Brighton survive scare to hit the top

Millwall 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

There were six away wins in the Championship yesterday and this was the least surprising of them all. Brighton took the points more easily than a margin of a single goal would suggest and climbed to the top of the table, while dropping Millwall into the bottom three.

Good times are being enjoyed down on the south coast as Gus Poyet's re-shaped side prove more than a match for most in the division. This was their fifth win in succession and for most of the encounter they were able to make inroads through the home midfield at will.

Having said that, only the bravery and awareness of Tomasz Kuszczak ensured that Brighton went home with all three points, quickly closing down the space in front of Chris Wood as Millwall's new loan signing took aim, about to be crowned a two-goal hero on his full debut.

Instead Kuszczak got enough in the way of the shot to divert it to safety, to the immense relief of his manager. "Sometimes you need to be on the bench with us to know how much we suffer," Poyet said. "It was unbelievable the pressure they put on us in the last 20 minutes but I don't want to complain – we are top and that's very nice."

The late drama demonstrated again the fine margins on a Saturday afternoon. Brighton were clearly the slicker, more incisive side, scoring in each half to underline their dominance. But Millwall's spirit sustained them and they rallied even more forcibly after substitute Chris Taylor had received a second yellow card for lunging in on the goalkeeper.

Millwall manager Kenny Jackett felt the red card was harsh and said Taylor maintained that any contact was minimal. Of more concern to him was the leakage of two goals he believed should have been averted.

"We've improved between the boxes but we've not got it right in the boxes themselves," he said. "We put a lot of balls in the box and I was sick of seeing [Adam] El-Abd heading it out all the time. He won the game in both areas."

El-Abd drove in Brighton's second – only his fifth goal in 235 league appearances – from a 50th-minute corner, Ashley Barnes having put them ahead early on following good work by the always excellent Will Buckley.

Both Buckley and Barnes so nearly added to the score, but each time a defender was in the way to clear off the line. That enabled Millwall, losing for the third game in succession, to believe, and their spirits soared when Wood shot home with 11 minutes remaining.

"With 11 v 11 we were in control but 11 v 10 we lost it so we have to address that," said Poyet who said the injection of experience had made his team a stronger outfit than a year ago.

Millwall (4-4-2): Forde; Dunne, Osborne, Lowry, Malone (Robinson, 62); Henry, Abdou, Wright (C. Taylor, h-t), Trotter; Wood, Keogh (Henderson, 77).

Brighton (4-3-3): Kuszczak; Bruno (Calderon, h-t), Greer, El-Abd, Bridge; Hammond, Bridcutt, Orlandi (Lualua, 84); Buckley, Mackail-Smith (Dicker, 43), Barnes.

Referee Andre Marriner.