By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Ipswich Town 0
Brilliant Albion gave Ipswich a footballing lesson at the Amex this afternoon.
The Tractor Boys must have wondered what had hit them as the Seagulls passed the ball around majestically to the extent that the visitors seemed at times almost non-existent.
A goal from birthday boy Craig Mackail-Smith after 20 minutes, his first at the Amex since September, and a second-half brace from Ashley Barnes, put Albion one place outside the play-offs on goal difference only.
Just before kick off, a section of Ipswich fans in the away end stood up and displayed two banners which collectively read: “Some things money can’t buy … football isn’t one: the Amex.”
Quite what was meant by this was unclear but it certainly added to atmosphere.
On the pitch Jay Emmanuel-Thomas had the first real chance hitting a thunderous drive which Peter Brezovan grabbed at the second attempt.
Ipswich were finding some good possession and making headway. Daryl Murphy was causing Gonzalo Jara Reyes some problems as he skipped past the Albion full back a couple of times.
Michael Chopra who looked to be playing on his own up front was finding himself in some good positions, but was also being closely marked by Adam El-Abd.
Albion were having some of the play too. Will Buckley threaded the ball to Barnes, who beat a couple of defenders and teed up Mackail-Smith who shot wide.
Then a turning point. Reyes sold Brezovan short with a back pass. The Slovakian chose to almost tackle Murphy and the ball ran loose to Chopra, but his delicate chip was headed off the line by Gordon Greer from almost underneath the cross bar.
Minutes later Greer was involved again, his 40 yard pass to Buckley was hoisted into the box by the winger and Mackail-Smith was on hand to sweep the ball under Lee-Barrett to put Albion 1-0 in front.
Albion really did get a swagger on. Razak was spraying ball around from midfield with such brilliant accuracy it was breathtaking.
Albion won a corner which Mackail-Smith headed smack bang on to the cross bar.
Before half-time Chopra was wide from a good position.
But Albion went in at half time well in command.
A few minutes into the second half, Ipswich did bundle the ball home. But fortunately for the Albion it was ruled out for hand ball.
Razak continued to boss midfield either beating two or three players at a time or hitting a pass 40 or so yards straight to the feet of a team mate. With Alan Navarro doing the dirty work and winning the ball, the Seagulls midfield was a very strong unit.
It was Liam Bridcutt though who won the ball and set Barnes away. Barnes cut inside two defenders and hit a low drive into the bottom corner, to double Albion’s advantage, putting them two up.
Ipswich were a spent force now as Albion tuned on the style.
Mackail-Smith almost turned provider drilling the ball in for Buckley who tricked two defenders with a little flick, then blasted the ball high and wide.
Assulin and Vokes replaced Buckley and Mackail-Smith with twenty minutes left.
Albion took their foot off the gas a little and Carlos Edwards found himself unmarked in the penalty area. The former Wrexham man went for the far corner, but the ball deflected off the lunging Greer and fell safely to Brezovan.
Vokes just failed to connect to a Navarro cross, when inside the six-yard box, after good play form Reyes.
And the Chilean was involved again in the finale. Striding through the Ipswich defence he found Barnes who side footed Albion into a 3-0 lead.
Razak was replaced by Kazenga LuaLua in the dying minutes. The Manchester City loanee voted man of the match, received thunderous applause from the Amex faithful.
Before the end Vokes had another half chance, but in the end, the Albion won at home to Ipswich for the first time in 21 years, with ease.
Albion: Brezovan; Jara Reyes, Greer, El-Abd, Mattock; Bridcutt, Navarro, Razak; Buckley, Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs: Ankergren, Calderon, Assulin, LuaLua, Vokes.
Ipswich: Lee-Barrett; Edwards, Smith, Delaney, Cresswell; Hyam, Drury; Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy, Chopra. Subs: McCarthy, Sono, Leadbitter, Bullard, Scotland.
Ref: Colin Webster (Gateshead)