Premier League
BrightonBrighton & Hove Albion1WatfordWatford0

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Watford

By Matt DavisBBC Sport
Pascal Gross scores for Brighton
Pascal Gross' goal was just the second time Brighton have found the net in their past seven games

Pascal Gross struck the winner as Brighton earned their first Premier League victory in eight games - on the day Seagulls defender Connor Goldson played his first competitive game since heart surgery.

Goldson, 25, had preventative surgery in February after routine screening uncovered "a possible risk factor".

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton praised the centre-back as he played the full 90 minutes on his Premier League debut and was given man of the match by the stadium announcer.

"Someone who has not played for that period of time, to put in that kind of performance speaks volumes for him," Hughton told Match of the Day.

"The scare and what he went through last season is out of the way now.

"He has waited a long time to get the opportunity to play - everyone is so delighted for him."

German midfielder Gross broke the deadlock on 64 minutes as his shot from the edge of the box went under Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes.

It also ended Brighton's goal drought and was just the second time they have found the net in their past seven games.

Watford rarely threatened and the Seagulls should have been out of sight with Lewis Dunk and Tomer Hemed missing good chances.

The Hornets almost snatched an equaliser in the 94th minute as Brighton keeper Mat Ryan fumbled an Andre Carrillo cross but Stefano Okaka could only knee the ball wide from close range.

This was Watford's fourth league defeat in a row and their fifth in their last six games, while Brighton move to 12th, five points clear of the relegation zone.

Brighton get that winning feeling

Going into the match, a lack of wins and goals was the concern for Brighton.

Three draws and four defeats in their past seven matches had the Seagulls looking down the league at the teams below.

But they dominated the game, and winger Solly March impressed on the left of midfield, with 52% of their attacks coming down his wing.

Profligacy in front of goal seemed to be their main problem and Goldson missed a free header in the 31st minute.

The second half was going the same way until they deservedly took the lead, but Hughton will have wished in the closing minutes that the margin was more comfortable

"I felt the scoreline flattered them," Hughton told BBC Sport. "We need to take those chances, otherwise we will apply pressure on ourselves."

But he hailed the "big win", and with half the season now played, the Seagulls have 21 points, over halfway towards the 40-point mark.

'Big win' for Brighton pleases Hughton

Depleted Hornets struggle

Watford were without suspended trio Troy Deeney, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Marvin Zeegelaar.

And while manager Marco Silva said the enforced changes affected the performance, he also lamented the lack of quality from his players.

"There's been a lot of change in our starting XI so it's not easy," he told Match of the Day. "We are stronger with everybody available. We have three banned and five injured.

"I'm here to find the solutions. Even with injuries and bans we need to react and show different things. It's a moment for the other players to show their quality."

Brighton started better than us - Silva

Andre Gray, who replaced captain Deeney, toiled as the lone striker and did not have a shot before he was substituted.

The Hornets had just one attempt on target, a weak Richarlison effort in the 56th minute.

Silva made three substitutions within seven second-half minutes but his team failed to spark into life.

Despite four defeats on the bounce, Watford are in 10th place, six points clear of the relegation zone.

"Now we need to react as a team and I hope we can have players available as soon as possible," added Silva.

Man of the match - Connor Goldson

Connor Goldson claps the Brighton fans
A dream return for centre-back Connor Goldson, a clean sheet on his Premier League debut and almost a goal

Stats - Fortress Amex

  • Brighton have lost just one of their past nine Premier League home games, winning three and drawing five.
  • Watford have lost four consecutive Premier League games, as many defeats as they suffered in the previous 10 in the competition.
  • The Hornets have now picked up just one point from their past six Premier League matches.
  • The Seagulls scored a goal in open play for the first time in seven Premier League games - the last scored on 20 November.
  • Gross has been directly involved in nine Premier League goals this season (four goals, five assists) - four more than any other Brighton player.
  • Hemed has had a hand in four goals in his past five Premier League appearances at the Amex Stadium, scoring two and assisting two.

What's next?

Brighton go to Chelsea on 26 December (15:00 GMT) while Watford host Leicester at the same time.

Line-ups

Brighton

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Ryan
  • 2Bruno
  • 18Goldson
  • 5Dunk
  • 29Suttner
  • 11Knockaert
  • 6Stephens
  • 24Pröpper
  • 20MarchSubstituted forIzquierdoat 90+3'minutes
  • 13GroßSubstituted forKayalat 83'minutes
  • 10HemedSubstituted forMurrayat 87'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Hünemeier
  • 7Kayal
  • 9Baldock
  • 17Murray
  • 19Izquierdo
  • 21Schelotto
  • 26Krul

Watford

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Gomes
  • 2Janmaat
  • 27Kabasele
  • 5Prödl
  • 25Holebas
  • 8Cleverley
  • 23WatsonSubstituted forCapoueat 74'minutes
  • 28Carrillo
  • 37PereyraSubstituted forSinclairat 71'minutes
  • 11Richarlison
  • 18GraySubstituted forOkakaat 78'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Mariappa
  • 13Wagué
  • 17Sinclair
  • 29Capoue
  • 33Okaka
  • 35Bachmann
  • 39Folivi
Referee:
Paul Tierney
Attendance:
30,473

Match Stats

Home TeamBrightonAway TeamWatford
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home14
Away12
Shots on Target
Home3
Away1
Corners
Home6
Away4
Fouls
Home8
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Watford 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Watford 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Stefano Okaka (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses the top left corner.

  4. Substitution

    Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. José Izquierdo replaces Solly March.

  5. Post update

    Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Davy Pröpper tries a through ball, but Glenn Murray is caught offside.

  6. Post update

    Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by André Carrillo (Watford).

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Glenn Murray replaces Tomer Hemed.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Davy Pröpper.

  11. Post update

    Beram Kayal (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Jerome Sinclair (Watford).

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Beram Kayal replaces Pascal Groß.

  14. Post update

    Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Solly March tries a through ball, but Pascal Groß is caught offside.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Richarlison (Watford) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by José Holebas with a cross.

  16. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Tom Cleverley (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Stefano Okaka (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Stefano Okaka replaces Andre Gray.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Christian Kabasele (Watford) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Tom Cleverley with a cross following a set piece situation.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion).

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City19181060124855
2Man Utd19133341142742
3Chelsea19123432141839
4Liverpool1998241231835
5Tottenham19104534181634
6Arsenal19104534231134
7Burnley199551615132
8Leicester197662928127
9Everton197572430-626
10Watford196492734-722
11Huddersfield196491731-1422
12Brighton195681523-821
13Southampton194781825-719
14Stoke1954102240-1819
15Newcastle1953111929-1018
16Crystal Palace194691629-1318
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18Bournemouth1944111528-1316
19West Brom192891427-1314
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