Match report: Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Ipswich Town 1 – Blues equal club record away run
Daryl Murphy scored the only goal of an enthralling game as Ipswich Town equalled a club-record run at Brighton tonight.
The Blues striker capitalised on a glaring Lewis Dunk mistake before lashing an angled shot in off the inside of the far post, in the 32nd minute, at The Amex Stadium.
Both teams hit the woodwork twice in a game you couldn’t take your eyes off, the footballing fare chalk and cheese compared to the Boxing Day bore-fest against QPR at Portman Road.
Mick McCarthy’s men became only the second team to beat Brighton this season and, in doing so, moved back to within a point of fifth-placed Burnley – their hosts on Saturday.
Town have now won five away league games in a row, equalling the club-record run set by Bobby Robson’s side of 1976.
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Altogether, that’s seven wins from the last 10 matches.
McCarthy made two changes to the starting line-up which had been selected for the previous six matches in a row. The injured Aisnley Maitland-Niles didn’t travel, while Brett Pitman dropped to the bench. They were replaced by Kevin Bru and Ryan Fraser respectively with Town lining up in a 4-2-3-1 system – Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas sitting deep in the midfield, Fraser on the left, Bru in an advanced central role and Freddie Sears on the right.
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Brighton boss Chris Hughton, faced with a mounting injury list, was forced into handing 23-year-old centre-back Connor Goldson – a summer signing from Shrewsbury – his debut. He replaced injured skipper Gordon Greer.
Following a cagey start to the match, the game burst into life when Town hit the woodwork for the first time in the match. Fraser’s low cross from the left was half-cleared only as far as Bru on the edge of the box and his dipping shot cannoned back off the middle of the crossbar.
Very quickly it became apparent that Brighton could not handle the pace and direct-running of Fraser and Sears down the flanks.
Following good work between Bru and Fraser down the left, Skuse lobbed the ball over a defender in the box but then chose to pass instead of shoot and the move broke down. Nevertheless, it was encouraging for the visitors.
In the 20th minute Daryl Murphy went down in the area under a challenge by Dunk but there no real appeals for a penalty. The chance had arrived after Sears had once again raced past makeshift left-back Inigo Calderon.
Brighton’s midfield trio popped the ball around nicely midway through the half and the easy-on-the-eye move ended with Rajiv van Parra cutting in from the left and hitting a low shot which Gerken fell upon.
It Then required a sublime reaction stop by Gerken to keep the scores level in the 29th minute following some slick home build-up. First striker Tomer Hemed weaved his way inside from the right, leaving Christophe Berra for dead, then his low pull-back was met cleverly by Dale Stephens’ inner heel around 10 yards out.
The ball seemed destined for the net, but Gerken flung his hands up and turned the effort onto the underside of the crossbar. When Jamie Murphy tapped in the rebound he did so from an offside position.
Gerken has made some super stops for Ipswich this season but that was arguably the pick of the bunch.
Less than three minutes later and Town had broken the deadlock. Centre-back Dunk allowed a simple backwards pass to roll under his foot and Murphy, quick as a flash, capitilised. The Irishman strode into the area and rifled an angled shot across the keeper and in off the inside of the far post. The ball struck back-tracking defender Connor Goldson in the face but had already crossed the line before doing so.
Town hit the woodwork for the second time in the game in the 38th minute following yet more good work down the left by Fraser. This time, after Bruno Saltor misjudged a high ball, Fraser scampered forwards before supplying a low cross which Bru struck straight onto the face of the left post.
Brighton responded quickly and, after countering from a corner, Gerken had to be quick off his line to save at Jamie Murphy’s feet one-on-one.
McCarthy brought on Luke Hyam – back from his recent loan spell at Rotherham – for Bru in the 52nd minute. It seemed a negative substitution, but Hyam, strangely enough, did go and play in the No.10 role.
Brighton began to pin Town back around the hour mark. Hughton then tried to turn the heat up a notch by bringing on two strikers in the form of veteran Bobby Zamora and young Manchester United loanee James Wilson.
Van Parra lashed a shot into the side-netting for the hosts, while there were half-hearted Town penalty appeals for handball when Fraser tried to bundle his way into the area.
The Seagulls made it 2-2, in terms of the amount of times each team had hit the woodwork, in the 75th minute. Saltor’s sweeping cross from the right was met wonderfully by the glancing boot of Zamora, at the near post, but the effort came back off the crossbar.
Ipswich then expertly saw the game out, Berra making one particularly good slide tackle as four added minutes passed without incident.
BRIGHTON (4-1-4-1): Stockdale; Bruno (cpt), Goldson, Dunk, Calderon; Crofts; van Parra, Kayal (Wilson 65), Stephens, Murphy (Manu 77); Hemed (Zamora 65).
Unused subs: Maenpaa, Chicksen, Forster-Caskey, Ince.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Skuse, Douglas; Sears, Bru (Hyam 52), Fraser (Pitman 76); Murphy (Varney 82).
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Tabb, Oar.
Attendance: 27,689 (1,752 away)
Referee: Stuart Attwell