The Seagulls are in dreamland as they inch closer to claiming the Championship title ahead of stuttering Newcastle
BRIGHTON are on the March to their first-ever promotion to the Premier League after downing Wigan.
Solly March netted just after the hour to put the game beyond doubt after Glenn Murray’s 22nd of the season opened the scoring on 37 minutes – though Nick Powell did hit a late consolation.
It put Albion on the cusp of going up to the top flight for the first time in 34 years.
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And if Huddersfield fail to win in this evening’s 5pm kick-off against Derby they will have their promotion made official this evening.
Yet even if the Terriers do take three points from the iPro, Chris Hughton’s men can rest easy knowing their mission will be complete anyway thanks to a goal difference superior by THIRTY-ONE goals.
It is an incredible achievement given how Albion agonisingly missed out on the big prize last year.
Hughton’s men were denied a top-two finish due to goal difference despite amassing 89 points – which would have secured the automatics in seven of the ten previous seasons.
A third play-off semi-final defeat in four years was to follow and the fears were the disappointment would hit the squad hard.
But canny recruitment on players like Murray, improvement of stars like Anthony Knockaert and Lewis Dunk, as well as an unbreakable team spirit have seen the Seagulls shake off last term’s heartbreak – and with this win, surpass its points total.
They took their time to get the party going here, showing the patience and organisation that has served them so well this year.
Murray finally made the breakthrough late on in the first half, blasting home from the edge of the area after Tomer Hemed had taken down Dunk’s long ball.
Murray had the ball in the net again before the break, heading in Knockaert’s corner but was adjudged to have fouled his marker when rising to head the ball.
Jake Buxton cleared Hemed’s shot off the line shortly after the interval but on 65 minutes, it was all over.
Championship player of the year Knocakert waltzed past two defenders down the right before cutting the ball back to March, who exploited more slack defending before lashing past the hapless Jakob Haugaard.
Albion had their chances to pile the misery on Wigan – who surely cannot avoid relegation now, given their six-point gap to safety with three to play – as Knockaert also had a goal disallowed for offside.
Sub Powell did nab his fourth goal in his last two games by brilliantly heading in Jamie Hanson’s cross to ensure an uneasy finish for the hosts.
But it was not enough to save his doomed side.
Nor could it stop the Amex carnival atmosphere as home supporters sung their hearts out – before invading the pitch at full-time – to the prospect of inaugural Premier League football next season.