BRIGHTON 0 - SAINTS 2

GOAL: Ricardo Fuller slots home from ten yards out to open the scoring. Daily Echo picture by Paul Collins

GOAL: Ricardo Fuller slots home from ten yards out to open the scoring. Daily Echo picture by Paul Collins

First published in 05-06 Season Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

September 11, 2001. That is the only other time Saints have visited Brighton's makeshift Withdean Stadium.

On 9/11, Gordon Strachan was yet to be unveiled as the club's manager and Stuart Gray was in caretaker charge following Glenn Hoddle's departure.

But football was put in sharp perspective that day.

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center will always overshadow a 3-0 Worthington Cup win for Saints which, for the record, came courtesy of a goal for James Beattie and Anders Svensson's first two for the club.

It was incredible that that game went ahead a few hours after the Twin Towers had been sent crashing down.

Some things are more important than football but in the same way that 9/11 overshadowed a comfortable cup win, Saints fans will remember their second trip to The Withdean, simply because it came at the end of a seminal week in the club's recent history.

The spat conducted via the press between Sir Clive Woodward and Leon Crouch was more juvenile than Jihad but the boardroom battle is now well under way and the football a virtual sideshow now that the club's Championship status is secure.

The events off the pitch in the last few days have been more newsworthy than most of Saints' performances on it, but at least this win against a poor Brighton side focused minds on football again.

And playing against a Seagulls side now destined for League One should at least put Saints' problems in some perspective.

On the eve of this game, Brighton's hopes of moving to a new 25,000 seater ground at nearby Falmer suffered yet another setback.

The only league club in Sussex will be playing at Withdean for a minimum of another two seasons. At least Saints can boast St Mary's and the prospect of a better campaign next year.

The crowd of 7,999 was Brighton's biggest since moving to Withdean in 1999 and was largely down to the introduction of new temporary stands, including an away end several yards behind one of the goals and the athletics track at Brighton's leafy, suburban home.

Saints took a following of around 200 who, if they had their binoculars with them, would have witnessed an excellent first half showing, that just lacked decisive finishing from their side.

The Withdean pitch was not conducive to good football. An uneven and heavily sanded surface meant that the quality of the wide players was likely to influence the outcome.

While Brighton started with a 4-3-3 formation, Saints handed a first start in three months to the fit- again Djamel Belmadi and the Algerian gave Joel Lynch, the Seagulls' teenage left-back, a torrid time, especially in the first half.

Saints could have been at least 3-0 up long before Ricardo Fuller hit his third goal in two games in the 37th minute.

Fuller had a tenth-minute shot saved but Belmadi put the rebound wide and then Fuller missed at the far post following an excellent cross from the Algerian.

Darren Powell put a free header over the bar and Henderson, who at 22 was the oldest player in Brighton's back five, unconvincingly punched clear following another Jim Brennan corner.

Grzegorz Rasiak should have done better with two headers, planting the first on to the roof of the net before nodding tamely into the arms of Henderson from close range.

Lundekvam, the only survivor from the Saints side that won at Withdean on 9/11, flicked a Belmadi corner just beyond the far post but will have to wait a little longer for his third Saints goal.

Thank goodness for the form of Fuller. After dispossessing right-back Adam El Abd, the Jamaican fired a 20-yard screamer over the bar but opened the scoring shortly afterwards, beating Henderson from ten yards after his initial effort had been saved.

Fuller evaded a Seagulls defender before firing home left-footed at the second attempt.

If you include his record while on loan at Ipswich recently, the Jamaican international has five goals in as many Championship appearances and is now Saints' leading scorer in 2005/06 with six.

Fuller's record at this level over the last four years with Preston and Saints is impressive. The 26-year-old now has 35 goals in 78 appearances in the Championship and was a cut above any other striker on display at The Withdean.

Colin Kazim-Richards, one of five teenagers in the Brighton side, had the home side's best two chances of the first half. He fired the first into the side netting and completely missed the second on the stroke of half-time, but was more of a threat after the break.

He forced an outstanding save from Kevin Miller, who moments earlier had blocked a close-range header from Lynch, when he broke down the right and fired towards the top corner from the edge of the area.

And on the hour Lynch put Kazim-Richards clean through, only for Miller to use all of his 17 years' experience in the professional game and smother the ball at the youngster's feet.

That was as good as it got for Brighton. The storm had been weathered and Richard Chaplow capped an excellent all-round display by coolly side-footing Saints' second into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Crouch replies to Clive's outburst 'I'm determined to buy more shares' 'I'll make the changes fans want' Read the latest on the boardroom battle at St Mary's in tonight's Daily Echo.

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