Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Fulham 1
By Tim Hodges from the Amex
A dramatically improved second-half performance saw Albion beat in-form Fulham.
The Cottagers showed why they are one of the form sides in the divsion.
Former Derby striker and Albion tormentor Chris Martin was leading the line for the Londoners with the energetic Sone Aluko.
Albion were being overrun and Gaetan Bong was finding Tom Cairney a real handful.
Stefan Johansen’s corner looked like it curved out of play but as Floyd Ayite turned it back toward goal, Albion keeper David Stockdale appeared to get tangled up with Lewis Dunk and the ball was bundled just over the line by Kevin Macdonald.
Superb set-up play from Steve Sidwell and Sam Baldock saw Glenn Murray force a fingertip save from Marcus Bettinelli.
Murray also saw a header from a good Jamie Murphy cross flash past the post.
Excellent control from Anthony Knockaert almost saw him set Baldock clear.
But Albion’s villain turned saviour was Stockdale, with the Seagulls keeper making brilliant saves from Ayite and Scott Malone.
Albion were more than happy to go in just one down at half time.
The Seagulls came out after the interval looking sharper and more disciplined – almost as if the usually calm and collected Hughton had given them a telling off.
Seven minutes after the break the ball fell for Baldock just outside the area and the striker hit a superb volley which flashed past Bettinelli to bring the Seagulls level.
The technique Baldock showed was perfect.
Fulham weren’t finished though as Stockdale saved again from Ayite and Martin.
The Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk partnership is immense and Gaetan Bong almost got a nosebleed as he bustled his way into the Fulham penalty area. And almost got a shot away.
A few minutes later he was at it again. Great support play from Murphy and Baldock saw the latter fire in a cross for Murray, who steered the ball past Bettinelli first time to put Albion in front.
Martin had a another chance to get Fulham back in it.
Murray also had a chance to increase his tally and substitute Olvier Norwood had a shot when Murray was much better placed.
Fulham pressured Albion in the five minutes of added time and had a penalty shout as Dunk clattered Martin.
But Albion held on to stay second – four points clear of Reading in third and now just two points off leaders Newcastle whose attempt at a recordbreaking 10th straight win was scuppered by Blackburn Rovers in a 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park.
Albion visit Cardiff City next weekend.