The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Wragg

BRIGHTON’S pro­mo­tion­chas­ing play­ers had a row with ref­eree Oliver Lang­ford as they slumped to a shock de­feat at strug­gling Not­ting­ham For­est.

Led by Lewis Dunk, the play­ers sur­rounded Lang­ford and his as­sis­tant when they al­lowed what looked like an off­side Britt As­som­ba­longa goal with the game an hour old.

Dunk and his team-mates begged Lang­ford to look up at a re­play of the goal over their heads on a gi­ant City Ground screen. But the ref­eree had to ig­nore the footage and af­ter a long chat with his as­sis­tant, he ruled the goal stood.

Sub­sti­tute Zach Clough had only been on the field a minute when he took a Jamie Ward pass and smashed it to­wards Brighton keeper David Stock­dale. As­som­ba­longa was in a clear off­side po­si­tion at that stage – but was he in­ter­fer­ing with play?

He cer­tainly was when he jumped at the ball and claimed he got a touch to send it past Stock­dale, wheeling away with his arm in the air cel­e­brat­ing his tenth goal of the sea­son.

“He looks off­side,” said stunned Brighton boss Chris Hughton. “Whether the ref­eree saw that As­som­ba­longa touched the ball, who knows, but it changed the game.

“I am dis­ap­pointed with it. From what I have seen he is off­side and the lines­man has the best view of that. Af­ter that the sec­ond and third goals were very bad and a re­flec­tion of our per­for­mance over­all.”

Brighton have now lost suc­ces­sive games for only the sec­ond time this sea­son. But the way they went down was alarm­ing and ques­tions their abil­ity to stay in the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion race.

Stock­dale made an aw­ful mis­take to gift Ben Os­born his 89th-minute goal and then Dunk brought down tricky sub­sti­tute Ben Br­ere­ton in the sev­enth minute of in­jury-time for Clough to ram home a penalty.

“It’s a mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing re­sult and this is a most im­por­tant pe­riod now,” added Hughton.

“It is tough for us. There is a group of teams be­hind us that are go­ing to get a lot of wins and we need to make sure we get back

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

GAME, SET AND MATCH: Zach Clough scores the third from the penalty spot

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