Brighton 1 (Gross)
Leeds United 0
27th August 2022, Premier League.
Ah well, it couldn’t last forever, could it? We all knew this would be a difficult trip, not only because Brighton have had such a good start to their season but also because we are yet to win at the Amex Stadium in eight previous visits. Brighton are said to be, by most pundits, a very much improved side this season and they did well last campaign too.
And for the majority of the first half Leeds were distinctly second best. Brighton carved out one or two very decent chances and, but for a lack of a precise finish, they’d have gone in at the break with a lead of some sort. Illan Meslier once again was the star player for Leeds.
In the first quarter of an hour, Adam Webster headed wide when he should probably have put the ball in the net and a rather fussy referee, Michael Salisbury, decided he wanted the name of Pascal Struijk on his little yellow card. Webster then had another header go wide from another set-piece delivery as our previous improvement in that department seemed to be waning a bit. A Solly March shot needed sharp intervention from Illan and Brighton racked up a few corners. You get the gist of a fairly one-sided first half in which Mr Fussy also booked Marc Roca and Brenden Aaronson for more fouls hardly worthy of the name. A couple of blocked shots and a single corner was the sum total of our positive moments.
Leeds were much more involved in the game after the break and I thought there wasn’t much in it from that point on, with both sides trading blocked shots and a few near misses, although Meslier did pull off another excellent block when Solly March broke clean through. On the hour mark, Leeds twisted first with the introduction of Matty Klich and Luis Sinisterra for Dan James and Marc Roca which looked like Leeds adopting a slightly more positive attitude to the game that saw Sinisterra immediately sliding in at the back post and just failing to divert the ball into the net and Rodrigo too getting what was a very rare attempt in this game compared to his prominence so far this season. Sadly, just 6 minutes after the Leeds substitutions we went behind in the one moment of clinical finishing we saw all afternoon.
A simple ball clipped up to Danny Welbeck found the striker just in line with our defensive ribbon and he touched the ball to Caicedo on the left. With the Leeds defence then shifting to that side the ball was played instead across the other way, initially to Trossard, and then on to Pascal Gross forming the overload if you were to use a rugby term. Gross unerringly struck the ball across Meslier to tuck it inside the far post. Leeds’s narrow defence had been undone and there was even one more Brighton attacker free on that right side had he of been needed. It’s an area we need to tighten. VAR confirmed that Welbeck was indeed level and not offside.
Diego Llorente should probably have equalised when he rose to meet an Adam Forshaw free-kick on the Leeds left but Llorente took his eye off the ball and ended up knocking it toward goal off his back and wide of the post. That was that, it was the first defeat of the season for the Mighty Whites.
My overall summary of this one was a shrug of the shoulders reaction. We could have, and probably deserved to get a point and this was just one of those games that turned on one good finish that happened to be delivered by Brighton, not Leeds. Having said that though Illan Meslier was a good shout for man of the match and I don’t remember Sanchez having too much to do in the home goal. It’s hard to work out whether this was an under-par Leeds or a very good Brighton that prevented us from showing what we can do. The truth might become more clear when we tackle the Toffees on Wednesday; win that one and play well and then I’ll be convinced that it was more of the latter. One final observation is that the match statistics for this Brighton game were not dissimilar to the stats from the Southampton game and we know that one could also have gone against us.
Brighton Leeds U
Possession 43% 57%
Shots 13 10
On Target 4 2
Corners 5 3
Fouls 10 14