Writer: Abe Hawken
Date:Monday January 2 2012
American Express Community Stadium
Attendance: 20, 773
Southampton slumped to their second consecutive league defeat for the first time this season as Brighton won 3-0 in this all south coast affair.
The Saints were on the back of a crushing home defeat to Bristol City on Friday night - and Nigel Adkins' men would have liked to get back to winning ways.
But six minutes into the second half, top striker Rickie Lambert was shown a straight red card after an incident with Adam El-Abd.
With the league leaders down to 10 men it was always going to be difficult. And two goals from Matt Sparrow after Jake Forster-Caskey put the home side ahead gave Southampton their sixth league defeat of the season.
Adkins' men started the game brightly, and you sensed that the leaders were committed to put Friday's defeat behind them.
The visitors could have opened the scoring just inside 15 minutes through midfielder Adam Lallana. The Southampton starlet fired in a header, but Brighton keeper Peter Brezovan was equal to the effort.
Five minutes later, Brighton had their best chance as former Watford winger Will Buckley fired in a cross, but defender Steve Cook could only blast his effort wide of Kelvin Davis' post.
Just four minutes before the interval - Southampton were denied the chance to take the lead. Lallana's shot was somehow cleared off the line by Cook. Despite loud appeals from the Saints players and supporters that the ball had crossed the line, referee Andy D'Urso waved play on.
Both sides came out positively for the second half, and the game changed just six minutes in. Lambert was shown a straight red card after raising his hand to El-Abd, and the league top goal scorer was shown his first red card for the club.
After Lambert's red card, the game opened up and both sides had chances. But it was the Seagulls that took advantage of the extra man, and took the lead on 66 minutes.
Kazenga Lua Lua had his fierce shot saved by Davis, but Jake Forster-Caskey, who was making his debut, reacted first to slot home from six yards.
On 76 minutes, the game was effectively put to bed when midfielder Matt Sparrow scored an unstoppable goal. The midfielder picked up the loose ball and smashed the ball into the top right of Davis' goal from 25 yards.
Southampton's day went from bad to worse with just four minutes left on the clock. Sparrow scored his second of the day as the Brighton man followed up to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
There was just enough time for Brighton captain Gordon Greer to receive a red card after a tackle on Saints substitute Jonathan Forte.
This was the first time that Southampton have lost two league games in a row and, with Lambert facing a three game ban, things don't look too great for the Saints, with the gap ahead of West Ham only being two goals.
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Date:Monday January 2 2012
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