By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Ipswich Town 1
It was one of those nights for the Seagulls. As they were denied a blatant second penalty and Glenn Murray’s glaring late miss, saw their points cushion reduced to just four.
Huddersfield at one point 2-1 down at Rotherham back back to win 2-3.
Just as Reading who were 1-2 down at home to Brentford came back to win 3-2.
Albion looked nervous and the amount of mis-controlled and mis-directed passes added to the concerns of an equally anxious home support.
Leicester loanee Tom Lawrence took the game by the scruff of the neck for the visitors.
It was his curling and dipping free kick that Luke Chambers bundled past David Stockdale to give Ipswich the lead. From his reaction Chambers appeared to seriously injured but after laying prone for a good few minutes, he hobbled off, then back on to the pitch to a crushendo of boo’s from the West Stand.
Anthony Kncokaert and Solly March were discreetly swapping wings, like the old trick Neil Smillie and Steve Penny used to employ. Knockaert ran through the defence but scuffed his shot straight to Barto Bialkowski.
Albion drew level when Bruno had his shirt tugged by Emyr Huws in the area right in front of referee Roger East. Even then the official appeared to take his time pointing to the spot.
Mr East then spent far too long encouraging players from both sides against encroachment.
Finally, Tomer Hemed cooley converted his second spot kick in 4 days. For his 13th of the season.
Albion began to start looking at bit more composed in the six minutes of added on time. Steve Sidwell stamping his authority on his midfield battle with Grant Ward.
Mr East booked seven players in the first half. Even the scoreboard operator couldn’t keep up.
The first real incident of the second half concerned Shane Duffy’s nose and backside.
He took a nasty looking bash to his conk and revealed his posterior to the North Stand as he had to change his damaged and bloodstained shorts.
Then one of turning points. March dipped his shoulder and zipped past Myles Kenlock, as he bore down on the keeper, Jordan Spence clattered into him and whipped away his standing foot. Mr East didn’t hesitate this time and swept his hands like a magician to indicate no dice.
Seb Pocognoli was linking up well with March and Knockaert.But Albion weren’t getting the rub of the green.
A loose ball fell to Stephens but his shot from 20 yards flashed wide.
For all their pressure the Seagulls still had to defend.
Mcgoldrick forced Stockdale to make another smart stop with his feet. Then from almost from nothing Lawerence hit the outside of the post . From the rebound Toumani Diagouraga’s shot hit Lewis Dunk’s head and flew over.
The Albion crowd were edgy and frustrated.
Glenn Murray and Chuba Akpom replaced Hemed and the quiet Sam Baldock.
With Bruno getting forward more and more Albion were creating chances. The captain found Akpom in space he released Murray but sent him wide. The angle was the clear winner as from Murray’s shot the ball bounced away towards the corner flag.
Akpom then got though the defence but scuffed his shot.
As time ran out,one last turning point. Jamie Murphy on for March was having some effect as he ran at the defence. He and Akpom combined well and the ball fell to Murray, who with his back to goal spun around and smashed the ball against the inside of the post.
Kncokaert lashed the rebound wide.
Neither side had as good a chance in the second six minutes of added time. Altough Stockdale and Duffy had to be alert to deny Ipswich substitute Freddie Sears.
Next up Barnsley away on Saturday (18 February)
15 games to go. 10 wins gives Albion 95 points. No one has ever missed promotion on 95 points.
The promotion party against Bristol City is still possible. Although the finale at Aston Villa is far different proposition to Middlesbrough last May. This time around.
Although of course by then they could be fighting for their Championship lives.