Brighton fans came within nine minutes of seeing their team go four points ahead of Newcastle at the top of the table.

Instead, goals from Diame and Perez saw the Magpies leapfrog the Seagull and open up a two point gap with 12 matches remaining.

A crucial stage of the season and whilst disappointed with the game slipping away so late on, the overall reaction of Brighton fans was a little surprising.

Most of them (with one or two dissenting voices obviously) accepting that Newcastle United are the best (and most expensive!!) side in the division and that Rafa Benitez and his team had made it very difficult for Brighton to play their usual game, whilst gradually dominating the match after the home side had started well.

This kind of mirrors what most Newcastle fans have come to understand this season, the biggest Rafa factor is the discipline and organisation he has instilled in the team, making them very hard to break down whilst at the same time being easily the top scorers in the Championship.

Comments via top Brighton fans message board North Stand Chat:

‘Why can’t we just accept we lost to a good team, instead of criticising anybody from the owner to the manager to the players to the fans.

Sometimes it is just not your day & you need to dust yourself down & move on.’

‘That’s how I feel.

A good team lost to a good team.

On to Forest.’

‘A £65m team at that.’

‘A lot of people have accepted that. It doesn’t feel as gut wrenching as some of the results last season that’s for sure (Burnley & Derby at home). We still have an advantage and we just need to make sure we go for it. I think we have leaders in the squad to take us over the line.’

‘Yes no shame in losing to Newcastle. They shaded the game tonight. At times in the first half we were brilliant.

The equaliser knocked the stuffing out of us. It was tough to take.’

‘If the Newcastle that turned up at the Amex tonight also turned up at St James park regularly then they would be out of sight by now.’

‘I’m thinking the point is that there is way more pressure on them to be promoted than us, as you have said a £65 million team, but if they don’t do it, I’m guessing £2.50, by the the time the ‘top players’ have left.’

‘We didn’t lose to a great team. We lost because we couldn’t maintain possession.

Once they went 1-0 up, the whole team started giving the ball away needlessly. We went to pieces and lost our fluidity. Newcastle are a good team, but we were the makers of our own collapse tonight.’

‘Our performance wasn’t that solid but most likely we would have held on for three points if the fluke goal had not happened, we lost to a good strike which is sad we didn’t hold on to the point we at least deserved.

But that was their final, they got away with 3 points, good for them.

A positive is that they don’t treat other teams as importantly as us. They are champions elect so why should they, looking forward to the teams taking points off them ever if they are beneath them.

Guessing that the Fat Controller next venture is as a referee, he spent so much time talking to the fourth official that must be a career move. Why do they put the fourth official next to the managers? Their gamesmanship or lack of is disturbing.

I still wish Newcastle all of the best in the playoffs, no hard feelings.’

‘Agreed – Newcastle are really a Prem side so no big deal.

Being a Brighton fan is never an easy ride, and this will probably go right down to the wire. It just means when we do get to the promised land, and we will, it will just be that much sweeter.’

‘Towards the end of the first half AK and Baldock broke through their last line at halfway.

By the time either of them looked up, there was about 6 Newcastle players in front of them.

That just wouldn’t have happened against any other team in the division.’

‘There’s nobody left to play anywhere near that class and after sat we still should be 9 points clear of hudds which is plenty good enough to see us over the line.’

‘They should have scored on half time and when Stockdale gave ball away…..A win would have been a steal and a draw ok….

I do think on the night whilst for the first ten minutes we were all over them they were the better side…we could not get going on the break like we did against Reading….

Bring on Forest and either Newcastle or Huddersfield or both WILL drop points on saturday.’

‘They weren’t great at all. We were so sloppy after we took the lead. 3pts dropped for me.’

We didn’t play as well as we would have liked, but much of that was due to Newcastle playing well – their energy and pressing was good, and some of our best players (Murray/Knocky) weren’t able to get into it as a result.’

‘We battled hard against a very good side who were able to quite easily nullify most of our threat and also to create their own opportunities – despite them playing without much of a recognised “strikeforce” for most of the game.

Shelvey is the best player in the division by a country mile. So influential – a player for whom the epithet “Machine” is completely justified.

No shame at all in being second best, last night and at the end of the season, to such an expensive and strong team.

I expect us to take 4 or 6 points from our next two away games and go on to finish runners up with a degree of comfort.’

‘Anybody that thinks Newcastle are currently a great team are in lala land. They were fortunate to get a draw at home to Bristol C just last Saturday.

Our players didn’t handle the pressure for 90 minutes after being gifted an early penalty. Shoddy ball control all over the pitch.’

‘Newcastle have the best away record in the division. They only struggle under the weight of expectation at home and seem to have a particular problem against the strugglers – which may just be because some of their ‘star’ players can’t quite get themselves up for it.

Last night was always going to be the type of occasion that suits them more.’

‘The pressure Newcastle put on our whole team was more than I’ve seen this year – right from their front players, who harried our defence, through to midfield – and their defenders gave us nothing all night (barring the penalty).

Murray looked physically spent at the end of it – compare with the Barnsley and Reading games where he won balls & created space for Baldock to run into.

Nobody underperformed – in fact I thought they stepped up a level, just so did Newcastle. Apparently they were all over Bristol City after shipping a couple of sloppy goals.’

‘Newcastle are not a great team but for this league they are pretty close to it.

They have ‘bottled’ it at home but their away form has been brilliant. Last night even if Dunk’s header had gone in they would have kept at it.

They have a lot of very good players and looked a lot fitter, often first to the ball and they did not slow down.’

‘We did make more errors in possession than normal. Agreed. But from my perspective that was because Newcastle pressed really well making our passing quicker, or making the longer ball feel like the only sensible option.

This then means that people start to rush things even when they don’t have to – Stockers pass to their striker was a good example.. rushed thinking based on anxiety. In the context of this season, then surely you have to concede that Newcastle are a good side, arguably the best all-round side we have seen this season at the Amex?

Whether it’s the word “great” that bothers you, and they would not be “great” in the premier league. The table suggests they are the best side we have in the Championship.’

‘Yes they are a good side. People on here were saying at the beginning of the season that they would ‘walk’ the league. They haven’t done so far and are unlikely to finish well clear.

If we hadn’t conceded the winning goal we would be on top so would that make us the best team?

Lots of Championship managers have said we have the best team but Newcastle have the best squad.’

‘I spoke with a number of Toon fans on the trains to and from the Amex last night. On the way to the match they expressed mixed feelings, most expecting a narrow win, others worried that Albion might open up a 4 point gap at the top. Nearly all expected the Toon to be eventual champions with us joining them in the autos.

After the match, on the way back to London almost all said that they felt Toon were the better technical team but that Albion had contained them well until that fluke-of-the-season goal went in which took the wind out of our sails, uplifted them and gave them impetus to press us hard in the last 10 mins and nick the winner.

All of the many Toon fans I spoke with said that the Amex noise levels were amazing and they were impressed with our stadium-wide vocal support, especially the way we got behind the Albion when the Toon scored. Apparently, if you are an away fan, being on the receiving end of 27,000 Seagulls bellowing out “Al-bi-on” can be quite intimidating! Nice to know, and one to remember for the future.’

‘I think that despite the hyperbole of the media last night game was not as important as the Reading game and Forest game.

If we had won, yes it would be fantastic and took the edge of the nerves as the gap would be bigger etc. But we get promoted by beating the other teams. Newcastle should be winning this division at a canter, they will go up and probably as champions.

When they go up their ambitions will not be to survive but minimum to consolidate.’

‘If they had been able to play Gayle last night instead of Goufran up front, I think we could have been well beaten. They fluffed so many good chances.’

‘You should expect to be second best to a team that can afford to spend £86 million in the summer.

Without Shelvey i think they would be struggling.’

‘Of the teams which started last night, I think only Knockaert for Atsu, Stockdale for Darlow, Stephens for Colback and Dunk for Clark would get into that Newcastle team.’

‘Did anyone else think their support was poor last night?

Obviously not in terms of numbers, you have to take your hat off to them, but they were very subdued until they equalised, surprising when you consider their world renowned support.’

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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