By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Middlesbrough 1
Albion came from behind to snatch a point against promotion rivals Middlesbrough.
Spanish full-back Inigo Calderon stooped low to direct a powerful header past Boro keeper Jason Steele after Kazenga LuaLua whipped in a corner.
Fifteen minutes earlier Boro had themselves taken the lead from a corner kick.
Barry Robson drilled in the kick and although Emnes appeared to direct it towards goal, the final touch was almost certainly from Liam Bridcutt, his third own goal of the season.
It was a topsy-turvy kind of game, with both teams dominating possession at various points in the match.
But it was Vicente Rodriguez who was initially instrumental for the Albion.
The Spanish playmaker seems to be able to play off a variety of team-mates, today linking up with both Ashley Barnes and the fit again Will Buckley.
Vicente set Buckley away with a sublime curling pass but the shot was well saved by Steele.
Then as the Albion penetrated the Boro defence a cross from Buckley was met with a volley from Navarro, which Steele was again equal too.
Mattock and Barnes also had good chances for Albion, but the Boro keeper was on form.
Vicente then tried his luck with a trade mark free kick , but this was deflected wide by a defender, minutes later Adam El-Abd saw his shot parried away by Steele to safety.
Marvin Emnes and Barry Robson were intermittently causing Albion a few problems at the back, and a combination of El-Abd and Brezovan denied the Dutchman in the last few minutes of the first half.
Bailey was also getting involved for Boro but it was Emnes strength and trickery that stood out.
The Dutchman disrupted the way Albion played, and El-Abd looked to have his hands full.
The first half ended goalless, but was anything but dour.
The Seagulls set their stall out early in the second period. Vicente went on one of his mazy runs and hit a fierce, accurate shot which Steele beat away.
Albion’s problem was they just couldn’t get the ball through to Vokes, nor was it breaking for Barnes.
Then a sliced clearance from El-Abd saw Boro, take the lead from a corner Emnes influential in the outcome.
Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua replaced Barnes and Buckley.
The impact of the double substitution was almost immediate as Mackail-Smith’s workrate saw Albion advance into more attacking positions
Also the introduction of CMS allowed him and Vokes to finally form a partnership up front.
But it was from an out swinging LuaLua corner that Calderon headed Albion level.
Boro never looked much of a threat after the equaliser, but the Vokes and Mackail-Smith combo didn’t live up to expectation. On at least one occasion Vokes ran in the opposite direction to where his new strike partner played the ball.
As Vicente tired and Boro found it easier to nudge him off the ball so a large part of Albion’s attacking threat subsided.
Poyet was trying to get some messages across, but as he urged Brezovan to release the ball earlier, he was ushered around his technical area by an eager fourth official.
Navarro had Albion’s last real chance of note, hitting a dipping shot from the edge of the area towards goal, but Steele again dealt it confidently.
A draw was a fair result and in reality will suit both these teams, as the clock ticks towards April.
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