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Brighton and Hove Albion

This column has noted in the past that the Midlands football writers’ fraternity is an unbiased and well-informed group. But quite a few of them seem to support Wolves, so they were understandably unhappy that Albion marauded Molineux and walked away with three very well-deserved points.

To their credit, they directed all their anger and frustration at the home side – as did the fans outside the press box – and they had plenty of good things to say about Graham Potter and his players after a tremendous 3-0 win at one of our favorite away grounds.

Many focused on the two penalties in the first half and the gut guts of the man who took them both.

Graham Hill, for example, in sunday sunwrote that “Brighton were in full control despite a first-half penalty missed through Alexis Mac Allister – who made amends nine minutes later as Graham Potter’s side were awarded a second kick.

“A third defeat in a row – and no goals in those games – highlighted the fact that Wolves have a big problem finding the net. Those frustrations spilled over to the fans who moaned and scoffed as Brighton dominated. Wolves only managed one shot on target although Pedro Neto hit the post with the game’s final kick.

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“But Mac Allister’s motto must be: ‘If you don’t get it right the first time, try, try again.’ The Argentine missed the chance to put Brighton ahead from the penalty spot just after the half-hour mark when he hit the post.

“But when they won a second kick, Mac Allister stepped up again. He had to fight against the ball from Leandro Trossard who clearly wanted to take it after the previous miss. But it was the return of the Mac. And he was right on his second attempt, even though he put it in the same corner.

“But while Trossard was denied the chance to score from the spot – he more than made up for it with 20 minutes to go by winning the points with a superb angled shot into the far corner.

“And the return Yves Bissouma completed the rout by finding the net from the edge of the box for his first Premier League goal of the season.

Ally Mac’s bravery was also appreciated by Arindam Rej in the Sunday Telegraph. “Alexis Mac Allister’s nerves of steel sent Brighton on their way,” he wrote. “The Argentinian midfielder had missed a spot-kick in the first half but, just nine minutes later, had the guts to grab the ball to take a second penalty attempt – and score to make it 1 -0, a score they took in the meantime.

“Missing penalties at Brighton had been a common sight of late so when they received the second penalty here they needed someone with mental toughness to step in and there seemed to be a hunger amongst their players.

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“The Argentine midfielder grabbed the ball again and kicked the ball to the same side – and Sa dived in the same way and put his gloves on the ball – but this time he hit the back of the net.

“Despite the best efforts of many off-putting Wolves fans in the Jack Hayward Stand behind, Mac Allister had kept his cool. The shaking fists, screams and cries of the red-faced player [surely ‘red-haired’?]as he celebrated, stressed relief.

“Brighton also started the second half on top, rewarded when Trossard cut inside Moutinho and rolled up. It meant the Belgian had scored in three consecutive away games. Bissouma then went on to escaped Jonny to deliver the finishing blow from the edge of the penalty area.

The iron determination of Albion’s number ten led the Mail on Sunday report, by Tim Nash, who wrote that “all the pre-match talk surrounded the return of Wolves main man Ruben Neves – but it was another midfielder, Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton and Hove Albion helped settle this game in the battle for the ‘best of the rest’.

“It wasn’t more than the Seagulls deserved after dominating Bruno Lage’s team. Brighton created the first chance when Enock Mwepu unleashed a ferocious 25-yard push that swung away from Sá, who made a diving save to his left.

“Mwepu looked determined to make a name for himself and he produced a snap after Marc Cucurella’s deep cross found him hidden at the far post.

“Sá was called up again, this time to hold Danny Welbeck’s curling, a growing effort before the Brighton striker earned a foul and a booking for Wolves captain Conor Coady. Wolves briefly came alive as Joao Moutinho and Neves had deflected low shots in quick succession. But they were soon second again, first after Brighton won their first penalty.

In the observerBen Fisher felt that “a first-half penalty from Alexis Mac Allister, who also shook the upright from the spot, a smart finish from Leandro Trossard and a late drive from Yves Bissouma helped a commercial coast from Brighton to a win that keeps Graham Potter’s side on track for their best-ever finish.

“In the build-up, Lage said he had seen too many identical games from his side, hinting at their struggles in front of goal, but that display was equally unpromising. Moutinho kicked a free-kick into the Brighton wall and, if something characterized Wolves’ tired performance, it was Neto’s corner shortly after that failed to beat the first man.

Opinions seemed to differ as to which opponent Trossard beat before scoring. According to Sunday timeAlbion were “completely dominant” while, “booed at half-time, Wolves made a double substitution but it made no difference as Brighton tightened their grip.”

On the BBC website, Luke Reddy quoted Wolves boss Lage as saying: “We didn’t come to play. We came to see Brighton play.

Reddy continued: “Graham Potter’s Brighton showed pockets of their dynamic style throughout to create a flurry of chances and they’ve now compiled a series of gritty forms, losing just once in six outings – against Manchester City – and picking up 11 points in the process.

“There can be no better example of Brighton’s adventurous approach than Marc Cucurella – the left centre-back in a back three – moving forward to cross into the penalty area in preparation for the late arrival of Bissouma.

“Their freedom and ambition proved too much for Wolves, whose fans spilled out of the ground in the closing stages.

“Cucurella was superb – seeing more of the ball than any player and completing 87 per cent of his passes – while Welbeck created three chances for the others in a selfless display and 20-year-old Moises Caicedo offered a mix of bite and composure in midfield.

“Trossard patiently created space to finish after being found by Welbeck for second, while Bissouma – back from suspension – drove third from distance as Brighton continued to show ambition despite their lead.

“Potter’s team had lost six in a row from February to March, but this victory once again demonstrates that they are now back to their best form.”

Elsewhere, there was a subtle sign of the heightened regard in which Albion is held in the report by local Wolves newspaper, the Express and starin which Liam Keen wrote that “boos rang out around Molineux as Wolves suffered their third consecutive defeat with an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Brighton in mid-table.

“With everything at stake against an opposition that had nothing left to achieve this season, the tables were turned as Wolves looked like the team wading through mid-table darkness. Wolves struggled to get the ball out and create meaningful chances as Brighton squeezed space.

What was this subtle sign? That throwaway reference to “Brighton centerpiece”, of course. Maybe that was meant to look dismissive, but we all would have taken that at the start of the season, right?

On the other hand, the description of Albion as ‘an opposition with nothing left to achieve this season’ cannot go unchallenged. Firstly, we had this record Premier League points total. And with that achieved, the goal is now surely an all-time highest league result. Forward and upward, guys!

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