The game was far from an action packed thriller, as both sides found it hard to make and finish chances, which is why it was a surprise when Josh Brownhill found the back of the net two goals from halftime from a chance out of nothing.
But Brighton didn’t crumble under the pressure of the dreaded late first half goal, instead the Gulls laboured away, trying to find an equalising goal, but in the end it was for nothing, as the Premier League bound Brighton now go into the final game of the Championship season looking to beat Newcastle United to the title.
A slow start at the Amex
Brighton almost started their final home game of the season in style just three minutes in, when Glenn Murray found himself through on goal after the ball fell perfectly to the veteran striker inside the penalty area. However the former Bournemouth striker’s first-time volley was horribly scuffed, and the ball roll safety out of play for a goal kick.
The encouraging start from the Seagulls quickly fizzled out into a midfield battle for possession, with neither side able to find spaces to exploit one another. Bristol City threatened to attack the Brighton defence, but the West Country visitors resorted to keeping teasing possession in the half of their hosts.
Jiri Skalak registered the first shot on target and tested Frank Fielding 29 minutes in Czech Republic international fired an effort from 20-yards out, however his low drive was routinely saved by the Bristol number one.
Murray again could had given the Seagulls the lead 10 minutes from halftime, when the forward was picked out by a stunning cross from Gaetan Bong at the far post, however the 33-year-old striker’s header again failed to reach the target.
A late shock for Brighton
Brighton knew that a win would see them seal the Championship title, however the Premier League bound Sussex side were given a taste of their own medicine two minutes before half-time, when Bristol took the lead.
It was a goal out of nothing. Matty Taylor bombed down the right wing, before getting isolated by two Brighton defenders, however his lucky cross from the by line found the head of a diving Brownhill, who put the ball past David Stockdale with a flying diving header, to score his first goal for the club, and to put the visitors ahead going into halftime.
A resurgent second half
Chris Houghton introduced the more attack minded Solly March at the start of the second half for Skalak, and the change worked in the hosts’ favour. Brighton looked more dangerous on the attack, and the hosts were more likely to run into the box rather than doddle with the ball around the penalty area.
March almost assisted the equalising goal, when the winger’s inswinging corner met the head of Uwe Huenemeier, however the German’s header flew inches wide of the post.
The clock ticks on
Brighton looked fresher and more alive in the second half, however it didn’t get them any closer to the equalising goal they craved. City were defending like their lives depended on it, and Brighton’s poor passing display only made their problems worse.
Every time Brighton came forward, Bristol were prepared for them with eight players in the area to defend the goal, making it difficult for Brighton to find opportunities. However the crowded area made it easier for full backs Bruno Saltor and Bong to create chances from the wings, but even still their crosses did nothing to weaken Bristol’s defence.
The final 10
Brighton had gone into ‘all out attack’ mode for the final 10 minutes. Lewis Dunk pushed so far forward that the defender almost grabbed the equalising goal on 81st minute mark, when the defender linked well with March on the edge of the area, but Dunk’s shot from distance trickled past the far post.
Stockdale had remained untested for most of the game, however the former Fulham shot stopper was called into action with five minutes to go, when Bobby Reid found himself through on goal, but his strike was brilliantly saved by Stockdale, who made a fantastic one-handed save to deny the striker from doubling Bristol’s lead.
It proved to be the last chance of the game, as Bristol all but confirmed their status in the Championship again for next season, whilst Brighton must win their last game of the season to claim the Championship title.