SEAG­ULLS FLY BUT BOSS IS GROUNDED

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Conor Armstrong

CHRIS Hughton is re­fus­ing to get car­ried away de­spite Brighton mov­ing up to sec­ond in the ta­ble with a hard-fought win over Black­burn Rovers.

Kazenga LuaLua struck once again for the home side as his third goal of the sea­son in the 35th minute was enough to hand Brighton all three points.

The Seag­ulls have now won three and drawn one of their open­ing four league games, but boss Hughton is re­main­ing grounded.

“That was a real tough af­ter­noon, I thought,” Hughton said. “It was a tough game and I think they caught us on a day where we weren’t at our best on the ball. I thought we didn’t reach that level here.

“They were a huge threat, es­pe­cially with the amount of long throws and set-pieces. We had to de­fend re­ally well.

“At this mo­ment, we’re do­ing OK. I see, for a good pe­riod of time in this di­vi­sion, lots of draws and close games.

“I don’t think that there’s any­body in this di­vi­sion who can’t win on their day – home or away.”

Black­burn Rovers man­ager Gary Bowyer could only name six sub­sti­tutes due to sick­ness in the camp, but it was the visi­tors who started brightly and David Stock­dale was called into ac­tion in­side two min­utes af­ter a show of strength from Black­burn for­ward Fode Koita forced the Brighton stop­per to pull off a save.

Rovers con­tin­ued to look the more likely side to score in the open­ing 20 min­utes, with Brighton’s dis­play char­ac­terised by nerves in de­fence and sloppy mid­field play.

Craig Con­way drew two stops from Stock­dale in as many min­utes, be­fore a mis­judged header from Gor­don Greer was res­cued by Bruno Sal­tor with Koita bear­ing down on goal.

The Seag­ulls failed to muster a shot on tar­get un­til the 34th minute, but when they did they went in front. Some good aware­ness from Sam Bal­dock on the edge of the area saw him roll the ball to LuaLua, who pow­ered home past Black­burn stop­per David Raya.

The goal sparked the Al­bion into life as the mid­field duo of Beram Kayal and Dale Stephens be­gan to ex­ert their dom­i­nance in mid­field.

Al­bion started the sec­ond half in stark con­trast to the man­ner in which they be­gan the first, with the hosts im­me­di­ately as­sum­ing con­trol over pro­ceed­ings.

Tomer Hemed’s flicked ef­fort clipped the out­side of the post in the 52nd minute to spark the crowd into life, be­fore an over­head kick from the Is­raeli for­ward cleared the cross­bar.

Rovers were strug­gling to deal with the sum­mer sign­ing from Almería, as he spun away from Shane Duffy be­fore curl­ing an ef­fort nar­rowly wide of the far post.

LuaLua con­tin­ued to ter­rorise Ben Mar­shall, deputis­ing at right­back, as he bam­boo­zled the Black­burn de­fence with strength and skill, be­fore drilling a low ball across the area. On this oc­ca­sion, Bal­dock was un­able to con­nect with the all-im­por­tant fin­ish­ing touch.

Black­burn tried – and failed – to hit the hosts on the counter in the late stages and grab an equaliser. Duffy went clos­est for the visi­tors, when he rose to head a cor­ner to­wards goal, only for Jamie Mur­phy to clear off the line.

“We should have been out of sight af­ter 25 min­utes,” Black­burn boss Bowyer said.

“The goal­keeper’s made two great saves for them and we were then un­done with a de­flec­tion.

“Go­ing in at half-time one-nil down, I thought it was very harsh on us. Full credit to our play­ers though, they stuck at it. This is a dif­fi­cult place to come to.”

LEAP: Brighton keeper David Stock­dale jumps for the ball with Black­burn’s Shane Duffy and Gor­don Greer (right)

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