Historically mid-table sides, these two teams could not be in more different situations this season – while Brighton are pushing for European competition under Roberto De Zerbi, Crystal Palace find themselves in danger of being dragged into a relegation dogfight as the season nears its conclusion.
BHA: Steele; Estupiñan, Colwill, Dunk, Veltman; Caicedo, Groẞ; Mitoma, Mac Allister, March; Welbeck
CRY: Whitworth; Mitchell, Guehi, Andersen, Clyne; Schlupp, Doucoure, S. Lokonga; Zaha, Edouard, Olise
Crystal Palace started strongly, as Tyrick Mitchell intercepted a stray pass from Moises Caicedo, finding Wilfried Zaha on the left flank. The winger surged infield, working his way past the Brighton defence before shooting from a tight angle, though his effort was diverted wide by Steele.
A flurry of corners for Palace eventually fell to Nathaniel Clyne – who then found Odsonne Edouard, but the Frenchman’s header was powered wide of the far post. Michael Olise was the next player sent through on goal for the Eagles – but upon finding himself one-on-one with Jason Steele, the youngster’s strike was kept out well by the ‘keeper.
Another chance for Palace saw Wilfried Zaha find Edouard on the edge of the box, who worked his way through a group of defenders before curling a shot towards goal – Steele was able to dive and make the save at the far post.
Brighton’s first chance of the game followed soon after, as Alexis Mac Allister found Estupiñan. The Ecuadorian found Kaoru Mitoma, but the Japanese attacker’s shot curled right towards Whitworth, who made a comfortable save to deny the Seagulls the opener.
Despite Palace’s great start to the game, it was Brighton that took the lead – Mitoma was able to find Solly March, who picked up the ball on the edge of the box and powered a low strike across goal, nestling into the bottom corner to send the hosts 1-0 up.
Pervis Estupiñan could have doubled his side’s lead after the break, as Alexis Mac Allister found the left-back’s run forwards – but his low strike was denied by the legs of Joe Whitworth. A stoppage in play ensured, but not for an injury – a power cut at the AMEX forced the referee to halt the game until the issue was resolved.
Thankfully, that loss of power was resolved quickly, allowing play to resume. Schlupp attempted to find an equaliser for Palace soon after, firing a low shot throw the Brighton defence – but his effort was just wide of the post.
Brighton had a flurry of chances as the game reached its conclusion – but arguably the biggest opportunity fell for Palace, as Eberechi Eze sought to capitalise on a horrific pass out from Jason Steele. Eze touched it out to Naouirou Ahamada, but Steele’s run was enough to put off the young Frenchman who scuffed his shot.
A late penalty appeal from Palace was denied as Eze fell to the ground under light pressure from Lewis Dunk – but the referee waved his appeals away, instead blowing for full-time. Brighton claimed a vital three points in their search for European football – while a loss for Palace keeps the just three points above the relegation zone.