Lualua Exocet Earns Crucial Draw for the Albion
A strangely below par performance yesterday saw Albion scramble a late draw when defeat looked likely. Buckley left the field after just 10 minutes with a suspected hamstring twinge, which seemed to unsettle the team in an anxious first half. Following Lualua’s comments in the pre-match press conference that he is right footed and therefore perfectly capable of playing right wing, it was a surprise that he didn’t simply slot into Buckley’s place. This honour fell to Orlandi who was never in the pace of this game and was shrugged off the ball all too easily and all too often by Leicester’s beefy line up.
Spanish Dave also looked out of sorts, but post match we have discovered that that was because he was ill – certainly too ill to be playing top level championship football. It is to his credit that he did his best to do a job despite how he felt. The match itself saw both teams fail to hold on to the ball with their usual stubbornness, as miss-placed passes and general tripping over the ball made for tense and frantic moments.
Nonetheless, it was an absorbing game which saw both teams squander chances in the first half. Calde was unlucky when his trademark peel off and head from a corner was cheekily cleared at the near post by Nugent (I think). Kazenga also had a couple of opportunities, but the best two chances fell to Leicester, including a 12 yard effort from King that Kuszczak miraculously touched onto the crossbar and another more fortunate save from Shlupp’s sloppy effort after Nugent had put him through with a lovely ball.
As the teams came out for the second half, kicking towards their own fans seemed to revitalise Leicester and they had a tremendous spell when it was a wonder they didn’t score. Despite their awful form this year, the Leicester faithful were behind their team and they got on a real head of steam. Some pretty woeful finishing and a few good saves from Tomasz kept the game goal-less until the crowd got their wish and Vicente entered the fray and made an instant impact. Albion’s best chance of the match came soon after as Kazenga hit the bi-line and with unaccustomed coolness, laid the ball into the path of Ulloa who’s touch saw the ball drift harmlessly past the post.
As a hopeful long ball headed towards the Albion area, Upson expected Tomasz to come but he didn’t and Matthew took the safety first option and cleared into touch. The resulting long throw-in came in and an unsighted Upson allowed it to bounce off his knee into the path of James who jinked neatly and cooly slotted it into the near post from short range. Leicester’s joy was palpable – had Brighton just allowed them to play themselves back into form?
Gus threw on George Barker for the last 15 minutes for an out-of-sorts Orlandi and he showed some good touches. But as the clock ticked on towards 90 minutes it looked like a hammer blow was being dealt to Brighton’s play-off hope, particularly with news that Bolton had won and Forest nicked another point.
But the real hammer blow was yet to come. As the ball came into the box, Vicente threw himself stylishly to the ground, which ironically created the space for Kazenga Lualua to take a quick touch inside and unleash that trademark right foot thunderbolt that seemed to go right through Schmeichal, burnt a hole through the net and left it in flames. I most admire the fact that Kaz obeyed instructions not to do his flip-flap-flop, which would undoubtedly have resulted in injury! It was another great Amex moment and could be such an important goal in the run in, which now sees us make two tricky but winnable away-day trips to freefalling boro and desperate posh.
All in all a frustrating 2 points from the week’s two home games, but the latter could yet be the draw that puts us into that final play-off spot come May 4th.