Robins spoil party to stay safe
SOME things are worth waiting for – the title might not be one of them – but for Bristol City revenge certainly was.
Brighton inflicted play-off heartbreak on the Robins in 2004, Leon Knight’s penalty the only highlight of a poor game that saw the Seagulls promoted to the Championship and Danny Wilson lose his job.
Now the Robins can lay claim to deflating the 29,000 hopeful Brighton souls whose title dreams were dashed for at least one more week.
Much of the talk before this game was of Brighton crowning 20 years since they were made homeless with a return to the top flight as champions.
Instead, Josh Brownhill’s mood-killing header ensured City stay in the second tier and Brighton probably need a win at Villa Park next Saturday to ensure they finish ahead of Newcastle.
Lee Johnson, City manager, was delighted to have secured Championship football and upset the party.
“We respect Brighton for the fantastic side that they are but we were the bridesmaid, we had to upstage the bride and we have done that,” he said.
“We were the party poopers and I’m not going to apologise for that. We needed to be as it was an important game for us as well.
“We made it difficult for a top side and found our way in the end with two or three chances.
“I want to do my very best for the football club that I love. It’s been a bit frustrating this year but we’ve come good when we needed to.
“We shouldn’t forget what an unbelievable run it is. To go four wins out of five when the pressure is really on is fantastic.”
Brighton manager Chris Hughton was unable to put a finger on exactly why his side froze with the trophy in the stadium and the ribbons at the ready.
“I certainly felt we were the better side but that little bit of quality we have been able to produce to get goals, we were not able to do that,” he said.
“We had a lot of the ball and put in as many crosses as we have for a long time but they defended well. We didn’t have that bit of quality.
“Is it down to the fact we have already been promoted and a little bit of an emotional feel? It is impossible for me to answer that.”
In the afternoon sun Brighton started on top and looked as if they simply expected to roll the visitors over.
But as the first half wore on it became increasingly clear that Aden Flint and the Robins defence were not just on the south coast to make up the numbers.
The giant centre-half headed away everything that came in his direction as Brighton failed to break down City consistently and resorted to swinging in aimless crosses.
When Brownhill stunned an already nervous Amex Stadium just before the break the party was definitely on the rocks.
The lack of urgency in the home side to get it restarted continued the second half. The blue and white shirts poured forward but Flint stood firm and when he was bypassed they fluffed their lines.
Credit City for a performance that allows them another crack at what Brighton had already achieved. The Seagulls will now have to reward their travelling fans on the final day.
NOT THEIR DAY: Brighton’s Tomer Hemed looks dejected and, inset, Bristol City’s Josh Brownhill scores their shock winner