Malky Mackay's honeymoon period is over. After destroying a poor Bristol City side on Sunday (who incidentally managed to be Leicester away tonight), City were never able to reproduce the scintillating football of that match.
Brighton look a good side. They've (mostly) been together a yearor so, and won League One last term, and clearly have a manager in Gus Poyet who has transferred his playing ability into management ability.
The Seagulls looked comfortable for all but a 10 minute period in the middle of the fist half, when it looked like City, unchanged except for Mason for the injured Gunnarsson were beginning to raise the tempo, but a suicidal crossfield ball from Mr Reliable Kevin McNaughton gave Barnes a virtual one on one with Marshall and his finish was deadly accurate. By then though, Brighton had shown their intent, having had one ruled out for offside, and three more close line decisions having gone against them.
City, playing a diamond midfield were never at the races, giving Brighton the chance t utilise the space and pace of Mackail-Smith. It was he who turned Hudson inside out, and then won looked a fairly soft penalty which made it 2-0. As City chased the game, even more space opened up and Hoskins broke away to shoot past Marshall on the angle who probably should have saved it. Whittingham got a consolation goal from the spot, but 3-1 was probably a fair reflection on the game. Cynics might say Brighton made few chances. True - only four or five attempts that I can recall. The difference was they put three of those away and didn't need to create any more.
City looked out of sorts from Sunday's performance. Marshall insisted on booting the ball up the middle from goal kicks to Earnshaw & Miller, combined height 2ft 4 inches against the ginat Brighton centre backs. When we did get possession we were wasteful, and in truth at times we looked tired - but we were chasing the game from early on.
My view, for what it's worth is Miller and Earnshaw aren't working. It should be one (my preference is Earnie on the three games I've seen), plus Gestede, who did more in his 23 minutes on the park than Miller did in 90. The midfield needs to be stronger. It's nice not to see a rigid 4-4-2, but with Whittingham deep and Mason at the tip of the diamond there's a huge hole that was exploited to the full by Brighton tonight.
Still it's early days. We were never ging to win everything, and it'll test both the players and more importantly the new manager to see how we respond to this defeat.