Brighton 2 Crystal Palace 3: McAnuff winner puts Brighton in deeper trouble

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The Independent Football

Substitute Jobi McAnuff grabbed a last-minute winner that gave Crystal Palace a much-needed victory, easing pressure on the Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie but left Brighton one place off the bottom.

The referee Mick Fletcher, who had controlled this potentially volatile clash well, sent off the Brighton full-back Gary Hart for a second bookable offence on 86 minutes. However, the decision appeared harsh as Hart, who had only been booked moments earlier, seemed to handle accidentally. Thereafter, Palace attacked incessantly. Dowie immediately threw on defender Mark Hudson as a makeshift striker and eventually McAnuff found space to fire in a low drive from the edge of the area.

The Seagulls striker Leon Knight had opened the scoring with a delicate touch which trickled across the line after 22 minutes from an Alexandre Frutos cross. Brighton grew in confidence, Frutos' looping volley clipping the crossbar.

However, Dowie's team equalised through Dougie Freedman, who finished off the best move of the match rising above two defenders to head in Clinton Morrison's left-wing cross.

Albion restored their advantage early in the second-half, Knight converting a penalty awarded for an off-the-ball tug on Jake Robinson.

As in the first half, Palace became clinical once behind. Dougie Freedman pulled off his marker, turned and hit a low shot across Gary Blayney and then McAnuff consigned the Seagulls to their sixth defeat of the season.

At 2-2 the Palace fans were singing "Going down with Millwall" and, with the light dying over the Withdean Stadium, relegation is looming for Brighton.

Goals: Knight (22) 1-0; Freedman (28) 1-1; Knight (52pen) 2-1; Freedman (60) 2-2; McAnuff (90) 2-3.

Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-2): Blayney; Hart, Reid, El-Abd, Butters; Frutos, Hammond, Oatway, Carole; Robinson (Kazim-Richards, 56), Knight. Substitutes not used: Dodd, Nicolas, McPhee, Chaigneau (gk).

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Boyce, Ward, Borrowdale (Hudson, 90), Hall; Soares, M Hughes, Watson (Andrews, 78), Reich (McAnuff, 62); Morrison, Freedman. Substitutes not used: Black, Speroni (gk).

Referee: M Fletcher (Worcestershire).

Booked: Brighton: El-Abd, Robinson, Hart, Reid. Crystal Palace: Hall, Soares.

Sent off: Brighton: Hart (87)

Man of the match: Oatway.

Attendance: 7,276 .