By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Barnsley 2
Bottom of the league and managerless Barnsley beat the Albion at the Amex this evening (Tuesday 3 December) thanks to a superb performance by England youngster Jack Butland in goal.
The Birmingham loan signing made saves from Will Buckley and Ashley Barnes to ensure Barnsley’s win.
Albion made a lacklustre start, with five in midfield and Barnes up front on his own. He made little impact on the Barnsley defence. The visitors looked more comfortable on the ball.
Although Craig Conway and Bruno Saltor were trying to get forward, the Seagulls were making no real impact. It was the men from South Yorkshire who were stringing passes together and making inroads down the pitch.
Albion’s best chance came just before the half hour when Conway rattled the crossbar from 30 yards.
A few minutes later David Perkins drove the Tykes forward. Former Worthing boy Marcus Tudgay ,who has haunted the Albion over the years, was involved as Paddy McCourt almost stumbled into the penalty area and hit a tame shot which Tomasz Kuszczak seemed to palm over the line and Barnsley were in front.
That’s the way it stayed until half time when Albion were booed off in some quarters.
Albion introduced Will Buckley for Jake Forster-Caskey at the start of the second half and the midfielder looked lively and caused the Barnsley defence some concern.
Then against the run of early second half play Jacob Mellis broke free in the penalty area and slipped the ball inside Kuszczak’s near post to double Barnsley’s advantage.
Albion seemed a little shell shocked. David Lopez was misplacing passes and Liam Bridcutt was not his usual effective self.
The Seagulls seemed to lack urgency or creativity.
Then from a Conway corner, Matt Upson rose highest to put Albion back in the game and halve the deficit.
Lopez was sacrificed for the Dutchman Kemy Agustien who somewhat revitalised Albion’s midfield.
The Seagulls really began to get their act together. Crofts looked a different player from the first half and Conway and Buckley were marauding down the wings and causing Barnsley all sorts of trouble.
Even Bruno was getting forward as an Albion equaliser looked inevitable.
Then referee James Linnington walked towards the tunnel and after what seemed an age swapped with the fourth official Charles Brakspear. But when the replacement ref took to the field, Albion lost their tempo and reverted back to more pedestrian play which suited Barnsley.
Peter Ramage won the distinction of being the first player in the two and a half years at the Amex to kick a ball into the West Stand 1901 area just before he presented Barnes the chance to level, but his overhead kick went wide.
Butland saved well from Buckley and Leroy Lita, on in place of Barnes, and both Bruno and Gordon Greer will have been disappointed not to have done better with close-range headers.
A bad night for Albion when even the sponsor’s man of the match Matt Upson failed to collect his award. The club sent Casper Ankergren, who was not even in the match day squad, in his place.
Oscar Garcia may consider some changes when Leicester City visit the Amex this Saturday (7 December).