Leeds United: Massimo Cellino orders manager Steve Evans not to address media after Brighton thrashing

The fourth-placed Seagulls scored four times in the space of 20 minutes before the interval

Leeds manager Steve Evans was told not to speak to the media by owner Massimo Cellino after his side was thrashed 4-0 at Brighton on Monday night, leaving assistant Paul Raynor to account for a "shambolic" first half.

The fourth-placed Seagulls scored four times in the space of 20 minutes before the interval to boost their automatic promotion challenge in front of a crowd of 25,150 at the Amex Stadium - although Italian Cellino did not stay for the second half.

Two efforts from Israel striker Tomer Hemed and other goals from Sam Baldock and Lewis Dunk gave Albion their fourth successive home win, and now only two points cover the top four in the Sky Bet Championship.

Leeds, though, have now won only one of their last 11 league games and head coach Steve Evans joined the team bus afterwards, having been told by Cellino to skip the press conference.

Cellino made an early departure from the stadium after a dismal opening 45 minutes and it was up to Raynor to carry out the club's post-match television obligation.

He told Sky Sports 1: "The first-half performance was shambolic. Our defending was atrocious and the manager is going to dissect it with the players.

"We only had 15 minutes at half-time to try and put a shape together and to show a bit of pride and commitment and heart out there and I felt we did that in the second half.

"But the first half was absolutely shambolic and it simply was not good enough."

When asked why Evans did not speak to the media following United's fifth game without victory, Raynor added: "We know you are going to ask questions and we know you want answers.

"We are trying to give answers to the players on what we think of that first-half performance which, and I don't want to keep going on about it, was absolutely shambolic, not good enough and certainly not good enough for Leeds United.

"We can't worry about the chairman. If I was him I would have gone as well to be fair because he doesn't want to see his football club playing like that and I don't blame him for that."

By contrast, Brighton manager Chris Hughton was delighted with the performance which leaves his side just two points behind leaders Burnley.

Hughton said: "There was a little bit of relief when our first goal went in; I knew we'd have opportunities.

"The margins are going our way. We now have two clean sheets but we're not necessarily playing better.

"We can't get too carried away - we've won our last two games 4-0 but before that we lost 4-1 at Cardiff so you always have to be guarded."

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino

Hughton went out of his way to praise a "good mix" in his team and feels that confidence within the squad is growing.

The former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss added: "We have a good mix of young players in the team. A lot of the others are used to playing in big games and that helps.

"We've been in the top six all season and there is confidence in the team and squad, there's no doubt about that.

"But it's such a tough division and other teams are capable of going on a very good run.

"Before the season we wanted to challenge for the top six and our ambition is to make sure we stay there; we are pushing as hard as we can."