Premier League new boys Brighton and Hove Albion arrived at a wet Checkatrade.com Stadium, full of hope for the new season ahead.
Brighton Manager, Chris Hughton cast an array of talent for the 1st half, it didn’t take them long to show their Premier League class. Harry Kewell faced his most difficult pre-season challenge to date. Crawley recently played a Chelsea XI, arguably the only real test they have faced up to the visit of The Seagulls. Kewell’s men have had convincing victories against lower league opposition; East Grinstead, Oakwood, and Dulwich Hamlet.
With such a vast array of talent fielded by Hughton, it was only going to make this game more testing for Crawley. It didn’t take the visitors long to open their account, four minutes in, Brighton midfielder Solley March opened the scoring when he cut inside and bent the ball past the out stretched arm of Glenn Morris.
There was then a bombardment from the visitors as shots reigned in from March, Tomer Hemed and Jamie Murphy, none of which really tested the Red’s keeper.
Thirty minutes in and Murphy cruised down the left wing, beating Anderson Garnett and cutting back a sumptuous chip to the edge of the box, the waiting Pascal Gross volleyed home into the bottom corner of the Crawley net.
The game had only just resumed when Morris pulled off two spectacular saves, showing exactly why he was Crawley’s player of the season last year. First, he pushed away Beram Kayal’s side-footed effort to concede a corner. He then thwarted Bruno at the near post. It wasn’t long before Brighton would increase their lead.
On the thirty-eighth minute, March’s effort was deflected off the bar, bouncing back to Hemed to tap into an empty net. Four minutes later, Murphy got away from Garnett before opening up his body and bending his shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Brighton ran the changes at half time as the likes of Glenn Murray and Steve Sidwell was introduced. Crawley showed a bit of spirit in the early exchanges and started winning the midfield battle and looked to
exploit Brighton on the counter-attack, but a lack of quality was their undoing.
Brighton nearly scored a fifth, when Jiri Skalak had a great opportunity to get in on goal, but Andre Blackman made a fantastic last ditch tackle to deny him. Crawley midfielder Billy Clifford had the best opportunity to score when Dennon Lewis fizzed the ball across goal, a slight deflection sent the Albion keeper the wrong way, Clifford had an open net and needed to just keep the ball low but instead blazed over
from 12 yards out.
Albion’s fifth goal came from Skalak’s whipped-in corner, Conor Goldson, unmarked, headed down between the legs of Kabi, who was defending the near post. Murray’s 77th minute penalty rounded off a good day for the visitors.
Brighton continue their preparations for the Premier League with a trip to Roots Hall on Tuesday.
Thank you to Matt Corrick for his contribution and images. @Mcorrick87