KNOCK­AERT HELPS SEAG­ULLS SOAR

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Brook

FOR Chris Hughton the chance to sign a proven Cham­pi­onship ti­tle-win­ner in An­thony Knock­aert was a no-brainer.

And all the skills the French­man showed weekly for Le­ices­ter two years ago were needed once again for Hughton’s Brighton to over­come in­de­fati­ga­ble Hud­der­s­field.

Knock­aert was the cat­a­lyst be­hind both the Seag­ulls’ goals, pro­vid­ing the es­sen­tial con­tri­bu­tion in a sub­lime counter-at­tack that ended in Bobby Zamora’s first-half opener and the cross for James Wil­son’s se­cond-half win­ner.

Hughton said:“That’s the rea­son why we brought him in.We know he knows the divi­sion.

“We need to be scor­ing more goals and to score more goals you need more as­sists, and that’s ex­actly why we brought him in.

“I’m more de­lighted that he’s a worker. He will work both ways; some­times with that type of gifted player, they are very good go­ing for­wards, but not so much the other way.”

Hud­der­s­field dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion, as has be­come their modus operandi un­der head coach David Wag­ner and the Ter­ri­ers were the su­pe­rior side in the pitch’s middle third.

But for Wag­ner to in­sist af­ter­wards that a draw “wasn’t un­fair” was to ig­nore their de­fi­cien­cies in the other two thirds, es­pe­cially the fi­nal third. Their pass­ing was neat and metro­nomic, but it was mainly be­tween the cen­tre-backs and hold­ing mid­field­ers.

The open­ing goal came from a Hud­der­s­field cor­ner that the goalscorer, Zamora, headed clear. Beram Kayal broke from the penalty area, feed­ing Knock­aert down Brighton’s right. The home debu­tant then lofted a per­fect pass over the re­treat­ing Hud­der­s­field de­fend­ers into the path of the latear­riv­ing Zamora, who cush­ioned his first-time shot into the far cor­ner. It was a dev­as­tat­ing tran­si­tion from de­fence to at­tack.

With the fi­nal kick of the first half Hud­der­s­field equalised. Harry Bunn headed in Tommy Smith’s cross af­ter Jamie Pater­son’s rak­ing pass had split Brighton open.

One wild close-range ef­fort from Nahki Wells aside, Hud­der­s­field oth­er­wise failed to threaten in ei­ther half, but Brighton were a con­stant dan­ger on the counter-at­tack. Knock­aert only had to wig­gle his hips and de­fend­ers per­ished in his wake.

One such hip-shimmy played a key role in the win­ning goal.The non­pareil, hav­ing just hit the post with a free-kick, re­ceived the ball in space wide on the right, rum­baed past Ja­son David­son and crossed for Manch­ester Unit­ed­loa­nee Wil­son to head in.

Hughton added: “We weren’t at our best first half, but we scored the goal and we had three or four re­ally good op­por­tu­ni­ties on the counter-at­tack.

“If we had shown a bit more in­tel­li­gence or qual­ity, then cer­tainly we would have gone in with a big­ger lead.”

His op­po­site num­ber Wag­ner, who saw Smith shown a se­cond yel­low late on, said:“I think for the most part of the game we did quite well. If we had got some­thing from the game, this wasn’t un­fair. Es­pe­cially in the se­cond half there was noth­ing from ei­ther side un­til the goal.

“I think to beat the top teams in the league it is im­por­tant to not make easy mis­takes, and here we did one too many. This is why we lost.

“In the first half there were only counter-at­tack chances for Brighton in their own sta­dium. At 2-1 we were not able or fresh enough to cre­ate chances. In the last ten min­utes we tried only with the long ball to cre­ate chances.We had some mo­ments in the box, but they were not clear enough.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

LOAN STAR: An­thony Knock­aert, left, cel­e­brates with Brighton’s James Wil­son af­ter the Manch­ester United loa­nee’s win­ner, in­set

STAR MAN AN­THO

NY KNOCK

AERT Brighto

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