Brighton climb out of drop zone

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:23

A first victory in nine league games and the first under interim boss Nathan Jones came courtesy of Adrian Colunga’s 60th-minute penalty and a late strike from substitute Solly March (87).
Joe Bennett was brought down by Kostas Stafylidis and Colunga sent Marcus Bettenelli the wrong way in front of the Brighton fans at the Putney End.
And March, who replaced Craig Makail-Smith on 74 minutes, sealed the win after he slid home Joao Teixeira’s pass after fellow sub Chris O’Grady’s neat chest down.
Jones is not expected to be considered for the top job, but it will not be lost on the former Albion defender that Fulham are doing pretty well since they gave caretaker Kit Symons the permanent job.
However, the hosts, now safely in mid-table following a wretched start to the campaign, showed little of their recent spark, with the Seagulls running out deserved winners.
Danny Holla could have put them into an early lead, but scuffed his volley wide and Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli was forced into fine saves to keep out shots from Colunga and Elliott Bennett.
Centre-half Lewis Dunk – tellingly Brighton’s top scorer this season – also looped a header over the crossbar and sent another straight into the chest of Bettinelli.
Lacklustre Fulham did not trouble their former goalkeeper David Stockdale in the first half, although Ross McCormack’s shot was deflected narrowly wide and Hugo Rodallega was inches from turning in Kontstantinos Stafylidis’ cross-shot.
Brighton should have gone ahead nine minutes after the interval when Craig Mackail-Smith cut the ball back to Norwich loanee Elliott, who saw his initial shot blocked and his follow-up kept out by the shoulder of Bettinelli.
The ball fell to Colunga with Bettinelli stranded, but the Spanish striker’s shot clipped the outside of a post.
However, six minutes later the Seagulls did make the breakthrough after Bennett – one of four Albion players whose loan spells ended after the game – was brought down in the area by Stafylidis.
Colunga stepped up and coolly sent Bettinelli the wrong way from the spot for his fourth goal of the season.
Fulham finally roused themselves but were denied by a familiar face, with Stockdale pulling off a stunning fingertip save to keep out Sean Kavanagh’s curler and diving low to his right to deny Rodallega to preserve Brighton’s lead.
And three minutes from time substitute March latched on to Joao Teixeira’s through-ball and clipped it past Bettinelli to wrap up a vital win.

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