Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • September 21, 2013 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/ebf0f

Bolton worst start to a league campaign since 1902 continues, as a crazy five minute spell saw Wanderers lose 3-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Despite seeing little in the way of possession in the opening 45 minutes, the visitors took a 1-0 lead into the break as David Lopez put the ball into his own net just before the half hour. The tide of the game changed in the space of five second half minutes, however, as Brighton fought back to claim what would eventually prove to be a very comfortable three points.

Just as Lopez did in the first half, Jay Spearing headed past his own goalkeeper eight minutes after the restart, before Inigo Calderon put the Seagulls in front two minutes later. Brighton continued their assault on the Wanderers goal and added a third just 60 seconds after that, as Will Buckley completed the scoring and condemn Dougie Freedman's side to a fifth defeat in their opening eight league games.

Prior to the game, Freedman made two changes to the side that drew with Derby County on Tuesday night as Darren Pratley and David Ngog took the places of Robert Hall and Jermaine Beckford, who both dropped to the bench.

David Ngog led the attack, with a three-pronged midfield of Chris Eagles, Lee Chung-Yong and Darren Pratley providing the support behind him.

Bolton, who were lining up in their luminous away kit, were on the back foot in the early stages, but Brighton failed to convert their dominance of possession into goalscoring chances.

The first chance did fall the way of the hosts, but Kazanga LuaLua dragged a 30 shot wide of the target with just seven minutes on the clock.

Wanderers' first opportunity came five minutes later, in controversial circumstances, and should have seen them gone in front. Rohan Ince's crossfield pass struck referee Michael Jones and fell kindly into the path of Ngog. The former Liverpool forward found himself one-on-one with Tomasz Kuszczak, but the goalkeeper did well to get down and parry Ngog's shot away.

That seemed to put a spark into Bolton's game and Eagles was the next to try his luck, bringing Kuszczak into a smart save with a dipping strike from 35 yards.

Brighton would then enjoy a good spell of possession, but once again failed to test Adam Bogdan in the Wanderers goal. They were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal on 27 minutes, as the visitors took the lead in fortuitous circumstances.

The Trotters worked a short corner into the Brighton box and Chung-Yong's weak cross appeared to come off the heel of Lopez, before finding its way past Kuszczak and into the net to put Bolton ahead.

Oscar Garcia's side responded brightly and David Wheater had to be alert to prevent LuaLua's shot from heading towards goal. LuaLua tried his luck again as the game entered the final 10 minutes of the half, but his 25 yard strike cannonned back off the crossbar with Bogdan beaten.

The hosts saw appeals for a penalty turned down when Ashley Barnes was barged to the floor by Wheater in the latter stages of the half, while, at the other end, a dangerous corner from Eagles flashed across the face of goal when any sort of touch would surely have doubled Wanderers' advantage.

Despite being second best for the majority of the half, Bolton went in ahead at the break.

There were no changes to either side as the players emerged for the start of the second half and if Brighton were accused of being wasteful before the interval, that couldn't be said for the opening 12 minutes of the second period.

After early chances from LuaLua and Andrew Crofts went begging, Brighton pulled level with 52 minutes played. Spearing entered the referee's book for a poor challenge on Stephen Ward and, from the resulting free-kick, the former Liverpool midfielder headed the ball past his own goalkeeper to level the scores.

The Seagulls immediately went in search of a second, with a quick succession of corners falling their way. It didn't take long for their pressure to produce results, as a half-cleared cross was smashed into the Bolton net courtesy of a stunning volley from Calderon.

With victory in their sights and the Wanderers defence beginning to crumble, Brighton sealed the victory just 60 seconds later as Buckley cut inside Marc Tierney on the right flank and curled a shot past a helpless Bogdan to put the hosts 3-1 up, just five minutes after they trailed.

Alex Baptiste sliced a shot wide of the target, as Bolton looked to get themselves back into the game, before Freedman reacted by introducing Hall and Beckford, who took the places of Chung-Yong and Wheater.

Hall instantly began to run at the Brighton defence and he created a shooting opportunity for Ngog, but the Frenchman's shot was deflected behind. LuaLua shot narrowly over the bar at the other end shortly afterwards, before the sting was taken out of the game as Garcia's side knew victory was almost a certainty.

Lopez almost made amends for his earlier own goal, by hitting the post with little less than 15 minutes remaining, while Hall brought a smart save out of Kuszczak as Wanderers looked for a late response. Spearing saw two attempts fisted away by the Brighton goalkeeper in stoppage time, but it was a case of too little too late for Freedman's men - who have now conceded ten goals in their last three away outings, scoring twice.

Bolton return to action next Saturday, when they face fellow strugglers Yeovil Town at the Reebok Stadium in what is already being billed as a relegation six-pointer.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Kuszczak, Calderon, Greer, Upson, Ward, Crofts, Ince, Lopez (March 90), Buckley (Bruno 79), Barnes (Conway 74), LuaLua
Subs Not Used: Dunk, El-Abd, Chicksen, Ankergren
Booked: Crofts, Lopez
Goals: Spearing 53(og), Calderon 55, Buckley 57

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Baptiste, Mills, Wheater (Beckford 63), Tierney, Spearing, Ream, Pratley, Eagles, Ngog (Odelusi 78), Chung-Yong (Hall 63)
Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Kellett, Kamara, Knight
Booked: Wheater, Mills, Spearing
Goals: Lopez 29(og)

Referee: Michael Jones
Attendance: 26,319

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
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