FORGET THE BEACH YOU SEAGULLS!
ANTHONY Knockaert set up a massive Premier League promotion party at the Amex Stadium tomorrow.
Twenty-years after they almost went out of the Football League, the Seagulls are about to soar again.
It was Robbie Reinelt’s 62ndminute equaliser at Hereford on May 3 1997 that kept Brighton from non-league obscurity and now they are on the verge of joining the wealthiest league in world football. Knockaert’s two goals in a controlled win over Wolves means victory against struggling Wigan tomorrow afternoon will bring Manchester United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and all the other giants of English football to the Amex.
Manager Chris Hughton is reminding everyone that it might not be mathematically certain, if Huddersfield win at Derby on the same day, but with a goal difference in Brighton’s favour of plus 31 you can put money on it.
Brighton will be in the big time for the first time in 34 years.
In any case, Hughton would probably rather get the extra point on Friday night at Norwich, the club who sacked him and ended his personal Premier Leacgue career three years ago.
Huddersfield have to win all their remaining five games to match the 92 points Brighton will have racked up if they add Wigan to their list of victims.
“As a manager, and a group of players, we shouldn’t think of Monday as being the victory that will get us up,” said Hughton.
“We all know that a win will all but mathematically see us up, but I think it would be irresponsible of myself and a group of players that have conducted themselves well all season to think like that.”
Brighton were not even aware of Huddersfield’s late win over Preston, preferring to concentrate on their own situation.
“Sheffield Wednesday away was our best performance, but I think at this vital stage against a good team and what it meant this was an outstanding performance,” said Hughton of the win over Wolves.
There were 2,787 Brighton fans at Molineux to see Knockaert’s 14th and 15th goals of the season – and you can bet Brighton beach will be empty tomorrow as everyone crams into the Amex .
Knockaert was voted the best player in the English Football League last week – and he showed why with goals just before halftime and eight minutes from time.
A 15th-minute drive from Tomer Hemed that smacked against the Wolves crossbar would have set up Brighton nicely, had it been a few inches lower, but their performance was a lot better than when they were last in the Midlands.
A 3-0 defeat at struggling Nottingham Forest raised fears they might be in for another slump, like the one that stopped them getting direct promotion last season. But Houghton stayed calm and Brighton fought back with five wins ut of six to bring the confidence flooding back.
They swarmed all over Wolves and deserved their goal on the stroke of half-time. Knockaert was given time and room to drive in a fine low effort. Wolves did not react quickly enough, particularly central defender Kortney Hause, as he cut in from the right and keeper Andy Lonergan actually spilled the ball in, allowing the power of the shot to beat him. And Brighton clinched it when Glenn Murray’s header allowed Knockaert to beat the hapless Andy Lonergan. “If Brighton get the points and the results then they deserve it,” said Wolves boss Paul Lambert. “I don’t think Chris Hughton has got anything to prove in the top flight. He’s a really good manager and, if they do go up, I’ll congratulate him.”
PARTY TIME: Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert celebrates scoring their second