Our Brighton and Hove Albion FC correspondent Patrick Gleeson reports on the Seagulls’ draw at Blackburn.
David Lopez’s coolly-converted penalty in the 96th minute earned Albion a 1-1 draw against Blackburn last night (Tuesday January 22), and also ensured their unbeaten start to 2013 continues.
Jordan Rhodes had put Rovers in front on the stroke of half time with his fifth goal in as many games, and it looked to be enough to secure Michael Appleton’s first win as Blackburn boss.
However, David Lopez’s penalty right at the death was enough to snatch a vital point at a frosty Ewood Park.
The draw means Albion climb a place into 7th, whilst Blackburn stay in 14th.
It was good news for travelling fans before kick off, with Vicente making his much anticipated return from injury to make his first start of the season, while Gary Dicker also took his place in the first team in place of Dean Hammond.
Neither side settled particularly well in the opening stages and it wasn’t until Tomasz Kuszczak pulled off a sublime save from a powerful Jason Lowe effort in the 15th minute that the game really came into life.
Vicente then squandered a decent opportunity with a wayward header before Liam Bridcutt tried his luck from range, only to skew his shot well wide of the goal. Blackburn came back at Albion with former Seagull Colin Kazim-Richards twice trying his luck, only for El-Abd to block both attempts. Rovers midfielder Pederson then forced another good stop from Kuszczak, who looked to have put his blunder against Birmingham at the weekend behind him.
Albion looked to have weathered the Rovers storm as the half edged to a close, but when the referee’s assistant flagged for a blatant foul on Pederson inside the penalty box, Robert Madley had no choice but to point to the spot. Rhodes sent Kuszczak the wrong way and Rovers went into the interval with a 1 goal advantage.
Despite the introduction of Will Buckley and Craig Mackail-Smith in the early stages of the second half, Albion never really looked to get back into the game.
Kazim-Richards continued to look for a goal against his former club and he went close on another two occasions. The former a low, driven shot which rippled the side-netting, and the latter an instinctive punt forcing the Albion keeper to claw the ball over the bar.
If his stop from the Turkey international was impressive, then his acrobatic save to deny Jordan Rhodes his second of the game was sensational. The Scotland international sent a looping header towards the corner of the Polish keeper’s net, but his large frame allowed him to turn it away with an outstretched arm.
As the game entered the final seconds, Albion were handed a lifeline after Goodwillie sent Lopez tumbling. The former Athletic Bilbao player put the ball past Jake Kean in the Rovers net to earn Gus Poyet and his men a vital point.
The Seagulls can now look forward to hosting Premier League outfit Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup 4th round tie at the Amex.