Nick Szczepanik's press verdict: Crystal Palace

On a day that began badly with the derby defeat and got worse as most results elsewhere went against Graham Potter’s men, Albion fans could be forgiven for not wanting to read a word about any game of football, let alone the match at the Amex.

By Nick Szczepanik • 01 March 2020

By Patrick Sullivan
Nick Szczepanik delivers the media's verdict on Saturday's game.

And even when the Sunday papers saw praiseworthy aspects of Albion’s play, there was always a ‘but’ coming. Take Chris Hatherall’s report in the Sunday Times, for example. He wrote: “Brighton had the better of a feisty opening, in which Maupay twice forced Guaita into smart saves and Solly March missed a gilt-edged chance after 35 minutes, firing into the side-netting when played in by Leandro Trossard’s excellent ball across the box.

“That rather sums up Brighton, plenty of possession and some good attacking intent but a frustrating lack of final product. Graham Potter, the Brighton head coach, remains confident, however, that his team can recover in time to survive a relegation battle.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Glenn Murray and Lewis Dunk jostle for positions from a corner.

Ed Aarons of The Observer was not so sure. “These are worrying times for Graham Potter,” he wrote. “The Brighton manager watched his side suffer the ignominy of a first home defeat in the top flight at the hands of their bitter rivals that leaves them still waiting to record a first victory in 2020.

“Jordan Ayew’s seventh Premier League goal of the season was enough to record a famous win for Crystal Palace as they gained sweet revenge for losing twice against these opponents last season. After the promise shown in the first half of the campaign under their new manager, it looks like being another spring filled with anxiety on the south coast.

“'We created enough to get something from the game and that’s why it’s a sore one for us,’ said Potter. ‘Sometimes luck is a commodity that you need and we didn’t have too much of that. But I believe in what we’re trying to do and now we have to pull it all together.’

“Brighton remain the only side in England’s top four divisions not to have won this year, even though they registered 24 shots on target against Palace.

“Potter’s decision to introduce Murray alongside Maupay up front with 25 minutes to play was an indication of Brighton’s desire to claim all three points, but it was Ayew who provided the game’s decisive moment after a brilliant reverse pass from Benteke.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Neal Maupay challenges Scott Dann for the ball.

Tom Prentki of the Sunday Telegraph was blunt, writing: “Roy Hodgson celebrated his 100th Premier League game in charge of Crystal Palace with a win over the club’s bitter rivals to lift the Eagles 10 points clear of danger and leave Brighton in the thick of the relegation picture.

“Jordan Ayew’s seventh goal of the season, his best total in the Premier League proved the decisive moment 20 minutes from time as the Seagulls missed a string of chances to take the lead.

“Neither of these clubs score a huge number of goals but the chances kept coming. Lewis Dunk almost scored from Aaron Mooy’s corner but his powerful header struck Maupay in the face and stayed out.

“It had been all Brighton in the second half, but Palace led with 20 minutes remaining.

“Potter attempted to force the issue with further attacking substitutions but they had little effect. Palace went clear on the break in stoppage time and Zaha struck the post with the goal at his mercy but one goal proved enough.”


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Extended Highlights: Albion 0 Palace 1

Daniel Matthews in the Mail On Sunday went for some flair in his intro. Or should that be flare? “And just like that, black smoke engulfed the south coast sky and more darkness enveloped Brighton's Premier League prospects.

“For much of the second half here, crisp packets and debris had gathered near Vicente Guaita's goal as winds swirled and tension hung in the air - over this derby, and Brighton's future in this division. Then, with 20 minutes to go, the real ruins were left at the other end.

“In a crucial game, against their fiercest rivals, Brighton wasted chance after chance, only to be beaten by a mere spectator. Jordan Ayew was conspicuous by his presence when Christian Benteke drove across the box and fed a reverse pass into the striker's path.

“When it mattered, though, Ayew sprung [sic] to life - sparking pandemonium and pyrotechnics among the visiting fans behind that goal.

“How Graham Potter could have done with even a shred of that clinical edge. His side are now looking over their shoulder with increasing concern, having failed to win any of their first eight league games of 2020 - a record dating back to their days in the fourth tier. They won't have many better opportunities than this.”


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