Match Report – Brighton & Hove Albion 1-3 Burnley

A brace from former Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Chris Wood helped Burnley succumb Albion to another defeat as the hosts’ poor run in 2019 continues.

In a controversial and enthralling fixture, Wood’s double and Ashley Barnes’s penalty gave the visitors a three-goal lead, which, despite Shane Duffy’s late reply, saw Sean Dyche’s side gain an important three points in the battle for survival.

It is safe to say that an end-to-end thriller was the last thing most spectators expected going into the game – a match which pitted the two sides with the fewest shots attempted in the league this season against one another.

But it was the hosts, seeking to end their home scoring drought, who began the encounter at a pace and could have taken the lead with only minutes on the clock. Tom Heaton produced two fine stops, first from Solly March’s header and then denying Pascal Gross from the resulting corner with a flying save.

Six consecutive matches undefeated reflects the Clarets’ regained steel in recent weeks, steel that saw them place seventh last campaign, and Dyche’s team soon found themselves with a foothold.

A pair of dangerous crosses across the face of goal bookended the Brighton woodwork being struck twice in a matter of seconds in the 17th minute. Dwight McNeil’s cross from the left was diverted by Duffy onto his own crossbar before Barnes’ headed-rebound skimmed the crossbar once more.

Albion nearly found a quick response but Heaton again denied March, however the game soon did have its opener thanks to former Seagull Chris Wood. Barnes’ ball over the top seemed harmless, but Lewis Dunk’s slip gifted Wood a golden opportunity – one which the New Zealand international slotted past Mathew Ryan.

The chances continued to arrive for Chris Hughton’s players, but the visitors continued to thwart the hosts thanks to a combination of heroic defending and excellent goalkeeping.

With only a couple of minutes to go before the break, Heaton somehow managed to tip Gross’ pullback over the head of the awaiting Glenn Murray. The Seagulls’ supporters’ disbelief at how their side hadn’t found the net only further increased when Jeff Hendricks cleared Duffy’s header off the line.

An injury to March forced Brighton into an early change at the start of the second half – Anthony Knockaert entering the fray. Albion attempted to increase the tempo as the half began in their efforts to get back into the match, with Burnley seemingly content to back off and protect their lead.

Back off and protect you say? The visitors obviously soon had other plans as with their first venture forwards after the break, Wood doubled his tally and his team’s advantage in the 61st minute.

The bright McNeil was given too much space to drive into by Brighton’s midfield, and played in Wood to his left who curled an effort into the far corner. A simple move, but the Clarets were bouncing as their staff jumped with joy in front of the benches.

Gaetan Bong twisting past his marker with dazzling footwork before sending a cross out of play seemed to be summing up the Seagulls’ evening quite well. Matters were soon made worse when, after a penalty claim of their own, Brighton could only watch on as the visitors broke down the other end and Ryan brought down Barnes for a penalty. The striker scored from the spot and Dyche’s side were cruising.

Well, cruising for all of two minutes as suddenly Duffy headed his side back into the game from Knockaert’s set-piece, and Heaton was finally beaten. 1-3. Game on.

Albion pressed for goals, but they failed to emerge. Another match at the Amex which produced yet more officiating controversy, but once again Hughton’s players were defeated. A relegation fight seemed to have been left behind, but just one win in 11 league games has dragged them back into the scrap.

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