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Hughton's Seagulls swoop at The Valley

ALL THREE POINTS: Brighton boss Chris Hughton

CHRIS HUGHTON’S Seagulls swooped as Brighton beat Charlton 1-0 at The Valley this afternoon (January 10).

This was Hughton’s second match in charge of the Seagulls and the indicators are already good that the respected Championship manager can turn his team’s fortunes around.

Not too long ago this fixture might have seen two black managers in opposing dug outs; Chris Powell – now at Huddersfield – was in charge of the south east London outfit last term.

Hughton’s men were playing for two things – movement up the Championship table and for a starting berth against Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup in a fortnight’s time.

Hughton has not taken long to get his philosophy over to his new charges, they have already adopted his noted passing game.

The Valley was two-thirds full but Brighton had clearly sold all their allocation of tickets; the away end in the Jimmy Seed Stand was noisy and full.

The first half was arguably the most tepid this correspondent has witnessed all season. There was little cohesion from either side and it was easy to see why they lay 13th and 21st respectively in the division.

Charlton made a nervy start. Brighton were the team on the offensive with Craig Mackail-Smith looking lively early on.

For all that it was Charlton no.29 George Tucudean who had the first genuine shot in anger, a left foot drive which was blocked by a defender.

As the away side pressed in a bid to get the opening goal, on ten minutes a Sean Baldock header, after a corner, was easily saved by Neil Etheridge.

A dull first half was punctuated by Charlton fans venting their frustration on their own players and referee Lee Probert.

Charlton slowly attempted to pacify their fans as Andre Bikey-Amougou had a shot saved on the half hour mark while Addicks captain Johnnie Jackson saw his header bundled away for a corner in the 43rd minute.

But overall, the hosts were devoid of ideas and confidence in the first period. Albion, with giant midfielder Rohan Ince dominating proceedings, were slightly better and always seemed capable of stealing a goal. And so it proved.

The sound of the half-time whistle was greeted by boos and a desire to find a hot drink on a freezing January afternoon.

The second half just had to be better, and it was. Brighton’s Jake Foster-Caskey was denied a goal by a sprawling Etheridge within minutes of the restart; the effort certainly livened up the old stadium.

Charlton were dealt a blow when Tucudean was replaced by the popular Tony Watt six minutes into the half.

Watt almost made an immediate impact; he freed himself of his marker and bore down on goal only to be denied by a good save from David Stockdale which resulted in a corner.

Hughton’s men countered again, this time the influential Joe Bennett saw a weak header saved by the home custodian as the game now found some passion and purpose.
The next moment of drama was provided by Chris Solly who struck the crossbar with a thunderous 25 yard effort. Charlton were to rue that missed opportunity.

In the 62nd minute, after a free-kick by Solly March, a towering Ince was to notch the only goal of the game with a thumping header.

Igor Vetokele, with a tame header, attempted to hit back but Etheridge was again up to the task.

On 73 minutes Watt, after a knock down by Vetokele, fired wide when it seemed easier to score.

The game thereafter saw Brighton comfortably ward off lame home attacks.

The Seagulls are on the up and up. Charlton are in trouble.

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