After an evening when the result was arguably more important than the entertainment, the reports of Albion’s goalless draw with Newcastle United made it clear that few of the writers felt privileged to have attended the club’s final home game of the season.
Ed Elliott of the Press Association gave the basic match facts in The Independent. He wrote: “Albion controlled possession against the Magpies but neither side seriously threatened to break the deadlock during a dour encounter which had a distinctly end-of-season feel.
“The Seagulls have been well placed to extend their top-flight adventure to a fourth campaign for a number of weeks, although manager Graham Potter had steadfastly refused to celebrate survival until it was mathematically certain.
“Monday evening’s stalemate moved Potter’s men seven points clear of 18th-placed Aston Villa – who have two fixtures remaining – to end a run of three successive home losses.
“Leandro Trossard and Adam Webster went closest to a breakthrough for the hosts, while Dwight Gayle and substitute Andy Carroll wasted Newcastle’s best opportunities by each heading off target from corners.”
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Staff writers felt entitled to be more critical. “Given its significance, Brighton are unlikely to care how the point they needed for safety came,” wrote Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Mail. “Brighton can now kick back and enjoy the last week of the season safe in the knowledge they are certain of another year of top-flight football and leave the stressing to others.
“Of the six sides who began Project Restart really sweating over their Premier League futures, Brighton became the first to guarantee their survival.
“It came one game later than last season, but they will finish this one with more points than last term with Graham Potter having evolved both the team’s squad and playing style following his appointment last summer. The decision to part with popular boss Chris Hughton at the end of last season was a controversial one after all he had done to keep Brighton up having got them promoted. Though Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom, a professional gambler, will be satisfied with how that punt has turned out.”
The Telegraph’s headline suggested that “it's fortunate no fans were there” to watch the game. Reporter Sam Dean added: “The club will be overjoyed, at least, as will their admirable manager Graham Potter, who has overseen a dramatic transformation in playing style without sacrificing their membership to English football’s most lucrative club. The overall journey can now be officially classified as a success for Potter.”
Ed Aarons echoed that sentiment in The Guardian. “Job done for Graham Potter, although the Brighton manager was the first to accept this wasn’t exactly a classic. “It’s massive,” Potter said. ‘It’s been a unique season in what we’ve had to deal with. Post-lockdown we haven’t played as well but we’ve got the points we needed.’
“The draw means Newcastle have failed to beat Brighton in all six Premier League matches they have contested, though it did end a three‑match losing run. But having yet to confirm their survival mathematically, even if it would have taken the unlikely scenario of Aston Villa making up a whopping goal difference of 11 from their final two matches, in theory Brighton were the side most in need of a result.”
Ditto Alyson Rudd in The Times: “It would be churlish to withhold congratulations as both clubs were touted as relegation candidates at the start of the season and if Brighton defeat Burnley, they would record their highest Premier League points tally. Graham Potter has engineered another season for the club in the top flight while fine-tuning various styles of play.”
Albion fans watching in living rooms all over Sussex and beyond breathed a sigh of relief when Andy Carroll headed wide late on but viewers on Tyneside would not have regarded this as three points that got away, according to Lee Ryder of the Newcastle Chronicle.
“Newcastle United scraped a point against a Brighton & Hove Albion side who secured Premier League status at the Amex Stadium,” he wrote. “Looking at this game in isolation though Newcastle should be grateful for a point.”