London Saints

Rickie downs the Seagulls

Last year’s home fixture with Brighton finished goal-less but it was proof of the class of the top teams in the 2010/11 League One. This time round neither side showed quite the same technical skills or imaginative tactics, but the visitors would have felt that things were going to plan after a first half in which Southampton eventually managed to take over the majority of possession and yet failed to create a worthwhile opportunity. Lambert seemed to think that Painter grabbing a fair chunk of his shirt was cause for a decent penalty claim and obviously fancied his chances from the 12 yard spot – with good reason, as it turned out.

First, though, Saints’ leading scorer made the breakthrough with a powerful header just after the interval, when Richardson turned back to deliver another telling cross, but with his left foot. The crucial moments from then on all involved referee Walton. The official first cautioned Hammond for ‘simulation’ as he fell over Harper’s dive in a bid to win a penalty – a more direct run for the ball might have produced a better result. Then Walton reacted to his assistant’s flag for a foul on Fonte by this time awarding the penalty, despite over 31,000 people sensing that the offence was outside the box – as confirmed by TV.

It would take a leap of faith from the most ardent Brighton fan to say that this was a turning point in a game that Saints were now dominating, but at least it’s given Gassy Gus something to moan about, and he’s a league leader in that at least. Poyet’s player-assistant, Mauricio Taricco, was in a closer position to vent his own feelings, thus earning a red card before Lambert shot into the bottom corner. There was surely no doubt about the next incident, with Painter bundling Lambert over like a sumo wrestler pushing an opponent out of the ring… but Mr. Walton saw nothing wrong. Actually there didn’t seem much doubt about penalty number two when it finally arrived, but replays now suggest that Calderon made little contact with his challenge on Lambert.

The striker tried to take advantage of Harper fannying around by ‘scoring’ with a quickly taken kick – but it’s usually better to wait for the referee’s whistle first. No matter, as an adrenalin-fuelled second effort flew into the top corner. Ticket-less Albion fans at work have noticed that even extended TV highlights failed to reveal any action around the Saints goal. There’s a good reason for that, as we recorded a particularly satisfactory win for those of us in the Brighton post code area.

LSSC Man of the Match: Rickie Lambert, as a hat-trick will usually win the award.

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