The next stop on the road – a Monday night in cosmopolitan, diverse Brighton on a dreary November evening. The game was anything but as this was a good football match, certainly for the neutral. I enjoyed it and I’m sure the Sky Sports viewers did too. That said, I cannot help feel that this was two points dropped. We were the better side with better players and had we eliminated some mistakes, I have no doubt that we’d have taken all of the points.
We started the brighter, dominated possession and subsequently got our just deserts on 28 minutes. Xherdan Shaqiri conjured a sublime piece of skill to find the unmarked Eric Choupo-Moting and the big man did the rest by sticking the ball into the proverbial onion bag. It was certainly no more than we deserved, thus it was incredibly frustrating when we allowed Brighton back into the game on the stroke of half time. Pascal Gross levelled the scores following a close range shot that seemed to go straight through Lee Grant. Grant who now finds himself back in the spotlight following Jacks finger injury should have saved it, Jack would have done.
It could (and should) have indeed been worse had our Captains clumsy challenge on Brighton’s Glenn Murray been penalised with a penalty. Ryan Shawcross does have his critics, I am a big fan still but those kind of moments can cost you points. Lets be brutally honest here, he has some form for it. Nevertheless we managed to quickly restore our lead in the second minute of added time. Big Kurt Zouma won the battle in a six yard scrap enabling him to head home. Zouma looks some player to me, powerful, pacey – definitely better than Gary Cahill. We’ve done well to get him.
The second half was a bit more evenly balanced, in fact I’d go as far to say Brighton shaded it. They probed and eventually pegged us back again on the hour. This time a player called Izquierdo scored from close range. I had never heard of him before owing to my blatant ignorance of all things Brighton and Hove Albion. I’m too engrossed in Stoke City you see.
On 73 minutes Crouchy entered the fray replacing the fantastic Shaqiri – a substitution that totally baffled me. Not the fact Crouch came on but the fact our best player went off. Have I missed something here ? “ “ Everywhere we go, he’s six seven tall, Peter Crouch will score “ they said. Unfortunately not tonight as an enjoyable game ended 2-2 and a share of the spoils.
Two points dropped ? Yes it feels like that for me. I debated this with a fellow supporter on exiting the fine Ammex Stadium. We ended the discussion on a positive – an away point is never a disaster in the cut throat business that is the Premier League. And with that, off I went to guzzle some more fizzy lager late into the Brighton night.
Brighton indeed is a fun place. Plenty of boozers, good transport links and the Stokies were in good voice which made for an enjoyable trip. It’s Tuesday morning and I’m currently typing this on a busy train as I head back to Stoke on Trent. Nursing my customary hangover, I’m already looking forward to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Written by James Lockley – @Countydog