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24 September 2014

Capital One Cup 3rd Round

Brighton won the battle of the Albion's to take their place in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup as the Championship side ran out comfortable 3-0 victors at the Pirelli Stadium. Sami Hyypia's Seagulls took control from the early stages and once they took the lead through Rohan Ince's close range header the result did not look in much doubt and a second from Kazenga Lua Lua before the break was worthy of winning the match on its own. Craig Mackail-Smith, always a thorn in Albion's side for his previous clubs added a third in the second half despite the Brewers looking more lively after the break.

In the end Brewers boss Gary Rowett made three changes to the side that slipped to a second successive league defeat at Bury on Saturday. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was given a chance to rest his sore ribs picked up in the game against Portsmouth with George Taft moving into the centre and Callum McFadzean dropping back to left back. After his goalscoring substitute appearance at Gigg Lane Jacob Blyth was paired up front with Dominic Knowles. Adam McGurk returned to the side on the left side of midfield. Stuart Beavon dropped to the bench along with John Mousinho and there was a return to the matchday eighteen for Lee Bell after a persistent knee problem.

A fast paced start saw Gary Gardner have an early chance as a clearance on the stretch fell nicely into his path but Ian Sharps got in a timely block and Chris O'Grady was unable to make anything of the rebound.

The Seagulls should really have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute when Paddy McCourt found Adam Chicksen on the left and the young left back swung in a superb cross that picked out Gardner in the centre but his low first time shot flew wide of the post with Albion's defence a little flat footed.

Burton's clearest chance in the opening stages came in the 15th minute when McGurk and Marcus Harness changed flanks. There was an element of good fortune when Harness' pass found its way through to Knowles in space inside the area via a deflection off a defender and the striker must have thought he had scored when he turned and fired past David Stockdale only to see Lewis Dunk positioned perfectly on the line to complete a vital clearance.

Brighton however grabbed the lead on 18 minutes. McCourt took charge of a free kick and swung it towards the far post. It looked as if the ball had been overhit and was going to go out for a goal kick but Gardner got up well on the byeline to head the ball firmly back into the six yard box and with Albion slow to react Rohan INCE leapt to thump home a close ranger header.

McCourt was pulling the strings in midfield and another attempt with the outside of his boot found Kazenga Lua Lua unmarked on the penalty spot but he was unable to steer his header past McLaughlin who reacted well to save.

Burton were working hard in attack but things were breaking down at the edge of the box and one particular move had Palmer and Knowles racing in but when the midfielder turned the wrong the move lost momentum and Brighton were eventually able to clear their lines.

In contrast Brighton were showing a ruthless streak and when George Taft tried to blast the across from left to right he only succeeded in hitting Palmer and putting the ball right into the path of LUA LUA. The winger still had plenty to do when he picked up the ball but gathering momentum as he raced towards the edge of the box he set his sights and from 22 yards out unerringly found the bottom corner of the net to double the visitors lead.

It took a lot of the sting out of the game and it was a somewhat muted end to the half with Burton wondering how they were going to get themselves back in it in the second period.

Half time: Burton Albion 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Burton certainly started the second period a lot brighter with McGurk winning an early corner and then seeing his header from the resultant kick loop over the bar. It was Brighton who continued to have the greater threat and O'Grady had McLaughlin at full stretch to push a long range drive around the post.

With the visitors maybe more content to sit on their two goal lead Albion continued to probe and young Harness was seeing a lot of the ball on the left but the Seagulls defence was holding firm and for all of Burton's endeavours they found themselves three down on 66 minutes. McCourt was again instrumental getting to the bye line and sizing up a cross which took a deflection off Taft as he tried to head clear, the ball falling for Craig MACKAIL-SMITH to adjust his body and hook the ball towards the far corner where Sharps was unable to keep it out.

Harness saw a shot blocked inside the six yard box as Albion looked to put some respectability on the scoreboard and give their fans something to cheer but Brighton seemed determined to hold onto their clean sheet with Dunk and Hughes looking imperious at the back.

Burton were glad to see the fourth officials board go up on seventy minutes as it heralded the departure of McCourt who had been the tormentor in chief of the Brewers on the night. His replacement was the wonderfully named Nzuki Toko.

A double change on 78 minutes saw Lua Lua leave the field for Adrian Colunga and for the Brewers there was a debut for youth team product Sam Austin who replaced Adam McGurk.

Blyth stung the palms of Stockdale with a rasping shot from a tight angle after a cheeky little flick had failed to deceive Dunk.

The Burton side got even younger inside the last ten minutes with Liam Slade making a second successive substitute appearance with Ian Sharps taking his leave of the game for the closing stages.

Brighton had a disappointing end to the game when their skipper Inigo Calderon was rather harshly sent off with only a couple of minutes to go. The Spaniard had his eyes on the ball all the time it was in the air but when he turned to hook it clear there is no doubting that his foot was high but Robbie Weir was there in a flash to try and head the ball and referee Darren Bond deemed the high foot as dangerous play and produced the red card to the astonishment of all in Blue and White.

Both McFadzean and Blyth came close to pulling one back at the death but Brighton were well worth their victory and the Brewers must wait at least another season to try and make the fourth round for a first time.

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