By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Blackburn Rovers 0
The Albion beat former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers in front of more than 27,000 fans at the Amex.
Before the match a period of silence was impeccably observed as a Royal British Legion standard bearer led the teams out and four members of the Salvation Army band played the Last Post.
The moment was particularly poignant for the family of Shoreham-born Lance Corporal James Brynin, from Pulborough. He was an Albion fan and died in Afghanistan last month.
When the action got under way it was Rovers’ Alan Judge who had the first chance but he put this well wide.
Rohan Ince was back in the Albion starting line up in place of the injured Keith Andrews and he certainly seems to add more energy to the midfield.
Jordan Rhodes produced a snap shot which deflected off Gordon Greer’s head and went out for a corner. This was the start of Albion’s good fortune throughout the match.
After Ince and Andrew Crofts combined well, Bruno sent Craig Conway scampering away but the Cardiff loanee’s tight angled shot was beaten away by Rovers keeper Jake Kean.
Soon after Albion keeper Tomasz Kuszczak made the first of half a dozen or so excellent saves ,turning Tommy Spurr’s goalbound header over the bar.
The game was fairly even but it was a mistake from Lowe that sent Barnes clear through on goal. Lacking in confidence, the Albion number nine took two or three touches to dig the ball out from under his feet and blazed a shot over with only Kean to beat.
Five minutes later, after great work from Bruno and Conway, Dickson Etuhu, only just on as a substitute, clattered into Stephen Ward as he tried to get a cross in. Referee Andy D’Urso pointed straight to the spot.
After a heated discussion, Barnes took responsibility from David Lopez and slotted the ball home for his first league goal of the season.
At 1-0 in front Albion looked more confident and although they continued to press Blackburn they went in only one up at half time.
Albion have had a couple of second half capitulations this season , but that was not going to happen on this occasion , with Kuszczak making good saves from both Rhodes and King.
But it was Conway again who was pulling the strings for Albion and, after taking a pass from Ward, Conway fired in a cross probably directed for Barnes, but it was Jake Forster-Caskey who leapt to nod in his second goal in as many games to put Albion 2-0 in front and leaving Kean flat-footed.
Blackburn’s Josh King and Tom Cairney forced excellent saves from Kuszczak, one curling goal bound effort brilliantly palmed away by the Polish international.
With Albion comfortable came another slice of luck. From Conway’s corner Crofts hit a shot which bobbled along the ground and deceived Kean who flapped at the ball. Barnes was on hand to slot home his second of the game from close range and give Albion a slightly flattering 3-0 lead.
Before the end Tommy Spurr hit the bar for Rovers from substitute David Dunn’s corner, then Dunn brought yet another great save from Kuszczak.
A great win for Albion which Oscar Garcia dedicated to the memory of James Brynin.
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