SATURDAY 5TH OCTOBER, 2019
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 3(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Connolly 32, 65
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Marc Perry, Simon Bennett
Fourth official:- Robert Jones
VAR:- Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR:- Andy Halliday.
Brighton (4-4-2):- Ryan; Montoya, Webster, Dunk (Capt.), Burn; Gross, Alzate (sub Bong, 88), Stephens (sub Murray, 90), Mooy; Maupay, Connolly (sub Bissouma, 80)
Subs not used:- Button; Balogun; March; Jahanbakhsh
Booked:- Stephens (foul on Lamela), Dunk
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.)(sub Gazzaniga, 8); Sissoko, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Ndombele (sub Winks, 46); Lamela, Eriksen, Son (sub Lucas Moura, 73); Kane
(Armband to Kane)
Subs not used:- Sanchez, Foyth; Dele, Skipp
Spurs’ fragility all too easily exposed.
It was about the most shocking day experienced for Spurs fans under the leadership of Mauricio Pochettino. This was a performance far worse than Tuesday’s 7-2 debacle in which Spurs at least put on a decent show for most of the first half. Here they surrendered to a Brighton side who had not won at home since March, and who had not won a league game since the opening day of the season at Watford. That was the only other time this year that Brighton had scored three goals in a league game. So, their victims in that regard have been the bottom club, and Spurs.
Not for the first time this year (the last time was in the Champions League Final on 1st June), Spurs surrendered the lead in the first minutes of the game. This goal and the horrible injury suffered by Hugo Lloris was psychologically as damaging to the team as that early penalty in Madrid. Probably more so, because of Hugo’s agony. Hugo had been guilty of an awful mistake when he misjudged a deep cross by Pascal Gross from the left that fell just under the goalkeeper’s bar. Hugo should have tipped the ball over, but he was falling with the ball in his hands and had to drop the ball as he fell behind the line. Maupay had an easy job in mopping up his gifted goal, but Hugo was in obvious pain, crumpled within his goal. There was a lengthy delay as our captain received treatment which included oxygen being given. I understand that poor Hugo was screaming in his agony as he was stretchered off and taken down the players’ tunnel. The club later announced that Hugo has suffered a dislocated elbow, but he is obviously going to be missing for a while now.
Gazzaniga was the replacement, and he too would make a first half error. Pochettino had indicated in his Friday press conference that he would probably use Sissoko at right back. We all know Moussa did a terrific job covering the position last week, but he is not a right back, and he was exposed in the first half. Spurs are better off when he is protecting the defence in the middle, than they were today. Spurs are too predictable. Once again, they persisted in their style of trying to play out from the back, but all opposition teams have sussed them out and press hard. Quite often, as a result, this Spurs side does not get the ball out of their own half. Rather lose the ball upfield than in your own half I say.
Erik Lamela played on the right wing. You never did see a more left footed player and he was never going to go round his man. Mind you, my recollection is that Spurs only mustered two shots in a first half where Brighton managed many more. I have seen Brighton’s line-up described as a 4-4-2, but I thought they went three at the back with Burn in an advanced position much of the time. One way or another, the “Seagulls” flooded the midfield and simply over-ran Spurs. Our midfield two were Eric Dier, for whom there had been a clamour by many Spurs fans for a recall, and Tanguy Ndombele, who showed some tricky skills going forward, but not so much defensive ability. As a group, Spurs struggled to contain Aaron Mooy (on loan from Huddersfield), 19 year old Aaron Connolly (making his first Premier League start), and Maupay to name but three of the Brighton players.
After the delay, Sissoko fouled Connolly out on the wing. Mooy’s free kick was met by Stephens, whose rocket shot was deflected by Jan Vertonghen’s head, knocking the Spurs man to the ground. Spurs did manage an attack of sorts when Lamela and Ndombele passed the ball across to Davies, but his cross for Kane was easily snuffed out. Vertonghen, who had needed attention after that early block was suffering again after a midfield challenge which led to a Brighton free kick. Eriksen did have a shot on target after 25 minutes, but this was fodder for Matty Ryan in the Brighton goal. Kane seemed to take a big clout down the left flank, but there was no card and only a Spurs free kick. Such awards were rare at that stage of the game, where Spurs seemed to be punished more by referee Jon Moss. Having said that Connolly went down as he entered the Spurs area under Sissoko’s challenge and whilst I thought the referee had called play back over another incident, a Brighton throw was given back to our goalkeeper after a Spurs player had gone down injured.
Brighton went two up and it was the first of two goals for Connolly. The Irish under-21 International met Burn’s cross with a clever flick which caught out Gazzaniga, who could only parry the shot. Connolly gleefully scored from the rebound.
Gross had a shot on the Spurs goal two minutes later. The ball took a deflection and passed outside Gazzaniga’s right post. After another Brighton attack, Gross passed inside to his left and Connolly had another shot. This one passed wide. After 43 minutes, Spurs did break out of their half. the move started with an Ndombele pass to Son who fed Kane on the left. Kane found Lamela out towards the right of the area, whose shot passed Ryan, but was cleared by Dunk.
Due to Hugo’s injury there were 7 minutes of added time during which Maupay hit a cross which Alderweireld flicked from the near post, fortunately going wide across the goal. I confess that towards the end of the half, I had booed my team. I was so upset by the short passing to the side and just in front of goal, which generally takes us nowhere. I will also share with you my comment at half-time on a private WhatsApp group which read:- “This stays the same I think there could be a change of manager in the next two weeks. Something is deeply wrong and I don’t know what it is”. I understand there were scuffles in the away section, and clearly there are opposing views around about our manager.
Pochettino replaced Ndombele with Winks and switched to a back three at half-time. Dier fell back to play between Alderweireld and Vertonghen. That gave Sissoko more of an outlet as wing-back, and Harry Winks certainly offered positivity, energy and some degree of success in moving the ball forward. Son and Lamela switched sides at times. Stephens got a yellow card not so much for his foul on Lamela, but for preventing the same player from taking a quick free kick. Eriksen had a subsequent free kick from shooting distance blocked.
Connolly won a corner for Brighton after 61 minutes. This was taken by Gross and reached Stephens at the back of the area un-marked. Stephens’ shot was well over, thankfully for Spurs. Mooy was fouled by Sissoko just outside the area and Gross took the kick which bounced off the top of the bar. From our end it had looked as if Gazzaniga had pushed the ball over, but it was a goal kick.
Brighton went three up with a great goal by Connolly. He picked up a long ball down the left channel, turned inside Alderweireld (with too much ease) and hit a right foot shot across Gazzaniga’s left hand. What a dream start for the Brighton player. What a disaster for Spurs. The Brighton fans crowed “We want seven!”, and “We’re taking the p*ss!”, and you know what? Their team thoroughly deserved their win.
Spurs tried to get on the scoresheet, but ultimately failed. After a corner on the right Eriksen hit a left foot shot over the target. Sissoko got around the defence and cut the ball back. After a deflection Son had a chance, but miscued and Ryan was able to pick up. Spurs’ best chance fell to Kane who had shown so little thread throughout the game, not that he had much service. Son and Lamela broke forward. Lamela fed the ball to Harry towards the right of the area. Kane turned back but hit a left foot shot over the bar, when you would lay odds of him scoring in that position.
Now Son was substituted and the decision to replace him was booed by the Spurs fans. Lucas Moura came on. Connolly went off to rousing cheers from the home fans, and I do believe the man on my right applauded the lad. Lamela gave Lucas a chance towards the left of the area, but the Brighton defence closed him down.
As the game drew towards its close (all too welcome for the travelling fans) Brighton had more chances. Maupay fielded a cross from the right giving Gross a shot which went straight into Gazzaniga’s hands. Harry Kane teed up Lucas Moura who hit a stinging shot from over 25 yards which Ryan saved well with a firm outstretched left hand.
In the end, the final whistle was a welcome relief. Spurs have still not won an away game in the league since January – and that came with a last kick goal by Harry Winks at Fulham. Brighton had not won at home since March. Something had to give. Sadly it was Spurs, currently the team that keeps on giving – to their opponents. Spurs are falling towards a mid-table position. You’d better make the most of what remains of our Champions League campaign, because on this form, we won’t see it next year.
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