- Albion sit 14th, three points from safety
- Goals from Chris Wood (2) and Ashley Barnes seal Burnley win
- Shane Duffy grabs fifth goal of the season late on
- Albion welcome Derby County next week in the cup
Brighton & Hove Albion's search for a league victory was extended after Burnley sealed a 3-1 victory over the Seagulls in wet conditions at the Amex Stadium.
Shane Duffy’s fifth goal of the season was rendered a consolation as Chris Wood’s brace and an Ashley Barnes penalty pulled the Lancashire side level on points with Chris Hughton's team.
The 3pm results meant Burnley started under the Amex lights in the relegation zone, and the Clarets kicked off as they meant to go on, knocking a long ball forward to their bustling frontmen Wood and Barnes, winning a corner within the first minute.
Albion responded almost instantly with a powerful header from Solly March which Tom Heaton acrobatically punched over, and Hughton’s men almost capitalised from the ensuing pressure. Pascal Gross connected sweetly with a dipping volley inside the box which the English shot-stopper also had to parry away.
When you think of Burnley’s refreshingly old-school physicality, veteran right-back Phil Bardsley springs to mind. Counterpart Gaetan Bong found that out the hard way eight minutes in when the 33-year-old raced fiercely for a free ball, which Bong won, colliding into the Cameroonian’s head with his hip. Both men stayed down and the medics sprinted onto the pitch as if they’d heard a starting pistol, but neither full-back had to go off.
Barnes, who left Albion for Burnley in 2014, should have put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute. Dwight McNeil’s shot was deflected onto the bar by Duffy, and the ball bounced fortuitously for the Austrian international whose header was then met with the same fate, although this time the woodwork sent it out of play.
Heaton is known for his superb shot-stopping and showed the strength in his long levers once more in the 24th minute. Gross started a blistering counter-attack from deep, unleashing Jurgen Locadia on the left flank, who galloped forward and zipped a ball across to March. The winger shimmied inside onto his favoured left foot and stung the outstretched palm of Heaton, who prevented the Seagulls’ third good chance of the game.
Albion were made to rue that two minutes later when Barnes tussled on the halfway line and knocked a blind half-volley up the pitch. The hopeful punt turned out to be a perfectly-weighted ball to strike partner Wood, who was able to run one-on-one with Maty Ryan after Lewis Dunk unluckily slipped. The New Zealander composed himself from 15 yards out and powerfully shot into the top left corner.
March continued to prove a menace down the right wing and fashioned another opening near the end of the half, finding Gross once more. The German’s curling effort was headed away as it looked destined for goal, however. Albion’s playmaker came close again two minutes later, cushioning a volley-come-cross at the backpost which was tipped around the corner by Heaton.
Burnley were living dangerously and almost conceded in first-half added time when Duffy rose highest from a corner to clinch what it seemed would be his fifth league goal of the campaign, only for his header to be cleared off the line.
Anthony Knockaert replaced March early in the second half as Albion continued to be the aggressors, in search of their first league win in six. In no rush to grab a second, the visitors maximised stoppages in play, but football is a cruel game and Albion went two down in the 62nd minute.
McNeil broke free in the middle and slipped in Wood, who had found a pocket of space on the edge of the box. Running onto the ball, the Kiwi struck a low first-time curling effort which found the net despite Ryan’s palm. It was Wood’s second and if Albion were to mount a comeback, they’d have to keep the striker quiet.
It’s a game of fine margins and Albion looked entitled to a penalty in the 72nd minute when Jeff Hendrick accidentally handled the ball. Referee Stuart Atwell waved away the claims, however, and Burnley broke, with Barnes running unmarked into the Albion half.
The striker looked poise to pull the trigger, faced only with Ryan, but took it round the Australian and manufactured some contact which earnt him a spot-kick. Barnes duly converted from 12 yards and allowed a fistpump against his former club before becoming the subject of a pile-on from his team-mates.
Angered by their misfortune, Hughton’s men hit back almost instantly, Knockaert whipping in a free kick which met the head of Duffy – this time the Irishman did bag his fifth of the season. Clawing the ball from the net, the resurgent Seagulls rushed back to the centre spot, sensing a memorable comeback.
It wasn’t to be, however, and Albion were thwarted by Burnley’s dogged backline in the dying minutes, knowing the trip to Leicester on 26th February becomes even more important.
ALBION: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Propper, Stephens; March (Knockaert 47), Gross (Bissouma 66), Locadia (Jahanbakhsh 66); Murray.
SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Bernardo, Burn, Kayal.