Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Southampton 2
By Tim Hodges at Withdean
The Albion lost for the first time at home in the league this season.
However, the actions of Southampton infuriated the Withdean crowd and amounted to unsporting behaviour of some magnitude.
It is a long-held tradition within the Football League and world football in general that when a team wins the league title prior to the end of the season their next opponents form a guard of honour and applaud them on to the pitch.
Southampton made the decision not to do this!
On the pitch it was clear that although the match was nothing more than a pre-season friendly for Albion they had a desire and a duty to win.
Southampton were at Albion from kick off, Do Prado and Lambert forcing saves from Ankergren early on.
Inigo Calderon, again Albion’s stand-in captain, was not in his usual top form and his loose pass allowed Lambert another chance but again Ankergren was well placed to make the save.
Southampton were keeping possession Albion-style and attempting to build from the back, more Adkins mind games perhaps.
As the half wore on the Albion began to find their stride. Gary Dicker was beginning g to pull some strings.
He created a chance for Murray which he headed over the bar.
The Albion then had a prolonged period of possession in the last quarter of the half, but could not penetrate the Saints goal, until a slack back pass from Jiadi allowed Ashley Barnes to nip in front of Davis in the Saints goal and put Albion 1-0 up at half time.
This also prompted wild celebrations from both Poyet and Tarrico plus some intense but light-hearted goading of Nigel Adkins from the South stand.
The Albion were much faster out of the traps at the start of the second half with player of the season elect Elliott Bennett teasing the back four.
Then, a defining moment in the match, Sparrow fed the ball through to Murray and as the Albion top scorer rounded the keeper he was blatantly brought down by Davis.
Murray did get a possible dislocated shoulder but no penalty. He was quickly replaced by Wood.
Southampton were again beginning to a maintain possession Albion-style and from almost nothing Lambert hit the post with a header, then Ankergren made a smart block from a Do Prado shot.
With 20 minutes left Albion brought on fresh legs in the shape of Noone, who replaced Barnes.
Noone’s effect was immediate crossing for Wood who flashed a shot wide
The Albion were now attempting to stifle Southampton by placing all 11 men behind the ball, leaving Wood as the most forward front man and attempting to attack the opposition on the counter.
It was from a Calderon mistake that the Saints drew level when he was caught in possession instead of clearing.
Lambert had a wayward shot which fell to Connolly, who scored on the turn inside the area.
Sandaza immediatly replaced Sparrow and for a while he and Wood tried in vain to find an opening.
However, in searching for a second goal the Seagulls left themselves short at the back and conceded a free kick, which found Fonte at the far post who managed to head it past Ankergren to prompt wild celebrations from Southampton players and fans alike.
In fact the embracing went on for so long, the assistant referee on the far side was unable to return to the halfway line for a minute or so, giving Albion fans some hope the goal had actually been disallowed.
This was not to be and after six minutes of injury time Southampton became the first side to win a league game at Withdean since Carlisle in April 2010.
They may have won this battle, but they certainly did not win the war.
Albion: Ankergren; Calderon, Elphick, El-Abd, Painter; Bridcutt, Dicker, Sparrow; Bennett, Murray, Barnes. Subs: Brezovan, Navarro, Sandaza, Kishishev, Noone, Dunk, Wood.
Southampton: Davis; Butterfield, Fonte, Jaidi, Dickson; Gobern, Hammond, Chaplow; Do Prado, Lambert, Forte. Subs: Bialkowski, Richardson, Seaborne, Lallana, Connolly, N’Guessan, Stephens.
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire).
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