Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Rochdale 2
By Tim Hodges
Ten-man Albion threw away a winning position in the last minutes of an exciting Withdean encounter.
Main summer signing Gordon Greer made his debut after serving a suspension carried forward from last season. However, his appearance turned out to be brief.
Glenn Murray who had also been suspended for the first two games of the season started up front with Ashley Barnes while Gary Dicker replaced the injured Alan Navarro.
Albion started the brighter with the impressive and hugely experienced Radostin Kishishev controlling the midfield.
Murray soon had a chance against his old club, but his header went wide.
Soon after, Murray and Dicker combined well on the right flank and presented an opportunity for Jamie Smith to open his Albion account. But the young midfielder side-footed his attempt wide of the post.
Rochdale were making progress into attacking positions themselves with O’Grady giving Painter and Greer plenty to think about.
Before half time Bennett had a decent chance to score but was just off target.
Marcos Painter managed to get forward from full back and seemed to have a decent penalty appeal, but the referee had other ideas.
At half time, although still goalless, it was the Seagulls who had made the greater progress.
Last season Brighton always seemed a little lacklustre at the start of the second half, irrespective of the tempo they had finished the previous period.
However, Gus Poyet appears to have eradicated this somewhat. Smith won a free kick and from Bennett’s delivery and after two attempts Glenn Murray put the Albion in the lead on 47 minutes.
That lead could have doubled minutes later, but Murray with two defenders in close attendance, scuffed his shot to Rochdale keeper Liddle.
Then a pivotal moment. Rochdale’s Barry-Murphy was about to launch a free kick into the area, when Greer and Elding had a tussle. And with Elding writhing around in the penalty area in apparent agony, Greer was sent off.
Even though the ball was not in play at the time of the incident, referee Danny McDermid awarded the visitors a penalty, from which Jones equalised.
As the minutes passed the Albion seemed more than capable of dealing with the numerical disadvantage, Kishishev showing what a class act he is. Even at 35 he is a class above League 1.
Rochdale were certainly on the back foot and, from a desperate clearance, Elliot Bennett restored Albion’s lead with a 25-yard half volley, which dipped into the bottom right-hand corner.
A Murray and Barnes combination should have extended this further some minutes later, but the former Rochdale man was foiled by the goalkeeper.
Although Rochdale were now maintaining possession as the game wore on, Albion seemed comfortable.
However, in the dying moments new Brighton keeper Ankergren elected to punch away an incoming cross, which was sadly too weak a clearance.
The ball fell to Jones who hoofed it over everyone, to make the final score 2-2.
And stun 80% of the Withdean crowd.
Albion: Ankergren; Calderon, Elphick, Greer, Painter; Dicker, Kishishev, Smith; Bennett, Murray, Barnes. Subs: Walker; Battipiedi, El-Abd, Baz, Hart, Holroyd, Caskey.
Rochdale: Lillis; Wiseman, Dawson, Holness, Widdowson; Kennedy, Jones, Barry-Murphy; Thompson, O’Grady, Akpa-Akpro. Subs: Edwards, Goodall, Done, Redshaw, Elding, Tutte, Andre.
Referee: Danny McDermid (Middlesex).
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