Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton could not be separated in the first South Coast derby of the season, as the sides played out to a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.
The Saints took the lead six minutes in when James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick smacked off the frame of the bar, but captain Steven Davis was there to tap in the rebound, to give the visitors the lead.
Brighton responded 52 minutes in, when a smart cross from summer signing Pascal Gross found the head of veteran goal scorer Glenn Murray, and the striker’s header had enough power on it to beat Fraser Forster at the near post.
Dream start for the Saints
The Saints got off to the perfect start six minutes in, when a free-kick 25-yards out from Ward-Prowse smacked off the corner of the bar, and Davis was there at the right place at the right time to tap the ball into an open net, to give the visitors a dream start.
Southampton continued to dominate in the early stages of the game following their sixth minute opener, as the lack of Brighton pressure allowed Wesley Hoedt and Virgil van Dijk to press further up field, and to cause the Seagulls midfield physical problems.
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Lack of quality
Brighton’s lack of quality in the attack was also proving to be a problem for the hosts. Murray’s lack of energy and awareness made it hard for wingers Anthony Knockaert and Jose Izquierdo to create chances for the veteran striker in the penalty area.
Dusan Tadic came close to doubling Southampton’s lead 34 minutes in, when the Serbian playmaker found himself in the perfect position after a neat piece of play from Sofiane Boufal, however, Tadic’s effort from close range was deflected out for a corner.
Shane Duffy had the best chance for a lacklustre Brighton side four minutes from halftime, as the Irish centre-back connected well with a Izquierdo cross, but the Seagulls defender’s header flew just too high over the bar with the final chance of the half.
Second half shock
Brighton for most of the first half never looked in the position to nab an equalising goal, but in the second half it only took the Seagulls seven minutes after the restart to make it 1-1.
Gross found the space to whip a good ball to Murray inside the penalty area, and the former Bournemouth striker’s header was too much for Forster as the ball bounced into the net, to level the game for Brighton.
Murray could have had a second goal four minutes after his first, when the striker was again picked out by Gross inside the penalty area, however, Murray’s effort this time blazed high over the bar and out for a goal kick.
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A tempo shift
The tempo of the game had shifted completely from Southampton keeping possession of the ball and Brighton failing to create anything, to Albion dominating in possession and looking frantically for a goal that would give them the lead. But the Saints’ defence and Forster remained sturdy.
Despite the second half being a lot more entertaining compared to the first, neither side could find a winning goal in the final moments of the game.