Ev­er­green striker nets win­ner for ta­ble top­pers

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alex Crook

BRIGHTON striker Bobby Zamora rolled back the years to send the Se­gaulls soaring back to top spot and led boss Chris Hughton to de­clare: ‘the ta­ble doesn’t lie’.

Zamora, 34, grabbed the win­ner two min­utes into the sec­ond half to ex­tend Brighton’s un­beaten run to 19 games af­ter Jon Toral had can­celled out Solly March’s opener.

Hughton said: “It's a won­der­ful achieve­ment so far and I can­not say we haven't de­served it. Per­for­mances have been good and the league ta­ble doesn't lie.

“It's good to get a win be­cause we have picked up a few draws of late.

“It was one of our most en­ter­tain­ing per­for­mances of the sea­son.The only down­side is we should have won more com­fort­ably.

“We had a really good level of per­for­mance. I felt it was a lit­tle bit un­just com­ing in at 1-1.We got into the fi­nal third on a lot of oc­ca­sions.”

Brighton came storm­ing out of the blocks and Dale Stephens could have opened the scor­ing af­ter only five min­utes when he headed over from in­side the penalty area af­ter Liam Rose­nior had crossed.

For­ward Tomer Hemed came close to end­ing his nine-match goal drought in the ninth minute as his pow­er­ful low shot was kept out only by a smart save with the legs from Birm­ing­ham goal­keeper To­masz Kuszczak.

Brighton got their re­ward for a vi­brant open­ing to the match when the im­pres­sive Eng­land un­der-21 star­let March stroked in their opener.

Jamie Mur­phy played a clever through ball to release Liam Rose­nior down the left and the full back picked out March with a first time floated cross.

March’s ini­tial shot struck team­mate Hemed but the mid­fielder calmly tucked the re­bound be­yond Kuszczak at his near post.

Hughton picked out the im­pe­ri­ous March for spe­cial praise, say­ing: “Solly has got stronger as the sea­son has gone one, was in­volved with Eng­land un­der-21s a few weeks ago which gave him an ex­tra lift.

“What we want from Solly is goals and as­sists on top of his per­for­mances and we are get­ting that.”

Brighton held the lead for only four min­utes be­fore Birm­ing­ham hit back with vir­tu­ally their first mean-

in­g­ful at­tack of the game.

Jaqcues Maghoma saw his an­gled drive beaten away by Brighton goal­keeper David Stock­dale and Jon Toral rose un­chal­lenged to nod in the re­bound from 12 yards.

Brighton dom­i­nated the rest of the first half but could not find a way past for­mer Seag­ulls star Kuszczak.

Birm­ing­ham threat­ened to snatch the lead against the run of play in the clos­ing mo­ments of an en­ter­tain­ing half when Toral sent a sweetly-struck curl­ing shot inches wide of the right hand post.

Brighton were back in front mo­ments af­ter the restart, with the ev­er­green Zamora tap­ping in from close range af­ter Kuszczak had clawed March’s shot off the line.

It was Zamora’s first Brighton home goal as a starter since his first spell at the club against Wat­ford 2004.

Manch­ester United loa­nee James Wil­son looked to have marked his Brighton de­but in style af­ter com­ing off the bench and rac­ing be­yond the Birm­ing­ham de­fence to go one on one with Kuszczak but his placed shot was kept out by the post.

Toral had ear­lier headed over from a De­marai Gray cross and it took a won­der save from Stock­dale to deny Birm­ing­ham sub­sti­tute David Davis in the dy­ing sec­onds.

Birm­ing­ham man­ager Gary Rowett said: “We got ex­ploited in the wide ar­eas, es­pe­cially in the first half but were still in the game right to the end

“We gave it a really good go for the fi­nal half an hour but the save from Davis was as good as you will see.

“Per­haps we de­served some­thing for our de­ter­mi­na­tion, char­ac­ter and at­ti­tude against a very good side but it just wasn’t to be.”

HAVE THAT: Brighton’s Solly March shoots at goal – and Bobby Zamora (not pic­tured) scored from the re­bound

LOOK OUT: Brighton’s Beram Kayal weaves his magic

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