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Brighton 1 Sunderland 1 - Match report

Albufeira's football ground doubles as an athletics stadium and circling its pitch are a race track, hammer and discus nets and a pole vault.

No high jump though.

Which is a pity, because you sensed that several of Steve Bruce's players might have been for it after last night's lacklustre showing – even allowing for the fact that Brighton are further along in their pre-season preparations.

The League One outfit were the better side for the first hour and, after Brighton scored from the penalty spot just before half-time, the Black Cats needed Fraizer Campbell to pop up in the dying minutes to spare their blushes.

But, however lethargic Sunderland were, they did not deserve the embarrassing and foul-mouthed abuse they received from half-a-dozen "fans" who targeted Bruce and new arrival Titus Bramble in particular.

The Wigan centre-half must be the only Black Cats signing to be slated BEFORE kicking a ball for the club.

Welcome to Sunderland, Titus!

The ring-leader of the tourettes tag team was removed at half-time by police who deemed his behaviour unacceptable but sneaked back in to see Sunderland improve in the second half, though he is unlikely to have seen it that way.

In defence of Sunderland's defence, it is quite likely that none of the back five will face Birmingham City in the opening game of the Premier League season and only Darren Bent, Kenwyne Jones and Kieran Richardson of last night's starting 11 will realistically expect to start against the Blues.

Still, this was a disjointed, error-strewn showing against a motivated Brighton side and Bruce will expect better when his side turn out against Hull City on Saturday.

Sunderland started brightly enough and Martyn Waghorn, playing on the left flank, broke free of his marker in the very first minute, only to blaze a left-foot shot wide.

But Brighton soon took the game to Sunderland and dominated the minutes that followed, carving out several chances, the closest of which came in the ninth minute when Gordon Greer was given a free header from a right-wing corner which he directed just over Trevor Carson's bar.

The warnings continued – in the 12th minute, Radostin Kishishev drove in a swerving shot from the right-wing which Carson had to twist in mid-air to turn over.

And then, in 14th minute, Brighton had the ball in the back of the next when Elliott Bennett's corner was headed in by Glenn Murray, only for the goal to be disallowed.

Sunderland continued doing themselves no favours, with Carson kicking the ball straight to Murray from a goal-kick a minute later – the keeper grateful to see the resulting attack break down.

And when Bennett embarrassed George McCartney in the 25th minute and zeroed in on goal, the Black Cats fans irritation surfaced vocally from the terraces.

Despite the Seagulls' dominance, there were few clear-cut chances.

In the 35th minute, Inigo Calderon crossed low from the right and Murray scooped his shot just over the bar, then, seven minutes later, Greer shot narrowly wide from a free-kick.

But, on the stroke of half-time, Brighton finally got their reward when Bolo Zenden handled an attempted cross from the left inside the penalty area and Murray made no mistake from the spot.

"Can we play you every week?" sang Seagulls supporters as the teams went in at half-time, but Sunderland's minds would have been more pre-occupied with the stick they'd received from their own fans.

The second half started in the same vein as the first – Waghorn firing wide from a promising position, but then Carson had to be at this best to deny Murray after he had beaten Anton Ferdinand.

The game changed on the hour when Fraizer Campbell and Jordan Henderson replaced Jones and Zenden, adding an extra dimension of pace, movement and desire.

Steed Malbranque was brought on for George McCartney just a couple of minutes later when the defender was injured in a tackle and was stretchered from the pitch.

And, in the 75th minute, after Waghorn created an opening for Campbell, who fired over the bar, Waghorn was himself replaced by Michael Liddle.

The fresh legs helped galvanise Sunderland and they began to dominate

but, even so, Brighton did not retreat into their shells and Murray should have done better with a weak shot in the 82nd minute when Carson

gratefully stretched to save.

Sunderland got their face-saver in the 87th minute when Henderson drove a free-kick goalwards from 15 yards inside the Brighton half.

As the ball dropped in a crowded penalty area, Campbell stretched to toe-poke past keeper Michael Poke inside the six-yard box.

The striker bounced up immediately to check, with a quick glance, for offside but the flag stayed down.

And Campbell might have turned the whole game on its head in the dying seconds, but Poke was equal to the challenge of the striker's long-range shot.

It was enough to silence the boo boys who have to keep in mind that, however disappointing the game might have been, it is still only pre-season.

BRIGHTON: Poke, Calderon, Elphic, Greer, Painter, Bennett (sub Morais 75), Kishishev (sub Dicker 69), Navarro, Sparrow (sub Baz 84), Barnes (sub Battipiedi 84), Murray. Subs not used: Walker, Cook, Hall, El-Abd, Holroyd, Hart, Smith.

SUNDERLAND: Carson, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Kilgallon, McCartney (sub Malbranque 62), Richardson, Colback, Zenden(sub Henderson 60), Waghorn (sub Liddle 75), Bent, Jones (sub Campbell 60). Sub not used: Mignolet.

 
 
 

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