A last minute equaliser by Manchester United loanee James Wilson in front of a record crowd at the Amex stadium against Derby County has set up for a £170m winner takes all game against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
The last home game of the season, in front of a record 30,292 fans, saw Brighton uncharacteristically struggle for large periods of the game against a playoff bound Derby County with not much to play for.
Brighton remained unchanged from their 2-1 win against relegated Charlton last week. With Sam Baldock starting ahead of eventual goal scorer Wilson, who’s return back to full fitness wasn’t enough to warrant a place in the starting 11.
In a cagey encounter, Knockaert almost put Brighton after 15 minutes, his free kick would have nestled into the bottom corner of the net if it weren’t for Luke Shackle’s great defending, the Derby defender left his position on the wall and managed to get back in time to header the ball away before the Amex erupted.
Tom Ince went close early on after a sweeping counter attack move by the visitors, Scotland international Bryson volleyed from the half way line to find Ince, who expertly bought the ball down but hit his shot hit the side netting much to the surprise of the travelling fans, who briefly thought that the former Liverpool player had opened the scoring.
In a game of few chances it was Andreas Weimann who broke the deadlock for the Rams on the 71st minute. The brilliant Will Hughes lofted a smart ball through to the Austrian who’s initial attempt was saved by Stockdale but the Albion keeper couldn’t do anything about Weimann’s rebound into the net.
Many Derby players escaped lenient referee Robert Madley’s book before Brighton’s Lewis Dunk was deservedly sent off for 2 yellow cards on 84 minutes. His clumsy lunge on Craig Bryson could have potentially seen him receive a straight red.
Dunk will be banned for the all-important game in Teesside next week but James Wilsons’ late, late effort ensured the team would go into it on a high. The player, on as a substitute in the 67th minute, bundled home via a deflection after a scrappy corner fell kindly to him.
The resulting goal caused the Albion players to retreat immediately back to the half way line in an attempt to score again late on but Wilson’s effort proved to be the last of a pulsating game.
The draw leaves Brighton and Middlesbrough both on 88 points, with them only being separated by Boro’s better goal difference. Burnley secured promotion last night with a 1-0 win against QPR which takes it to a last day decider in the North East.
A draw or a win for Middleborough would see them return to the premier league after a seven year absence, whilst only a win will see the Seagulls achieve premier league glory.
5 Dunk (Sent off 84)
38 Skalak (Lua Lua 67)
9 Baldock (Wilson 67)
4 Bryson (Butterfield 90+1)
19 Hughes (Buxton 90+4)
23 Ince (Weimann 70)
Match Report by Robert Bishop