Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Swindon Town 1
By Tim Hodges Withdean Reporter
The footballing juggernaut that is Brighton & Hove Albion swept aside relegation candidates Swindon Town in an exciting encounter at The Withdean Stadium early on Saturday afternoon.
However it was the Robins who pinned back the Seagulls early in opening exchanges.
Paul Gaddis looked lively out in a wide position and the beating of Albion’s Painter in the opening few minutes. However his cross was miscontrolled by Grella and the danger cleared.
Soon after it was the turn of Ritchie on the other wing , as Albion failed to deal with his cross it was Grella who blasted an easy chance wide.
Play was then very much condensed in to the midfield area for while as both teams tried to fathom out each other’s intentions.
Albion were very much in the mood to utilize Craig Noone and just past the 10 minute mark the scouse winger weaved his way past and evaded three Swindon defenders , the fourth however brought him down and Premier League referee Mark Halsey marked his first and no doubt last visit to Withdean , by awarding the Albion a penalty.
Gary Dicker, after a brief spat with Fran Sandaza , became Albion’s sixth penalty taker of the season and put the Seagulls 1-0 up.
Most of the Withdean Stadium then anticipated a routine Brighton victory, especially with the Seagulls pressuring Swindon straight from the re-start.
Swindon however, kept on attempting to have a go at Albion , and from nothing former Albion target David Prutton unleashed a swerving, deflection taking shot , which eluded Ankergren and restored parity just before the half hour.
Sandaza and Murray linked up well in the closing stages of the half but a few half chances amounted to nothing.
Swindon already appeared to be happy with a point.
It was evident from the way he walked to the dressing room at half time that Gus Poyet was far from happy.
Not for the first time no Albion subs warmed up at half time, as it was apparent a serious team talk was for everyone’s ears
The Albion started the second half brightly , Bridcutt and Dicker tried in vein to get Sandaza and Murray involved.
It was from a Dicker pass that Murray got free on the edge of the area, however one or more Swindon defenders helped him to the ground and Mr Halsey pointed to probably the last penalty he will ever give at Withdean.
It was Dicker again, however after bookings and reprimands it was a full three minutes before he was able to dispatch his kick goal wards, this was to become Albion’s ninth penalty miss of the season.
Almost immediately, at the other end Grella hit the cross bar from close range.
Swindon continued to attack with now renewed impetus, Ankergren having to be alert several times as Swindon smelt the possibility of an upset.
Albion held firm and just after the hour mark, Dicker lobbed a ball towards Sandaza, the Spaniard controlled the ball well and set Murray away, although with much still to do against two Robins defenders, Albion’s top scorer took the ball wide, held off the attention of his opponents, and steered the ball away from Lucas in to the bottom corner to put Albion 2-1 up, and grabbing his 19th of the season.
Albion introduced Bennett and Kishischev for Sparrow and Noone after the second goal, but in truth the game fizzled out somewhat, until the last five minutes when Ankergren again had to be alert and Greer, Elphick and Painter had to subdue the murmurings of a last onslaught by Swindon.
However the visitors had pretty much run out of ideas and were restricted to long shots and unsuccessful set pieces.
The seagulls held on well and march stylishly towards the Championship in more ways than one.
Albion: Ankergren; Calderon, Greer, Elphick, Painter; Bridcutt; Noone, Sparrow, Dicker; Sandaza, Murray. Subs: Brezovan, Bennett, Navarro, Baz, Agdestein, Kishishev, Dunk.
Swindon: Lucas; Caddis, Frampton, Cuthbert, Sheehan; Grella, Prutton, Douglas, Amankwaah, Ritchie; Andrew. Subs: Smith, Jean-Francois, Benyon, Rose, McGovern, Timlin, Diaye.
Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
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