wolves’ clash with Derby the night before ought to have stood.
“I think the goal probably matched the quality of the game - wasn’t a classic, was it?”, said Bowyer, who’s side remain tenth in the table.
“I didn’t see a great deal wrong with our goal that got chalked off – it was very similar to Lee Grant’s in the Wolves versus Derby game.
“But no excuses, we were nowhere near good enough first half – nowhere near.
“And second half we had a bit more of a go and then their goalie to be fair to him has pulled two great saves out.
“The players that were out there were more than capable of winning the game though.
“So we’ll use this international break wisely, recover and hopefully have one or two more options for the run in.”
HIGH FIVE: Brighton’s Bruno Saltor and Chris O’Grady celebrate a Matthew Kilgallon own goal Inset: Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes directs a header goalwards