By Tim Hodges from The Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Middlesborough 1
The Albion lost at home on Saturday despite dominating most the match, in front of a crowd of over 26,000.
The Seagulls started brightly, the return of Spanish full back Bruno Salter providing a great additional attacking outlet.
David Lopez also started for the Albion. The former Athletico Bilbao man was involved in all Albion’s set plays and linked up well with Bruno.
Wayne Bridge was finding plenty of room to get forward, and helped create a couple of chances for Craig Mackail-Smith but the striker wasn’t able to gobble these up as easily as he did in the late summer.
Almost against the run of play and from misunderstanding between Liam Bridcutt and Bruno , Middlesbrough took the lead.
Martin Enmes had a shot which took a wicked deflection off Gordon Greer and totally wrong footed Tomasz Kuszczak, to put Boro in front.
Minutes later Dean Hammond headed well over from a David corner.
It was mostly all Albion, Mackail-Smith saw another effort curl just wide, then Bridge picked out Albion’s Scottish international , but Luke Steele in the Boro goal made a great save.
As the interval approached Boro ventured for a second goal , but Kuszczak was equal to Faris Haroun’s shot.
Middlesbrough set out their stall as the second half started.
It was obvious they were going to defend their lead vigorously.
After an uncharacteristic error by El-Abd , that almost let in Enmes again , Albion tried everything to restore parity.
Referee Andy D’Urso did little to help the Seagulls, making some curious decisions and infuriating the North Stand.
The Southend official upset the North End, waving away blatant penalty appeal for fouls on both Mackail- Smith and Barnes.
Barnes met an Andrew Crofts centre, with a firm header, but Steele got down to turn it away from the bottom corner.
Then a turning point, another Barnes effort was parried by Steele, but only has far as Mackail-Smith, but he somehow spooned the ball over from six yards out.
Gus Poyet sacrificed a defender ,as Dobbie replaced El- Abd . The new Scottish Striker retained the ball well for a while, but didn’t have a clear effort.
Before the end substitute Kezenga Lua Lua , caused Boro more problems but the visitors defence stood firm.
Crofts hit a half volley well wide with minutes left and a combination of goalkeeper and defender kept out a late Barnes effort, amid howls for handball, but Mr D’Urso waved play on.
In an almost continuing saga , the Albion lose another game they should have easily won.
Albion: Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge; Bridcutt, Hammond, Crofts; David, Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs: Ankergren, Dunk, Calderon, Dicker, Buckley, LuaLua, Dobbie.
Middlesbrough: Steele; Parnaby, Woodgate, Bikey, Friend; McEachran, Leadbitter, Bailey, Haroun; McDonald, Emnes. Subs: Leutwiler, Thomson, Ledesma, Hines, Reach, Miller, Smallwood.
Referee: Andy D’Urso (Essex).
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