Nathan Jones earned a massive win for Brighton as the second half strikes from Adian Colunga and Solly March saw the Seagulls to a first win in eight games at Craven Cottage tonight.
A desperately disappointing Fulham lost for the second time in four days, although this display was far more concerning than the one they had turned in at league leaders Bournemouth on Boxing Day. The home side barely threatened the Brighton goal before Adrian Colunga stroked home a penalty on the hour mark after Kostas Stafylidis had impeded Elliott Bennett. They roused themselves briefly, with former Fulham keeper David Stockdale making an excellent save to deny Sean Kavanagh a late equaliser, but substitute Solly March secured the points for Albion with his very first league goal.
Brighton brushed aside the turmoil of Saami Hyypia’s recent departure to completely boss the first half. Danny Holla and Lewis Dunk went close with headers but Fulham hung onto their coattails until fifteen minutes after half time when Stafylidis tripped Bennett in the box. Colunga, sent off in the reverse fixture between these sides, coolly converted the penalty to score his fourth goal of the campaign.
Stockdale denied Kavanagh from distance when the Irish youngster’s curler looked to be heading for the top corner but Fulham’s late pressure amounted to very little in terms of clear cut chances. Brighton completed the victory to the delight of their vociferous travelling support when March, lively since he had stepped off the bench, raced onto a perfectly weighted through ball from Joao Teixeira and lifted a clever finish over Marcus Bettinelli.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Bettinelli; Grimmer, Stafylidis (Roberts 88), Hutchinson, Bodurov; Parker, Fofana; Hyndman (Kavanagh 64), Williams, McCormack; Rodallega. Subs (not used): Kiraly, Burn, Zverotic, Woodrow, Dembele.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Calderon, J. Bennett, Dunk, Halford; Holla, Ince; Colunga, E. Bennett (O’Grady 80), Teixeira (Hughes 89); Mackail-Smith (March 74). Subs (not used): Walter, Chicksen, McCourt, Baldock.
GOALS: Colunga (pen 60), March (87).
REFEREE: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).