A season so far of ifs, buts and maybes for Brighton

Brighton and Hove Albion defender Adam Webster celebrates his first goal for the club and the opener during a 2-1 loss at Aston Villa.
Brighton and Hove Albion defender Adam Webster celebrates his first goal for the club and the opener during a 2-1 loss at Aston Villa.

How many times can you say this season that Brighton played well but it just didn't go their way?

West Ham: Played well, should have won - two points dropped.

Southampton: were playing well until Florin Andone was sent-off - at least one point dropped.

Burnley: Albion were excellent, should have scored more - two points dropped.

Newcastle: Were superb in the first half and should have won that match - two points dropped.

Aston Villa: Looked very good until Aaron Mooy's dismissal - one point, possibly three points dropped.

Many other teams can also point to if, buts and maybes but Brighton have let a total of at least eight points slip through their grasp by the very narrowest of margins.

In a parallel universe, somewhere, Albion are on 17 points and challenging the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal for a Champions League spot. Brighton are been hailed as an example to all at what can be achieved on a small budget, while Graham Potter is "flattered but has a job to do at Brighton" after being linked with the Manchester United job and being tipped as a future England manager.

Back on earth - in Birmingham - and Brighton have just lost to Villa and are 16th - just one point above the relegation zone. Bad luck? Poor game management? Lack of concentration or discipline?

"We have got to manage the game better and it is absolutely gutting to concede so late," said defender Adam Webster, who scored his first goal for Albion at Aston Villa. " We played so well again, we have come away with nothing, which is hugely frustrating for us and a tough one to take.

"The performances, we keep saying it, they have been so good, but we want results and it is not what we wanted.”

Red cards to Florin Andone (West Ham) and Mooy at Villa - the first of his professional career - have not helped Brighton's situation. But crucially it has been the inability to take their opponents out during their lengthy periods of domination.

Against Villa, Albion deservedly took the lead through Webster but they also missed chances or were a bit careless with the final pass at key moments. Even with 10-men, Potter's team created opportunities.

“We got in some good areas in the second half and didn’t have that punch, that bit of quality, bit of luck," Webster said. "It is nice to get a goal, but it means nothing now and I would of much rather taken those three points today than score. Everyone is gutted, we gave so much today, put everything on the line."

Brighton's next two matches are at home against lowly Everton and Norwich. Brighton have already outplayed seventh placed Tottenham, eighth placed Burnley and 10th placed West Ham at the Amex this season.

Potter has previously stated that you can control performances but you can't always control results. If they can replicate those performances in the next two matches, they will hope the rewards will finally come, otherwise it will quickly begin to get a bit edgy at the lower end of the table.

Webster added: “We have shown already the character in the dressing room and the team spirit. We dug deep for 50-60 minutes (at Villa) and were probably the better side and that shows a lot. We will be looking to recover now and get ready for a big one again next weekend.”