Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Crystal Palace 3
By Tim Hodges from the Amex Stadium
Brighton and Hove Albion lost their first league game at the new Amex stadium to arch-rivals Crystal Palace.
The Seagulls started the game at a high tempo pressing Palace back into their own half and not allowing the visitors a kick.
After just seven minutes Ryan Harley knocked a short corner to Gary Dicker, who swept the ball in low for Craig Mackail-Smith. He side-footed the ball home from inside the six-yard box, to put the Albion 1-0 in front.
From then on the Albion had most of the possession but failed to find the killer ball or pass to put the game to bed at an early stage.
Indeed for all their lacklustre approach the Eagles began to grow in confidence, though it was not until the 40-minute mark that they had their first real chance, Glenn Murray seizing on a mistake by Lewis Dunk but firing well wide.
Craig Noone was causing Palace problems especially Peter Ramage. Liam Bridcutt, despite being booked, looked like the Albion might have to lock him away on New Year’s Eve for a month. He was magnificent all over the pitch.
The Albion finished just on top, as Andy D’Urso blew for half time.
It was the Seagulls who looked confident and composed as the second half began as they tried to maintain possession and build patiently.
Casper Ankergren had a scare as he flapped at a corner from Sean Scannell only for Mackail-Smith to head clear from the six-yard box.
Vicente Rodriguez replaced Harley and Kazenga LuaLua came on for Noone but neither had much impact on the game.
Albion had a chance when Ashley Barnes broke clear but his shot was well held by Julian Speroni.
Time ticked by slowly for Albion as Jonathan Parr began to run at the defence. It was Wilfried Zaha, however, who put Palace back on terms, as he strode through the Albion defence to restore parity at 1-1.
Palace then bombarded the Albion and with a minute left, Darren Ambrose bundled in a very sloppy second to put the visitors in front, after Parr got free of Romain Vincelot.
You’d have thought that would have been it for any Albion fan, but with two minutes of injury time left, Murray stepped inside Gordon Greer to fire Palace 3-1 in front and break Albion hearts all over the world.
After the game I caught up with legendary ex-Albion full back Kerry Mayo. He pointed out that Palace had a majority of the play after their goal, but as the Albion had played three games in seven days, they were entitled to be a little leg weary and at times it showed.
Mayo said that Glenn Murray showed great respect to the Albion by not appearing to celebrate any Palace goals, not even his own.
The former Albion full back suggested that he had advised Murray not to join Palace, saying Murray had a great time at Brighton and took his goal at the Amex well and how he wished Murray was still a Brighton player.
Albion: Ankergren; Taricco, Greer, Dunk, Painter; Bridcutt; Dicker, Harley, Noone; Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs: Brezovan, Vincelot, Hoskins, Vicente, LuaLua.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ramage, Tunchev, McCarthy, Moxey; Zaha, Jedinak, Wright, Williams; Murray, Scannell. Subs: Parr, Price, Ambrose, Gardner, Easter.
Referee: Andy D’Urso (Essex)
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