By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Nottingham Forest 3
The Albion suffered a devastating second half collapse against a slick and tenacious Nottingham Forest who included Albion old boy Darius Henderson among their scorers.
Albion went into attacking mode from the off. Oscar Garcia selected both Will Buckley and Kazenga LuaLua, with Ashley Barnes as the lone striker in Leo Ulloa’s absence.
It was LuaLua who had Albion’s best early chances, one sublime curling shot just cleared over the cross bar.
Henderson had his first attempt to score superbly pushed away by Tomasz Kuszczak in the Albion goal. The big forward who played on loan for the Seagulls in late 2003 got plenty on his header but Kuszczak was equal to it.
Radoslaw Majewski was a stand out player for Forest and he did plenty to keep Inigo Calderon and Matt Upson occupied.
Andy Reid got on the end of a Majewski cross but his shot was deflected away by Andrew Crofts.
As LuaLua continued to press forward he was crudely tripped by Nathaniel Chalobah who was promptly shown a yellow card by infamous Amex referee Craig Pawson.
Albion were just beginning to get the upper hand and Buckley was finding plenty of space down the right.
A cross from Stephen Ward on the left fell to Ashley Barnes and his cross shot was headed in by Crofts who stooped low to divert the ball home.
The Albion went in one-nil up at the interval
It’s fair to say that Albion had one touch of the ball in the second half before Forest equalised. Calderon put the ball out for a corner within seconds of the restart and Majewski curled the ball in for Henri Lansbury to power a header past Kuszczak to make it all square.
Albion came close to restoring their lead almost immediately. Crofts then Barnes failed to score.
Crofts’s shot was tipped against the post by Karl Darlo. Then Barnes failed to connect as it bounced loose around the six-yard box.
It was a miss that Albion would come to rue as former Albion target Simon Cox headed down for Henderson to fire past Kuszczak to put Forest in front.
Before any of the Albion contingent at the Amex could adjust, Gordon Greer was caught flat-footed and Matthew Upson covering his position tripped Lansbury and the striker emphatically blasted the resulting penalty past Kuszczak to put Forest in command at 1-3.
In another twist David Lopez, on in place of Jake Forster Caskey, was instrumental in Chalobah receiving his second yellow card. Lopez appeared to wave an imaginary caution at referee Pawson and the South Yorkshire offical, not unaccustomed to sending off players at the Amex, gave Chalobah his marching orders.
Lopez’s antics incensed Billy Davies and the rest of the the Forest bench and both benches got involved in some very heated and animated exchanges.
But Albion could not make their man advantage count, although LuaLua should have had a penalty with some 15 minutes left. Chances were very few or limited to long shots.
As the two benches continued to snarl at each other, Davies and Garcia momentarily squared up. However, Garcia looked beamused by it all.
The Albion head coach was not at all as animated as his counterpart and at times looked as if he wasn’t quite sure what was going on – on or off the pitch.
Albion looked toothless and devoid of ideas towards the end and although it is still early October and the club have an ever increasing injury list there is a sombre atmosphere around the Amex and the amount of fans left in the stadium at the final whistle was more alarming than usual.
They have now two weeks to regroup before they travel to face Yeovil Town, in a fixture that even at this early stage of the season looks a must win.
Confidence and consistency are vital in the Championship and nothing should be taken for granted. Ask any Wolves fan.
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