A potentially difficult trip along the coastline turned out to be plain sailing for Stuart Gray last night as his Southampton side scored their first three goals of the new campaign to advance to the Third Round of the Worthington Cup. There was little to choose between the local rivals in terms of possession, but it was the Premiership side who created all the chances and could have won more handsomely still but for the acrobatics of Michel Kuipers in the Brighton goal.
The visitors did not start like a side still searching for their first competitive goal of the season, as first Dean Richards, with a header from a corner, and then Jo Tessem forced Kuipers to turn the ball behind at full stretch.
Little time was being wasted in midfield by either team, fittingly for two sides separated by just 60 miles of coastline meeting for the first time in a competitive fixture since the FA Cup quarter-finals of 1986. While Brighton passed smartly and accurately in search of a vital final ball to Zamora or Lee Steele, however, it was Southampton who did much of the serious attacking. After half an hour, Scott McDonald picked up a clearance from a Brighton corner and carried the ball all the way to the other end, before cutting inside and sending a shot straight at Kuipers.
Albion's central defensive pairing of Simon Morgan and Matthew Wicks had looked fairly solid for much of the half, but it was a miscued clearance as the clock entered stoppage time which presented Southampton with the lead. The ball looped to James Beattie near the penalty spot, and he could not fail to find the target.
Brighton were on a winning streak of 11 games at Withdean before last night's match, but struggled to create clear openings after the break. Indeed, it was Southampton who then went close to increasing their lead. A neat header sent McDonald clear of the last defender and his low, well-struck cross-shot from the right hand side brought another fine save from Kuipers.
As Brighton pressed forward in search of an equaliser, a clearance from the edge of the visitors' box fell to Svensson as he crossed the halfway line. He sprinted forward, turned Wicks inside out, and found the corner of the net without a second thought. It was a touch of quality which Brighton, for all their organization and occasional flashes of skill, never threatened to match.
With five minutes remaining, Svensson put the issue beyond any doubt when he scored his second, beating Kuipers with another well-struck right-foot drive.
Brighton (4-4-2): Kuipers; Jones (Mayo, 56) Morgan, Wicks, Watson; Carpenter, Oatway, Rogers (Hart, 56) Brooker; Steele (Lehmann, 58), Zamora. Substitutes not used: Crosby, Pitcher.
Southampton (4-4-2): Jones; Bridge, Lundekdam, Richards, Delap; Oakley, Svensson, Tessem, McDonald (Draper, 88); Beattie (Rosler, 81), Davies (El Khalej, 58). Substitutes not used: Moss (gk), Benali.
Referee: M Fletcher (Warley).