West Brom 1-0 Brighton: Bizarre defeat for Seagulls after free-kick confusion


Brighton players protest to referee Lee Mason after Lewis Dunk’s goal was ruled out in bizarre circumstances

Brighton lost 1-0 at West Brom – but the scoreline does not even begin to tell the story of a match in which the visitors had a goal ruled out after referee Lee Mason blew his whistle twice, and also missed two penalties.

Lewis Dunk’s quick free-kick in the first half sparked a chaotic few minutes as the goal was disallowed, then allowed, then eventually ruled out for good after Mason had viewed the incident on the pitchside monitor following an intervention by the video assistant referee (VAR).

West Brom defender Kyle Bartley had given his side an early lead and Brighton were unable to respond, with Pascal Gross hitting the crossbar and Danny Welbeck smashing the left post from the penalty spot.

Brighton, who dominated possession again, had numerous chances to score either side of the break – Neal Maupay skewing a shot wide and Aaron Connolly firing over the bar from close range.

But West Brom, who had a few chances of their own, hung on to pick up a potentially vital three points in their attempt to avoid relegation.

Free-kick confusion and whistle chaos…

Referee Lee Mason goes to check the pitchside monitor
Lee Mason spoke with Graham Potter and Sam Allardyce to explain what was going on while checking VAR

Brighton searched for a first-half equaliser and thought they had found one – only for it to be taken away almost immediately in remarkable and bizarre circumstances.

Dunk quickly slotted a free-kick into the bottom right corner after Mason blew his whistle while West Brom were still setting up their wall.

But almost as soon as he had blown, Mason did so again – then Dunk and his team-mates began celebrating the goal.

It was ruled out by the referee – but Mason quickly overturned his decision as Brighton’s players strongly appealed against it, arguing Dunk’s free-kick had been taken after the first whistle was blown.

VAR then intervened, prompting Mason to run over to the pitchside monitor to review a potential offside and also whether his second whistle had come before the ball had crossed the goalline.

The referee tried to communicate what was going on with the two managers. Sam Allardyce looked confused – the West Brom boss standing with his hands on his head in disbelief – while Brighton’s Graham Potter responded with a blank expression.

Eventually the goal was disallowed because it was deemed Mason’s second whistle had been blown before the ball crossed the line.

The flurry of chances from both sides in the immediate aftermath was a fitting end to a bizarre and enthralling half of football – and officiating.

Welcome home win for Baggies

Allardyce said before the match he felt West Brom needed to pick up two wins from their three successive home games, including this one.

They started on the front foot, forcing two early corners which they were unable to take advantage of.

But their bright opening did lead to them going in front on 11 minutes when Bartley drifted away from his marker at the back post to nod in Conor Gallagher’s perfect delivery.

The Baggies dropped off after taking the lead, allowing Brighton to dominate possession, and on another day could easily have conceded three or four goals.

The two missed penalties and several other clear-cut chances not being converted was a huge slice of luck for West Brom, but they defended resiliently nonetheless – Bartley’s last-ditch tackle on Jakub Moder in the 86th minute typifying this.

The result means the hosts are now eight points from safety in the Premier League table, after a first win at home for three months.

Kyle Bartley celebrating
Kyle Bartley is West Brom’s second-highest Premier League goalscorer this season with three goals

Missed penalties and countless chances

After last week’s defeat by Crystal Palace – when Brighton had 25 shots on goal only for Christian Benteke to volley a dramatic winner deep into added time with Palace’s second effort on target – it felt like a repeated nightmare for the Seagulls.

Okay Yokuslu’s handball gifted Brighton a penalty shortly after Bartley’s opener, but Gross stuttered in his run-up before smacking the ball against the crossbar.

The confusion over Dunk’s free-kick followed, before Connolly forced a save from Sam Johnstone, Maupay skewed Gross’ cut-back wide and then the Frenchman was denied again by the Baggies keeper in a frantic few minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half.

Connolly then missed again from a few yards out when Johnstone parried Maupay’s shot after the restart, and Joel Veltman nodded over from an unmarked position.

Brighton seemed incapable of scoring and when they were awarded a second penalty, for a foul on Gross by Conor Townsend, Welbeck thumped it against the post.

It summed up a frustrating afternoon.

Aaron Connolly misses a huge chance for Brighton early in the second half
Aaron Connolly fired over the bar from close range early in the second half

What the managers said

West Brom boss Sam Allardyce, speaking to the BBC’s Match of the Day: “I am just laughing about how bizarre this game was. Obviously the most important thing for us was a clean sheet and a corner we converted very well.

“[There were] lots of chances after that for both teams – we managed to get the one and they managed to not score any of theirs.”

Brighton boss Potter, speaking to Sky Sports: “It is what it is. We’ve not helped ourselves with the two penalties so I cannot put it all down to that [disallowed goal].

“We need to improve and get better at that [taking penalties]. We’re never going to get two better chances.

“We have to stay calm.”

Five home wins, five different bosses – the best of the stats

  • Brighton are the first team to miss two penalties by hitting the woodwork in a Premier League game.
  • West Brom have kept consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since May 2018.
  • The Baggies’ past five home Premier League wins have come under a different manager – Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, Darren Moore, Alan Pardew and Tony Pulis.
  • Brighton have lost their past two league matches, as many as in their previous 12 combined. They have had 40 shots in those two defeats, while facing just nine in return.
  • Five of the 10 league goals scored by West Brom under Allardyce have come via set-piece situations (two corners, two penalties, one throw-in).
  • Johnstone became the first goalkeeper to reach 100 or more saves in the Premier League this season.
  • Gross has failed to convert two of his past four penalties in the Premier League, also missing against Fulham in September 2018.

What’s next?

West Brom welcome Everton to the Hawthorns on Thursday, 4 March (18:00 GMT kick-off), while Brighton host in-form Leicester City on Saturday, 6 March (20:00 GMT).

Player of the match

BartleyKyle Bartley

West Bromwich Albion

  1. Squad number5Player nameBartley

  2. Squad number30Player nameMaitland-Niles

  3. Squad number18Player nameGallagher

  4. Squad number35Player nameYokuslu

  5. Squad number1Player nameJohnstone

  6. Squad number17Player nameDiagne

  7. Squad number2Player nameFurlong

  8. Squad number27Player nameO’Shea

  9. Squad number12Player nameMatheus Pereira

  10. Squad number14Player nameTownsend

  11. Squad number10Player namePhillips

  12. Squad number4Player nameRobson-Kanu

  13. Squad number11Player nameDiangana

  14. Squad number20Player nameIvanovic

Brighton & Hove Albion

  1. Squad number3Player nameWhite

  2. Squad number5Player nameDunk

  3. Squad number18Player nameWelbeck

  4. Squad number34Player nameVeltman

  5. Squad number15Player nameModer

  6. Squad number14Player nameLallana

  7. Squad number26Player nameSánchez

  8. Squad number8Player nameBissouma

  9. Squad number33Player nameBurn

  10. Squad number10Player nameMac Allister

  11. Squad number13Player nameGroß

  12. Squad number11Player nameTrossard

  13. Squad number7Player nameConnolly

  14. Squad number9Player nameMaupay

Line-ups

West Brom

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Johnstone
  • 2Furlong
  • 27O’Shea
  • 5Bartley
  • 14Townsend
  • 35Yokuslu
  • 12Costa PereiraSubstituted forIvanovicat 79′minutes
  • 18Gallagher
  • 30Maitland-Niles
  • 10PhillipsSubstituted forDianganaat 72′minutes
  • 17DiagneSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 83′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Robson-Kanu
  • 7Robinson
  • 8Livermore
  • 11Diangana
  • 19Sawyers
  • 20Ivanovic
  • 22Peltier
  • 25Button
  • 29Grant

Brighton

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 26Sánchez
  • 34Veltman
  • 3WhiteSubstituted forModerat 84′minutes
  • 5Dunk
  • 33Burn
  • 8Bissouma
  • 13Groß
  • 11Trossard
  • 10Mac AllisterSubstituted forLallanaat 45′minutes
  • 7ConnollySubstituted forWelbeckat 61′minutes
  • 9Maupay

Substitutes

  • 14Lallana
  • 15Moder
  • 16Jahanbakhsh
  • 17Alzate
  • 18Welbeck
  • 22Tau
  • 23Steele
  • 24Pröpper
  • 29Zeqiri

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