Striker’s 19th of sea­son boosts Brighton ti­tle tilt

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Es­ther Jack­son

BRIGHTON & Hove Albion are now nine points clear of third-placed Hud­der­s­field but man­ager Chris Hughton re­fused to get car­ried away by his side’s win over rel­e­ga­tion strug­glers Black­burn Rovers.

Glenn Mur­ray slot­ted home his 19th goal of the sea­son on 67 min­utes to keep them firmly in the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion places, a point be­hind ta­ble-top­pers New­cas­tle.

Rovers re­main third from bot­tom and just one point be­hind Bris­tol City and this was Tony Mow­bray’s first de­feat as their man­ager.

Black­burn pressed for an equaliser late on, and caused prob­lems for the home side, but the Seag­ulls held on for the 24th win of the sea­son.

But with seven games left Hughton doesn’t think pro­mo­tion is a done deal just yet.

“We have seven more op­por­tu­ni­ties and each of them are in­di­vid­ual games and you can’t look too far,” he said.

“Clean sheets will al­ways give you the best chance of get­ting wins and the more of them we get the bet­ter chance we’ve got.

“It’s im­por­tant in a very scrappy game that we get over the line and we did in this game.”

Mur­ray was sin­gled out for praise af­ter his side’s cru­cial win.

“When you’ve got some­one like Glenn there’s al­ways a chance,” said Hughton. “Even in a game where there aren’t many op­por­tu­ni­ties, you’d like to think he’s go­ing to get one.”

The hosts started the bet­ter, cre­at­ing plenty of chances but fail­ing to find the back of the net. De­fender Uwe Huen­e­meier had three chances in just two min­utes, the best of them when he was un­marked in the box from a cor­ner but could only steer his header wide.

It was the away side who were next to go close, af­ter good play on the left from Danny Guthrie whose cross found Lu­cas Joao, but his half-vol­ley sailed high over the bar.

Hughton’s side con­tin­ued to press with at­tack af­ter at­tack, but the Lan­cashire side stood strong, keep­ing the pro­mo­tion con­tenders at bay.

Nei­ther side looked like scor­ing in the sec­ond half, but

Brighton still pressed for the opener, bring­ing on Solly March and Tomer Hemed.

And fi­nally it all paid off as a great cross from Liam Rose­nior was knocked down by An­thony Knock­aert to Mur­ray, who slot­ted home for his 19th goal of an­other im­pres­sive sea­son at this level for the front­man.

With just four min­utes of nor­mal time to play Albion could have dou­bled their lead, but Mur­ray couldn’t get good con­nec­tion on March’s cross. Mow­bray’s side did press for an equaliser in the dy­ing mo­ments and it was from a cor­ner when they nearly sneaked a late equaliser.

Sub­sti­tute Con­nor Ma­honey’s goal­ward ef­fort was scuffed away by the Seag­ulls de­fence who camped them­selves in their own half and saw the game out.

Black­burn boss Mow­bray be­lieved his side de­served more in the game.

“We came and made life dif­fi­cult for them. It looked like a 0-0 most of the game,” he said. “The odd goal was go­ing to nick it and it could have been us, but it turned out to be them.”

The man­ner in which his Rovers side con­ceded the win­ner caused some in­evitable frus­tra­tion for Mow­bray.

“One lapse of con­cen­tra­tion from us de­fen­sively where we didn’t track the run has cost us,” he added.

“I felt gen­er­ally it was a pretty tight game. It was look­ing like 0-0 most of the way.”

With Read­ing away in the next game, Rovers will look to re­group to find a re­sult which would get them out of the bot­tom three.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MUR­RAY’S MINT: Match­win­ner Glenn Mur­ray gets a hug from Beram Kayal

THAT’LL DO NICELY: Glenn Mur­ray scores the only goal

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