By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
The Albion drew their 13th game of the season at the Amex on this evening (Tuesday 12 February) with former Spanish international Vicente Rodriguez the star of the show once more.
Vicente scored a penalty to cancel out Scott Dann’s rather soft opener for Rovers.
The midfielder managed a full 90 minutes although Seagulls boss Gus Poyet did suggest at the post-match press conference that the former Valencia winger could hardly walk after the match.
Albion really should have put the game to bed in the first half. Poyet selected an attacking line up including Will Buckley and Dean Hammond but everything went through Vicente.
He had Albion’s first chance, dragging a 25-yard shot just wide of the upright.
In fact in a frantic five-minute period Leo Ulloa had a header deflected by what suspiciously looked liked a hand and Buckley chasing through on a long ball flicked a speculative shot with the outside of his boot. Rovers keeper Jake Kean appeared wrong-footed but managed to slap it around the post.
Against the run of play and from a Danny Murphy corner Dann rose highest to nod in despite the presence of Adam El-Abd and Matthew Upson. The ball bounced past the flatfooted Tomasz Kucszczak.
Before half time Albion were forced to replace Will Hoskins who suffered an awkward-looking injury after colliding with Kean.
From the restart Hammond saw two close-range headers tipped over by Kean, both from Vicente set-pieces.
As the fourth official displayed a board that stated three minutes of added time Poyet looked to the heavens and held his hands up to the crowd in the West Stand.
As often happens Albion were much the sharper in the early stages of the second half, again with Vicente the main orchestrator.
The Spaniard beat three Rover defenders and put in a superb cross that Ulloa just failed to connect with.
Blackburn had a shout for a penalty when El-Abd smothered Murphy’s shot with what appeared to be his hand.
Liam Bridcutt was providing a lot of the ammunition for Vicente’s wizardry. The current captain gave an excellent skipper’s performance and his industry allows both Wayne Bridge and Bruno Saltor to join the attacking play when necessary.
It was Bridge’s pass and Vicente’s cross that led to Martin Olsson’s hand ball which was spotted by the linesman not referee Andy Woolmer.
Vicente, after some gamesmanship from Rovers players, blasted the penalty down the middle to put the Seagulls level.
Buckley was replaced by Kazenga LuaLua as Albion went in search of a winner, Vicente again toying with the Rovers defence. But Ulloa could only get a rather tame back-heel to yet another pinpoint cross.
Andrea Orlandi looked to be clean through but was bundled to the floor by Dann .
Rovers were picking their attacks with former Seagull the “Coca-Cola kid” Colin Kazim-Richards holding the ball up well for them and bringing other players into the attack.
But apart from dealing with a few free-kicks Kuszczak was rarely troubled in the second half.
Albion’s last chances of note were Ulloa’s snap shot after Vicente again weaved his way seemingly through the entire Rovers team then Lua Lua’s curling drive which fizzed just past the upright.
After the match Gus Poyet told Brighton and Hove News that he had kept faith with Ulloa for the whole 90 minutes based on the amount of attacking play the Albion had in the match but was surprised that the Argentine had lasted the whole match.
Albion now have a free weekend as they prepare for an away trip to league leaders Cardiff City next Tuesday (19 February).
Albion: Kuszczak; Bruno, El-Abd, Upson, Bridge; Bridcutt, Vicente, Hammond; Buckley; Ulloa, Hoskins. Sub: Calderon, Dicker, Orlandi, David, LuaLua, Mackail-Smith, Ankergren.
Blackburn: Kean; Orr, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson; Kazim-Richards, Lowe, Murphy, Marcus Olsson; Rhodes, Campbell. Subs: Givet, Pedersen, Williamson, Nuno Gomes, Morris, Goodwillie, Usai.
Referee : Andy Woolmer