Disappointing Eagles denied as industrious Brighton leave it late
Crystal Palace 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Julian Taylor at Selhurst Park
Frustrated Crystal Palace had to settle for a share of the points against Brighton and Hove Albion. Having lived dangerously throughout the second half, the Eagles eventually conceded – and, in reality, they can have few complaints.
Palace thought they had done enough with an early penalty by Wilfied Zaha to separate the teams in what was a largely forgettable clash. But Brighton substitute Alexis MacAllister fired a superb leveller in the last minute of normal time for a deserved draw, before their captain Lewis Dunk was red carded.
Roy Hodgson’s men went into this against a backdrop of mixed fortunes, with two wins and two defeats. At least the Eagles had the benefit of time during the international break to lick their wounds after being dismantled 4-0 at Chelsea on 3 October. This Selhurst Park point will be welcomed in that context, to a degree.
While all clubs are now unfortunately accustomed to engaging in games behind closed doors for the foreseeable future, the lack of fans at this particular meeting was keenly felt considering the long-standing rivalry. Even ‘Glad All Over’, the popular pre-match Palace anthem, was regrettably curtailed, when it is normally the ever-reliable signal to whip up the Eagles’ support.
However there remained a feisty nature once matters got under way. Brighton’s Yves Bissouma fired a shot against the side netting rather than at least hitting the target, as the south coast visitors were first to assert themselves in the opening minutes.
Still, there was certainly no inkling of what was to follow, though, when Palace were awarded a penalty, in what was their first serious attack in the 17th minute. From Andros Townsend’s raid down the right, his cross was about to be met by Michy Batshuayi in the six yard area only for the striker to be hauled down. In such circumstances, there is usually one man to be completely trusted with the spot kick responsibility – and, sure enough, Zaha calmly slotted home.
The breakthrough was enough to bolster Palace, who began to grow in confidence, with Ivorian talisman Zaha demanding the ball to set moves apace.
Brighton, nevertheless, remained composed, and sprightly Adam Lallana was regularly at the cusp of their efforts to create, but found as the first half drew to a conclusion that the hosts were much more resilient and organised at the back. Notably, Palace midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp also weighed in with some brutal assistance at times to protect the lead. Both sides, as expected, were at this full throttle – and Hodgson would have been happy to see his men retain the slender lead at half time.
Brighton started the second half positively and Palace keeper Vicente Guaita got down well to deny a close range shot from Neal Maupay. The Seagulls’ forward will probably wonder why he didn’t make capital of a great opportunity to equalise when set up perfectly by Solly March’s cross from the left.
Graham Potter’s outfit had a let off in the immediate aftermath, when Chelsea loanee Batshuayi cracked the ball impressively into the roof of the net after bursting through, only for the strike to be ruled out by VAR.
Unsurprisingly, this remained a taut, evenly matched affair, where a goal could have been easily despatched at either end. Maupay’s frustration was compounded when, as Brighton hit Palace on the counter-attack, he was denied by the combined bravery of Joel Ward and Cheikhou Kouyate, the latter receiving lengthy treatment for his efforts.
Referee Stuart Attwell was kept busy in his attempts to administer a game rapidly descending into a series of peppered fouls and minor feuds, with any prospect of open, attacking football and ingenuity appearing remote.
For all that, it was Brighton in the ascendancy, still believing, and pressing the Eagles back, although they were guilty of perhaps wanting to take one touch too many in the penalty area. Palace were lacking much-needed spark and even Zaha appeared peripheral by his standards, as a second goal eluded them. As time appeared to be getting better of Brighton, the Londoners at least had a well-organised sheen, ensuring plenty of players were adequately stretched across the rearguard.
That game resistance was finally broken. MacAllister in the dying moments took his opportunity to step up, just when it all seemed lost for the Seagulls. Picking up a pass across the 18 yard line by Aaron Connolly, the Argentine, of Scottish ancestry, slammed a firm right foot effort past Guaita into the corner of the net.
While the drama of conceding so late will be especially disappointing for Palace - who continue to consolidate as more intense demands escalate in their Premier League campaign– they may well find more luck at struggling Fulham next Saturday.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Kouyate, Townsend, Zaha, Schlupp (Benteke 86), McArthur, Batshuayi (Milivojevic 83), Cahill, Mitchell, Riedewald