Hughton: Brighton are not safe yet

By Guy Atkinson 28 April 2019 14
Hughton: Brighton are not safe yet

Chris Hughton remains cautious about Brighton and Hove Albion's Premier League survival chances despite opening up a four-point lead over Cardiff City on Saturday.

Cardiff's damaging defeat to Fulham earlier in the day gave the Seagulls the chance to all but secure survival with a win against Newcastle United at the Amex Stadium.

They played out a 1-1 draw against Rafael Benitez's side, though, to ensure the Bluebirds still have an unlikely chance of clawing their way to safety in the final two games of the season.

Brighton face testing games against Arsenal and title-chasing Manchester City, while Cardiff host Crystal Palace next weekend and then travel to Manchester United on the final day of the season.

The Seagulls remain firm favourites to preserve their top-flight status, but Hughton is refusing to get carried away.

"My responsibility is really not to feel too much until we know that, mathematically, we are safe," he told a media conference.

"We have two games left. The cautious part of me has to think that anything can happen.

"Cardiff are home to Palace in their next game and, if they win that one, there's momentum going into their last game at United. So, we have to prepare for a tough game at Arsenal, but the feeling is better at this moment than it was at half-time."

Brighton failed to register an attempt on goal during an insipid first-half display but a much-improved showing in the second period resulted in Pascal Gross cancelling out Ayoze Perez's opener 15 minutes from time.

Hughton was less than impressed with his side's first-half performance but admits he was buoyed by how they turned things around after the interval.

"We've found it difficult to score goals, so we played two up front but didn't work the system as well as I'd have liked, and we needed to show more," he explained.

"Those are the things we spoke about. A few harsh words which is normal, but credit to the players. Sometimes there can be a turn in the game. There was a period in the second half when momentum was with us, and that's a nice feeling."

Newcastle, meanwhile, missed out on the chance to make it three Premier League wins in a row.

The Magpies dominated the first half but only had Perez's goal to show for their efforts, and boss Rafael Benitez says his side have learned a valuable lesson.

"It's a pity for us after working so hard but it's a lesson and you must keep going in these games when the other team is playing for everything," he said.

Newcastle face title-chasing Liverpool next weekend and Benitez insists that he has no intention of doing the club he managed between 2004 and 2010 any favours.

"We will try to do our job as professionals but they are very, very strong," he added. "We are in front of our own fans and we have to try to give everything on the pitch."

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Guy Atkinson