Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Bolton Wanderers 2
By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Albion led three times and were pegged back twice by relegation threatened Bolton at a freezing cold Amex.
With Chris Hughton opting to start with Bobby Zamora and Tomer Hemed, it was almost surprising to see Jamie Murphy striding into the penalty area and placing at shot wide of Ben Amos, to put the Albion ahead on eleven minutes.
Albion were finding the physical threat of 38 year old Emile Heskey quite difficult to contend with. Lewis Dunk in particular was uncomfortable with Heskey’s lumbering pace and strength.
It was no surprise then when Heskey found space in the Albion penalty area to fire past David Stockdale from close range, to put Bolton level on 25 minutes. Heskey very likely to be the all time Amex oldest goal scorer unless Zamora can last another 3 or so years.
Albion had some answers – one of them was to get Anthony Knockaert on the ball more. One of his surging runs found Beram Kayal who forced a great save from Bem Amos in the Bolton goal.
Albion continued to apply the pressure, a move involving Murphy Knockaert and Dale Stephens , saw Hemed bundled over in the area by Robert Holding, referee Rob Lewis thought otherwise.
But it was Knockaert , who told Brighton & Hove News earlier in the week that he always gives 100% , who sprinted from just outside his own penalty area all the way to Boltons area leaving Holding and Josh Vela in his wake, ‘the little magician’ picked out Zamora who in turn played a sublime backheel into the path of Hemed who scrambled the ball past Amos, to put Albion back in front and cap yet another superb move involving Knockaert.
Albion should have kicked on early in the second half but let Bolton back in it again. Knockaert jinked into the Wanderers area and was caught by Vela but played on, referee Lewis had already played an advantage, Bolton went on the attack the Albion defence then failing to deal with a Liam Feeney free kick and as Conor Goldson hacked clear so Jay Spearing fired straight through a crowded penalty area from the D, to put Wanderers level again.
For a time Bolton looked to have the ascendancy as Feeney and Dervite got forward well and with Heskey lurking in dangerous positions Wanderers could have possibly snatched the lead.
The turning point came as Bruno mis judged a bounce and Feeney raced clear with only Stockdale to beat, but the Albion keeper rushed out to meet the midfielder and showed a strong arm to deflect his shot away. A quite brilliant piece of goal keeping
This woke Albion up a little and as Stephens pressured the Bolton defence Murphy won the ball of Vela and the Scottish winger cut inside and the ball landed at the feet a Kayal, who from 20 yards fired Albion into the lead for a third time .
With nearly half an hour left both sides still had a few half chances left to take . Heskey to his credit lasted the full ninety although he appeared to drop to left back for a few minutes for a breather.
Referee Lewis who earlier inadvertantly broke up a Bolton attacking move, went off injured. And was replaced 4th official Lee Swarby.
Both Jiri Skalak and Kazenga Lua Lua came on for Albion and both looked livley. Skalak winning a free kick which Stephens sent wide
Liam Ridgewell’s farewell game ended with a slight knock and he was replaced by Inigo Claderon before the end .
Six minutes of injury time produced little from either team and Albion go 4th in the Champonship, three points behind leaders Hull, who they visit on Tuesday 16th February.
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