Seven days after leaving the field on a stretcher at St James’s Park after being knocked unconscious and swallowing his tongue, Glenn Murray returned to secure Brighton’s third successive victory with his 100th goal for the club.
Murray's involvement had been in doubt all week, but having been passed fit to play yesterday, the 35-year-old demonstrated why he continues to be a central figure in Chris Hughton’s side, scoring his sixth league goal of the season.
Murray’s effort, scored early in these second half, was enough to secure a victory and inflict a second successive defeat on Wolverhampton Wanderers who will believes they had done more than enough to get something from the game.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side dominated for long periods, and were denied a point by Mat Ryan’s stunning added time save from Ryan Bennett. Brighton, though, were rewarded for their resilience.
After winning just one of their opening seven fixtures, a run of fixtures that included meetings with all of last season’s top four, Brighton have now beaten three of the teams they can expect to their more immediate rivals - West Ham United, Newcastle and Wolves - each time with the same 1-0 scoreline.
Chris Hughton’s side is nothing if not resolute.
The initial signs were hardly promising for Brighton. Murray struggled to make an impact during the opening 20 minutes when Wolves displayed the assurance that has underpinned their performances following their return to the Premier League.
Murray, though, was not the only Brighton player to appear uncomfortable as Nuno’s moved the ball around with a confidence normally associated with the home side. Had the visitors been able to find a cutting edge to make the quality of their approach play, the contest would have been over long before Albion had finally gained a foothold in the game.
Traore threatened early on, cutting in from the left flank before firing too close to Mat Ryan, the Brighton goalkeeper, and Raul Jimenez should have done much better than shoot across the face of goal after a neat exchange of passes with Wolves right wing-back Matt Doherty.
For all that Brighton were pushed onto the back foot, however, Ryan remained largely untroubled. The centre-back pairing of Lewis Dunk, called up to Gareth Southgate’s last England squad and Shane Duffy remained resolute while 38-year-old Bruno shackled Traore so effectively the winger was forced to switch flanks before eventually being replaced on the hour.
Further forward, Brighton were far more laboured as they struggled to establish a link between the midfield and the front two of Murray and Solly March. Even so, they should have gone into the half-time break ahead after Duffy failed to convert the best chances of the half, heading wide from just four yards out after meeting March’s corner at the far post.
Having struggled to gain sight of the Wolves goal, there was a sense Brighton would live to regret Duffy’s failure to direct his effort a yard to the right. Those fears proved misplaced, however, when Hughton’s side made the perfect start to the second half.
If Murray has demonstrated anything since Brighton returned to the top-flight it is that he has an instinctive sense of where to position himself inside the penalty area. And that quality was again evident when Bruno beat Traore to drill a low ball across the box and towards the far post where Murray was on hand to turn past Rui Patricio.
Brighton could consider themselves fortunate to be ahead on the balance of play, but Wolves had been guilty of failing to convert extended periods of possession into clear chances. That pattern was maintained during the second half when the visitors established themselves in the Albion half for long periods. Ryan saved well from Joao Moutinho and Dunk retreated quickly to deflect Ruben Neves’s free-kick to safety but there were few signs of panic as Hughton’s side held on.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies