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29 December 2015

Murphy's strike takes Town clear in the Play-Off places with fifth straight away win

Town opened up a four point gap on the Play-Off chasing pack thanks to Daryl Murphy’s seventh goal of the season.

The Republic of Ireland international latched on to a mistake by Lewis Dunk to find the net via the post just past the half hour as Blues equalled a Club record fifth straight away win going back to 1976.

Kevin Bru struck the woodwork twice for Blues, while Bobby Zamora hit the bar late on for the Seagulls but Murphy’s strike proved enough to take Town to within a point of fifth placed Burnley ahead of Saturday’s trip to Turf Moor.

Town made two changes to the side that beat QPR on Boxing Day, with Bru in for Brett Pitman and Ryan Fraser replacing the injured Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Murphy showed good awareness to set up Fraser inside the first five minutes, the Scotland U21 international fizzing a left foot delivery across goal from a good position.

Dean Gerken smothered the danger as Bruno’s first time pass threatened to send Tomer Hemed in on goal, Beram Kayal then firing wide from 30 yards.

Bru rattled the bar with a terrific strike from 25 yards as Blues came close to an opener on 15 minutes, Cole Skuse then seeing his deflected effort palmed away from danger by former Town loanee David Stockdale.

Skuse had an opening again as Blues took the game to the opposition but the threat was cancelled out by Dunk’s challenge inside the Brighton box.

Freddie Sears pressed the accelerator to fly past Inigo Calderon, Murphy going down in the box but no penalty as Town continued to look the more likely to make the breakthrough.

Gerken got down well to deny Rajiv van La Parra’s drive from the angle, while at the other end the dangerous Sears’ cross evaded Fraser and the supporting Jonas Knudsen.

Brighton had the ball in the net on the half hour, Hemed’s flick pushed on to the bar by the alert Gerken, Jamie Murphy put the ball in the empty net but not before the offside flag was raised.

Two minutes later Town were ahead, Dunk let the ball roll past him and Murphy took full advantage, his right foot shot going in off the post.

Blues were inches away from a second soon after, Fraser’s cross diverted against the post by Bru, then the action swung to the other end with Gerken off his line to deny Murphy with the Brighton frontman clear on goal as Town took a lead into the break.

Gerken saved comfortably from Kayal as the second-half of an entertaining game got underway, Fraser then tracking the run of Bruno before heading away from danger.

Luke Hyam replaced Bru on 51 minutes for his first game back for Town since suffering a knee injury in January, the midfielder immediately in the action as Blues forced a corner.

Jonathan Douglas was denied by Stockdale from point blank range, then Murphy almost got behind the Seagulls’ defence again as Brighton rocked at the back.

Hemed headed over from a corner before Brighton made a double change with Bobby Zamora and James Wilson on for Hemed and Kayal. Van La Parra’s left foot effort didn’t trouble Gerken while Stockdale was troubled by Fraser’s shot from the edge of the box, the ball rebounding off the ‘keeper to safety.

Gerken held firm to punch clear as Zamora looked to get in, the former West Ham striker then hitting the bar from 15 yards.

Pitman replaced Fraser for the closing stages, Elvis Manu on for Murphy in Brighton’s last throw of the dice. Manu curled just over after appearing to foul Tommy Smith, Luke Varney on for Murphy for the last few minutes as Blues edged to the final whistle and three big points.

Brighton: Stockdale, Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Calderon, Crofts, Stephens, Kayal (Wilson 64), van La Parra, Hemed (Zamora 64), Murphy (Manu 76). Subs not used: Maenpaa, Chicksen, Ince, Forster-Caskey, Calderon.

Town: Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Bru (Hyam 51), Fraser (Pitman 76), Sears, Murphy (Varney 85). Subs not used: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Tabb, Oar. Booked: Bru.
Att: 27,689

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