By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Bristol City 0
Stand-in captain Inigo Calderon hit a sensational 25-yard strike to send Albion on their way to victory at the Amex this afternoon.
The Seagulls had looked as tough they might start to struggle against their visitors as both Craig Mackail-Smith and Jake Forster-Caskey had to be substituted with five minutes of each other after just half an hour.
Mackail-Smith got a thumb in the eye and Forster-Caskey a dead leg. They were replaced by the unhyphenated Alan Navarro and Will Hoskins.
It was Navarro, set up by the impressive Matt Sparrow, who had Albion’s first clear-cut chance. But in his quest for his first Albion goal the Wirral man was well wide.
Albion were having a lot of the ball but few chances. Ashley Barnes had one effort that sadly went out for a throw-in to City.
But the patience and measured possession paid off. Calderon found himself in space, just in from the touchline, took the ball forward, then hit a glorious shot from fully 25 yards. This went straight as an arrow and past David James into the top corner.
The Bristol City keeper – the first player to have played at the Amex and the Goldstone – had no chance.
City didn’t have much to offer in return and just before half time Sparrow had another of his strikes from distance, which this time was well tipped over by James.
Early in the second half both Barnes and Navarro had chances from distance.
The Albion defence were holding firm, both Adam El-Abd and Lewis Dunk dealing with the minimal advances that City were making.
Albion were keeping up the pressure and at one point the City keeper, nicknamed Calamity James throughout his career, sliced a routine clearance wildly out of play. From the resulting throw-in Barnes hit a good chance high and wide.
As the game wore on so it looked more and more likely that Albion would double their lead. In the end a Hoskins flick on, which James come out too slowly to intercept, fell to Buckley. He calmly took the ball wide of the keeper and rolled it into the open goal for 2-0.
The Robins had little to offer after this. A couple of free kicks – one from Cole Skuse which was high and wide and one saved well by Peter Brezovan from Nicky Maynard – was all they could offer.
Kalifa Cisse, on as a sub, looked lively but was unable to provide a telling ball.
The most worrying thing for Albion was the way that Liam Bridcutt applauded all three stands of Albion fans at the final whistle. Not mentioned yet in this report, it was Bridcutt who knocked the ball to Calderon to set up the full-back’s goal.
The midfielder was superb in breaking up play and getting the Albion moving forward time and time again. Almost unnoticed at times but highly effective in everything he did.
Albion: Brezovan; Calderon, Dunk, El-Abd, Vincelot; Bridcutt; Sparrow, Forster-Caskey; Buckley, Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs Ankergren, Hall, Navarro, Vicente, Hoskins
Bristol City: James; Foster, Carey, Nyatanga, McGivern; Skuse, Kilkenny, Elliott, Woolford; Wood, Maynard. Subs: Gerken, Bolasie, Wilson Cisse, Pitman.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Dorset)