By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Wigan Athletic 2
Albion were beaten by FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic in the Championship at the Amex on Saturday afternoon (22 February).
After 20 minutes the normally reliable Matthew Upson gave the ball away inside the Albion half. Wigan’s James McArthur intercepted, raced clear and slotted the ball past Tomasz Kuszczak in the Albion goal to put Wigan in front.
The Albion had started the brighter and enjoyed a lot of early possession.
Bruno was linking up well with Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez although fellow Spaniard David Rodriguez appeared on the periphery of Albion’s attacking play.
The Seagulls almost equalised after full back Stephen Ward whipped in a cross and new boy Dale Stephens smashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar with Ali Al-Habsi beaten.
Not long after Gordon Greer in an unorthodox position in the Wigan penalty area tried to flick a shot past Al-Habsi from close range but the keeper was equal to it.
Wigan were looking for a second before half time and Kuszczak had to be alert as at times Josh McEachran and Chris McCann were causing Greer and Upson problems.
A flurry of corners from the Latics ensured the Seagulls went in one down at half time.
Albion couldn’t emulate the bright start they had in the first half at the start of the second and, with echoes of the Nottingham Forest game back in October, allowed their opponents to grab a goal early in the second half.
A corner from Martyn Waghorn was headed in at the far post by Chris McCann as Wigan doubled their lead on 50 minutes.
Albion were at sixes and sevens, with passes going astray and players seemingly out of position.
Rohan Ince was trying his best to get the Albion going, striding out of defence and through midfield. But the attacking players appeared static, including Leo Ulloa, who apart from holding the ball up well looked out of sorts.
Oscar Garcia made a change, replacing Rodriguez for the fit again Will Buckley. Buckley looked to play up front but wider than Rodriguez had, and gave Albion more impetus.
Albion were on top in terms of possession but did not create a clear-cut chance. Jon Obika replaced the hard-working and effective David Lopez and the on-loan Spurs striker tried a spectacular overhead kick which flew in to the roof of stadium.
Finally Albion got a clear chance. Upson won a header from a corner which James Perch failed to clear and Ulloa slotted the ball home to halve the arrears with 15 minutes left to play.
As usual in these situations Albion really went for it but couldn’t keep up the momentum long enough to create a chance for an equaliser straight away. Then Ince had a good chance when Ulloa laid the ball back to him, fizzing a shot inches wide.
Kazenga LuaLua, on for Ward, still appeared not as sharp as earlier in the season. However, he was causing Emmerson Boyce and Ivan Ramis some problems but failed to get a really telling cross or shot in.
Before the end Obika wriggled free in the area but shot straight at Al-Habsi. Albion tried their best to get level but Wigan held firm and now move three points clear of Albion who drop to 8th.
The Seagulls face Hull City at the KC Stadium on Monday night (24 February) in the club’s first FA Cup 5th round replay in 28 years.
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