Gustavo Poyet was not a happy manager immediately after Saturday lunchtime's match. A poor refereeing decision had left Brighton's continuing leadership of League One at the mercy of results elsewhere, and there had been signs of impatience from some spectators as his defenders passed the ball among themselves rather than lump it aimlessly forward.
By tea-time things probably looked a good deal better. Peterborough United's defeat at Hartlepool means Brighton still lead the division by three points; the club have sold 3,400 tickets for next Saturday's visit to Charlton; and opinion on North Stand Chat, the main Brighton supporters' web forum, is running hugely in favour of the patient passing style Poyet has introduced and against the isolated shouters of "rubbish."
Patience will be required of those supporters in future as other managers visiting the Withdean Stadium follow the lead of Eddie Howe, who sacrificed his own footballing beliefs in favour of sending his Bournemouth team out to frustrate. The result was a tight match, determined by two players at opposite ends of their careers.
Kazenga LuaLua, 19, on loan from Newcastle United until January, put Brighton ahead with a 22-yard shot, and celebrated with the same sort of acrobatic somersault that once left his elder brother, Lomano, with a broken bone and a threatened ban from his manager should he ever perform an encore.
"I know his brother hurt himself landing once, but I'm not going to stop people celebrating goals," Poyet said. "One thing is for sure – you can't perform somersaults like that when you are sat on the bench. We are still hopeful that he will stay for longer because he enjoys playing for us, but it's up to Newcastle and the player himself.
"We have been trying to take advantage of his precision and his power, and he is a talented boy. We were lucky to have him last year and we are grateful to have him back this season."
Having gone behind, Bournemouth turned to Steve Fletcher, 38, the veteran of over 550 games for the Cherries who has a stand named after him at Dean Court and "thinks he owns the club," according to Mark Pugh, the midfield player. Fletcher added weight and know-how to the attack and forced the incorrectly awarded penalty, from which Pugh equalised.
"He's a fantastic professional," Howe said. "When he came on he gave everything for that short time. He changed the game, made it difficult for Brighton. He puts himself in positions, puts his body on the line, and in the end he's won us the penalty. He's never been able to run for a long time now, but he's as strong as an ox."
And six years older than his manager? "It's been quite a while now for me and for Fletch so I don't think it's strange now for either of us," Howe said. "I look at him as a fantastic professional who I'm desperate to have around the place."
Brighton & Hove Albion (4-4-2): Ankergren; Calderon, Elphick, El-Abd, Painter; Bennett, Kishishev (Bridcutt, 82), Dicker, LuaLua ( Baz, 85); Barnes, Murray. Substitutes not used: Brezovan (gk), Greer, Battipiedi, Sparrow, Agdestein.
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Jalal; Bradbury, Garry, Pearce, Wiggins; Robinson, Bartley (Fletcher, 62); Feeney (Taylor, 89), Hollands, Pugh; Symes (McQuoid, 65). Substitutes not used: Stewart (gk), Cooper, Partington, Cummings. Booked Symes, Robinson.
Referee D Sheldrake (Surrey).
Man of the match LuaLua.
Possession Brighton 55% Bournemouth 45%
Shots on target Brighton 6 Bournemouth 1Attendance 7,348. Match rating 5/10.Reuse content