Report: Brighton 3-1 Bolton
Bolton Wanderers fell to a 3-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon.
David Ngog had initially given Wanderers the lead in the first half but three quick fire goals from the hosts inside the opening eleven minutes of the second half sealed the points for Albion.
Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman made two changes from Tuesday’s 2-2 draw against Derby County at the Reebok Stadium.
French striker Ngog replaced Jamaican international Jermaine Beckford as the lone frontman for the Whites, whilst there was also a start for energetic midfielder Darren Pratley with Robert Hall the man to miss out.
Meanwhile hosts Brighton made three changes from their draw at Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, notably midfielder Keith Andrews dropping out with the 33-year-old ineligible due to the terms of his loan deal.
Playing in their indigo red strip, Wanderers were put under early pressure at the Amex Stadium, but weathered the storm well with Matt Mills making an important interception to prevent Ashley Barnes attacking Will Buckley’s dangerous cross from the right.
Wanderers were limiting the hosts to shots from outside the penalty area in the opening 15 minutes as Oscar Garcia’s men looked to stamp their familiar fluent style of football on the contest.
However, it was the men from BL6 who created the best opening when the ball rebounded off referee Mike Jones, allowing Ngog to go through on goal but his tame shot was collected by former Manchester United stopper Tomasz Kuszczak.
Brighton continued to sustain their pressure inside the Wanderers half but four minutes later, Wanderers came close yet again as Chris Eagles hit a 30-yard strike from the right hand side but Kuszczak was equal to the effort.
Wanderers tried to take the heat out of a Brighton side unbeaten in their last five outings, and Freedman’s side were starting to come forward with promise as they looked to build on their first two opportunities.
Winning a corner after a stinging shot from Pratley hit Gordon Greer in the face; Wanderers took the lead and dampened the atmosphere at the Amex Stadium in the 27th minute.
A short corner resulted in Chung Yong Lee hitting a low cross into the penalty area for Ngog to repeat his goal scoring heroics of last season on the south coast and divert the ball past Kuszczak from point blank range
Importantly, Bolton weathered the Brighton storm after taking the lead as the Seagulls threw bodies forward in search of a quick equalising goal.
Brighton’s opportunity to score an equaliser before the interval arrived in the 35th minute when Congolese international Kazenga LuaLua rattled Adam Bogdan’s bar with a thunderous 20-yard strike.
Into the second period and the Seagulls flew out of the traps and turned the game completely around at the Amex Stadium with three quick fire goals.
The first came in the 52nd minute when Spearing’s attempted headed clearance from a LuaLua free-kick went beyond Wanderers goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
Three minutes later and Garcia’s team were ahead when Spaniard Calderon turned away from the Bolton defence on the right hand side and curled an excellent effort into the far corner.
Brighton’s third quickly followed in a mad eleven minutes at the Amex Stadium as Buckley scored another superb individual goal for the Seagulls with a left footed strike from the edge of the penalty area.
Play soon settled down as Bolton looked to compose themselves and look for a way back into the game with the rain starting to come down on the south coast.
Boss Freedman went on to introduce quick winger Hall and striker Beckford for Lee and centre back David Wheater in an attempt to find a way back into the contest and replicate their first half performances.
Switching to a 4-4-2 formation, Bolton went on to have a couple of half chances with Alex Baptiste and Spearing both having opportunities.
With 77 minutes on the clock, Bolton made their final change when youngster Sanmi Odelusi was introduced for Wanderers’ goal scorer Ngog.
However it was the team in blue and white that had the next opportunity on goal as midfield playmaker David Lopez hit the post from an acute angle following a fantastic delivery from the left hand side.
The visitors went on two have a further two opportunities when Hall stung the palms of former WBA and Man United custodian Kuszczak and Spearing drilled a powerful effort straight at the goalkeeper.
Wanderers will now go back to the drawing board with a game at home against Yeovil Town next up in seven days' time.