By Tim Hodges
Brighton and Hove Albion 0 Millwall 1
The Albion succumbed to yet another home defeat, and have now not won a league match at Withdean since October 13 last year.
On a pitch, one side of which was appalling and almost unfit for play, the Seagulls began well.
Dicker seemed able to cope with the conditions well and was receiving a lot of the ball. The young Irishman was beginning to give Darren Ward a lot of problems, but never seemed to be able to deliver a telling pass, despite a few impressive flicks and turns.
Play was largely condensed in Millwall’s half. The Albion were limited to a couple of long range efforts, a speculative one from Navarro, and a much closer try from the on form captain Crofts.
Inigo Calderon, Albion’s brightly booted Spanish full back, was finding the space to push well into the lions half of the pitch. His ingenuity resulted in a Bennett taken free kick on the edge on the penalty area, which Murray just failed to get a touch on, as it whizzed past the far upright.
No goals at half time. The Albion emerged for the restart without Navarro, who had taken a nasty looking knock late in the first half. His place taken by Dean Cox.
As Virgo prepared to launch a direct pass up towards the forward’s he appeared to miscontrol the ball, and as he made a desperate lunge to regain possession, Morrison nicked it off his toe and calmly rounded the advancing Kuipers, to roll the ball into the empty net, and give the visitors an unlikely lead.
Almost immediately from the restart, Crofts had the chance to restore parity, but the chance flew wide.
Gus Poyet gesticulated wildly, and appeared almost in conference, to his two substitutes Dickinson and new boy Chris Holroyd, on the edge of the technical area. Within minutes, both players had replaced Forster and Painter respectively, as Albion went for three up front.
The aptly named Trotter and his counter attacking partner Batt, were breaking up some of the persistent Albion attacks. But they were also being well marshalled by Elphick and still smarting Virgo.
From a Bennett corner Tommy Elphick saw his goal bound effort cleared from under the cross bar by Hackett.
Dicker was still impressive with his close control despite the conditions, he chipped in an angled ball which Holroyd glanced wide when well placed.
Millwall were defending well and finding pinpoint passes through midfield. Batt although probably offside, responded well to one of these, but was foiled by Michel Kuipers.
Calderon was pushing further up the pitch and despite playing on the wrong side of ‘midfield’ looked an effective wing back.
Dickinson in his bright yellow clog like boots, was making a nuisance of himself, but again the Albion lacked penetration where it mattered.
With Minutes remaining, Cox fired in a great cross, which Murray headed against the post. Batt had the chance to wrap it up for Millwall, but was again foiled by the goalkeeping skills of Michel Kuipers.
During the 4 minutes of stoppage time Calderon and Dicker combined to give Cox a great chance, but a combination of desperate Lions defending and a poor connection from the Albion midfielder, ensured that the Seagulls finished a close second.
Albion: Kuipers; Calderon, Virgo, Elphick, Painter; Bennett, Crofts, Navarro, Dicker; Forster, Murray. Subs: Brezovan, Cox, Dickinson, Tunnicliffe, Carole, Hoyte, Holroyd.
Millwall: Forde; Smith, Robinson, Ward, Craig; Hackett, Abdou, Trotter, Martin; Batt, Morrison. Subs: Sullivan, Dunne, Harris, Grabban, Barron, Price, Laird.
Referee: K Friend