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Match Report: Brighton 1-1 Middlesbrough (Brighton Fan's Perspective)

By Andy
Sunday 1st April 2012
Brighton's sights are now firmly on finishing in a play-off position and they welcomed fellow play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough to the AMEX for what looked to be a mouth watering 5th versus 6th tie on the south coast. Brighton remain unbeaten at home in 2012 and Middlesbrough arrived without a win in five matches. After a highly entertaining encounter, the points were shared after Marvin Emnes opened the scoring for Boro just after the hour, then 12 minutes later; the in form Inigo Calderon headed home to keep the unbeaten home run intact.

Both teams had chances at each end but the real battle was in midfield. Both teams struggled to pin their passes together and it was scrappy at times. It was easy to see why the two clubs were side by side in the table, they simply cancelled each other out in the middle of the pitch. When one team did break free from the midfield battle, good chances were created. Vicente Rodriguez's free kick was deflected just off target and Adam El Abd hit the post with a strong header after Will Buckley floated in a corner.

Both El-Abd and Buckley were returning to the starting line up after an illness affected several players. Also returning to the bench was midfielder Gary Dicker. His return after suffering a broken leg back in October was warmly welcomed by fans.

Buckley's sprinting runs down the wings lifted the fans and he skipped past Justin Hoyte to set up a chance for Joe Mattock but his well struck shot was beaten away by Steele in the Boro goal. The resulting corner was nearly bundled in by Sam Vokes but Middlesbrough managed to get possession to finally test Peter Brezovan at the other end. Good pass and move football lead to Joe Bennett finding enough space on the edge of the box to drill a shot at Brezovan, but he was equal to it and parried the ball out of danger.

Alan Navarro had two good chances to open the scoring but couldn't find the power to beat Steele after he was set up by Joe Mattock, the ball then fell kindly for him after a poor clearance from the Boro defence and he responded to the crowds calls to shoot but didn't get the right connection and skied the ball way high and wide.

The second half brought more of the same action from the first. Vicente once again tested Steele with a 25 yard free kick. Steele's excellent dive kept the Spaniard at bay. More good work from Middlesbrough lead to Barry Robson sending over an excellent cross from the right which was flicked into the net by Marvin Emnes with Brezovan out of position.

Shortly after, Boro could have doubled their lead. Lukas Jutkiewicz took on the Albion defence and got past the back four all too easily before firing his shot against the left post with Brezovan beaten. He would have wished he'd done better as just a few minutes later, Albion were back on terms.

As Boro were leading, they were above Brighton in the play-off spots. But soon after the introduction of Kazenga Lualua, a corner was won and his deep ball in found Inigo Calderon in enough space to head the ball past Steele to level the scores and, more importantly, lift Brighton above Middlesbrough in the Championship table.

Both sides pressed in the final 15 minutes. The introduction of Craig Mackail-Smith brought a new found energy to the Seagulls but they were unable to produce decent enough chances to break the deadlock. Middlesbrough nearly had the last laugh when Justin Hoyte cut in from the right and drilled a shot towards goal. Brighton hearts were in mouths as the shot took a deflection off Barry Robson but luckily Brezovan reacted in time to hold on to the ball.

Brighton finish the weekend in 6th, with just five goals separating them and Boro, after Blackpool beat Southampton in the evening kick off.
Andy

Total articles: 27

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