Report: Brighton 3-2 Bolton
Bolton Wanderers twice came from behind at high-flying Brighton but were eventually beaten by the odd goal in five.
Emile Heskey and Jay Spearing had twice drawn Bolton level on a wet and windy afternoon at the Amex Stadium.
But in the end Wanderers left the south coast empty handed, with Beram Kayal’s goal following a Bolton lapse in concentration in midfield proving the difference.
Neil Lennon made one enforced change to the starting line-up that had previously secured three points against Rotherham. Derik Osede was in from the off, filling the void left by the injured Dean Moxey at left-back.
Zach Clough returned from an injury layoff to take up a place on the bench.
The home side controlled much of the opening play and with their first meaningful effort on goal of the game were a goal to the good.
Murphy latched on to a simple through ball in between Dorian Dervite and Josh Vela before opening his body and slotting into Ben Amos’ far corner.
Bolton responded by way of a tame Heskey header from Darren Pratley’s cross, but minutes later the big man was not to be denied on 22 minutes.
Liam Feeney combined with Wellington Silva down the left, with the Brazlian’s low centre fired into the net by Heskey via a slight nick off a Brighton defender.
Kayal then worked Amos with a rasping drive through a ruck of players, before the hosts had an appeal for a penalty waved away when Tomer Hemed was sent tumbling in the area by Rob Holding.
Just as it seemed the half was to end level, Brighton sprung a quick counter attack to regain the lead.
Bolton were left exposed with men forward when Anthony Knockaert galloped all of 50 yards upfield before squaring for into the area when Bobby Zamora’s clever flick was converted by Hemed.
Dale Stephens almost added a third prior to the interval, though Amos once again stood tall to beat away a fierce first-time shot.
Any frustrations at Brighton’s second were almost immediately erased as Wanderers started the second half in the best possible manner.
Feeney flighted a free kick in the penalty area from the left touchline. Heskey’s presence caused problems for the Brighton defenders, with the loose ball falling to Spearing on the edge of the area who fired a low drive through a crowd of players and into David Stockdale’s net.
The all-action start to the second period continued with a frantic end-to-end period of play on 55 minutes. Bolton were almost in front when Feeney raced clear of Bruno Saltor, only for his low effort to be kept out by the sprawling figure of Stockdale. Brighton then raced right up the other end with Hemed rounding Amos only for the covering Dervite to hack the ball clear from under his own crossbar.
Bolton’s positive work at getting back level was seemingly undone, as the hosts took the lead for the third time with the hour mark imminent.
Kayal seized on a lapse in concentration on the edge of the Bolton area before playing a neat one-two and bending a shot into the far corner.
There was a moving moment on 63 minutes when the stadium united to applaud in memory of Phil Gartside.
Clough was introduced as Bolton pushed men forward in an attempt to find another equaliser, but as they did there was always a danger of Brighton extended their lead. Zamora pivoted and fired wide following a break down the left by Murphy.
Time eventually ticked away without any further incident of note, aside from Pratley’s sliced effort wide. In the end, there was to be no third Bolton equaliser on the day.