Match Review – Newcastle United 0-0 Brighton

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Brighton and Hove Albion end the year 12th in the Premier League table, averaging over a point a game and well on course for survival. Yet, given some Albion supporters reactions to the latest point in a 0-0 draw at Newcastle, that still isn’t enough.

Of course, we could be doing better. If we had a striker capable of scoring goals we’d undoubtedly have more points on the board. But every other team in the league could be doing better, including Manchester City. They’ve dropped two points, after all. Pep out.

This is where perspective comes in. The be all and end all of this season is survival, it doesn’t matter how we do it as long as we do. It was always going to be the Chris Hughton way to grind out points by being difficult to beat and it is working. Once you’ve been in the Premier League a season, you have more money and a solid base to build from and you can then bring in better quality players and look to play a more entertaining, attacking game. Patience.

That’s something quite a lot of our supporters don’t seem to have at the minute. Anyone calling for Chris Hughton to go frankly needs to go back to supporting Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs or whoever it was they supported before 2011.

Hughton was appointed three years ago this weekend and since then, we’ve improved every season. It’s easy to forget how close Sami Hyypia’s clusterfuck of a reign left us to playing League One football. Within two and a half seasons, Hughton had turned a lump of shit into a Picasso.

That progress was again in evidence at St James’ Park. Last season, Newcastle took six points off us. This season, we’ve taken four off them. While their ongoing ownership issues continue to restrict the work that the bloke from the Go Compare advert can do in the dugout, Hughton continues to take us forward.

We were indebted to two more fabulous saves from Maty Ryan for securing the 0-0 draw. The Australia brilliantly stopped a deflected effort from Isaac Hayden and then reacted quicker than John Prescott at an all you can eat buffet to keep out Dwight Gayle’s header.

Brighton’s best chance of the game came when Anthony Knockaert hit his effort straight at Karl Darlow just before half time, when the Albion very kindly supplied all the traveling support with a free food and drink voucher. Much needed after climbing the equivalent of the height of Everest to reach the away section after visiting a dozen of the cities brilliant pubs before the game.

Lewis Dunk had the only other effort on target with a header which tells its only story. Hughton reckoned we dominated the game and he was right, having good spells in both halves which just lacked a goal. Having 55% possession away from home in the Premier League is something to celebrate.

As is being 12th in the top flight as 2018 arrives. We’d like more goals, but I’d also like to take Hailee Steinfeld out for a steak dinner. Sometimes you just have to be realistic and realistically, we are exactly where we should be with what we have.

Keep up the excellent work Mr Hughton, and here is to a brilliant 2018 and Premier League survival.

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