Seagulls triumph over Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers handed Brighton their first win of the season this afternoon when some poor defensive work allowed Nicky Forster to score the only goal of the game after 75 minutes.
Manager Peter Taylor kept faith with the side that started against Bristol Rovers last Saturday and the Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 formation as follows:
Moncur (79) Duberry Oliver Woodman
Zebroski Green (67) Mousinho Westlake (67) Phillips
Subs: Young Westwood Johnson Pack(67) Beavon Betsy(79) Pittman(67)
I should have known it was going to be a bad day when the stone flew up and cracked my windscreen just after joining the M40.
Wycombe's black kit matched the mood of their supporters at the end of this flat performance played out at the truly horrible Withdean Stadium.
A decent following took their seats miles from the playing surface and squinted expectantly into the distance as the game began.
The Chairboys had opted to stick with the 4-5-1 formation which we all know leaves Matt Harrold isolated, but a least gives us a fighting chance of not losing the midfield battle.
Unfortunately it also gives our rather limited defenders the easy option of launching clearances in Harrold's direction rather than expose their inability to pass the ball along the ground.
Sometimes Harrold is on good form and manages to hold the ball up long enough to bring others into play, but today it just wasn't sticking with the lone striker and every hoof forward merely resulted in lost possession.
The midfield trio of Mousinho, Green and Westlake failed to recreate their performance against Bristol Rovers. Mousinho was solid enough but the other two are supposed to provide a creative spark and they failed to do so today.
Wingers Zebroski and Phillips weren't given enough of the ball, but when they were, Phillips looked a danger and Zebroski put in his usual 100% effort. The problem is that even when Phillips beats his man and crosses the ball there's either no one in the box or just Harrold arriving surrounded by defenders.
The defence continues to resemble the keystone cops at times and in the first half TJ Moncur in particular demonstrated an impressive range of passing to the opposition, or out of play, or to spaces 20 yards from his nearest team-mate.
It must be catching though, because in the second half they were all at it. Even last year's player of the season Craig Woodman looked like a lost soul as he regularly gave the ball away or found himself woefully out of position.
The signing of Michael Duberry must have felt like a real coup to Peter Taylor at the time, but rather than organising an effective defensive unit, all the captain's doing at the moment is remind us just how good Williamson and McCracken were in comparison.
Wycombe's best defender today was Luke Oliver and who would have imagined that a few months ago.
A scuffed shot from Stuart Green and a solitary corner kick were all Wycombe had to show for an uninspiring first half performance.
In fact, the Wycombe fans' biggest cheer of the first period was reserved for the 5th minute booking of Brighton striker Liam Dickinson who had earlier flung himself to the ground in the hope of a penalty.
The only saving grace was the fact that Brighton didn't look any better.
Scott Shearer was however called into action a few times and one particular diving save from Aaron Davies after 35 minutes kept the scoresheet blank at the break.
The second half continued in the same vein until Peter Taylor made some changes after 67 minutes.
Off went Green and Westlake, and on came Marlon Pack and Jon-Paul Pittman who after scoring 4 goals in his last three games, must wonder what he has to do to earn a starting place.
Surprisingly, the tiring Harrold was kept on to partner Pittman up-front and Stuart Beavon remained on the bench.
The changes prefaced Wycombe's best spell of the match, with Phillips and Duberry both working the Seagulls' keeper as the Chairboys forced three corners in quick succession.
Sadly the spell came to an end with Brighton's winning goal after 75 minutes.
Shearer made an absolutely brilliant save with his trailing leg to deny Dean Cox but as the Wycombe defence looked on in admiration, Brighton kept going and a simple pass from Cox found Nicky Forster unmarked right in front of goal to fire home the winner.
Taylor immediately introduced Kevin Betsy for TJ Moncur with John Mousinho moving to right-back, but despite showing some nice touches it wasn't to be a fairytale return for king Kev and indeed Brighton had two more glorious chances to increase their lead with Gary Hart in particular missing a sitter.
On the way back to the car it was disappointing to overhear the Brighton fans discuss the game and all agree that Wycombe really had nothing to offer.
Man of the Match