By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Millwall 1
The Albion are in turmoil this evening (Friday 12 December) after suffering their third straight defeat, this time at the hands of Millwall.
It wasn’t the structure of the defeat, in which Albion lost to a Lee Gregory goal on 15 minutes, but the nature of the it.
The Seagulls are frankly a mere shadow of their former selves and played devoid of conviction, confidence and spontaneity.
Manager Sami Hyypia’s tactics, especially when defending set pieces, seem antiquated and ineffectual.
Millwall’s goal came through the middle, as Magaye Gueye slipped the ball through Albion’s defence to Gregory who slotted it past David Stockdale.
Albion had chances to restore parity the impressive Bruno finding Jake Forster – Caskey who’s shot was saved by David Forde – Joao Teixeria then fired over for the Seagulls .
Albion started the second half with renewed vigour but were unable to utilise Darren Bent who, although having a good couple of chances, failed to make a mark in the game largely to due Danny Shittu. The Millwall skipper was a towering presence throughout the match.
Albion had five loans players on the pitch – Gary Gardner and Darren Bent from Aston Villa, Greg Halford from Nottingham Forest, Elliott Bennett from Norwich and Joao Teixeira from Liverpool. This is the maximum number of loan players allowed in a match-day squad. But the Seagulls still lack a leader on the pitch.
It wasn’t only events on the pitch that will concern Albion.
Apart from a large number of Millwall fans attempting to break through the police ranks in the South Stand, there was an incident in the lower West Stand where it appeared two fans were removed for venting their anger at Hyypia.
The situation turned quite ugly as the pair fought with stewards after initially refusing to leave the stand which is occupied by families and more senior supporters.
But the biggest concern to Albion would be the sparseness of the Amex crowd. One bright spot of the evening was the merriment caused by the announcement that the attendance was in excess of 24,000.
It would be surprising if more than 14,000 fans made it through the turnstiles. Thousands of blue and white seats were visible throughout the night.
Before the end Solly March, Paddy McCourt and Bent all had half chances to level for the Albion.
But at the final whistle Hyypia looked crestfallen and like he would rather be anywhere else but the Amex.
Albion go to Wolves next Saturday (20 December) then take on Reading at the Amex on Boxing Day.
Five things we learnt from Millwall’s visit to the Amex
1) Dan Shittu is still going strong. The Millwall captain played at Withdean for Blackpool against Albion back in 2001.
2) It wasn’t just Millwall creating unrest. Scuffles were reported elsewhere, with a proper fist fight between stewards and fans in the lower West Stand.
3) Having £24 million worth of striker in Darren Bent is pointless unless he is supported by a fellow front man. At times Bent was marked by four Millwall defenders, with no one else in the vicinity.
4) Albion appeared to play a style suited to Kazenga LuaLua – one up front and quick raids down the wing. Sadly LuaLua wasn’t on the pitch.
5) Albion have taken to announcing the man of the match and the attendance at the final whistle. The attendance figure got a bigger laugh than even Mickey Flanagan could achieve in Brighton.
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