- Albion beaten 2-0 by Southampton
- Florin Andone was sent off in the first half
- Lewis Dunk had a goal ruled out
- Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond on target for the Saints
It could’ve been a very different story had Lewis Dunk not seen his header chalked off, as Albion were left to rue a first defeat of the season, in what was otherwise a display that would offer Albion head coach Graham Potter plenty of encouragement.
Potter continued with the same 3-4-3 formation that served Albion well in the opening two games against Watford and West Ham United, but brought in Florin Andone and Neal Maupay for Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray respectively.
Seagulls supporters have become accustomed to an attacking, free-flowing style of football in the early days of the Potter era, and it looked like business as usual in the opening stages, with Maupay in particular causing the Southampton defence plenty of reasons for concern in the opening exchanges.
His two early chances, which included a close-range effort and a header from Leandro Trossard’s corner, showed the Frenchman was up for the challenge.
One player who has been reaping the rewards of Potter’s style is Trossard, and the Belgian showed brilliant vision to pick out an onrushing Martin Montoya, who headed wide.
After all of Albion’s positive play in the opening half hour, Potter’s side were left to play two thirds of the game with ten men after Andone was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Yann Valery. Albion were forced to tinker their formation slightly, with Trossard playing in behind Maupay.
The game’s next flash point came five minutes before the interval after Albion had a second potential goal in as many weeks ruled out. Trossard, who was denied the previous week, sent a corner towards Dunk; and the captain powered the ball home with a diving header.
However celebrations were premature once again, after Burn was adjudged to have interfered with Saints keeper Angus Gunn’s vision in an offside position. The initial decision was made by referee Kevin Friend and his assistants, before later being confirmed as the right call by VAR.
Albion looked undeterred by the two setbacks before the break, and still persisted with their expansive football despite their one-man disadvantage. Trossard and Maupay epitomised the approach with some lovely link-up play, before the Belgian fired wide from just outside the box.
But that one-man disadvantage was coupled with a one-goal deficit when Saints substitute Djenepo sent a superb right-footed strike past Maty Ryan with 55 minutes played.
Albion’s creative endeavour, without the cutting edge in the final third was a theme of the game, summed up when Trossard teed up March with a quickly-taken free kick, only for the latter to fire over the bar.
Southampton were looking to deliver a sucker punch, as Nathan Redmond had Albion’s defenders backpedaling, but the winger fired wide of the far post.
Jurgen Locadia entered the fray in place of March for the final 20 minutes, and came within inches of rescuing a point late on after seeing his fierce close-range strike cannon back off the crossbar.
Replays showed the Dutchman was in an offside position, and the missed chance may not have counted had it gone in. On another day of fine margins, Saints struck again to kill the game off in stoppage time through Redmond.
The winger slid home at the far post after being picked out by Sofiane Boufal from the left-hand side, in a 2-0 scoreline that many would argue was harsh on Albion.
The Seagulls will now turn their attentions to back-to-back games on the road, with a Carabao Cup second round tie at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday before a trip to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City next Saturday.
ALBION: Ryan; Duffy, Dunk, Burn; Montoya, Stephens (Gross 78), Propper, March (Locadia 68); Maupay (Murray 75), Andone, Trossard.
SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Bernardo, Webster, Mooy.
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