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Millwall 1-2 Brighton
MILLWALL put up a brave fight but fell to their fifth league defeat of the season, losing at home to Brighton this afternoon.
There was plenty of energy and application from the Lions but they only really came to life at The Den after substitute Chris Taylor was sent off for a foul on Brighton keeper Thomas Kuszczak.
Trailing 2-0 to goals from Ashley Barnes and Adam El-Abd either side of half-time, Millwall striker Andy Keogh played a pass to Taylor on 66 minutes which Kuszczak gathered and was then caught by the midfielder as he stretched for the ball.
He was then sent off, much to the disgust of the home fans behind the goal, as the former Manchester United stopper stayed down injured.
In truth Kuszczak had been busy without really being troubled prior to that, with Millwall starting the game brightly but deservedly falling behind as the visitors began to look the more dangerous.
Lions keeper David Forde had made a fine low save after Wayne Bridge, allowed space in the box, fired in a left foot shot after a teasing through ball to the ex-Chelsea man with six minutes gone.
Brighton top-scorer Craig Mackail-Smith then had an opening after Karleigh Osbourne miscontrolled in the box, but the centre half got back at him to make the block which allowed Forde to claim.
Dean Hammond then shot just past Forde’s left hand post with the inside of his right foot as Brighton kept the pressure on.
The Seasiders then got their just reward after some great wing play from Will Buckley down the right, the number 30 finding a cross which eluded everyone but Ashley Barnes who fired in low under the keeper's dive after 17 minutes.
There was another real chance for winger Buckley just after the half hour as he got behind Forde but couldn't squeeze the ball home thanks to a great block from Shane Lowry.
Millwall had plenty of pressure of their own in the first half but went in 1-0 down having created no clear cut opportunites, despite matching Brighton's six shots on target.
A Henry cross which bounced up and hit Kuszczak before captain Trotter nearly forced a looping header in under the crossbar was the best they could muster.
Brighton began the second half brightly and soon had a second goal to show for it, defender Al-Abd finding far too much space to hammer home unmarked in the box after a corner was not properly cleared.
Gus Poyet's men continued to press with shots from substitute Gary Dicker, a header from Barnes blocked on the line and an effort from Buckley which went over.
The game got stretched and became more so after Taylor's dismissal, jubilant Brighton fans crowing 'We're top of the league' as the home side toiled.
But Millwall got themselves right back into it with young striker Wood's goal on 78 minutes.
A cross from James Henry finally found its mark as the striker got free in the box to fire in a low left-footed shot across Kuszczak from a tight angle into the far corner.
This set the scene for some frantic final minutes as Millwall pressed forward while Brighton substitute Kazenga Lualua also looked dangerous at the other end.
Wood then nearly scored an equaliser identical to his earlier strike, but this time Brighton's Polish stopper saved at the 20-year-old's feet following another hopeful Henry cross.
But 2-1 it stayed and tempers briefly flaired after the final whistle as Forde remonstrated with Kuszczak over the sending off as the officials attempted to keep them apart.
Brighton go top as the Lions have early season questions to answer, slipping into the bottom three after collecting only six points from seven games.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Osborne, Lowry, Malone (Robinson 61), Abdou, Wright (C Taylor 46), Trotter, Henry, Keogh (Henderson 75), Wood. Subs not used: M Taylor, Shittu, Batt, Smith. Att: 12,191