- Tomer Hemed (2), Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray on target for Albion
- The Seagulls return to the top of the Sky Bet Championship
- Burton score a consolation through Michael Kightly
- Chuba Akpom comes on to make his home debut
Brighton & Hove Albion returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table for at least a couple of hours following a comfortable 4-1 victory over Burton Albion at the Amex.
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Tomer Hemed’s brace and a goal each from Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray secured a routine win prior to second-placed Newcastle United’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Chris Hughton made five changes to the side that drew 3-3 at Brentford the previous Sunday, which included the return of both Dale Stephens and Baldock from injury.
Albion created their first chance when Anthony Knockaert and Hemed linked up well on the right-hand side but Steve Sidwell’s shot went wide.
Stephens met Solly March’s set-piece into the box and nodded the ball onto Shane Duffy, whose close-range header went wide.
After dominating possession in the opening stages, Hemed fired Albion in front with 12 minutes on the clock with a cool, close-range finish from Knockaert’s cross.
The Frenchman continued to enjoy a lot of freedom down the right-hand side; he weaved in and out of the Burton defence before his subsequent shot was blocked by Ben Turner.
After playing through the rest of the first half without creating too many clear-cut chances, the Seagulls doubled their lead just two minutes after the re-start thanks to Baldock.
Brighton’s number nine dispatched his close-range effort beyond Jon McLaughlin from March’s in-swinging cross from the left flank.
March was involved in the thick of the action again when he shimmied his way through the Brewers’ defence and was brought down in the box for a penalty.
Hemed stepped up to casually convert the ball into the bottom corner, and sent McLaughlin the wrong way in the process, to make it 3-0 with 57 minutes on the clock.
Chances were few and far between for the visitors, but Michael Kightly did try his luck with a shot from distance that was comfortably saved by David Stockdale.
Marvin Sordell came much closer to gaining Burton a foothold in the game when he cut past Lewis Dunk but saw his shot force a fine stop from Stockdale.
With the game already over as a contest, Chuba Akpom came on to make his home debut for the Seagulls as part of a triple change that saw him replace Baldock, while Stephens and Hemed were replaced by Beram Kayal and Murray respectively.
The gloss was taken off the scoreline slightly when Kightly executed a brilliant free-kick to give the Brewers a consolation goal in the 75th minute.
The visitors sensed the possibility of a seemingly unlikely comeback when Tom Flanagan ended a flowing move with a shot from distance that rose over the crossbar.
That possibility was quashed once and for all with 83 minutes on the clock, when Murray headed home from Knockaert’s brilliant cross.
Akpom was unlucky not to score after he showed brilliant composure inside the box, but his shot went inches wide of the far post.
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