Burnley FC beat Brighton 1-0 on Good Friday

CLARETSLIVE: www.burnleyexpress.net/claretslive
CLARETSLIVE: www.burnleyexpress.net/claretslive

JEKYLL and Hyde, Beauty and the Beast - call Brighton what you want.

Although their football was a joy to watch at times, their second half temperant and discipline, or lack of, was somewhat embarassing. As Gus Poyet's side grew in desperation and frustration they also turned malicious, reckless and out of control.

When the two sides met at the Amex Stadium in December the Seagulls were down to nine as early as the 12th minute; Romain Vincelot lashed out at Marvin Bartley before Ashley Barnes saw red for violent conduct following a challenge with Chris McCann.

And referee Carl Boyeson could quite easily have reached for red at several points throughout the fixture. Substitute Barnes was warned for dissent and was fortunate to escape punishment for an off-the-ball incident involving Dean Marney. And Gary Dicker's two-footed lunge left Josh McQuoid reeling in pain, as a chorus of "Gus Poyet your team's a disgrace" reverberated around Turf Moor.

But more important was the result and Burnley's resolve as Charlie Austin's 15th goal of the campaign crucified play-off hopefuls Brighton on Good Friday.

The striker reacted in predatory fashion to touch the ball past Peter Brezovan and fire in to an empty net in the 23rd minute after Seagulls skipper Gordon Greer had blocked the initial effort.

Eddie Howe's side set the tone early on, utilising the pace and movement of Kieran Trippier, McQuoid, Danny Ings and Junior Stanislas down the flanks. The visitors, spurred on by former Chelsea midfielder Poyet from the sidelines, seemed content on attacking on the break with Vicente using his experience and quality to manipulate the space and drive forward.

The Spanish flair player proved the instigator from Boyeson's first whistle, crossing for Craig Mackail-Smith who headed over. After Marvin Bartley was harshly booked for a challenge on Alan Novarro in the centre circle, full-back Joe Matock tried his luck right-footed but his angled drive nestled deep in to the David Fishwick Stand.

But, despite Brighton's advances, the Clarets were comfortable and were denied a penalty as defender Adam El-Abd desperately dragged down Ings as ther ball broke for the teenager from McQuoid's centre. Vicente was in the thick of the action again moments later, finding the gulf in-between midfield and attack, before threading through for Sam Vokes. However, as the one-time Burnley loan man drove in to the area, he took a heavy touch and his effort was deflected wide from a tight angle.

Neither keeper was seriously tested; Brezovan called in to action on occasions to claim crosses. But the breakthrough arrived when Trippier and McQuoid teamed up down the right and the Millwall loanee guided the ball in to Austin who found success, confidently, at the second attempt.

The Clarets were settled, but in a bid to preserve their play-off ambitions Vicente pressed for a leveller. David Edgar's superb acrobatics on the edge of his own six-yard box prevented Mackail-Smith a clear opening from the Spaniard's clipped cross and Brighton's flair player went within inches of the equaliser himself as his strike from distance rose above the angle. And as the half petered out, Vokes's header looped wide of the post.

Brighton had suffered from a lack of width in the first half, with Vicente the only potent driving force behind his two strikers. But they had more success after the interval, with Matock and Inigo Calderon urged to bomb on.

But even though the visitors had control, Grant was only forced in to one save. That came in the early exchanges of the second half as Vicente and Vokes worked the ball in to Mackail-Smith who force a superb save low to his left post by the Clarets stopper.

The Seagulls striker spurned another opportunity shortly after when Edgar made amends for his sliced clearance, blocking Mackail-Smith's close range header. Burnley's rearguard expertly soaked up everything Brighton had to throw at them, throwing their necks and bodies on the line for the cause.

Trippier fizzed a 25-yard effort wide of Brezovan's near post in a rare Clarets attack and in response, after Vicente had dragged another effort wide of the far post, Poyet made a double change replacing Vokes and Gonzalo Jara-Reyes with Barnes and Will Buckley respectively.

It was a transdormation that signalled a real attacking intent, though the tactical change narrowed Brighton's formation even more, and they failed initially struggled to find a way through down the middle. The away side continued to push men forward but Barnes's wayward strike from Matock's centre was the closest they would get.

In fact the Clarets could have doubled their advantage when captain McCann broke, Stanislas crossed, McQuoid provided the cushioned header for Austin, who sliced wide of the target. Howe, after handing a debut to youngster Cameron Howieson against Birmingham City midweek, once again handed an opportunity to one of his starlets as Steven Hewitt replaced Austin.

In the game's culmination, Brighton lost the plot and with it may have lost their grasp on a play-off spot. The Clarets in the meantime climbed to 13th.