Ace Hemed has a spot of bother
TOMER Hemed has enjoyed a fairytale start to life in English football with Brighton – but was the villain of the piece as the table-toppers were held by ten-man Wolves.
Hemed had hit five goals in seven games since arriving from Spanish side Almeria but his tame first-half penalty was saved by Wanderers keeper Emiliano Martinez in this stalemate’s key moment.
Injury was added to insult when the Israeli went off at half-time with a slight hamstring tweak.
And, without him, Brighton lacked the nous to break down unwavering Wolves, despite an early second-half red card for Wanderers midfielder Conor Coady.
Seagulls boss Chris Hughton said: “It feels like two points dropped although I certainly could not fault the commitment of my players, as they had a real go.
“It’s difficult to be too disap- pointed but we did have a really good opportunity with the two incidents – the missed penalty and the red card.
“It changes the game if we score the penalty as they have got to come out. Even when they went down to ten men, if they are 1-0 behind they have to be a bit more expansive.
“Tomer just felt his hamstring very slightly.We could have left him on to see how it went but with what we have in the squad, we don’t need to take that chance.
“I would have felt worse if we had left him on and he ended up having an injury that keeps him out for a few weeks.”
Brighton remain top of the table and unbeaten but could have been five points clear, not three, had Hemed taken his chance after Jamie Murphy was clumsily felled by Scott Golbourne on 23 minutes.
However, his telegraphed penalty was anticipated by Arsenal loanee Martinez who not only parried Hemed’s initial effort but got up quickly to block the follow-up too.
Hemed at least made up for his miss at the other end, clearing Adam Le Fondre’s close-range strike off the line after Kortney Hause outjumped the Seagulls defence from James Henry’s free-kick.
It would prove Wolves’ only real clear chance as, three minutes into the second half the complexion of the game changed as Coady saw red for a lunge on Liam Rosenior.
Brighton, though, were unable to make the numerical advantage count, with Dale Stephens coming closest late on, his glancing header floating just wide.
That apart, Martinez came for a host of crosses to take the pressure of his defence and made routine stops from Kazenga LuaLua, Rosenior and substitute Elvis Manu.
And Wolves boss Kenny Jackett was full of praise for his keeper and young back four – who have an average age of just 22 – as they kept a first clean sheet of the season.
Jackett said: “We had to work hard for it, especially in the dying minutes, but our young centre-half pairing stood very firm and showed a lot of promise I felt.
“A lot of confidence can be gained from that clean sheet. It was a great double save from Martinez from the penalty and a key moment in the game.”
Jackett, who confirmed he is set to give a trial to ex-Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi with Nouha Dicko out injured for the season, may also appeal Coady’s red card.
He added: “It is inconclusive on the video so I need to see it from a second angle. Although the player went down, there was no real reaction from the other players to it.”