By Tim Hodges
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Bristol Rovers 1
The Albion secured their League 1 status, with a dramatic late win at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday afternoon at Withdean.
Albion started off the slower in the searing Brighton heat and although the Seagulls put together some slick passing it was Rovers who drew first blood. After gaining a possessional upper hand, Williams put the Pirates a goal up after good work from Regan.
This seemed to wake the Albion up a little and Holroyd was snapping around the feet of the Rovers defence.
Lee Hendrie was also getting more involved and after the Albion defence won the ball back from Rovers, Hendrie knocked it back to El Abd, who played a wonderful ball for on-loan Ashley Barnes to run on to, and he smashed a superb shot into the top right hand corner of the net for 1-1.
The Albion pressed Rovers immediately after this, but the game then took on a pedestrian pace for most of the remainder of the half, although Barnes had a good effort with an overhead kick which went just over the cross bar.
The teams came out unusually late for the second half and the play was again quite slow and laboured. Adam El Abd then went full stretch with a diving header from Hendrie’s cross, but his effort went wide. Then the same player headed over from inside the six-yard box with the goal at his mercy.
Barnes was still causing Rovers many problems, as the tempo again increased. The diminutive Holroyd was replaced by Murray with half an hour left.
A lot of the play was condensed in midfield where Hendrie and Navarro were both instrumental.
As an Albion attack broke down, Murray appeared to linger in the penalty area. He and Jones looked to have some altercation which ended with the Albion substitute receiving a straight red card.
Not long after and with Barnes still being a handful the Pirates also had a man dismissed, as Coles upended Albion’s scorer just outside the box.
With Rovers adopting five at the back and Elphick and El Abd looking assured in Albion’s back line, it looked like both teams would settle for a draw.
However, deep into stoppage time Barnes again marauded through the Rovers defence and was felled by the flailing leg of Jones.
Referee Sarginson pointed to the spot and Elliot Bennett side footed the Albion to an unlikely win.
Albion: Brezovan; Hoyte, Elphick, El-Abd, Painter; Navarro, Crofts, Hendrie; Bennett, Holroyd, Barnes. Subs: Walker, Arismendi, Murray, Dicker, Carole, Virgo, Cook.
Bristol Rovers: Andersen; Regan, Coles, Jones, Hughes; Reece, Campbell, Lines, Swallow; Duffy, Williams. Subs: Evans, Wright, Clough, Richards, Cooper, Clarke, McKenna.
Ref: C Sarginson
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