Sub Hemed flying with Seagulls
TOMER Hemed’s quickfire double from the bench kept Brighton in the automatic promotion hunt and left assistant manager Colin Calderwood praising both striker and boss.
Hemed’s brace either side of the hour mark was followed by a flurry of second-half activity, as Antony Kay pulled one back before the Dons’ Kyle McFadzean was shown a straight red for elbowing Hemed in the face seconds later.
It could have ended all square only for Carl Baker to scuff a woeful penalty wide as his side dropped into the relegation spots at the other end of the table thanks to Rotherham’s win at Ipswich.
Chris Hughton’s Seagulls leapfrogged Middlesbrough back into second and Calderwood had nothing but praise for goalscorer and manager.
“Fortunately for us Hemed has come on and had a terrific impact on the game, and that’s partly down to some good team management by the manager,” he said.
“His goal tally for us speaks for itself, it’s increasing and that’s good for us because it becomes a good focal point for goals.
“But we don’t think it was a freekick that leads up to MK’s goal, that’s a bit of a complaint from our point of view.
“And of course we are going to argue about the decision for the penalty kick too, because none of the boys think it was a penalty – it’s actually hit one of our lads in the face.”
Hughton introduced Hemed as a 52nd-minute substitute in place of former Dons academy player Sam Baldock, after a poor first-half display from his attackers.
And it took the Israel international just ten minutes to bag himself two goals.
The 28-year-old won his side a penalty after he was brought down by a clumsy Darren Potter challenge on 56 minutes, before stepping up himself to smash the Seagulls in front.
He then bagged his 15th goal of the season after Jiri Skalak’s inviting cross to the back post was met with a bullet header by the former Mallorca star.
But the Dons gave themselves hope of a fight back inside the 70th minute as Josh Murphy whipped in a fizzing cross from the left-hand side, which found Kay in the box who headed home.
But the hosts shot themselves in the foot just seconds after scoring when McFadzean lost his cool and elbowed Hemed in front of the referee and Christopher Kavanagh had to show him red.
Yet they were awarded a lifeline penalty in the 90th minute for a handball among a crowded Brighton penalty area.
But substitite Baker, playing his first game for the Dons since January 2 after being sidelined through injury, fluffed his lines as the ball bobbled well wide.
“First and foremost I want to say thank you to my players, because I thought we were the better team,” said Dons boss Karl Robinson.
“They hit us on the counter attack a lot, we pushed them all the way and I thought we were very good – our energy and desire against one of the best teams in the division was there for all to see.
“They’ve won the lottery here, but we’ve got to get out of the position we’re in, it’s as simple as that.
“Everybody at the football club has got to fight to get out of this and if they want to still be in this league next year then that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
THAT’S THE SPOT: Tomer Hemed converts the penalty he won to put Brighton in control against MK Dons