By Tim Hodges
Charlton Athletic 1 – Brighton & Hove Albion 2
After cautiously shuffling his pack for the last few weeks, it was two enforced changes that proved pivotal in Gus Poyet’s Albion getting a much needed league win.
Both teams set their stall out early on. Forster was up front alone, combined well with both Bennett and Dicker in a frenetic opening period. Although the Albion had much of the early play both Sodje and Mooney had half chances.
Bennett and Lualua were again terrorising the opposition defence. One the half hour Bennett put in a great cross, that Dicker should have done better with. Albion had no luck with the resulting corner.
Crofts and Dicker were bossing midfield. Both Bailey and Racon were struggling to make an impact. As were Akpo Sodje who was an early substitute, and Mooney upfront, who were all the time being well marshalled by Brighton boys Elphick and El Abd.
As the game progressed on so Albion’s confidence grew. The midfield was the key and when Crofts won a tackle in his own half, Dicker picked up the loose ball and exchanged passes with Calderon. Albion’s Spanish full back then went on a determined run from almost inside the Albion half, on the edge of the Charlton penalty area; he had a shot which deflected over keeper Elliot ,for a very impressive first Albion goal for the full back, and 1-0 to the Seagulls.
At half time the Albion deservedly led.
Albion were a little more reserved at the start of the second half. Reid and Sam were becoming more noticeable for the Addicks but Albion were still comfortable at the back. When they had the ball Lualua and Bennett were still creating all kinds of mayhem.Forster was harrying the Charlton defence whenever the ball was played forward. Bennett had a pot shot which appeared to be heading goal wards, but hit Forster on his back. Just like Leeds 72 hours earlier play was much more open and end to end, in the second half. Elphick made one notable tackle on the on rushing Mooney. Forster had done his job well and was replaced by Holroyd with around 25 minutes remaining. With Crofts and former Albion loanee Thierry Racon really snapping at each other heels the midfield battle was hotting up. Lua Lua put Holroyd through only for the lightening quick forward to be flagged offside. Soon after Sodje had Charlton’s best chance so far, after finally outwitting Elphick.But shot wide.
Holroyd was back defending as Charlton began to excerpt pressure. Sodje had a good headed chance but this was dealt with by Brezovan and El Abd.
As pressure continued Sodje headed down for Mooney, who shot over.
Lua Lua then put Holdroyd through again but the ball seemed to hold up in the mud and ran to the Keeper. The midfield engineer was then replaced by Gary Hart. Hart is best when making a nuisance of himself and he certainly kept Dailly and Sam occupied. It, looked like Albion would really have to dig in for the last 15 minutes.
Then out of nowhere and from almost 30 yards Elliot Bennett hit a wonder shot to put the Albion into a two goal lead.
Soon after substitute Mackenzie got past El Abd, but not Brezovan who was agile when called upon.
Crofts had a chance to make it three, but Elliot saved for a corner, with time ticking on.
An almighty scramble from a Charlton corner in the last five minutes saw Brezovan make a great save and Holroyd eventually hack it clear. It was still all hands to the pump despite Albion’s two goal advantage.
Poyet was encouraging Brighton to maintain possession in the last few minutes and they did so quite cleverly.
However Akpo Sodje latched on to a long ball out of defence, rounded Brezovan to score almost in added time in stoppage time. Almost as late as Snodgrass for Leeds at the weekend.
However this time Albion did not need to worry, as almost immediately from the restart Mr D’urso blew for full time, on a well deserved Albion victory.
Albion: Brezovan; Calderon, El-Abd, Elphick, Painter; Bennett, Crofts, Navarro, Dicker, LuaLua; Forster. Subs: Kuipers, McNulty, Hart, Carole, Hoyte, Cook, Holroyd
Charlton: Elliot; Richardson, Jackson, Llera, Dailly; Sam, Bailey, Racon, Reid; Mooney, Burton. Subs: Randolph, Semedo, McKenzie, Wagstaff, S.Sodje, Solly, A.Sodje
Referee Andy D’urso