Brighton and Hove Albion came from behind to secure all three points against Bristol City, with substitute Bobby Zamora scoring the winning goal late on; replicating his performance at Elland Road only a matter of days ago.
The Seagulls legend struck in the 82nd minute to give the home side the advantage, following Sam Baldock’s close range finish that cancelled out Derrick Williams’ opening goal. Zamora’s winner was his second in as many games, as the 34-year-old once again made his impact late on, providing a touch of class to keep the Albion four points clear at the top of the Championship table.
Following Saturday’s away victory over Leeds United, only one change was made to the starting XI with Uwe Hunemeier stepping in for injured captain Gordon Greer.
Bristol City arrived at the American Express Community Stadium off the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest, with manager Steve Cotterill naming an unchanged side against the league leaders. The opening exchanges were cagey, offering little in terms of clear cut chances as both sides used the opening period to weigh up their opponent. Soon after, the deadlock was broken by the away side, as Derrick Williams volleyed Jonathan Kodjia’s perfectly weighted cross past a helpless David Stockdale in the 17th minute.
A slip from Albion defender Lewis Dunk was pivotal in the lead up to the goal, as Chris Hughton’s men were punished for their slow start. Sam Baldock wasted two glorious opportunities prior to the break, shooting straight at City keeper Frank Fielding when it looked harder to miss, before having a second effort on goal cleared off the line.
Solly March then set off on a mazy run, releasing Albion’s top scorer Tomer Hemed through on goal, but the Israeli’s low drive lacked conviction before both sides proceeded down the tunnel for half time. The second half began at a much higher tempo, with the home side posing all the questions and finally in the 53rd minute, they found an answer. After neat link up play within the midfield, Bruno’s overlapping run welcomed a pass from Liam Rosenior, giving the Spaniard time to deliver a well placed cross into the feet of Baldock, who levelled the game from six yards.
Moments later it looked as if referee Iain Williamson was going to point to the spot, as City midfielder Luke Freeman tumbled over inside the penalty area, but much to the satisfaction of the home supporters, a yellow card was brandished for simulation. The balance was tilting in favour of the Robins and two magnificent saves from Stockdale were required to prevent them from regaining the lead. First of all, a stinging effort from City striker Kodjia was brilliantly denied by Albion’s goalkeeper and the pair exchanged once again, as Stockdale raced off his line to smother the promising forward’s goal-bound effort.
Andrew Crofts and Bobby Zamora were then introduced just minutes apart, providing fresh legs to an Albion side that seemed to be running out of steam. It was exactly the boost needed and within six minutes of being on the field, that man Zamora was there again to make the difference. Dale Stephens’ effort rebounded kindly into the path of the twice capped England international and with little time to adjust his body, Zamora swivelled to volley the ball past Fielding from 12 yards as the Amex stadium erupted with joy.
Albion withstood some late pressure and saw out the dramatic encounter, extending their unbeaten run to 12 games, as they sit comfortably in the Championship’s pole position. Preston North End are next up for the Albion, as the Lancashire side travel down south on Saturday for a 3pm kick off.
By Kieran Cleeves
Brighton Player Ratings:
- Stockdale 8
- Bong 9
- Dunk 6
- Hunemeier 7
- Rosenior 8
- Stephens 6
- Kayal 6
- March 7
- Hemed 5
- Baldock 7
- Crofts 6
- Zamora 8
- Calderon 6
- Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-2): Stockdale; Bruno (c), Dunk, Hunemeier, Bong; Rosenior (Crofts 74), Stephens, Kayal, March (Calderon 88); Hemed (Zamora 76), Baldoc
- Subs not used: Maenpaa (GK); Goldson, Ince, Manu, Zamor
- Goals: Baldock 53, Zamora 82
- Booked: Dunk, Zamora, Kayal
- Bristol City (3-5-2): Fielding; Ayling (Cox 84), Flint, Baker; Bennett (Moore 60), Williams, Smith, Pack, Freeman; Wilbraham (c) (Agard 87), Kodjia
- Subs not used: Hamer (GK); Little, Reid, Bryan
- Goal: Williams 17
- Booked: Baker, Freeman, Moore
- Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire)
- Attendance: 23,181