Brighton rock Wrexham

Football Handbook (part 21) was glowing in praise of Albion’s play in victory over Wrexham on 11th November 1978, a result that moved the club to sixth position in the Second Division. So much so, the partwork took the time to charmingly illustrate the decisive strike:

Brighton owe much of their success in recent seasons to their captain and midfield anchor-man Brian Horton.

The former Port Vale half-back played an important part in the Seagulls’ win over Wrexham in November, culminating with a well-taken winning goal.

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Mark Lawrenson, another key figure in Brighton’s promotion push, started the move when he intercepted a Mel Sutton pass intended for Bobby Shinton deep on the right of Albion’s defence.

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Lawrenson knocked the ball forward to Teddy Maybank just inside his own half, and Maybank laid it off first time to Peter O’Sullivan, who hit a long, raking pass for Horton to run on to.

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Two Wrexham defenders and keeper Dai Davies converged . . . but Horton – known as ‘Nobby’ to his team-mates – just got there first, knocking the ball with the outside of his right foot over Davies. It gave Brighton a 2-1 lead –a lead they preserved until the final whistle – and two more vital points in the close fought Second Division promotion race.

Graham Taylor’s analysis was this:

Certainly Brighton look ready for promotion – if this goal is anything to go by.

All four players involved did extremely well. It was one of those goals where everything comes right, all the training is suddenly worthwhile.

And it’s a tremendous boost to a side when a goal like this goes in. You can see them looking at each other and saying: ‘Look at that. That’s how good we are.’

I liked the way Lawrenson won the ball and was confident enough to turn with it and hold it.

Every back four needs at least one player like that, who’s quick to cover and can use the ball. And O’Sullivan did well, not only seeing the gap in the Wrexham defence but being quick and accurate enough to expose it.

Horton saw it too, of course. He found himself in yards of space with a clear run at goal. You could see him signalling for the ball – and probably he couldn’t believe his luck…

Because you’ve got to say that the defence wasn’t entirely blameless. You can forgive them for not picking up Horton immediately. After all, an attack had just broken down… and Horton was probably about on the halfway line when it happened. He didn’t present any immediate danger…

Wrexham’s first priority was to sort themselves out at the back. Instead they left that great gap-between Joey Jones and Gareth Davis, wasn’t it? – which Brighton used so well. O’Sullivan’s through ball was perfect… and there was nothing wrong with Horton’s finishing; he was very cool, even under considerable pressure. He kept his head, got to the ball first, waited for the right moment, then stuck it away well.

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