Whites battle to loss at the Withdean
Tranmere`s efforts were undone by second-half goals from Chris Wood and Glen Murray as league leaders Brighton met their match at the Withdean Stadium.
Wood`s penalty after a handball from Ian Goodison was the games turning point, with Murray adding a second from outside of the box minutes later to seal the win.
Les Parry was true to his word and made changes to the side that slumped to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers earlier in the week. Rovers switching to to 4-4-2 saw Robbie Weir partner John Welsh in the centre of midfield, with Michael Kay filling in for the Sunderland loanee at right-back. Kay came in at the expense of Ash Taylor who was benched along with Joss Labadie who made way for Lucas Akins at right-midfield. Andy Robinson pushed up from midfield to play in the hole just behind target-man Enoch Showunmi to complete the tactical shake-up.
The opening minutes were evenly contested by both sides, with Kay and Aaron Cresswell working hard to keep any crosses from coming in. Andy Robinson had a penalty appeal turned down inside the first 10 minutes as the former Swansea man created problems by drifting across the hosts defence, but nothing came from the league leaders for a while. In fact, the first real sign of the Seagulls showing their attacking prowess came with the match approaching the 20 minute mark. Tony Warner did well to keep out Matt Sparrow`s shot from inside the area and did even better to deny Murray from converting the rebound by getting down early to smother the strikers attempt.
The next period of the game saw Tranmere working hard to keep their shape and allowing their opponents to keep the ball inside their own half. Sparrow tried his luck with a couple of long-range efforts that went comfortably wide of Warner`s post, with the Whites main opportunities coming from long-balls into the area that were cleared away to safety.
Gus Poyet appeared to be coming increasingly agitated by his side`s failure to really open up the Whites defence, much so that Brighton abandoned their own passing game in the favour of a more direct approach to goal with some long-balls of their own. There were a couple of half-chances for the home sides attack to dwell before the half-time with Warner saving yet another shot from Sparrow. Elliot Bennett was presented with a great chance to break the deadlock in the form of a free-kick conceded by Robinson just outside the area on the brink of half-time. The shot went through the wall but ended up wide of Warner`s goal with the whistle sounding straight after.
The game seemed to open out a bit at the start of the second-half with Murray heading over the bar from deep inside the area. Goodison also had an attempt that went over at the other end before a substitution made by Poyet changed the game.
Craig Noone and Liam Bridcutt were brought on at the expense of Sparrow and Radostin Kishishev in an attempt to inject some pace into the side, with winger Noone making an immediate impression by running at the Rovers defence. The former Plymouth man was a key figure in his sides opening goes when a one-two with Chris Wood ended with a pass striking the hand of Goodison, forcing referee Steve Rushton to point to the spot. After Goodison had tried to protest his innocence, Wood sent Warner the wrong way to give Brighton the lead.
Rovers almost drew level straight after the goal when Akins stole the ball from a defender before forcing a decent save out of Casper Ankergren. The keeper could only palm the first effort out, but jumped up quickly to claim the loose ball.
Adam McGurk replaced Zoumana Bakayogo as Parry switched his team back to 4-3-3 with McGurk, Showunmi and Akins up-front, but as the striker took his first few strides on the pitch the hosts doubled their lead with a great goal from outside of the area on the turn.
McGurk had a couple of showings in decent positions with shots that failed to trouble Ankergren, but the rest of the game was largely spent with the home side battling to hold on to their clean sheet which they gathered at the sound of the final whistle.
Goals- Brighton- Wood (pen, 63), Murray (71)
Brighton: Ankergren, Calderon, Greer, El-Abd, Painter, Bennett, Dicker, Kishishev (Noone 59), Sparrow (Bridcutt 59), Wood (Barnes 77), Murray. Substitutes not used: Brezovan, Elphick, Taricco, Sandaza.
Tranmere: Warner, Kay, Goodison, McChrystal, Cresswell, Akins, Weir, Welsh, Bakayogo (McGurk 71), Robinson, Showunmi. Substitutes not used: Collister, Cathalina, Wood, Blanchard, Taylor, Labadie.
Referee: Steve Rushton
Yellow cards: Greer (41), Showunmi (45+1), Weir (70), Barnes (80), Cresswell (80)
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