SPOT ON TO CLINCH WIN
Seagulls grab the victory
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