- Albion beat Everton 1-0
- Jurgen Locadia on target for the Seagulls
- David Button makes his Premier League debut
- The Seagulls begin 2019 away at West Ham United on 2nd January
Brighton & Hove Albion ended 2018 on a winning note after grinding out a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Everton at the Amex Stadium.
Jurgen Locadia’s second goal in as many games was enough to separate the two sides, as Albion moved 11 points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
Chris Hughton made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 against Arsenal on Boxing Day, with David Button, Lewis Dunk and Florin Andone all coming into the side.
After an uneventful opening ten minutes, Michael Keane rose highest in the box to meet Bernard’s in-swinging cross from the left, but the defender headed wide.
Moments later Pascal Gross’s shot was saved by Jordan Pickford, before Jurgen Locadia saw his follow-up strike blocked.
The cagey nature of the first half continued, as Shane Duffy played a long pass forward to Andone, who almost got the better of Kurt Zouma before the ball went out of play.
There was a nervy moment for Premier League debutant Button when he dropped Theo Walcott’s cross, allowing Richarlison to pounce on the rebound, but the linesman’s flag was raised.
The shot-stopper redeemed himself moments later with a fine save at his near post to deny Richarlison, before Dunk made an important block to keep out Seamus Coleman’s effort.
The visitors were looking increasingly dangerous as the half wore on, as Idrissa Gueye narrowly failed to connect with Walcott’s cross into the far post.
Albion still had chances though, and Davy Propper showed brilliant persistence to engineer a shooting opportunity before being intercepted by Zouma.
Everton broke forward again through Gueye, who intercepted a sloppy cross-field pass and ran toward goal, only to see his shot cleared away by Martin Montoya.
Hughton’s men had a chance to break the deadlock shortly after the re-start when Propper superbly dummied a Dunk pass and set up Andone, but the Romanian was thwarted by Zouma’s last-ditch challenge.
Andone came closer to breaking the deadlock just shy of the hour mark as his point-blank header from a Gross free kick was pushed over the bar by Pickford.
Albion did take the lead on the hour mark courtesy of Locadia, who fired home from close range from a Gross corner. The Dutchman’s strike was initially ruled out for offside, but with the final touch coming off Andre Gomes, the referee reinstated the goal.
But that lead was almost wiped out in the space of a minute, as Button pushed Richarlison’s close-range effort onto the post.
Bernard had another opportunity after weaving his way into the box from the left, but his subsequent attempt went over the bar.
The tireless Andone received a standing ovation with 15 minutes remaining, after being replaced by Glenn Murray.
Murray had a chance to double Albion’s advantage shortly after being introduced, as Locadia superbly took down Montoya’s cross from the right flank, but the Seagulls top scorer’s shot was headed clear by Keane.
Despite Albion looking more likely to get another goal, the visitors came within inches of levelling the scores after Zouma rose highest in the box to meet Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross, but his header clipped off the bar.
The Seagulls defence stood firm in the closing stages to claim three hard-earned points, with the attention now turning to a match away at West Ham United on 2nd January.
ALBION: Button; Montoya, Dunk (c), Duffy, Bernardo; March, Stephens, Propper, Locadia; Gross; Andone (Murray 75).
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Bong, Balogun, Kayal, Bissouma, Gyokeres.