SEAGULLS FLY BUT BOSS IS GROUNDED
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)