Brighton one game away from Premier League thanks to Anthony Knockaert double

Steve Madeley
The Independent
A win against Wigan on Monday would see Brighton go up automatically: Getty
A win against Wigan on Monday would see Brighton go up automatically: Getty

Brighton supporters have waited 34 years to return to English football’s top table, so another long weekend is unlikely to bother them unduly.

Anthony Knockaert’s 14th and 15th goals of a glittering season left Chris Hughton’s side on a brink of promotion to the Premier League.

Victory at home to Wigan Athletic on Monday will mean the party can begin for real, although Easter weekend is unlikely to be subdued for supporters of a club with one foot already in the top flight.

A dramatic victory for Huddersfield Town at home to Preston earlier this afternoon meant the promotion champagne was certain to remain on ice for the Seagulls regardless of their result at Molineux.

But victory left them within touching distance of their prize and three points on Monday will effectively secure a top-flight spot for next season.

Knockaert was named Championship Player of the Year (Getty)
Knockaert was named Championship Player of the Year (Getty)

Mathematically, Hughton’s men would need Huddersfield to drop points, too, in their late kick-off at Derby.

However, Brighton’s vastly superior goal difference means a win against the Latics would leave their promotion in no genuine doubt.

That is thanks to a victory in the Midlands that was not pretty but was fairly convincing for a club who have been outside the top division since relegation in 1983.

The visitors had to defend early on as Wolves made a positive start.

In the sixth minute Conor Coady found space as he advanced forwards from right-back and aimed a cross towards the giant figure of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson at the far post.

But the Iceland striker could not stretch far enough to convert the chance as Coady’s centre eluded him.

Wolves continued to make the running and carved out another opening when Ivan Cavaleiro crossed from the right with a ball that Lewis Dunk could only clear to the edge of the penalty area.

It was met by Andi Weimann with a first-time shot but his left-footed effort flew high and wide.

The visitors should then have led on 14 minutes when they pounced on a sloppy pass by Romain Saiss in the home midfield.

Dale Stephens pounced on the loose ball and fed Anthony Knockaert, whose clever pass released Tomer Hemed.

But the striker rattled the angle of post and bar to give Lambert’s side a let-off.

That was the signal for the visitors to turn the screw with Wolves forced to repel a spell of pressure as the half-hour mark approached.

Brighton’s frustration appeared to be building and was not eased when referee Geoff Eltringham awarded a goal-kick instead of a corner after Wolves goalkeeper Andy Lonergan tipped over a Hemed header from a Knockaert free-kick.

But the visitors broke the deadlock just before the interval with plenty of help from Lambert’s men.

Kortney Hause failed to deal with a long ball and Knockaert darted in behind him before beating the defender again.

And Knockaert’s shot beat Lonergan at the near post when the keeper should have made a routine save.

Hemed had another opportunity five minutes into the second half after a neat link-up down the left between Knockaert and Sebestien Pocognoli.

Pocognoli delivered a dangerous cross to the near post but Hemed could not direct it on target.

Knockaert scored either side of the break (Getty)
Knockaert scored either side of the break (Getty)

Brighton continued to apply pressure with Solly March delivering a dangerous cross which none of his team-mates could make up the ground to turn in.

But Wolves, who had hitherto lacked inspiration, almost snatched an equaliser just after the hour mark.

Cavaleiro crossed from the left for Coady, who headed into the ground and goalkeeper David Stockdale into a smart save.

But the result was put beyond doubt with eight minutes remaining when Knockaert slotted past a helpless Lonergan after a decisive counter-attack.

Wolves (4-2-3-1): Lonergan; Coady, Batth, Hause, Doherty; Saiss, Edwards; Weimann, Cavaleiro, Marshall (Dicko 76); Bodvarsson (Wilson 76). Subs not used: Burgoyne, Saville, Evans, Gibbs-White, Williamson. Booked: Saiss.

Albion (4-4-2): Stockdale; Bruno, Huenemeier, Dunk, Pocognoli; Knockaert, Stephens, Sidwell, March (Murphy 70); Hemed (Norwood 83), Murray. Subs not used: Maenpaa, Tomori, Forren, Skalak, Akpom.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham.

Attendance: 23,221

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