Soccer

James Trafford produces stunning display to help Burnley draw at Brighton

James Trafford excelled for Burnley (Andrew Matthews/PA)
James Trafford excelled for Burnley (Andrew Matthews/PA) James Trafford excelled for Burnley (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Brighton were frustrated by a superb performance from Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford as they played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.

Simon Adingra headed in from Pascal Gross’ cross in the 77th minute to deny Vincent Kompany’s side, who had looked set to claim a second away win of the season courtesy of Wilson Odobert’s sensational solo effort at the end of the first half.

Odobert’s strike had rocketed beyond Bart Verbruggen in the Brighton goal against the run of play to stun home fans, but after Roberto De Zerbi’s team had drawn level late on, they bombarded the Burnley goal, only to find Trafford in the form of his life to keep out first Kaoru Mitoma then Jack Hinshelwood at the death.

Brighton dominated the ball for the opening 10 minutes but they conceded the game’s first chance to Burnley, Sander Berge driving forward and passing to the feet of Johann Berg Gudmundsson who turned and curled wide with his left foot from just inside the box.

The hosts grew only slowly as an attacking threat. Charlie Taylor stretched well to hook Joao Pedro’s far-post cross away from the foot of Adingra, who would have had a tap-in, before Gross headed up and onto the roof of the goal from James Milner’s inviting delivery.

Minutes later, Gross spurned the clearest chance of the opening half-hour when, after being set up on the right by good play between Pedro and Adingra, he shot low to the near post instead of aiming across goal, Trafford turning it aside well with a strong left boot.

By now De Zerbi’s side were comfortably on top. Trafford made another save this time down to his right from Milner’s driven effort, before Jan Paul van Hecke wasted a golden opportunity, thumping a free header wide following a superbly flighted cross from Adingra.

Burnley were stretched, struggling to contain Brighton’s speed of passing and movement in between their lines, and Mahmoud Dahoud almost made them pay in spectacular fashion, his thunderous effort whistling inches over from 20 yards.

The goal then came completely against the run of play and owed everything to the brilliance of Odobert.

There seemed to be little on when the 19-year-old collected the ball on the left just outside the box in the final minute of the half. Three Brighton players stood off him, providing Odobert all the encouragement he needed, and with a stunning right-footed drive that nicked off Milner and looped over Verbruggen he gave the visitors the lead.

Brighton had won only twice in the league since September and that patchy form looked like persisting. De Zerbi sent on Mitoma and Billy Gilmour at the break to try and tip the game in his side’s favour.

Instead it was Burnley who almost extended their lead and it was Odobert again the threat, drawing a brave low stop from Verbruggen, with Jay Rodriguez foiled by the goalkeeper from the follow-up.

By the hour mark, Kompany’s side had dropped considerably deeper than during the first half, and Brighton were dominating again.

Mitoma swept a bending shot over the bar with his instep, Evan Ferguson put a free header wide from Van Hecke’s cross, and the Amex grew increasingly anxious as the prospect of a second defeat in three league games loomed.

The chances came more freely. Gross found Adingra in an acre of space at the far post, Trafford excelling yet again, racing from goal to deny him with a sprawling block.

Then finally came the equaliser Brighton had deserved, and it was the excellent Gross that made it. Aaron Ramsey tried to stand up the Germany international on the edge of the box, but checking back onto his right foot he crossed for Adingra who made amends for his earlier miss with a header into the corner.

Substitute Hinshelwood’s header was brilliantly pushed behind by Trafford in stoppage time.

Burnley’s goalkeeper had been outstanding, and he saved his very best until last, fingertipping over from Mitoma’s right-foot bullet in the dying seconds.