By Tim Hodges
Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Southampton 2
The Albion were unlucky not to complete a notable double against the Saints on Thursday evening.
A large crowed and a superb atmosphere greeted the teams as they took to the pitch.
Ex Albion Manager and now Southampton number two Dean Wilkins was given a generous reception by the seagull’s faithful in the south stand.
Albion were unchanged from last Saturdays win against Tranmere although Holroyd, Arismandi and LuaLua replaced Dean Cox Jamie Smith and Justin Hoyte on the bench.
The Albion started the game where they left off against Tranmere, slick passing and patient attacking, appeared to be the order of day.
In the opening minutes Bennett, who is always at the forefront of Albion’s forward play, got past Fonte and Ostemober and whipped in a cross for Murray, who side footed over the bar from close range.
Albion were pinning the visitors back, when the Saints did get in the Albion half the Seagulls almost capitalized in superb fashion. Dicker won the ball just on the edge of the Albion penalty area and exchanged passes with Navarro, Dicker again then swept the ball to Elphick, who moved forward gracefully and released Calderon on the overlap, the Spaniard then raced purposefully towards the by-line and crossed for Murray, who blazed his shot just over the bar. A superb sweeping move that would have been remembered for years had Murray scored.
This sweeping attacking play is what the Albion have been about in the last month or so, Calderon involved again played the ball into Crofts in an advanced position, Crofts laid it back to Bennett, who fired the Albion in front from the edge of the area, with 12 minutes gone.
Southampton’s first chance of any note came about 10 minutes later, when after being awarded a free kick Lambert appeared to fancy his chances from almost forty yards, his strike had to be tipped over by Brezovan in the Albion goal.
Southampton were now attacking the Albion whenever possible, Hammond put Lallana through but before he could strike on goal, the ball was superbly whipped off his foot by El Abd .
The referee and linesman were making some particularly strange decisions, from one of these, Southampton were awarded a free kick which ex seagulls captain Dean Hammond glanced past Brezovan to make it 1-1.
Hammond’s goal celebration appeared to be more to do with his slightly acrimonious departure from the Albion over two years ago, than restoring parity. He goaded the south stand fans all the way along the touch line and back into his own half.
At half time, Southampton must have thought themselves fortunate to be level.
The Seagulls again appeared to have the upper hand early in the second half; Carole and Bennett were both penetrating the Southampton defence. The midfield three of Navarro Crofts and Dicker were again a solid, well marshalled and formidable looking unit.
The play and atmosphere was at times frenzied, just like a local derby should be.
Carole, who started well but began to fade, was replaced by the miraculously fit again Kezenga LuaLua just after the hour mark. Soon after Murray was replaced by Ashley Barnes, within five minutes Lua Lua provided an excellent pinpoint cross, which Barnes headed home to restore Albion’s lead.
Crofts and LuaLua had chances to put Albion further ahead as the game wore on. There was a sense Brighton may hold on for the win.
However on 75 minutes Alan Pardew made a dramatic triple substitution, one of these replacements Lee Barnard, side footed the Saints level with two minutes to play.
Both teams had half chances in the four minutes of added time. But Albion can feel proud to have taken four league points, from their previously superior neighbours, this season.
Albion: Brezovan; Calderon. Elphick, El-Abd, Painter; Bennett, Crofts, Navarro, Dicker, Carole; Murray. Subs: Walker, Virgo, Holroyd, Barnes, LuaLua, Hendrie, Arismendi.
Southampton: Davis; Otsemobor, Fonte, Jaidi, Harding; Wotton; Antonio, Hammond, Puncheon, Lallana; Lambert. Subs: Bialkowski, Perry; Seaborne, James, Mills, Barnard, Waigo.
Referee: S Tanner
Attendance – 7784
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