MADINE SHOOTS DOWN SEAGULLS Hughton blames Murphy red card
BRIGHTON boss Chris Hughton was left to rue a game-changing red card after his side surrendered a two-goal lead at Bolton.
The Seagulls went ahead against the run of play when Dale Stephens smashed the ball into an empty net before Jamie Murphy tapped in a second four minutes later.
Bolton pulled one back through Neil Danns on the stroke of halftime before Murphy was sent off for a reckless challenge on the Wanderers goalscorer midway through the second half.
And when it looked as though the visitors would cement their place at the summit of the league table, Gary Madine headed in an equaliser four minutes into stoppage time.
“I felt we should have had 11 men on the pitch,” said Hughton.
“He has slipped. There is no doubt that he has slipped.My first impression at the time is that he had swept the lad away. For me it is not a sending off and that changes the game.
“I thought we were the better side. I think we made it difficult for ourselves by conceding the goal that we did before half time but I generally felt we were going to hold out at the end.
“It is very difficult with ten men to stop a percentage of balls coming into the box but I thought we dealt with most quite well.”
Bolton started the brightest as Liam Feeney headed Dean Moxey’s corner against the crossbar and Max Clayton – making his first Wanderers appearance in nine months – forced David Stockdale into a wonderful save from the edge of the area.
But against the run of play the visitors took the lead. Ben Amos punched the ball against the body of Bobby Zamora – making his first Brighton start in more than12 years – and he laid the ball back for Stephens to smash into an empty net.
Four minutes later Brighton went further ahead as Murphy swept Liam Rosenior’s cross home from close-range.
Bolton began to hoist the white flag as they left Gordan Greer unmarked in the penalty area but he planted his header wide.
The flag was soon drawn back as Danns found the bottom corner of Stockdale’s goal from distance four minutes before the interval to restore home spirits.
A moment of madness from Murphy changed the tide of the game when he was sent off for a very late challenge on Danns with 15 minutes remaining.
The hosts cranked up the pressure and one minute later Madine was sent through on goal but was denied by the legs of Stockdale.
Bolton took the game to Brighton and had the ball in the net through Madine but it was rightly ruled out for offside.
But four minutes into injury time Madine did get his goal – leaping the highest to head Feeney’s cross from the right into the bottom corner and ended his goal drought that spanned more than 20 hours of football.
And Bolton manager Neil Lennon was delighted that his forward has finally got off the mark for the season.
“Madine got what he deserved because he played really well and he has been knocking at the door for weeks to get a goal and that is what he is capable of,” said the Wanderers boss.
“After 35 minutes you are 2-0 down and you are scratching your heads as to why because we were actually playing quite well and we created good chances.
“Their goalkeeper made a couple of fine saves and there was a flow to us and we are playing against currently the best team in the league.”
MEAN MADINE: Gary Madine watches his header glide in for Bolton’s equaliser. Inset: Ben Amos walks back to collect the ball out of the net after a Brighton goal
STAR MAN DALE STEPH