Millwall 1 Albion 2
Albion returned to the top of the Championship table with a hotly contested 2-1 win over Millwall, in front of over 2,400 travelling Seagulls supporters at The Den this afternoon.
Ashley Barnes - on his 100th league appearance for the club - and Adam El-Abd scored in either half but Gus Poyet's side were made to fight for the points against a plucky Lions side, reduced to ten men.
Despite the two-goal lead it was the hosts who looked certain to open the scoring inside the opening five minutes; former Albion loanee Chris Wood met an in-swinging cross with a point-blank header but Tomasz Kuszczak got down brilliantly to beat the ball out.
Moments later Wayne Bridge sensed an opening at the other end and galloped into space down the left. He interchanged nicely with Barnes and Andrea Orlandi before seeing a low drive well saved by David Forde.
And before a frantic opening ten minutes had passed Will Buckley saw his18-yard effort shave the outside of Forde's left post.
The opener duly arrived in the 17th minute following some great work down the right by Buckley. The Albion winger took on Liam Trotter and Scott Malone before cutting the ball back into path of Barnes, who smashed home from ten yards.
The Seagulls had the Lions against the ropes and pushed for the second, this time Bridge provided the creative spark with a lofted ball in behind the Millwall defence. Buckley showed his electric pace before rounding Forde, but Shane Lowry made up the ground to clear his effort off the line.
It was by no means one-way traffic though and the Londoners threatened the Albion goal on the brink on half-time when Wood made contact with an aerial ball, but Kuszczak once again showed his Premier League class.
Meanwhile, in-form striker Craig Mackail-Smith was withdrawn during the opening 45 through injury.
A one-goal lead can often be precarious, but within three minutes of the restart El-Abd put breathing space between the sides with a rare goal.
Dean Hammond headed an Orlandi corner towards goal and the Brighton-born defender turned the ball past Forde to score his first goal for almost two years.
Gary Dicker came close with a header, while Millwall made their task that bit harder when Chris Taylor saw red with 20 minutes remaining. The midfielder was introduced at half-time and booked shortly after for a challenge on Inigo Calderon; referee Andre Marriner then showed him a second yellow for
clashing with Kuszczak.
But if anything, the dismissal rallied the home crowd and energised the Lions players, and with ten minutes remaining Wood gave the Lions a lifeline when he netted from close range on his full debut.
The intimidating Den crowd urged their players forward throughout the final ten minutes and Albion hearts were in their mouths in added time when Wood popped up again from six yards out, but Kuszczak made a brilliant save to deny the equaliser.
Millwall: (4-4-2) Forde; Dunne, Lowry, Osbourne, Malone (Robinson 62); Henry, Wright (C Taylor 46), Abdou, Trotter; Wood, Keogh (Henderson 77). Subs not used: M Taylor (GK), Shittu, Batt, Smith.
Albion: (4-3-3) Kuszczak; Bruno (Calderon 46), Greer, El-Abd, Bridge; Bridcutt, Hammond, Barnes; Buckley, Mackail-Smith (Dicker 43), Orlandi (LuaLua 84) . Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Dunk, David, Dobbie.
Referee: Andre Mariner
Yellow Cards: C Taylor (Millwall)
Red Cards: C Taylor (Millwall)
Attendance: 12,191 (2,468 Albion)