Brighton 1, Blackburn 0: Murray strike sends Albion a step closer to promotion
A second-half Glenn Murray strike took Brighton & Hove Albion another step closer to promotion as they edged out Blackburn Rovers at the Amex this afternoon.
The striker's 19th goal of the season was enough to edge a tight Championship clash despite Albion never really being under any pressure from their visitors, who were unbeaten in seven matches.
A combination of the home side not being at their flowing best in attack and Rovers keeper Jason Steele putting in a solid first-half display meant Albion had to wait until pas the hour mark for the winner.
The result keeps the Seagulls a point behind leaders Newcastle, who won 2-1 against Wigan, but go nine points clear of third-placed Huddersfield, who lost 1-0 at home to Burton.
Albion made two changes from the team that lost 2-0 at Leeds before the international break as Chuba Akpom came in for his first start in place of Sam Baldock, while Seb Pocognoli returned for Fikayo Tomori.
Blackburn meanwhile were missing leading scorer 12-goal Danny Graham, who was ruled out through injury.
In a slow, but competitive start Anthony Knockaert burst in from the right to just outside the shot and opted to shoot when he should have slide in Akpom, before Lewis Dunk fired free kick straight at Jason Steele from an good position.
Albion should have led on 20 minutes as Knockaert poked in Uwe Huenemeier and his effort looked to be nestling in the bottom corner, but for a vital block from Charlie Mulgrew.
From the resulting corner, Dunk turned brilliantly at the back of the box, but his effort was put behind by Steele, before Huenemeier headed narrowly wide after losing his marker.
Blackburn's first effort came on 27 minutes as Derrick Williams crossed for Lucas Joao but he got his acrobatic volley at the far post wrong and it flew well wide.
With seven minutes to go before half-time, Rovers produced a glut of pressure from corners with Stockdale twice pushing clear and one effort blocked by multiple bodies.
At the other end, Murray met Liam Rosenior's cross with an acrobatic overhead kick but Steele comfortably saved.
Rosenior was then caught on the ball on the edge of the box and Elliott Bennett crept in to square the ball across the box, but Jason Lowe's effort was blocked behind.
On the stroke of half-time, Steele got a hand to Beram Kayal's cross-come-shot before then putting behind Jiri Skalak's follow-up at the far post.
The biggest cheer of the afternoon came ten minutes into the second half as Solly March and Tomer Hemed were called in from their warm-up and replaced Skalak and Akpom.
The opening goal eventually came on 66 minutes as a Rosenior cross was headed into the path of Murray by Knockaert, and the striker took a touch and poked past Steele to send the Amex into raptures.
Two minutes later and into could have been two as Steele got down to stop Murray's fizzing effort from flying into the net.
Rovers boss Tony Mowbray rolled his dice soon after making all three substitutes within two minutes of each other, bringing on Liam Feeney, Sam Gallagher and Connor Mahoney.
It didn't do much for the visitors and it was Albion that came closest to a second goal as March broke forward, but Hemed couldn't convert his low cross on the slide.
At the other end a minute later, Albion's hearts were in their mouths as Charlie Mulgrew's effort deflected just wide of the far post after a corner.
Brighton: Stockdale; Rosenior, Huenemeier, Dunk, Pocognoli; Knockaert (Murphy 82), Stephens, Kayal, Skalak (March 56); Akpom (Hemed 56), Murray. Unused subs: Maenpaa, Tomori, Sidwell, Norwood.
Blackburn: Steele, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams, Conway (Mahoney 72), Lowe, Gutherie, Bennett, Emnes (Feeney 70), Joao (Gallagher 70). Unused subs: Raya, Hoban, Akpan, Brown.
Referee: Tony Harrington.
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