Brighton travelled to Burnley looking to strengthen their play-offs ambitions. The previous game between these two sides saw Brighton down to 9 men after just 15 minutes. Gus Poyet, during his pre-match interview at Turf Moor, said that the 1-0 defeat to Burnley back at the AMEX was one of his squad’s best performances of the season.
Burnley started the game brightly forcing a couple of corners and five minutes in Wallace’s shot from distance nearly tested Brezovan, but the ball flew over the bar. A poor ball from Jara Reyes lead to a Burnley counter attack but Josh McQoid couldn’t pick out Junior Stanislas who was in plenty of space with the obvious option to shoot.
Solid build up, lead by Vicente Rodriguez forced a corner for Brighton, their first pressure on the Burnley goal, was well defended and punched away by Grant. The ball fell to left back Joe Mattock but his poor shot went well over the crossbar.
More good football from Brighton frustrated Burnley, and exotic play from Gary Dicker allowed Joe Mattock to run into the box and set up Vicente, but his shot was blocked and Burnley were able to get out of their own half. Alan Navarro blocked a Chris McCann cross and the resulting corner teed up Junior Stanislas whose stinging drive was headed out by Sam Vokes. Burnley were then looking for a penalty after a goal mouth scrap but the referee waved away the Burnley players appeals.
The first 20 minutes were end to end. It wasn’t long before Vicente was on the ball again and his cutting pass found Sam Vokes in the box but his shot was deflected for a corner. Jara Reyes then caught the ball firmly with his right foot and a Burnley player got a decent bruise to keep the scores at 0-0.
It was then Burnley’s turn to attack. A great ball into the box from Joe Trippier picked out Charlie Austin who hit his shot straight at Peter Brezovan but the rebound went straight back to Austin’s feet and he rounded the Albion keeper to then poke the ball into the net to give Burnley the lead.
The goal seemed to hit Albion hard and their passes were sloppy. Even from Vicente Rodriguez. Eventually, Craig Mackail-Smith was bearing down on goal but Grant reacted quickly to clear the ball away and set up a Burnley counter attack. Austin got a good connection from a cross in from the right but Adam El-Abd blocked the shot and knocked it out for a corner which was cleared away.
Brighton were nearly on terms just before the break. Vicente Rodriguez’s 35 yard strike went narrowly wide. Then, after a quick free kick, Gary Dicker (starting his first game since breaking his leg in October) floated in a great cross, but Sam Vokes couldn’t quite direct his header on target.
The second half started as the first half finished with Brighton threatening the Burnley goal for an equalizer. A cross from Gary Dicker once again found Sam Vokes but his header was superbly saved from Grant. Vokes had another opportunity to shoot but he unselfishly passed the ball in Craig Mackail-Smith’s direction only to find his ball intercepted.
Brighton kept the pressure up and won a free kick 10 yards outside the box but Vicente Rodriguez didn’t get the connection he wanted. Joe Mattock however picked up the blocked free kick to cross into the box but Burnley were able to clear their lines.
Ashley Barnes and Will Buckley were brought on at the expense of Sam Vokes and Jara Reyes and it wasn’t long before Barnes found himself with a great chance after he was picked out by Gary Dicker, but he couldn’t get his shot on target and scuffed the ball over.
Excellent build up play from Brighton met solid Burnley defending. Like fire and ice. Gus Poyet made a gamble to get something from the game, taking off left back Joe Mattock and bringing on left winger Craig Noone. The last 15 minutes saw Burnley park the bus and Brighton were pouring forward.
Brighton simply couldn’t find the final ball when it mattered. So much good build up play lead to nothing. Gary Dicker had four players to pick out but his cross only found a Burnley player. Then Will Buckley found the space to shoot but sliced his shot well wide.
The final minutes of the game were a scrappy affair with sloppy long balls and fouls coming from either team. Eventually, Adam El-Abd put a good pass to Will Buckley who won a free kick right on the edge of the box. Vicente Rodriguez stepped up but his shot was headed away by a defender in the wall. The ball was lofted back into the box by El-Abd and Navarro drew yet another good save from Grant.
The final whistle went and Burnley secured a lucky double over Brighton.
Burnley - 01 Grant, 02 Trippier, 04 Duff, 15 Edgar, 06 McCann, 07 Wallace, 11 Stanislas, 19 McQuoid, 20 Bartley (Marney – 30′), 14 Ings, 23 Austin (Hewitt – 87′).
Subs - 12 Jensen, 08 Marney, 33 Hewitt, 39 Fletcher, 42 McCartan.
Brighton - 01 Brezovan, 02 Mattock (Noone – 70′), 03 Greer, 06 El-Abd, 14 Calderon, 36 Jara (Buckley – 60′), 08 Navarro, 15 Vicente, 18 Dicker, 12 Mackail-Smith, 24 Vokes (Barnes – 60′).
Subs - 16 Ankergren, 11 Noone, 25 LuaLua, 30 Buckley, 09 Barnes.