SPOT ON TO CLINCH WIN

Seag­ulls grab the vic­tory

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Daniel Prescott

CHRIS Hughton ad­mits even he was sur­prised by Brighton’s last-gasp vic­tory against Ful­ham.

With both sides level and the fi­nal whis­tle ap­proach­ing, winger Kazenga LuaLua made the de­ci­sion to launch a counter at­tack af­ter a pro­longed spell un­der the cosh.

LuaLua surged into the box and was re­warded for his at­tack­ing men­tal­ity when he was scythed down by de­fender Shaun Hutchin­son and awarded a penalty.

Tomer Hemed stepped up to earn the away side the win, leav­ing Hughton scratch­ing his eyes in dis­be­lief.

Hughton said: “If I’m hon­est I didn’t see the win com­ing at that stage but I ap­plaud my team for the brav­ery they showed at that late stage of the game.

“We had started com­ing un­der im­mense pres­sure from balls into the box for Matt Smith, who was dif­fi­cult to han­dle.

“Be­cause of the pres­sure at that stage I was happy to set­tle for a point against a side full of play­ers that can pro­duce some­thing.

“We started the game very well and dom­i­nated for the first 25 min­utes so I was dis­ap­pointed to go in at the break level.

“But we came out again in the sec­ond half the bet­ter side and got the win against the odds.”

Ful­ham an­nounced goal­keeper Mar­cus Bet­tinelli had signed a new and im­proved four-year deal with the club ahead of kick-off.

And the stop­per was a re­lieved man in­side four min­utes as he saw Hemed’s first-time ef­fort hit the cross­bar.

Brighton dom­i­nated the open­ing half-hour and they de­servedly went ahead on 30 min­utes thanks to Sam Bal­dock.

The for­mer West Ham striker latched on to a clever Bruno pass and coolly slot­ted the ball home.

Ful­ham’s first real chance of the con­test came just five min­utes be­fore the break when Smith missed a free header.

Smith’s miss summed up Ful­ham’s open­ing half and yet some­how it gal­va­nized them to­wards an equaliser.

Lasse Vi­gen Christensen picked up the ball on the edge of the box and he turned be­fore lay­ing the ball off to Tom Cair­ney.

The for­mer Black­burn Rovers man made no mis­take as he curled a left-footed ef­fort into the top right hand cor­ner of David Stock­dale’s goal.

Cair­ney’s equaliser was bril­liant but some­what un­de­served and it al­most got a whole lot worse for the ear­lier im­pres­sive Brighton.

Christensen was again the man cre­at­ing the chances and his cross was met by the head of Smith who hit the post with his header just be­fore the break.

Smith was a con­stant threat to Brighton but again missed the chance to grab Ful­ham the lead in the sec­ond half when he headed straight into the arms of Stock­dale.

Smith was later re­placed and his missed chances proved costly when Brighton lodged a late counter at­tack.

LuaLua turned on the pace to skin de­fender Hutchin­son, who brought him down just in­side the box.

Hemed stepped up to slot away the re­sult­ing penalty, leav­ing Sy­mons to rue his side’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing at both ends of the pitch.

He said:“I’ve seen the penalty back a few times and it’s dif­fi­cult to call. The ini­tial con­tact may have been just out­side but he is mov­ing at such a pace it’s hard to see.

“I have no com­plaints with the penalty, just the de­fend­ing that led up to it. It was a rash chal­lenge.

“I’m not go­ing to com­plain be­cause it was so rash and we didn’t need to make at that time. I felt LuaLua had toed the ball away for a cor­ner.”

ON THE SPOT: Tomer Hemed scores the late penalty for the visi­tors to win it

STAR MAN BRUNO Brighto

n&Hove Al­bion

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