Glenn Murray fired two goals over the past month to keep himself ahead of his Brighton & Hove Albion team-mates in the Fantasy Premier League, but the fight for second has switched hands amongst the chasing pack.
The 35-year-old extended his lead over Maty Ryan to nine points when Leicester City visited the Amex Stadium in November, with the Australian unable to collect save points for only the fourth time.
Murray picked up eight points against the Foxes after leaping at the front post to head home from Anthony Knockaert’s corner, which was the Frenchman’s fourth assist of the season, meaning six points went his way.
After hitting the back of the net against Everton and Cardiff City, Lewis Dunk was unable to continue his goalscoring run, but the defender managed a bonus point for his excellent defensive display.
Next up was a trip to Huddersfield Town and the fantasy points rolled in for a trio of Albion players, as the Seagulls came from behind to seal their second away victory of the campaign.
Shane Duffy overtook Ryan with a bullet header on the stroke of half-time, which not only levelled the game at the John Smith’s Stadium but also earned the defender two bonus points after his third goal of the season.
It moved the Irishman to within two points of Murray at the top of the Albion charts, and the striker’s replacement in the starting line-up, Florin Andone, took full advantage of his chance in the side.
The Romanian glanced a header into the back of the net to put Albion ahead in the second half, and the 25-year-old’s goal on his full debut for the club secured seven points, with an additional bonus point for his efforts.
Solly March was to thank for both of Albion’s goals in Yorkshire, and the winger ended the match as the team’s top point-scorer on 11, thanks to two assists and three bonus points against the Terriers.
December continued with Crystal Palace’s visit to the south coast, and it proved an eventful evening under the floodlights, with Albion’s substitutes delivering a healthy total of fantasy points in breathtaking fashion.
Murray returned to the starting line-up and bagged another seven points thanks to his first-half penalty against his former club, and despite going off injured in the 35th minute, the forward was still able to earn two bonus points.
Duffy’s challenge for top spot took a turn for the worse when the Irishman was sent off for clashing heads with Patrick van Aanholt, which deducted two points off the defender’s total and put an 11-point gap between himself and Murray.
But the Amex crowd was unexpectedly sent into raptures when Leon Balogun drilled home with his first touch of the game, after the Nigerian came on to replace Pascal Gross moments after Duffy’s dismissal.
Balogun collected seven points from his 59 minutes on the field, but history was made when Andone also hit the target — the pair became the first two substitutes to have scored in the first half of a Premier League game.
With seconds of the first half remaining, Andone chased down a long clearance from Bernardo and stunned the entire stadium with an amazing solo run and finish, which ensured the Romanian would finish the match on six points.
The ten-man Seagulls put their stunning 3-1 victory over Palace behind them and travelled to Burnley four days later, but it proved a disappointing day for Chris Hughton’s players in the Fantasy Premier League.
The only player to score above two points was Ryan, who picked up an additional save point against the Clarets, which moved him back above the suspended Duffy into second position behind Murray.
Gameweek 17 will see Chelsea travel to the Amex after inflicting Manchester City’s first defeat of the Premier League season last weekend, and Albion’s players will be desperate to surprise Fantasy Premier League managers around the world.
The Seagulls have the seventh best home record in the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s fixture, and with Hughton’s team scoring in every match at the Amex so far, it may be wise to stick with Albion’s goalscoring threats.