Albion stun QPR to boost play-off challenge
By: David McIntyre
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Ulloa 77, Ward 85
Queens Park Rangers 0
Late goals from Leonardo Ulloa and Stephen Ward earned Brighton a terrific win over QPR at the Amex Stadium to edge them closer to the top six.
A resolute defensive effort, even in the absence of suspended skipper Gordon Greer, kept a dominant Rangers at bay before Ulloa converted Bruno’s centre on 77 minutes.
Ward then got the decisive touch on a corner eight minutes later to condemn Harry Redknapp’s all-star side to their fourth defeat in six games.
The result lifts Brighton into seventh, two points off the play-off zone, while QPR are in fourth, nine points off automatic promotion.
Rangers enjoyed the large share of possession and territory, with the on-loan Ravel Morrison producing their best moment when his fierce 30-yard shot was pushed over by Albion keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
Jermaine Jenas fired wide and Armand Traore had an effort saved by Kuszczak as the visitors continued to press in the first half.
It took Brighton until midway through the second half to register a shot on target and that was a tame attempt from long-range by Jake Forster-Caskey that was easily gathered by keeper Rob Green.
But at the other end the Albion defence was warming to its task, limiting QPR’s clear-cut chances as Matthew Upson and Lewis Dunk smothered lone striker Will Keane.
Traore had a second-half shot saved and Junior Hoilett twice fired wide – before Albion hit them with a sucker punch.
Bruno got away from Benoit Assou-Ekotto after exchanging passes with Keith Andrews on the right, and Ulloa sneaked behind Richard Dunne to tap in the full-back’s low cross.
QPR could have had an equaliser when Morrison flashed a ball across goal but substitute Modibo Maiga was unable to apply the finishing touch at the far post.
Brighton’s nerves were settled when Ward got in front of Jermaine Jenas to nudge home Kazenga LuaLua’s left-wing corner.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (4-3-3): 29 Tomasz Kuszczak; 2 Bruno, 5 Lewis Dunk, 20 Matthew Upson, 17 Stephen Ward; 4 Keith Andrews, 38 Rohan Ince, 18 Jake Forster-Caskey (sub 25 Kazenga LuaLua, 75); 30 Will Buckley (sub 6 Dale Stephens, 90), 19 Leonardo Ulloa, 35 Jesse Lingard .
Subs not used: 9 David Rodriguez, 14 Inigo Calderon, 16 Casper Ankergren, 21 David Lopez, 27 Solly March.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-4-1-1): 1 Robert Green; 15 Nedum Onuoha, 5 Richard Dunne, 6 Clint Hill, 39 Benoit Assou-Ekotto (sub 40 Modibo Maiga, 79); 3 Armand Traore, 17 Joey Barton, 16 Jermaine Jenas, 23 Junior Hoilett; 4 Ravel Morrison; 12 Will Keane.
Subs not used: 18 Aaron Hughes, 19 Niko Kranjcar, 20 Karl Henry, 26 Brian Murphy, 35 Yossi Benayoun, 36 Gary O’Neil.
Attendance: 28,019 // Referee: Mr. R. Madley (Ossett, West Yorkshire)