Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Everton 0
A magnificent Albion performance saw them defeat Everton for the first time since February 1982, with Jurgen Locadia’s second goal in as many games.
The Seagulls were brilliant to a man and in every area of the pitch.
Albion had plenty of early chances, with the best of these falling to Davy Proppy and Jurgen Locadia. England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had to be alert to the danger that Albion were posing.
With the Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy partnership restored to the centre of defence, Albion looked difficult to get through.
And they threatened too, with the marauding Bernardo almost operating as a wing back and supporting Solly March, also getting forward into crossing positions.
For all Albion’s possession Everton were working a foothold into the game. Debutant keeper David Button looked assured early on but as play developed he spilt a Theo Walcott cross and Duffy hacked the ball away.
Everton had chances as Richarlison saw an effort cleared away by Duffy. Then from 10 yards out, Seamus Coleman fired an effort straight at Dunk.
Albion were finding a willing outlet in Florin Andone who chased down every ball fired his way. Such is the eagerness of the Romanian international, he’d probably chase the ball down the A27, if it were fired outside the stadium.
Before half time Button made a good stop from Richarlison and the enigmatic Dale Stephens tried one too many pivots and sent the ball past the scurrying past the keeper for a corner to Everton. The Seagulls managed to clear it away.
Albion picked it up again as the second half started. Locadia saw far more of the ball and was cutting in well from the left. His final ball was not always quite accurate enough.
Propper was having another inspired match, winning ball after ball and sending Albion forward, This allowed Gross to push further forward. Kurt Zouma was having a torrid time trying to thwart Albion’s front men.
From a free kick March and Propper stood over the ball. Propper sent it the into the six-yard box, Andone swivelled, only to see Pickford produce the sort of point-blank wonder save you’d expect for £30 million and send the Romanian’s header over the bar.
Albion really were in the ascendancy as Montoya coolly dispossessed Walcott then did same with Bernard.
Propper flicked an exquisite curling ball to into the path of Andone who was just beaten to it by Zouma.
Anyone at the Amex who saw Micky Adams’s Seagulls team of December 2008 lose 2-1 at home to Colchester United probably hopes that the alarm clock never wakes them up as a Dutch international made such a pass to a Romanian international in Albion colours.
Albion were limiting Everton to counterattacks and long shots.
Then a corner fired in by March hit Andre Gomes and fell to Locadia unmarked and just four yards out. The Dutchman fired it into the roof of the net, but obviously in an offside position. The far side assistant flagged.
Albion players surrounded the referee Andy Madley, who was already on his way over to his assistant Simon Long, to confirm the Everton player had the last touch to divert it forward to Locadia – and despite the furious protests by Pickford, Gomes and Zouma, he reinstated the goal. Albion had a well-deserved lead.
Button then brilliantly tipped Richarlison’s shot on to the post as Everton introduced Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Bernardo linked up with Propper and Locadia down the left and Brazilian full-back beat three Everton defenders to get a cross in.
Glenn Murray replaced Andone as Locadia moved wider and tried to hold the ball up and frustrate Everton in the corners where possible.
Before the end Zouma hit the bar and Sigurdsson fired way way over.
An Everton free-kick which took an age to fashion was smashed into the wall by Bernard.
Albion held out for the four minutes of stoppage time, which seemed to last at least treble that, as Everton including Pickford almost playing as sweeper, were unable to get another clear sight of goal.
At the final whistle Murray and the largely anonymous Lucas Digne had an altercation which Pickford appeared to encourage and diffuse all at the same time.
A brilliant victory for Albion who stay 13th in the Premier League with 25 points and currently 11 points off the relegation zone.
Next up, a much-improved West Ham next Wednesday evening in London.
2018, with victories against Manchester United (twice), Arsenal and now Everton has been a superb year for Brighton and Hove Albion. Let’s hope a continued “happy new one” is around the corner.