Whilst praising his side’s ability in possession this season, Oscar Garcia has constantly lamented the lack of a clinical finish in the final third. With Harry Redknapp’s star-studded Queens Park Rangers as visitors to the Amex, however, the Spaniard’s side produced a rather savvy performance which lifted Albion above Wigan and two points off the play-off positions.
Rangers had the majority of possession throughout and probed an Albion defence missing their captain Gordon Greer through suspension. Whilst Garcia’s side had few chances, when they did come, Brighton were surprisingly clinical.
Despite a number of injuries in the QPR ranks, Redknapp still had an array of talent on display and they showed flashes of brilliance throughout the first half.
Junior Hoilett linked up with Will Keane and Ravel Morrison with some delightful one-touch football; but the Canadian winger failed to test Tomasz Kuszczak in goal for the home side.
After watching Morrison almost single-handedly defeat his side on Saturday, Birmingham City manager Lee Clark called the 21-year-old “the best footballer since Paul Gascoigne” and the youngster certainly provided a performance worthy of such praise.
As QPR continued to press, they struggled to break down Oscar Garcia’s defence; Morrison received the ball on the half-way line, with a clever turn he created some space and drove into it before striking a shot which whipped and dipped in the air before Kuszczak tipped it over his crossbar to safety.
Albeit rather against the run of play, in the seventy-seventh minute, Albion took the lead through their top-goalscorer Leonardo Ulloa.
Bruno, who usually has license to get forward for the Seagulls, had a difficult evening at right-back against the extremely skilful Hoilett. When the Spaniard did get the opportunity to get on the offence, he took it. Playing a lovely one-two with Keith Andrews down the right flank, the 33-year-old whipped a vicious ball across Rob Green’s goal and Ulloa tapped in at the back post for his twelfth of the season.
Rangers’ response was swift; as the ever-impressive Ravel Morrison shimmied past Bruno, his shot deflected off an Albion head and the ball flirted with Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal but trickled away for a corner kick.
Where those injuries really affected the away side was in attack. With the prolific Charlie Austin out for the foreseeable future and Kevin Doyle suffering a knock in the 2-0 win against Birmingham on Saturday, loanee Will Keane led the line for the Hoops.
The youngster was eager to impress as he has struggled to score in his four appearances for Rangers and also failed to find the net in his loan spell at the DW Stadium earlier in the season.
With five minutes to go, Brighton doubled their lead through an unlikely source. As Garcia’s right-back created the opener, his left-back, Stephen Ward, got the second.
Substitute Kazenga LuaLua whipped in a corner which Ward latched onto and steered into the corner of Green’s goal. Two-nil and the points were staying on the South coast.
Whilst Harry Redknapp’s side fall to their fourth defeat in six games, the win lifts Garcia’s side above Wigan, into seventh in the Championship table, two points off the play-off positions.
Albion: Kuszczak; Bruno, Dunk, Upson, Ward; Ince; Forster-Caskey (LuaLua 74), Andrews, Buckley (Stephens 89), Lingard; Ulloa
Subs not used:Ankergren, Calderon, Lopez, March, Rodriguez
Goal(s): Ulloa 77, Ward 86
QPR: Green; Onuoha, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto (Maiga); Barton, Jenas, Traore, Hoilett; Morrison; Keane
Subs not used: Murphy, Hughes, O’Neil, Henry, Benayoun, Kranjcar
Man of the Match: Dunk
Referee: Robert Madley
Written by Tom Roddy