By Paul Dantanus
After nearly two months and nine league games without a win, Brighton fans can finally let out a collective sigh of relief.
Goals from Gordon Greer and Ryan Harley either side of half-time ended the Seagulls’ winless drought dating back to September 10th.
Today was a rare sight for the Amex: all four sides of the stadium celebrating in unison.
For the first time, home supporters were sat in the South Stand as the 814 travelling Barnsley fans were pushed to one side. On the pitch it was a similar story.
Due to next week’s international break, players from both sides halted their warm-ups to observe a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day. The match was similarly intermittent to begin with, as club physios were called to the pitch three times in the opening half.
Billy Paynter made his home debut for the Albion. Liam Bridcutt and Lewis Dunk returned to the starting line-up and Will Buckley was on the bench.
Brighton’s goalmouth was again busy, but it was a 20-yard strike from David Perkins that came closest after half an hour, when his curler was tipped onto the crossbar by Steve Harper.
Minutes later the Geordie keeper had to parry a low drive from Jacob Butterfield, with Brighton never looking entirely comfortable in defence. Fortunately, the centre-back pairing of Dunk and Greer would make their most important contribution at the other end.
Craig Noone’s weaving runs looked the most threatening part of Brighton’s attack, but the eventual breakthrough came through one of his free-kicks. A cross from the right landed in front of Dunk, but his shot rebounded to Greer who side-footed the ball in from a five yards out.
A scrappy goal before half-time did the team a world of good, as for the second period the team came out a lot more energetic and adventurous.
Craig Mackail-Smith was rewarded for his tireless running as he pounced on loose passes and outmuscled the Tykes’ defence. Shortly before the hour mark, after one of his efforts was pushed on to the bar by Luke Steele, the keeper quickly saved again from the Scot before the ball fell to Harley, who controlled and passed the ball into the bottom-left corner of the Barnsley net.
Respite at last, and except for a few shaky moments in stoppage time, Gus Poyet’s side deserved the clean sheet. 38-year-old Mauricio Taricco gained all the plaudits at left-back, playing a full 90 minutes for the first time since coming out of retirement.
“After 65 minutes I was struggling but you needed to keep going”, he said. “At the moment we’ve got a few injuries so somehow I need to find the energy. Gus knows he can count on me.”
Brighton are now back in the top 10 of the Championship, with their next game away to Southampton.
Reflecting on the scoreline, Poyet said: “We are all pleased and I’m happy for the players because it’s been a long wait.
“We now have a very nice two weeks where we will rest and we have plenty of time to prepare against the league leaders.
“They have been scoring goals for fun and they have won about 14 games in a row at home so it’s a great opportunity for us to try and upset their run.”
Man of the Match: Gordon Greer
Brighton: Harper, Calderon, Dunk, Greer, Taricco, Bridcutt, Navarro, Harley (Barnes 69), Noone (Buckley 81), Paynter, Mackail-Smith. Subs not used: Ankergren, LuaLua, Vincelot
Goals: Greer 44, Harley 57
Barnsley: Steele, Wiseman, Foster, McNulty, McEveley, Davies (Vaz Te 60), Addison (Done 61), Drinkwater, Butterfield, Perkins, Gray. Subs not used: Preece, Edwards, Doyle
Booked: Perkins, Gray, Drinkwater.