Hughton rules out Albion being overawed by atmosphere despite 'mad' start in Palace defeat
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton ruled out his players being overawed despite a horror start away to fierce rivals Crystal Palace.
The bragging right went the Eagles' way in a 3-2 victory in a game which, after a slow start, Albion found themselves 2-0 down inside 15 minutes.
Wilfred Zaha and Luka Milivojevic put the home side after some lacklustre defending and goalkeeping gifted them the early advantage.
Former Palace man Glenn Murray did pull one back for the visitors, but live wire Zaha, who caused Brighton problem all afternoon, restored the home side's two-goal cushion.
Jose Izquierdo made it 3-2 just past the half-hour mark to send Albion into the break with some hope, but despite plenty of possession from the Seagulls in the second half and a great chance by Murray to level on 90 minutes, Palace held out to narrow the gap on 13th-placed Brighton to just one point.
It was a cauldron of noise at Selhurst Park with the intense atmosphere starting as soon as Albion stepped off the team bus; greeted by chanting home fans.
Hughton, however, did not believe that had any effect on his players and instead labelled it a 'mad period'.
When question about if the atmosphere effected them, the Albion boss said: "That you don't know, I don't think so. We have players that are used to playing in grounds and environment that are noisy, so I do not think that was the case. Our level of performance was not what it should have been in that early period.
"We certainly had two of the best chances in the game in that second half period, but we should not have allowed ourselves to be at that stage. To concede three goals in the first half period means the balance of per centages generally means you do not get back to getting something from the game.
"That is what has hurt us - a mad period in the first half where we conceded two goals from corners. We have been really good from corners and then the third goal is from a Zaha run that we are very aware of. That hurt us.
"We showed great spirit and made a game of it in the second half. Yes, we could have got a point from it with the chance we had, but we have lost out because of the first half performance.
"Their performance was better than ours and they were a better team. They were a bigger threat and better on the ball than what we were. That I can't deny as anyone watching the game would say exactly the same."
On if he could explain why the defending was so bad from both sides in the first half, Hughton revealed: "I don't think you can.
"What we do as managers and coaches during the week is work on set play and we have been very good. What we did do is change it (defensively) after the West Brom game when we conceded two goals from a corner and we haven't done that from a corner since then. That was very disappointing.
"Ultimatley, we can set up the team as best as we can, but when the players go out onto the pitch they have to producce. What we produced in this game was a good second-half performance, but damage had been done by then."