Brighton and Hove Albion-Oldham: Brighton Wins 2-1, Tops of League One

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Brighton and Hove Albion-Oldham: Brighton Wins 2-1, Tops of League One
Pete Norton/Getty Images
Two of Bennett's corners resulted in goals on Saturday

Oldham Athletic

  • Alessandra, 30'

Brighton And Hove Albion

  • Barnes, 44'
  • Sandaza, 96'

 

Brighton have gone to the top following a late winner by new singing and home debutant Francisco Sandaza.

The first half saw Brighton pressing, with Ashley Barnes missing three golden opportunities to put Brighton ahead by the break and comfortably see the game off by halftime. But it was Oldham who drew first blood with Alessandra scoring a very well taken finish.

Just on the stroke of halftime Ashley Barnes got on the end of an Elliott Bennett cross making it 1-1.

The second half saw a change in the way Brighton approached the game. Oldham had been able to change how we dealt with their defence, making it very hard for Brighton to dictate play.

Gus Poyet managed to change this at halftime and we came out snappier and sharper on the ball. Our pressure increased as well. Oldham players were given much less time on the ball.

A flash point came however in the 66th minute. Jean Yves Mvoto pulled on Ashley Barnes's shirt. Although in its self it's not a bad foul, Mvoto didn't let Barnes go and instead held him in a headlock while still running.

What was certain to be a straight red resulted in only a booking with Barnes also getting cautioned for "unsporting behaviour."

Brighton continued to pressure and substitute Radostin Kishishev tried to pull the strings from midfield when he came on for short-term signing Liam Birdcutt, formerly a Stockport County loan star.

It was Glenn Murray's birthday but Poyet's gift wasn't a full 90 minutes and on the 71st minute Sandaza came on.

Time went on and Mvoto's scuffle with Barnes contributed to a five extra minutes being played where finally, after a cross from Bennett and a goal mouth scramble Sandaza finally scored what proved to be the goal that put Brighton top of League One by a point from fellow promotion chasers Peterborough.

The match was a good "British" game of football. I hate the phrase "British" or "English" when describing teams or worse—Harry Redknapp, however today's game saw two lower league sides play a very physical game to grind out the points they wanted.

Oldham, just by looking at their tactics, wanted a point from today and were happy with 1-1 on the 95th minute. Brighton by contrast felt that, although a point was sufficient, adequate and just about acceptable, it shouldn't be what we aim for.

When a year ago Brighton would have spent the last five minutes of this match with our backs to the wall and having to stop late winners this time we were the ones pushing for a win and Oldham were the team that would be happy with a point.

 

Finally on the subject of tactics, Gus Poyet showed two managerial qualities that make him one of the best up-and-coming managers in the league.

Firstly his halftime team talks are fantastic. For the second time this season it's been like watching two separate Brighton sides playing. Sometimes all a game needs is the right words from a manager and the team have a whole new outlook on how to play this game.

Secondly his tactical awareness is top drawer. Poyet picked his side, and tried to get the team to play our style of pass and go football. Against Oldham however this didn't work because Oldham played a very physical game.

On the fly changes were needed and although we didn't change drastically, the right balance was made between physical and technical football.

Tuesday night sees Brighton host Brentford in the first 7:45PM kick off at home in the league this season. Our fourth game in 10 days so yet more changes are expected with Baz, Battipied, Smith and Greer all in contention for a start to limit fatigue.

As long as Brighton match the result of Peterborough, Bournemouth, Huddersfield and Colchester who are second, third, fourth and fifth respectively, we remain top of League One and on course for Championship football in our opening season at Falmer.

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