Gustavo Poyet, the Brighton manager, accused Leeds United manager Neil Warnock of “hypocrisy” after two teams aiming at the play-off places denied each other in an entertaining game at the Amex Stadium.
Brighton dominated for long spells but missed chances to win for the first time in seven games, and twice allowed Leeds to breach what had been the meanest defence in the Football League. Lee Mason, the referee, awarded three penalties, as he did in the Chelsea – Manchester United match on Wednesday. Each side scored one here, but Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny saved Brighton top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith’s second, denying the winning goal and a hat-trick to the striker Neil Warnock tried to sign in summer.
Brighton have had a dismal record from the penalty spot since Poyet became manager three years ago, and they have had two of the past three saved. But Poyet was more frustrated by Mason’s performance than those of his players, feeling that the referee had been fooled by Luke Varney for Leeds’ penalty and that Michael Brown, whose shot led to Leeds’ equaliser, should have earlier been shown a second yellow card for a foul on Will Buckley.
“What would happen if one of my players dived the way Varney did?” Poyet said. “What would Mr Warnock say? If he was my player, he dived, but because he’s his player, he was pushed. We call that hypocrisy. Mr Brown had a fantastic game, but he shouldn’t have been on the pitch and everyone knows that. You cannot be nice when you referee. You have to referee the game.”
Warnock, for his part, felt that Brighton players had overstepped a mark after Brown’s second card-worthy foul. “I don’t like to see players run 65 yards to [try to] get someone sent off,” he said. “It was the fastest I had seen them move all night. Gus is not happy, he wants to win a game of football.”
Brighton went ahead when Buckley was tripped by Leeds captain Lee Peltier. Mackail-Smith smacked the penalty into the middle of the goal. Leeds had barely been in the game but they drew level in the 35th minute when Varney tumbled as Bruno cleared the ball. El-Hadji Diouf converted the penalty.
Brighton retook the lead two minutes after the interval when Mackail-Smith’s hit his eighth goal of the season with help from a deflection off Jason Pearce. Again Leeds found an equaliser as Brown met Diouf’s square pass first time after 66 minutes and his shot clipped Luciano Becchio, just on as a substitute, before curling past Tomasz Kuszczak’s left hand. Kenny, though, had the last word, diving to his right to clutch Mackail-Smith’s spot-kick after the striker had been pushed by Samuel Byram.
Brighton & Hove Albion Kuszczak; Bruno, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge; Bridcutt; Hammond (Crofts, 77) Orlandi; (Dicker, 77) Buckley, Mackail-Smith, Barnes (Dobbie, 82).
Leeds United Kenny; Byram, Lees (Pugh 41), Pearce, Peltier; White, Austin, Brown, Tonge; Varney (Becchio, 64), Diouf (Norris, 79)
Referee: L Mason