Brighton match preview

Report: Wanderers 1-0 Brighton

Marcos Alonso’s first half strike was enough for Bolton to make it five wins on the spin for the first time since 2006 with a 1-0 win over Brighton.

The Spaniard struck midway through the first half to seal all three points for Wanderers after a tenacious display at the Reebok Stadium.

The Whites withheld a late barrage of pressure from the visitors to secure their second consecutive clean sheet.

Brighton were reduced to ten men in the final stages after striker Ashley Barnes was dismissed for dissent.

Tuesday night’s goal scoring hero Chris Eagles came into the side to face Brighton in Dougie Freedman’s only change from the win against Blackburn Rovers, with Medo Kamara taking his place on the substitutes bench.

Visitors Brighton were without top marksman Craig Mackail-Smith through injury with manager Gus Poyet making five changes from the draw at Bristol City four days ago.

In the early stages of the game, centre half Zat Knight, who has in recent weeks built up a commanding partnership alongside Craig Dawson, made a crucial block on number nine Ashley Barnes with the frontman clean through on goal.

The first effort on goal came in the sixth minute and fell Wanderers way when David Ngog, who scored Bolton’s equalising goal when the sides last met in November, evaded two Brighton challenges to strike on goal but his effort was tame, resulting in an easy collection for Tomasz Kuszcak.

A set piece routine straight from the Albion training ground looked to have paid dividends five minutes later.

Winning a free-kick 35-yards from goal after a foul from Darren Pratley, David Lopez dinked the ball into the penalty box for an unmarked Andrew Crofts. Taking the ball down on his chest, Crofts powered a half volley goal bound for Andy Lonergan to tip over.

Brighton were the team applying the pressure in the opening twenty minutes at the Reebok and Crofts came one step closer to getting his name on the scoresheet by hitting the post from close range after a Bruno Saltor cut back.

Despite Albion’s bright start, it was Bolton’s Spanish full back Alonso who broke the deadlock in the 21st minute with a wonderful strike from the left hand side.

Breaking forward after an Albion attack, Chung-Yong Lee switched play from right to left for Wanderers’ number three. Going alone, Alonso moved the ball forward and arrowed a low strike into the far corner from 25-yards.

Alonso’s goal gave Bolton optimism and Freedman’s side started to look more dangerous in the final third with Eagles and Alonso once again having opportunities on Polish international Kuszczak’s goal.

The home faithful thought it was two just before the half time interval when Alonso sent an inviting cross to the front post from the left hand side for the run of N’gog but the striker could only direct the ball over the bar.

The half time whistle blew at the Reebok on a cold March afternoon with Wanderers leading the Seagulls 1-0.

Former Athletic Bilbao midfielder David Lopez, showed fantastic technique for the first strike of the second half by hitting a volley from the edge of the penalty box inches over Lonergan’s frame.

A manic few seconds inside the Brighton penalty box in the 56th minute saw Wanderers have three strikes in succession blocked by the Seagulls defence, with N’gog, Lee and Jay Spearing the men denied.

Brighton continued to look dangerous when they moved forward but the Wanderers back line continued to stay united, a defence which has conceded only three goals at home in the Championship in 2013.

With 20 minutes to go, Wanderers made their first change, Medo coming on in place of Eagles with the substitute operating in a three man midfield alongside Pratley and Spearing.

Five minutes later and Freedman made change number two, skipper Kevin Davies replaced after a solid performance in attack for number 28 Craig Davies.

Pushing men forward in search of an equalising goal, Brighton’s Leanardo Ulloa was left unmarked in the penalty box to meet a Lopez free-kick but he was unable to find the target to test Lonergan.

Brighton were beginning to edge closer, as substitute Andrea Orlandi made a run down the left wing which wasn’t detected. Cutting inside his man, Orlandi fired narrowly wide.

The final alteration for Bolton saw N’gog replaced by towering centre half David Wheater to provide extra cover in defence.

Bolton could have made sure of the points in the 88th minute when Pratley crossed from the byline after a strong run to provide a cross for Craig Davies but off balance the substitute striker couldn’t get a clean connection on his header.

With four minutes added on for stoppage time, Bolton stood firm and courageously held off a late flurry of Brighton attacks. To add to the drama, Ashley Barnes was dismissed in the final minute of added time for dissent.

The full time whistle followed on from the dismissal as Wanderers sealed their fifth straight win in the Championship and unbeaten in their last eight.

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