Brighton 1, Burnley 0 - Albion edge into play-off places

Our Seagulls correspondent - Patrick Gleeson
Our Seagulls correspondent - Patrick Gleeson

Patrick Gleeson reports on the Seafulls’ continued success.

Albion have crept into a play-off place thanks to a third clean sheet in four games.

Spanish midfielder David Lopez scored his fifth of the season with a stunning volley on the 20-minute mark, with the Albion defence playing their own part in ensuring Albion leapfrog Middlesbrough into sixth place.

On a bitterly cold afternoon on the South Coast neither side mustered anything to warm either set of fans in the opening quarter of an hour, but the hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

If anyone was going to unlock the stringent Burnley defence it was Vicente, and he did his best with a piercing ball into the flanks for Wayne Bridge to drill into the box, only for Chris McCann to lump clear. The two again combined after some neat footwork from Vicente allowed Bridge to whip another ball in towards Leonardo Ulloa, but the Clarets again cleared the ball from danger.

It wouldn’t be long until Albion opened the scoring, however, as Kieran Trippier failed to contain the menacing Bridge. The left-back’s powerful cross was flicked towards the back post by the alert Andrea Orlandi for his compatriot Lopez to smash past Lee Grant between the Burnley sticks.

The goal appeared to kick Sean Dyche’s men into action, and if it wasn’t for Adam El-Abd’s double block, a Bruno deflection, and a domineering header from Matthew Upson then the game would have been level.

Tomasz Kuszczak carried on his heroic form from Tuesday’s trip to league leaders Cardiff when his instinctive, low save somehow scooped Jason Shackell’s downwards header off the line.

Ulloa then had the chance to double Albion’s lead with a tap-in from a matter of yards, but the Argentine striker somehow fired over the bar on the stroke of half time.

The second half started as the first ended, with Ulloa trying his luck at goal. After Bridge burst down the left-flank and rolled the ball to the forward’s feet, Ulloa - with his back to goal, swivelled and forced a comfortable save from Grant.

With Burnley doing the pressing, Gus Poyet introduced the return of both Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith to add some much needed zest into the Brighton attack.

Albion looked content with their lead and there was no real urgency from the visitors to level the game, so there was no real surprise when the game fizzled out with no goals in the second half.

Albion now have 10 points from 12 and find themselves a point ahead of seventh place with a game in hand.