By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Queens Park Rangers 0
Superb Albion beat promotion rivals QPR in a tightly contested match in front of just over 28,000 fans at the Amex Stadium tonight (Tuesday 11 March).
The match sprang to life in the final 15 minutes when Albion top scorer, the man from Argentina, Leo Ulloa smashed the ball home from close range after excellent work from Bruno Saltor.
Ulloa scored with the outside of his boot, leaving former England keeper Robert Green stranded.
Then with four minutes left to play Stephen Ward steered a Kazenga LuaLua corner into the bottom corner to ensure Albion took all three points.
But for Tomasz Kuszczak’s heroics, the result could have been much different. The big Polish keeper saved excellently from Ravel Morrison with half an hour gone and fielded a couple of efforts from Will Keane.
Joey Barton was trying to stamp his authority on the match and at times Albion showed him a little too much respect.
Junior Hoilett, however, was worth respecting. He was giving Brighton-born Lewis Dunk some worrying moments. But a bit like Albion, Rangers were a little lightweight up front.
Towards the end of the half Albion started to create some chances. Jesse Lingard, Bruno and Will Buckley were all involved in some pretty but not quite penetrating enough attacks.
A superb run by Buckley saw the ball fall for Ulloa who blasted his shot wide of the near post.
As half time approached the Albion fans were growing impatient as the referee Robert Madley appeared to give every contentious decision in favour of the visitors.
QPR must have been aware of Albion’s record of lacklustre starts to recent second periods and pinned the home side back for a while after the break.
Hoilett saw a good shot charged down by Albion’s captain for the night, Matt Upson, then Armand Traore forced Kuszczak to push the ball away.
With Joey Barton seemingly starting to control the midfield almost effortlessly and Richard Dunne looking in command against Ulloa and Lingard, QPR held on to possession.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto tried his luck but his shot only narrowly sailed past Kuszczak’s post
Soon after LuaLua replaced Jake Forster-Caskey, Bruno weaved in from the right and crossed in low. The ball eluded everyone except Ulloa who snapped up his 12th goal of the season. And after being on the rack for much of the match, Albion were in front.
QPR tried to step up a gear but Albion were well marshalled by Upson. And with Keith Andrews performing the box-to-box midfielder’s role, Albion were containing QPR. Andrews made an excellent block to deny Ravel Morrison.
As Rangers searched for an equaliser Keane forced Kuszczak to push his shot towards the post and the ball just dropped wide.
There was a lot of space appearing and LuaLua almost fluked a corner as his cross hit Hill on the back from the set-piece.
Lua Lua whipped the ball in and Stephen Ward buried it in the bottom right-hand corner to put Albion 2-0 up with four minutes left.
Apart from a free-kick, which Morrison sent over, QPR had nothing more to offer.
Albion travel to Bolton on Saturday (14 March) for another vital Championship fixture having taken two wins and a draw from their past three games.