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NICK SZCZEPANIK'S PRESS VERDICT: AFC BOURNEMOUTH

14 April 2019

Paul Hazlewood
Nick Szczepanik reviews the media's coverage of Saturday's game.

If you are of a nervous disposition, look away now. But if you were one of the minority who stayed until the final whistle on Saturday, you probably have the mental fortitude necessary to read on. And all Albion folk will need plenty of that quality in the next few weeks.

There is no point looking for positive words for Chris Hughton’s men among the Sunday paper reports, for, as you can imagine, there were none.

Ed Aarons, reporting for The Observer, did not spare Albion’s blushes. He wrote: “If Brighton don’t end up surviving a second season in the Premier League then Chris Hughton knows they have no one to blame but themselves. A Bournemouth side who had only won once since the 4-0 victory over Chelsea at the end of January inflicted Brighton’s heaviest defeat since moving here in 2011. Anthony Knockaert was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge that completed a miserable afternoon for both the Frenchman and his manager.

“Only the intervention of the referee in two out of Cardiff’s last three matches has meant that a dangerous situation has not become more critical for Brighton and they now face a crucial meeting with Neil Warnock’s side here on Tuesday. On this evidence, as Hughton acknowledged, they will be up against it.”

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Ian Winrow agreed in his report for the Sunday Telegraph. “Brighton’s relegation fears increased after an utterly dismal home defeat was capped by a second half red card for Anthony Knockaert, summing up a miserable afternoon for Chris Hughton and his players.

“Presented with the chance to widen the gap between themselves and the bottom three, Hughton’s side never looked capable of overcoming a Bournemouth side who had themselves experienced a slump in form.

“The manner of this defeat will do nothing to strengthen Brighton’s belief they can halt their recent decline.

“The upbeat mood that followed last week’s commendable performance in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City has quickly disappeared.

“As impressive as Bournemouth were, the way they repeatedly cut through Brighton’s flimsy defences was alarming for Hughton.”

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Andy Sims of the Press Association, reporting for The Independent, joined the chorus. “For Brighton, the problems are mounting, their run to the FA Cup semi-final masking dreadful form which has seen them collect just eight points since the turn of the year.

“Their only saving grace was a defeat too for 18th-placed Cardiff, but Neil Warnock's side will travel to the Amex Stadium on Tuesday night for a crucial match knowing victory will cut the gap to just two points.

“Worryingly, Chris Hughton's side simply do not look like scoring. They have drawn a blank in their last four matches and in that time have mustered only five efforts on target.

“This was the first part of a crucial home double-header, and it went spectacularly wrong.

“Joshua King has already put two presentable chances wide before Bournemouth took a 33rd-minute lead thanks to some fine interplay coupled with Brighton's poor defending.”

“Brighton were drawn well and truly into the relegation quagmire after a harrowing 5-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth,” Harry Slavin wrote on the Mail Online website.

“For Chris Hughton and his side, it is the worst preparation possible for a crucial clash with Cardiff on Tuesday at the Amex – where they have now scored just twice in six league matches this year. It is a fixture that has only grown in magnitude following this result.

“There was a minute’s applause for former Brighton striker Kit Napier before kick off at The Amex after his death this week at the age of 75. He is the club’s third-top scorer of all time. How Chris Hughton could do with someone of his ilk to call upon.

“In Glenn Murray, he actually boasts Brighton’s second-most prolific striker in his ranks. But the 35-year-old’s own problems in front of goal have been well documented. He hasn’t scored in any of his last eight games at home in the league.

“If the opener looked too simple, it’s because it was. There was no real urgency as Ryan Fraser passed the ball across from the left midway inside the Brighton half, but the defence parted and Bournemouth found the gaps, Callum Wilson providing the final pass to Dan Gosling, who was able to take a touch inside the area before picking his spot.”

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Rob Maul of The Sun wrote of “freefalling and ill-disciplined Brighton … who will now have Anthony Knockaert banned for three matches following his straight red card.

“Knockaert couldn’t have many complaints when he was dismissed for scything down Adam Smith at speed on 68 minutes. The Bournemouth player was lucky to carry on playing such was the ferocity of the challenge.”

Tim Oscroft was no more encouraging on the BBC website. “Manager Chris Hughton saw his side give Bournemouth time and space to repeatedly cut through their defence even when they still had 11 players on the pitch,” he wrote. .

“Hughton was furious when Gosling was given the time to line up Bournemouth's first, but the way he blanked Knockaert as the French midfielder walked into the tunnel following his red card also spoke volumes for what the Seagulls boss now has to contend with.

“The collapse in morale both on the field and in the stands following Knockaert's dismissal means that Cardiff's visit on Tuesday, with the Welsh club five points behind, now takes on even more significance.”

Let’s hope the papers make better reading on Wednesday morning.


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