Patrick Gleeson reports on the Seagulls’ slip-up.
Albion suffered their first league loss in seven games at the hands of Bolton this afternoon, and also slipped out of the play-off places as a result of Nottingham Forest’s victory at home to Wolves.
Dougie Freedman’s men scraped a 1-0 win and have now won five on the bounce, closing the gap between themselves and sixth place to just three points.
It took a well-hit strike from Marcos Alonso to separate the two play-off chasers, but the game finished on a sour note for Albion after Ashley Barnes saw red for foul and abusive language.
Going into the game off the back of a 0-0 with bottom of the league Bristol City in the week, Albion flew forward in a frantic first twenty minutes of the game.
Ashley Barnes linked up nicely with Leonardo Ulloa before having his effort blocked, and the same player was then denied by an outstanding challenge from Zat Knight. Barnes then had the chance to open the scoring after Bruno picked him out with a stunning cross, but the striker nodded over the bar.
Andrew Crofts, who returned to the starting eleven after a stint on the sidelines, then had the opportunity to break the deadlock with a powerful shot, but Andy Lonergan pulled off an instinctive stop to keep the Welshman at bay. Moments later, Ashley Barnes saw his shot blocked from close range, and Crofts could only smash the base of the post with the second attempt.
After a sustained spell of Albion pressure, Bolton came into the game and delivered a sucker punch to the Seagulls. Marcos Alonso needed no invitation to try his luck from 20-yards out, and when he pulled the trigger the ball whistled past Tomasz Kuszczak and into the bottom corner.
David Ngog then had two efforts at Albion’s goal, the former an ambitious strike from an acute angle and the letter a prod over the bar from a few yards out, before the half came to a close.
The visitors started the second half the stronger of the two sides, with both David Lopez and Ashley Barnes having shots at goal early on. However, the 1202 Albion fans who travelled up to the Reebok Stadium had their hands over their eyes when Ngog, Chung-Yong Lee and then Jay Spearing all had efforts scrambled away from close range.
As Albion pushed forward to find an equaliser, David Lopez, Vicente and Ulloa all saw efforts fly wide of the target. Despite the pressure to penetrate the Bolton defence, Gus Poyet’s men stuck to their silky style of football, and it almost came off when substitute Andrea Orlandi watched his drilled effort fizz past the post.
As the end of the game edged closer, Ashley Barnes dampened any chances of returning south with a share of the spoils. After being on the receiving end of a hefty challenge, Barnes was shown a straight red for misconduct.