Match Review – Brighton 1-0 Watford

watfordhomereview2017

Step aside Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. There is a new Christmas miracle in town after Brighton and Hove Albion scored from open play for the first time in over nine hours and won a game of football for the first time in seven games.

Pascal Gross hit the winner in the second half with a lot of help from Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes who decided he was going to try and stop the German playmakers shot by diving over the top of the ball. Cheers, mate.

That was Gross’ fourth goal of the season to go with five assists. For all the complaints in the summer about our transfer business not being up to scratch because of the lack of centre forward, Gross’ arrival for £3m looks like the best piece of business any top flight club did in the window.

Really, the Albion should have scored more than once. Tomer Hemed did all the hard work when bringing the ball down and turning but his effort on goal defied believe to go wide from a central position with only Gomes to be beat. Lewis Dunk also showed why he is a centre back with a piece of equally bad finishing and Connor Goldson had a great opportunity to mark his return to the side for the first time since heart surgery but squandered a free header.

Goldson received the sponsors man of the match, which he probably would have got had he been absolutely terrible just for the remarkable comeback he has made since his operation in February. As it was, he was excellent at the heart of the defence and the absence of Shane Duffy wasn’t noticed by anyone.

For us, the man of the match should have been Solly March. He gave the Watford right back a torrid time with the BBC revealing that 52% of the Albion’s attacks came down his flank. That was in stark contrast to Anthony Knockaert on the other wing who endured another frustrating afternoon.

When things are going Knockaert’s way, he can be unplayable but against better players in the Premier League, he is finding things aren’t going his way as much at which point he gets in a right mood about it. The Watford fans certainly enjoyed his frustrations, singing “He’s gonna cry in a minute” when yet another thing didn’t come off. They seemed to get in his head which wasn’t ideal and really it was a surprise that Chris Hughton didn’t haul him off.

Missing all those aforementioned chances nearly proved costly in the final seconds when Maty Ryan had a right flap up at an Andre Carrillo cross, dropping the ball to Stefano Okaka but he could only knee it wide. Had that got on it would’ve been extremely harsh on the Albion given that Watford only managed one shot on target all game, but it just goes to highlight how important it is to take your opportunites at this level.

Three points is three points, and the victory means that we now have 21 on the board with exactly half the season gone. If we can pick up another 21 in the second half of the campaign, that will see us finish on 42 points which should be comfortably enough to keep us in the Premier League for next season.

We’ll take that as a present please, Santa.

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