Brighton & Hove Albion 3 West Bromwich Albion 1
Brighton & Hove Albion are able to celebrate a top flight league win for the first tine since St George’s Day 1983.
Two goals from summer signing Pascal Gross and a third from Tomer Hemed gave the Seagulls an unassailable lead with 26 minutes still to play.
The pace of Solly March and Anthony Knockaert gave West Brom problems – as did the flicks and general presence of Davy Propper.
It was Gross who had the Seagulls’ first chance. He turned but his shot, after receiving a pass from March, flew just over.
As rain enveloped the Amex, Ben Foster fumbled March’s shot and Shane Duffy bundled the loose ball home only for the assistant to flag him offiside. History not quite made.
The Baggies appeared shocked by how much possession the Seagulls were having although a fierce shot from former Seagull Gareth Barry was well saved by Maty Ryan.
A clever corner routine from the Baggies saw Jake Livermore deliver a ball to Ryan’s unguarded near post, which Ahmed Hegazy just failed to connect with.
With Bruno Saltor overlapping and supporting Knockaert, Albion were creating many chances. A pass inside to Dale Stephens saw the midfielder sidefoot a good chance over from 20 yards out.
Then that moment. March made his way to the byline and his cross found Gross. The midfielder took what appeared to be an unnecessary touch, steadied himself and squeezed the ball home via a deflection from Jonny Evans.
The emotions from the High Court to Hereford spilled out of the Amex as for the first since Terry Connor at the Goldstone on Saturday 23 April 1983 the Seagulls scored a top flight goal at home. It also ended Gordon Smith’s longstanding record of being the Seagulls’ last top flight scorer.
To score just before half time was great. To get the second just after was superb.
Hemed and Propper combined well and sent Gross away. The German unleashed a shot from fully 20 yards which zipped off the wet turf and beat Foster low down to his right. Those Albion fans who had made it back to their seats after half-time refreshment went wild. Foster beat the turf in frustration.
Albion weren’t finished and neither was Gross. His corner saw Duffy almost replicate his goal for Ireland earlier in the week. Foster saved but made a mess of it.
But it was Gross again who provided the Seagulls’ third. After good work by March, Gross showed his turn of pace to go past James Morrison and his cross was expertly headed in from an acute angle by Hemed to put Albion 3-0 in front.
West Brom and Tony Pulis were shocked at the Seagulls’ dominance.
As the game wore on it looked as though Albion needed fresher legs but Hughton, apart from swapping Glenn Murray for Hemed, persisted with his starting XI.
Morrison bundled the ball home late on for the Baggies despite Duffy’s attempt to keep it out with his hand. Ryan then made a good close range save from the same player.
Lewis Dunk showed what an asset he is in the five minutes of injury time as he got his head on the variety of searching balls fired by West Brom into the Albion box.
But the Seagulls get off the mark in front of over 30,000 fans at the Amex. The club are 13th in the Premier League – their highest league position since 1982. They are above Everton, Leicester and West Ham.
The good old days are back at Brighton & Hove Albion.
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