Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Newcastle United 1
- David Coote
Isaac Hayden struck midway through the second half to earn Newcastle a point against a Brighton side who ended a dramatic encounter with ten men.
The Magpies trailed to Leandro Trossard’s penalty at the interval – awarded following a VAR check as a result of Ciaran Clark’s foul on the same player – and could have few complaints at that stage after a poor first-half display in which they seldom saw the ball against Graham Potter’s high-flying side.
Little by little, though, they edged their way back into it, and they managed to restore parity through Hayden, who produced a decisive finish from 12 yards after meeting Clark’s knockdown.
Having temporarily dropped to the foot on the Premier League beforehand, the Magpies could even have turned what threatened to be a rotten day completely on its head, ending the game very much in the ascendancy after Brighton ‘keeper Robert Sánchez was dismissed for a cynical foul on Callum Wilson.
United were made to work hard from the outset, chasing the ball from left to right as Brighton dominated possession early on. The Seagulls carved out their first opportunity of the game six minutes in, as Trossard called Karl Darlow into action with a header after peeling away from Jacob Murphy to meet Tariq Lamptey’s cross. Darlow was equal to another headed effort a couple of minutes later, this time from Shane Duffy, who’d managed to connect with Trossard’s corner.
The game was starting to settle down a tad when, out of relatively little, Brighton were gift-wrapped the chance to take the lead midway through the half. Trossard was front and centre of the action, tumbling under Clark’s challenge after the Magpies had dealt with the initial danger from Solly March’s corner. To begin with, the Belgian forward’s protests were waved away. But, after consulting with his pitch-side monitor, David Coote opted to award the spot kick after all, and Trossard duly sent the ball down the middle.
A goal to the good, the hosts looked in total control as the interval neared; the Magpies, in stark contrast to their opponents, struggled to piece two or three passes together, let alone threaten Sánchez with anything from open play. However, they got to the break without sustaining further damage.
They were lucky not to fall further behind shortly after it, though. Adam Lallana was allowed to advance with the ball far too easily before playing through Trossard, whose powerful strike was kept out by Darlow at the near post. Seconds later, with United struggling to clear their lines, left back Marc Cucurella got his head to a loose ball but saw a downward header roll wide.
On 55 minutes, the Seagulls cut the Magpies open with a flowing move. Sánchez picked out Cucurella’s run down the left with a pinpoint pass from deep, which the defender controlled superbly. He found Trossard, who in turn looked to tee up Lallana, but – perhaps with more time than he realised – the former Liverpool midfielder fired harmlessly wide from 18 yards.
At 1-0, though, Newcastle were never out of it completely. And, on 66 minutes, they managed to equalise with their first real opportunity of the game. Matt Ritchie played a free kick short to Allan Saint-Maximin before collecting the Frenchman’s return pass on the overlap. He then delivered a cross to the back post, which Clark nodded down for Hayden to despatch first-time.
The couple of minutes leading up to that, as well as much of the period that followed, represented the Magpies’ best spell of the game. They started to trouble the Seagulls in possession, forcing the home side to give up the ball rather more quickly than they had in the opening half. Furthermore, they finally got a proper foothold themselves, getting on the ball and making Brighton do a bit of chasing themselves. Murphy fired a warning shot on 85 minutes with a vicious strike from 20 yards, which flew wide of Sánchez’s near post.
At that point, though, things appeared to be petering out a little on the whole. But, as five minutes of stoppage time began, the game sprang back to life. Substitute Joelinton set Wilson away with a fine threaded pass, which the frontman got to before the onrushing Sánchez. As he tried to take it past the ‘keeper, though, he fell to the floor 25 yards from goal. Again, the challenge initially went unpunished, but a VAR check prompted Coote to brandish his red card. With Brighton having used up all of their substitutions, defender Lewis Dunk took over the gloves, but the Magpies were unable to make anything come of the retrospective free kick they were awarded, nor the additional three or four minutes which followed.