Albion's luck out as title is put on hold

Albion keeper David Stockdale. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Albion keeper David Stockdale. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
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Albion's luck was completely out as they suffered an unfortunate 2-0 defeat at Norwich City this evening.

The Seagulls would have clinched the Championship title with a win but two unlucky David Stockdale own goals in the first half put the Canaries in the driving seat and they saw out the remainder of the game to win, despite not having a shot on target in the 90 minutes.

It's not the first time Albion have been undone by own goals as they famously scored three in a 6-1 FA Cup defeat at Liverpool in 2012.

A minute's applause took place before the game for Tottenham under-23 coach Ugo Ehiogu, after the former England and Aston Villa defender died this morning.

In a bright start, chances came and went at both ends. Nelson Oliveira was just unable to turn home Jonny Howson's low centre for the hosts, while Jamie Murphy headed over Solly March's left-wing cross from close range at the other end.

Norwich midfielder Alex Pritchard, who favoured a move to the Canaries instead of the Seagulls in the summer, was booed throughout by Albion fans but was at the heart of all the hosts' attacking threat and was a central figure in the two first half goals.

Norwich went ahead on 18 minutes when Josh Murphy beat three players down the left and teed up Pritchard, who let fly from 20 yards and the ball crashed off the bar, hit Albion keeper Stockdale and rebounded into the goal.

Steven Naismith almost added a second from a Pritchard free kick moments later but headed over from 12 yards.

Home stopper John Ruddy produced a smart stop to keep out Uwe Hunemeier's close-range header from Oliver Norwood's cross on 28 minutes.

Then came a pivotal 60 seconds. Albion's Jamie Murphy had penalty appeals waved away when he went down under a Graham Dorrans challenge on 38 minutes and Norwich went straight down the other end and doubled their lead.

It was a similar story to the first goal as Pritchard's shot from 20 yards struck a post, hit Stockdale on the back of his head and went into the goal, with Albion's luck completely out.

Naismith headed over early in the second period for Norwich, before Albion almost got a goal back on 57 minutes but Glenn Murray's header from Norwood's corner was hacked clear on the line by Jonny Howson.

Brighton continued to push and Sebastien Pocognoli sent a free kick well over and Murray headed wide, before Seagulls boss Chris Hughton sent on Tomer Hemed and Dale Stephens for Anthony Knockaert and Norwood.

Murray fired a snap-shot from the edge of the penalty area straight at Ruddy on 72 minutes and then drove a shot past Ruddy's near post four minutes later as Albion pressed to get back into the game.

March had a late shot blocked by team-mate Chuba Akpom as luck was not on Albion's side and the Canaries collected all three points.

Albion will be crowned champions on Monday if Newcastle luck lose at home to Preston North End - otherwise they can clinch the title with victory at home to Bristol City next Saturday.

NORWICH: Ruffy; Pinto, Martin, Bennett, Dijks; Dorrans, Howson, Naismith, Pritchard (Maddison 88), Jo. Murphy (Hoolahan 85); Oliveria. Subs: McGovern, Whittaker, Jerome, Ja. Murphy, Tettey.

BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Hunemeier, Dunk, Pocognoli; Knockaert (Hemed 63), Sidwell, Norwood (Stephens 63), March; Murphy; Murray (Akpom 82). Subs: Maenpaa, Tomori, Rosenior, Skalak.

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