Party’s on hold as Seag­ulls fal­ter

The Football League Paper - - IN­SIDE: - By Carl Boyes

BRIGHTON may be as­sured of a Pre­mier League place next sea­son but cap­tain Steve Sid­well in­sists Fri­day’s de­feat at Norwich will jolt them out of party mode and re­fo­cus their ef­forts on se­cur­ing the Cham­pi­onship ti­tle.

The Seag­ulls look des­tined to lift the tro­phy and could have wrapped it up at Car­row Road with a win, but two un­for­tu­nate own goals from goal­keeper David Stock­dale and a dis­ap­point­ing all-round dis­play from Chris Hughton’s men gifted Norwich vic­tory.

Now Brighton have to wait and see if New­cas­tle can beat Pre­ston to­mor­row night and, if so, con­firm the ti­tle against Bris­tol City next week­end.

But it could have been so dif­fer­ent had they repli­cated their best against a re-en­er­gised Norwich hell-bent on deny­ing former man­ager Hughton the glory of lift­ing the ti­tle at his old stomp­ing ground. Stock­dale was un­for­tu­nate with the two goals, both from Alex Pritchard shots that hit the wood­work and re­bounded off him into the net, but Sid­well ad­mits their dis­play was from far from good enough.

“It wasn’t our night, but it could be a bless­ing in dis­guise and a kick up the back­side that we need,” he said.

“When we’ve had a de­feat, more of­ten than not we’ve come back and re­sponded very well and I don’t ex­pect this to be any dif­fer­ent.

“Don’t get me wrong, what’s hap­pened this week (seal­ing pro­mo­tion) for the foot­ball club has been bril­liant for the town, for the peo­ple in­volved and for the own­ers.

“But it’s still not fin­ished yet and we want the cherry on top of the ic­ing on the cake.

“We de­serve to get it and we’ll be fight­ing very hard next week against Bris­tol City, but firstly we’ll be putting the hard work in Mon­day to Fri­day in train­ing.

“The goals them­selves were freak­ish. To have one in the game and then one 20 min­utes af­ter­wards is some­thing that has never hap­pened to Stocko be­fore, and I’ve never seen it ei­ther.

“Of course he’ll be dis­ap­pointed as ev­ery keeper would be, es­pe­cially af­ter the sea­son he’s had. He’s been one of our top per­form­ers and noth­ing like that would tar­nish his sea­son in our eyes.”

What Brighton lacked, Norwich made up for with an in­tense per­for­mance all over the pitch. But they al­most fell be­hind when Glenn Mur­ray’s header was cleared off the line by Jonny How­son.

The first goal ar­rived af­ter just 18 min­utes when Pritchard’s strike can­noned off the bar and hit Stock­dale on the way in.

And just be­fore the break a sec­ond curl­ing ef­fort struck the post and again went in via the keeper.

That left in­terim Ca­naries man­ager Alan Iriv­ine hail­ing his team’s im­pres­sive form af­ter three wins from four games.

“A few weeks ago we hadn’t beaten a side above us all sea­son – now we have beaten three of them and that is very pleas­ing,” said Irvine.

“I thought we de­served to win, even though I have just been told that we didn’t have a sin­gle shot on tar­get, un­less you count the ones against the wood­work.

“I thought we con­trolled the game for most of the time.

“We passed the ball re­ally well, es­pe­cially in the first half, and also de­fended well, es­pe­cially when they were putting balls into our box.”

Norwich saw off the chal­lenge of pro­moted Brighton on Fri­day

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

CALAMITY: Norwich’s Alex Pritchard cel­e­brates af­ter Brighton's David Stock­dale scores an own goal. Inset: The Seag­ulls trudge off at the end

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.