London - Brighton
and Hove Albion ended their 34-year wait for a return to the top flight
of English football when they were promoted to the Premier League on
Championship leaders Brighton beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 and their
promotion was confirmed when Huddersfield Town could only manage a 1-1
draw at Derby County in the day's late kick-off.
Huddersfield had to win to delay Brighton's celebrations but their
result left the Seagulls 13 points clear of Reading, now in third place,
with only a maximum of nine points available to the Berkshire club from
their three remaining league games this season.
Glenn Murray opened the scoring for Brighton eight minutes before half-time in front of their own fans at the Amex Stadium.
England Under-21 international Solly March made it 2-0 for Chris
Hughton's men and a goal from Wigan substitute Nick Powell came too late
to change the result.
South coast club Brighton are on course to go up as champions, with
second-placed Newcastle's 3-1 loss away to Ipswich on Monday leaving the
Seagulls seven points clear at the summit.
Brighton have not played in English football's top flight since their
relegation from the old First Division in 1983 after a season where
they also reached the FA Cup final only to lose to Manchester United in a
Recent seasons have seen Brighton come agonisingly close to going up,
with the Seagulls losing play-off semi-finalists in three of the past
four campaigns and denied automatic promotion last term on goal
But after a fifth successive league win, Brighton manager Hughton praised his side's resilience.
"I'm incredibly proud of the way that they bounced back (from last
season)," he said. "I knew we had a group of lads that were capable of
doing it (getting promoted), but being capable of doing it and actually
doing it are two different things."
Hughton was especially pleased for Brighton chairman Tony Bloom, a lifelong Seagulls fan.
"It’s a wonderful achievement and there’s so many people that I’m
absolutely delighted for, certainly the chairman," said Hughton.
"He’s a local man and has invested an incredible amount of money in this football club."
accused of not being "mentally ready" by manager Rafael Benitez after
their loss at Ipswich meant they had now gone three games without a win.
Freddie Sears put the hosts ahead at Portman Road before former Ipswich man Daryl Murphy equalised.
But instead of a sustained Newcastle fightback, the match witnessed
two more Ipswich goals instead, with David McGoldrick and Emyr Huws
getting on the scoresheet.
It was all in marked contrast to Newcastle's display in a 1-1 draw at
home to Leeds on Friday, a match they dominated until Chris Wood's
last-gasp equaliser in stoppage-time.
"I am concerned about the change in my team's performance from Leeds
on Friday to the performance today," said Spanish boss Benitez.
"We knew it was going to be this kind of game but we were not ready - it seems we were not mentally ready," the former Liverpool and Real
Madrid manager added.
"We made mistakes and we got paid for it. We have to all take responsibility, we win together and we lose together."
In the race for the play-offs that will determine which club gains
the third and final promotion place, wins for Reading, Sheffield
Wednesday and Fulham knocked Leeds out of the top six.