REPORT: ALBION 1 CARDIFF 0
- Tomer Hemed scores the only goal of the game
- Albion return to the top of the Sky Bet Championship
- The Seagulls move 11 points clear of Reading in third place
- Brighton keep their 15th clean sheet in the league
Brighton & Hove Albion moved to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over an in-form Cardiff City side at the Amex.
Tomer Hemed’s 73rd-minute strike was enough to claim all three points and move Albion 11 points clear of Reading in third place, while ending Cardiff’s run of three consecutive league victories in the process.
Chris Hughton made two changes to the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night, as Beram Kayal and Solly March replaced Oliver Norwood and the suspended Glenn Murray.
Albion worked their first opening of the match when March crossed the ball into a dangerous position that was narrowly missed by Jamie Murphy at the far post.
Hemed then ran into space on the edge of the area and saw his left-footed strike go just wide of the right-hand post.
Cardiff came close to breaking the deadlock themselves when Junior Hoilett teed up Joe Ralls inside the box, but the latter’s effort hit the side netting.
The Bluebirds had another chance, this time on the counter-attack, as Kenneth Zohore forced David Stockdale into a low save down to his left.
Anthony Knockaert came within inches of getting Albion off the mark with a free-kick that crept beneath the Cardiff wall but went narrowly wide of the target.
Stockdale was then called into action twice within the space of a couple of minutes, making two fine saves to keep out Sean Morrison’s header and Hoilett’s strike.
March worked his way into a shooting position on the edge of the area, but his stinging effort was palmed away by Allan McGregor.
March and Kayal linked up well to play in Knockaert, but McGregor came out first to the ball, summing up a frustrating first half for the Seagulls.
March created a golden chance for Albion just after the re-start when he played a ball across the six-yard box to Hemed, but the striker slid a close-range shot agonisingly wide with his right foot.
After a spell of possession on the edge of the area, Hemed swung a right-footed shot straight at McGregor.
Brighton continued to press forward in search of an opening goal, as Shane Duffy rose highest in the box, but couldn’t divert his header on target with McGregor out of his goal.
Hughton made his first change by bringing on Norwood for Kayal, and the midfielder almost had an immediate impact when his searching corner found Connor Goldson, whose shot was blocked, before Knockaert forced McGregor into a comfortable save.
But the deadlock was broken in emphatic fashion with 73 minutes on the clock when Hemed latched onto Norwood’s pass, turned past Sol Bamba, and fired a fierce right-footed strike beyond McGregor.
McGregor then denied Murphy from doubling Albion’s advantage with a superb low reaction save.
Neil Warnock made a double change when Rhys Healey and former Seagulls Craig Noone replaced Hoilett and Greg Halford.
Noone was involved in the thick of the action straight away, as he saw his shot blocked in a crowded Albion penalty area.
Knockaert almost got in on the act to double Albion’s advantage, but his in-swinging strike just cleared the crossbar before he was replaced by Jiri Skalak.
Hemed attempted to put the game out of sight deep into stoppage time with a lob from distance, but it didn’t trouble McGregor and the game finished 1-0.
1901 CLUB LOTTERY
1ST PRIZE £1000 36535
2ND PRIZE 35300
3RD PRIZE 37252
4TH PRIZE 37445
5TH PRIZE 36051
ALBION HAT TRICK
1ST £450 2285
2ND £50 4649
3RD £25 2577
1ST GOAL TIME 73 MINS