Improving Brighton and Hove Albion get the better of Bolton Wanderers

Joao Teixeira continued in the same vein as against Leeds United (Photograph: Paul Hazlewood)
Joao Teixeira continued in the same vein as against Leeds United (Photograph: Paul Hazlewood)

The Albion’s improvement continued with an encouraging win, thanks to João Teixeira.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s recent improvement under Sami Hyypiä continued with an encouraging win over Bolton Wanderers, thanks to João Teixeira's second goal in as many matches.

The pint-size Portuguese playmaker cut inside on 64 minutes to drill a low shot underneath the legs of Bolton’s substitute goalkeeper Andy Lonegran to give the home side a deserved lead.

Bolton had earlier gone ahead, somewhat against the run of play, when Matt Mills headed past David Stockdale after 24 minutes.

Despite that initial set-back, however, Brighton spent the majority of the match on the front foot, clocking up 57% possession and 26 shots on their opponent’s goal.

And when Bolton suffered the 37th-minute double blow of conceding an equaliser and losing first choice goalkeeper Adam Bogdan to injury, there was only ever likely to be one winner.

In fact, Bolton managed a meagre six efforts on goal throughout the 90 minutes and post-match comments from under-pressure manager Dougie Freedman, suggesting his side had been unlucky, sounded more like the former Palace pantomime villain was trying to convince himself - and perhaps more pertinently, his employers - than speaking with any conviction.

This was an encouraging performance from Brighton, orchestrated by Danny Holla. The Dutch midfielder impressed during the away win at Leeds United and again proved pivotal to the Seagulls.

He was commanding and reassuringly straightforward in possession, offering an angle-changing outlet for the back four in a similar vein to Liam Bridcutt. Holla’s presence again allowed Jake Forster-Caskey more creative freedom and unleashed the youngster’s attacking ambition. If anything, it was Andrew Crofts, returning from a three-match ban, who at times struggled to keep pace with the Albion’s quick-thinking passing.

That isn’t to say Crofts won’t dovetail usefully alongside Holla. The Welsh international is too influential and experienced a figure not to adapt to Hyypiä’s quick transition style. There will also be times when his steel and crunch in the tackle is needed far more than during Saturday’s win against what was, in fairness, a poor Bolton side.

On Saturday, though, it was Holla, Forster-Caskey and Teixeira who stood out. Teixeira looked a livewire in a trick-filled turn in a three-pronged line supporting lone-striker Mackail-Smith.

In fact, it was the presence of Teixeira and his attacking nous that helped Mackail-Smith show the sort of form that originally tempted the Seagulls into parting with a record fee.

Despite arriving amid a fanfare of excitement, the Scotland international has never been afforded the chance to play in a team set up to his strengths. Even under Gus Poyet, the attacker was often misused - a talented square peg made to play in a restrictive round hole.

In Teixeira, however, the likeable striker may have found the perfect foil. Mackail-Smith’s goal may have come from good wide play from Bruno and Inigo Calderon, but there was enough interplay between him and Teixeira to hint at a promising partnership.

The on-loan Liverpool midfielder is more than capable of playing the inventive, edge-of-the-box space-finding passes that one suspects Mackail-Smith could thrive on. It is early days, but the signs are certainly positive.

Equally encouraging has been the former of Gordon Greer and Lewis Dunk in defence. Greer, occasionally scapegoated by sections of the Seagulls support, has started the season in superb form, while Dunk has impressed in the last two games.

Brighton and Hove Albion will face far tougher challenges than those overcome at Leeds last week and against Bolton on Saturday. In truth, the two struggling sides provided fortunate and forgiving opposition for a Seagulls side bedding in new arrivals and adapting to a new system.

You can, though, only beat what is in front of you. It might be too soon to get carried away - save that for when the Albion beat a Norwich City, a Watford or a Nottingham Forest - but the side is improving and the new arrivals certainly seem to be adding to the team.

Perhaps more encouraging for the Amex faithful is that, with players like Teixeira, Mackail-Smith et al, the Seagulls are entertaining. There were times last season when, under Oscar Garcia, Brighton fans left matches feeling flat and a little bored. The early signs are that won’t be happening as much under Hyypiä.

Match rating: Stockdale 6, Calderon 7, Greer 7, Dunk 7, Bennett 7, Bruno 7, Holla 8, Forster-Caskey 7, Crofts 6, Teixeira 8, Mackail-Smith 7. Subs: Lua Lua 7, Chicksen 6, Ince 6.