Barnsley 0 Brighton 2: Reds boss Paul Heckingbottom hands it to top quality Seagulls
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom handed credit to Brighton after they produced a sparkling second-half performance to sink the hosts.
Sam Baldock bagged two predatory strikes during the third quarter of the game to send the Seagulls flying back to the top of the table, and probably towards automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Heckingbottom said: “It was a very even game, but it was also one which showed why Brighton are top of the league.
“They were clinical at one end and really tight and stringent at the other.
“They didn’t give us anything.
“The first goal was only a half-chance really, it was a great finish. But before that, I thought we’d had the better of the game.
“It just shows that, as we had spoken about before the game, Brighton are relatively comfortable winning games and they won’t have been fazed by the fact that we played well in the first half.
“They’d have gladly let that happen and left it until 80 or 90 minutes before going on to win 1-0.
“At any moment they’ve got that real quality in their side.
“They’ve got players who can take those half-chances and make them count.”
Ryan Kent, Adam Armstrong and Marley Watkins all had decent chances to break the deadlock for Barnsley during a goalless first period at sun-drenched Oakwell.
However, the Seagulls grabbed the all-important opener after 53 minutes when Anthony Knockaert teed up up Baldock, and he finished superbly from just inside the box.
Fifteen minutes later the same two players combined again, with Knockaert crossing in for Baldock, who side-footed his 10th goal of the season clinically past Adam Davies.
Sub Adam Hammill missed the Reds’ best chance of the second period, dragging a shot wildly over the top from 10 yards just minutes after coming on to replace Tom Bradshaw.
‘it was a penalty’
Paul Heckingbottom refused to criticise referee David Coote after he appeared to miss a blatant penalty claim early in Saturday’s defeat.
With Lewis Dunk charging back to clear under pressure from Tom Bradshaw, the Brighton defender appeared to handle the ball.
Heckingbottom said: “That was a definite penalty.
“But we’re not a team that relies on a referee to get us results.
“We have to do that on our own.
“Sometimes, though, decisions go against you in important situations, and that one clearly did.”
The Reds will be bidding to bounce back on Saturday when they host Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.
hughton salutes reds
Brighton boss Chris Hughton was delighted to have secured a crucial win at the home of a Barnsley team he clearly rates very highly.
The Seagulls had endured a minor blip thanks to a run of just one win from their previous four games, but they stormed back to the top of the Championship thanks to their deserved victory at Oakwell.
Hughton said: “We were good, but we had to be because we were up against a Barnsley side who were in good form themselves.
“We had to be right back at our best because Barnsley are up where they are on merit.
“That quality we undoubtedly have was needed here.
“I watched Barnsley at Reading and I was very impressed with them that day - they should have won that game.
“They were obviously very good at Villa in midweek, too, so to get a result like this is great for us.
“You have to keep those levels high in this division as everyone knows.”