Match Review – Brighton 3-1 West Bromwich Albion

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Striker, what striker? We’ve always said that the Albion’s business in the transfer window was 10/10, and we’d certainly never Photoshop a grave stone predicting impending relegation due to not signing a new centre forward. And that positive attitude was justified as the Albion scored their first three Premier League goals and won their first three Premier League points of the season.

Pascal Gross scored twice in the 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion with Tomer Hemed capping a real shift as a loan striker with the third. Singer/songwriter James Morrison pulled one back for West Brom late on but that was too little, too late and in truth the Albion always looked likely to hold on for the three points.

Make no mistake about it, this was an impressive result. The Baggies came to the Amex having conceded just one goal so far this season yet we were all over them, playing attacking football and carving out plenty of chances. It did help that Ben Foster seemed to have taken the unusual step of smothering his gloves in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter before the game but take nothing away from the Albion or Chris Hughton who got his team selection and tactics spot on.

The result also went some way to banishing the Curse of Facing Tony Pulis. Nobody could remember a game when we had beaten a side managed by the baseball cap wearing pikey. The last time Pulis came to Brighton, his Stoke City team won 5-1 and the Withdean South Stand actively cheered Stoke’s last two goals and afforded hat-trick hero Adam Rooney a standing ovation.

The standing ovations here were reserved for the Albion and in particular man of the match Gross. He opened the scoring on the stroke of half time with what we are told was a crisp finish through a crowd after a Solly March cross. Unfortunately, we were in the queue for a beer when this went in, having confidently said no more than 10 minutes earlier, “The good thing about being in the Premier League is we won’t attack as much and so we won’t miss a goal if we go five minutes early.” There was more confidence in the statement of “Well it can’t happen again, can it” as we leisurely completed the flattest pint of Fosters the world has ever seen as the second half kicked off. Lo and behold another loud cheer emanated from the stadium as Gross made it 2-0, this time driving forward and hitting a shot that Foster really should’ve saved but didn’t.

Shortly after their was a minutes applause for John Motson who we hadn’t actually realised had died and then Gross teed up number three, an excellent cross from out on the right being met with an even better header from Hemed. It was the least the Israeli international deserved for his performance, especially in light of the fact that the club nearly offloaded him in the summer. A few more goals like that and there is no way he will be going anywhere.

West Brom looked a little better once they had thrown on new signings Kieran Gibbs and Oliver Burke from the bench and Morrison pulled one back with 15 minutes remaining.

The Albion had the ball in the net four times in actual fact, Foster’s buttery hands spilling a Solly March shot which Shane Duffy nodded home but he was rightly adjudged to be offside. Duffy was denied by Foster in the second half while Maty Ryan pulled off one save for the cameras in the opening 45 and made a smart one-on-one stop in injury time at the end of the game. The Australian goalkeeper seems to be growing in stature each week and his claiming of crosses was impeccable for a bloke who is shorter than Frodo Baggins.

Pulis himself was magnanimous in defeat, praising the Albion performance. High praise indeed coming from a man who knows exactly what it takes to survive in this league, having never been relegated in his career. If the Albion can play like that and Hughton shows the same attacking intent most weeks, then there is no reason why we cannot be taking points regularly off the “other 14” sides that don’t compose the big six.

And that can start next week away at Plucky Little Bournemouth against another manager who has a fantastic record against the Albion. We’ve broken the Pulis Curse, now lets wipe that smug little grin off the face of Eddie Howe. Seagulls.

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