By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Ipswich Town 1
Albion lost their second home game in succession as Daryl Murphy pounced on a Lewis Dunk error.
Ipswich lined up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Freddie Sears, Jonathan Douglas and Murphy giving Albion very little time on the ball to build from the back.
Albion adopted an intriguing 4-5-1 formation, featuring the usual suspects of Dale Stephens and Beram Kayal in midfield but also Andrew Crofts.
Ipswich had won their three previous away games and when Kevin Bru crashed a half volley against the bar with David Stockdale beaten on 18 minutes Albion began to take notice. Then a Jonathan Douglas shot was deflected and Stockdale had to claw it away from danger.
It wasn’t quite end to end but Albion were having their say. Rajiv van La Parra broke free but saw his shot saved with ease by Dean Gerken.
Van La Parra and Jamie Murphy swapped flanks and this nearly paid off for Albion. Tomer Hemed found space down the right and his cross was flicked goal-wards by Stephens. Gerken somehow managed to deflect this on to the bar and Murphy was on hand to bundled the ball home. Sadly for Albion Murphy was adjudged to be offside.
Murphy looked onside when Stephens’s effort was kept out but appeared to stray offside as he reacted to the rebound.
Then out of nothing Ipswich went ahead. As Kayal looked to build from the back Albion played the ball across the back four as they often do. However, as Dunk tried to trap it, it slid under his boot and Murphy pounced and raced clear.
The Tractor boys striker still had plenty to do but shrugged off the attentions of the recovering Dunk, placing the ball past Stockdale and the impressive Connor Goldson who tried to clear off the line. It was another costly error attributed to the only Brightonian in the Albion team.
Six minutes later Ipswich were at it again. Just after Dunk inexplicably chose to back heel a pass to Stockdale, which almost let Douglas in, Bruno dived into tackle Ryan Fraser who crossed for Douglas. His effort hit the post and was thumped away by Dunk.
Quick thinking by Stockdale sent Murphy clear and past the last defender but Gerken was off his line in a flash to thwart the attack.
Goldson was a bright spark for Albion and he set up Murphy early in the second half but Gerken was equal to it again.
Van La Parra was Albion’s main outlet and he was managing to get some crosses in. But Albion had little up front for him to aim at.
Just after the hour Bobby Zamora and James Wilson replaced Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal. Kayal looked reluctant to leave the field and kicked a water bottle in frustration as he got to the technical area.
Van La Parra continued to fire in crosses but Wilson looked out of sorts and Zamora was well marked.
It was Bruno who engineered Albion’s best chance of the second half. His cross was smacked against the bar by Zamora from just inside the six-yard box.
Van La Parra had a few efforts on goal – all well fielded by Gerken or wide.
Stockdale made a great block from Sears late on and Elvis Manu come on for Albion and made a difference with his pace and had one curling shot fly just over.
Goldson grew in stature and confidence in his full home debut as the game went on and didn’t put a foot wrong. Unlike his central defensive partner who, unfortunately again, cost Albion at least one point. Social media reports of abusive behaviour towards the East Stand are hopefully unfounded.
Albion haven’t scored in three matches – two of those at home – and take on Wolves at the Amex on New Year’s Day – the day the transfer window opens again. To achieve their goal, or perhaps to just get one, Albion need to be busy and not just on (Sunday) 31 January.