Football: Luckless Portsmouth left in little doubt God was born in Brighton

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The Independent Online
Brighton. . . .1

Portsmouth. . .0

BRIGHTON were blessed with outrageous fortune. Almost permanent possession and desperate all-out attack - Portsmouth threw the lot at them yesterday but found no way through. And defeat for last year's FA Cup semi-finalists was made complete with the bitterest pill of all - an equaliser in the dying minutes disallowed for offside.

Steve Foster had been impressively strong throughout in the Brighton defence, but had Darryl Powell's goal stood, the game would have finished with an infinitely more plausible result. As it was, the frustration for this superior Portsmouth side proved too much and the match ended with a brawl which had players running 30 yards to partake. Referee Alf Buksh defused the situation impressively, but it was a disappointing end to a Cup derby that had increased in excitement throughout.

Brighton had taken an early lead and were moved to increasingly desperate defence in order to protect it. They concluded the match with 10 men permanently behind the ball, but with the result that is so essential for a club suffering the financial problems with which they are presently afflicted.

The affliction affecting Portsmouth is in the forward line. Colin Clarke had 15 stitches in his knee after a midweek match, and Guy Whittingham, the top scorer in the country, had recovered from injury but gone down with a stomach bug. Whittingham's place on the team sheet was taken by Powell, but in effect, his normal striking partner Paul Walsh was left unsupported. Walsh then went off with an ankle injury, so after half- an-hour Portsmouth were without their top three strikers.

And by that time, they were in desperate need of them, as they were already a goal behind. The damage had originated, like much of what Brighton had threatened, from a burst down one of the flanks. Kurt Nogan managed to skip his way round the right wing, behind the Portsmouth defence and in particular, the ever-reliable centre back Andy Awford. Charging in at the far post was Matthew Edwards, who threw himself at the ball and headed past Alan Knight, the Portsmouth keeper.

The goal went against the run of play, and though Portsmouth moved back into control, Brighton nearly went 2-0 up when a Steve Foster header demanded a stunning reflex save from Knight.

The second half was filled with fine drama. Brighton, the underdogs, threatening to bite for a second time with every dangerous breakaway attack, and Portsmouth, the better team, staring at the unimaginable with increasing frustration.

Alan McLoughlin came closest with a header that brought the best save of the match from Brighton's keeper, Mark Beeney. His effort was followed in quick succession by Ray Daniel running clean through into the box, Powell hitting the woodwork, Chris Burns firing narrowly over and then Powell actually heading into the net and thinking, along with all of Portsmouth's misplaced delight, that he had saved the game.

Brighton and Hove Albion: M Beeney; G Chivers, B Gallacher, D Wilkins, S Foster, N Bissett, J Crumplin, A Kennedy, K Nogan, R Codner, M Edwards (S Funnell, 83 min). Sub not used: S Munday, Manager: B Lloyd.

Portsmouth: A Knight; A Awford, R Daniel, A McLoughlin, K Symons, C Burns, L Russell (M Ross, 83 min), M Chamberlain, P Walsh (S Murray, 32 min), D Powell, W Aspinall. Manager: J Smith.

Referee: A Buksh (London).

Goal: Edwards (1-0, 27 min).