Brighton 5 (Barnes 2, 80, Bridge 13, Mackail-Smith 35, 49)
Barnsley 1 (Davies pen 34)
The Reds encountered a hungry Brighton side on the south coast and didn’t do their chances any favours after a disastrous start against Gus Poyet’s side with the Seagulls tearing into Barnsley and hitting five goals along the way with only a Craig Davies penalty in reply.
Everything is certainly geared up for the Premier League with the grand state-of-the-art stadium and a plethora of top-end Championship players who were hungrier and simply better than the Reds.
After a free-kick was awarded to the hosts despite Golbourne claiming to have clearly won the ball from Noone in the opening free minutes – the winger was crying for the physio but miraculously instantly recovered to whip in a free-kick that Gonzalez spilled into the path of Barnes who thumped into an empty net from a handful of yards.
Things went from bad to worse as the next shot on goal found the net for the Seagulls. Wayne Bridge was the man who struck home from 25 yards into the bottom-left corner of Gonzalez who was simply a bystander.
Gonzalez did well to smother a jinking run by Noone but the Colombian must have been asking questions of his defenders after the winger was allowed to dance into the area with just over 20 minutes played.
Barnsley were finally into the match and Tomasz Cywka forced Kuszczak into a smart save with a neat long-range strike that seemed destined for the top corner. The shot came after the Reds’ first real spell of possession in the Seagulls’ half.
By the 27th minute John Stones was shown a yellow card to make it both Reds’ full-backs into the referee’s notebook following from Golbourne’s early booking.
The Reds were handed a lifeline into the match when Jacob Mellis was clipped in the area following a spell of pressure. Craig Davies, wearing the armband for the afternoon, powered the penalty home which was too strong for the hand of Kuszczak.
Just as it seemed the Reds were back, Brighton hit back and struck another goal. Barnes swept past Gonzalez but Mackail-Smith got the last touch to claim a lucky goal he knew nothing about on 35 minutes.
Mellis had Kuszczak worried with a wicked 30 yard effort but luckily for the former Man United ‘keeper Bruno was on hand to clear the rebound before Davies could pounce.
And the first attempt of the second half resulted in another goal for the Albion, the 150th career goal of Craig Mackail-Smith with a simple flick from Barnes’ header after a great run and delivery by Noone down the left.
Bobby Hassell and Martin Cranie were then thrown on to try and plug the gaps at the back but it was a grand, grand task for the defensive duo who replaced Scott Golbourne and John Stones.
By the hour mark Gus Poyet’s men were happy to simply knock the ball around the park and utilise the space in midfield – the Seagulls were in no rush to push forward and leave themselves exposed on the counter.
Hassell and Davies combined well together on 67 minutes with the latter forcing a corner following his 10-yard effort.
Barnsley’s shining light, Tomasz Cywka took the ball into his feet with a great touch only to lose his balance in the area when one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
It was five on 80 minutes with Ashley Barnes in the right place to sweep home LuaLua’s pull back into the top corner. It was total capitulation in the Reds’ defence.
Brighton: Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, El-Abd, Crofts (Harley 69), Barnes (Agdestein 83), Noone (LuaLua 69), Mackail-Smith, Dicker, Bridcutt, Bridge.
Subs: Ankergren, Dunk, Calderon, Barker.
Reds: Gonzalez, Golbourne (Cranie 54), Foster, Dawson, Davies, Wiseman, Harewood, Cywka, Mellis, Etuhu, Stones (Hassell 54).
Subs: Lidakevicius, Collins, Dagnall, Clark, Rose.
Referee: Roger East
Assistant Referees: Ian Cooper and William Bull
Fourth Official: Paul Kelly
Att: 24, 594 (297 Reds)