Brighton manager Graham Potter says “the financial implications are massive” after his side secured their Premier League status for another season with a goalless draw against Newcastle.
The Seagulls needed one point to guarantee their survival and they were rarely threatened by the Magpies in an uneventful game at the Amex Stadium, which felt more like a pre-season friendly.
Chances at either end came at a premium but the hosts were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty in the first half when Neal Maupay appeared to be brought down by Matt Ritchie, while the visitors best chance was headed wide by substitute Andy Carroll late on.
“It’s so important for a club like us, especially with how the year has been and how next year looks potentially,” said Potter.
“We’re fighting every year to keep in the Premier League. We want to get past that, of course, but it’s so tough. I’m just delighted for the players, the chairman, all the support I’ve had.
“It’s really, really pleasing.”
Brighton move into 15th place in the table, seven points from the relegation zone, while Newcastle remain 13th.
Mission complete for Seagulls
Premier League survival was always going to be the main objective for Potter when he accepted the Brighton job at the end of last season, and with one game to go, the former Swansea boss has delivered another year in the top flight.
With goal difference in their favour, Brighton’s safety looked all but certain before kick-off despite a tough run of three consecutive home defeats – with only two heavy defeats coupled with two large wins for Aston Villa still threatening Albion’s status.
But the Seagulls’ home form will be a cause of concern for Potter and his staff as they prepare for a short turnaround before the 2020-21 season gets under way.
Only Southampton (18) and relegated Norwich (19) have scored fewer home goals than Brighton (20) this season, and they were limited to just three shots on target against the Magpies.
Maupay is the club’s top goalscorer this term and when Ritchie hesitated in possession inside the Newcastle box, the Frenchman reacted quickly to seize on the loose ball before appearing to be brought down by the midfielder.
Ritchie lost his footing as he tried to scramble back into position, but no one in blue and white stripes appealed for referee Simon Hooper to point to the spot.
Centre-back Adam Webster also forced Martin Dubravka into an acrobatic save after the break, as he was gifted too much space by the backpedalling Newcastle defence, but Brighton will simply have to score more goals next season if they are to confirm their safety before their penultimate match.
Magpies at ease in Sussex sunshine
Newcastle have not won in their last five league games but the Magpies have not been threatened by the relegation trapdoor since beating Sheffield United on their return to action last month.
And with very little riding on their cross-country trip for an outing in the Sussex sunshine, the visitors produced a lacklustre performance.
Bruce, whose side only recorded one shot on target, pointed to his team’s relentless run of matches in recent weeks – and with 10 games in 35 days, he could have a point.
The Magpies could have taken all three points in the final five minutes, but Carroll was unable to end his run of 32 Premier League games without a goal as he nodded wide after meeting Shelvey’s corner at the back post.
Uncertainty looms over Newcastle, with speculation still surrounding a potential takeover, but Bruce will be keen for clarity as he tries to build a team capable of bringing European football back to St James’ Park.
Man of the match – Federico Fernandez (Newcastle)
‘We have not had to rely on anyone else’ – what they said
Brighton manager Graham Potter on BBC Radio 5 Live: “We have faced some tough games in some tough moments but we have been together. In the Premier League, the margins are so small and pressure starts to mount but you have to come through that.
“The players have been a joy to work with, we are delighted we have the points we need and we have not had to rely on anyone else. It has been a long lockdown period analysing, planning and thinking what you might need.
“Everyone was talking about how difficult our run was, so it was just about staying focused on what we had to do. I’m really proud of the players and they have responded to some pressure moments and got the results.”
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce on Sky Sports: “That’s our 10th game in 35 days. We have got a lot of tired bodies. We can’t rotate like some others can. Andy Carroll is beating himself up, he knows he should have scored the winner.
“I let other people reflect on that [how the season has gone]. It’s been difficult for everyone concerned, and we’ve done OK. I would have taken 44 points. I think we were safe when we beat Southampton in March.
“In every interview for 15 weeks I’ve been asked the same thing [about the takeover delay]. We need a bit of clarity. Until then I’ll go to work and see the CEO and plan for the summer. That’s all we can do. It’s frustrating.”
A fixture for the purists – the stats
- Brighton are unbeaten in all six of their Premier League meetings with Newcastle (W2 D4) – against no other side have they played more games without losing (West Ham also six).
- Brighton v Newcastle is the only Premier League fixture to be played more than five times with fewer than one goal per game on average (0.7).
- Newcastle have had one or fewer shots on target in seven Premier League games this season – their most in a top-flight season since 2006-07 (8).
- This was Brighton’s 11th goalless draw in the Premier League; no other side has had more since they were promoted to the division in 2017.
- Newcastle kept a clean sheet for the first time since June; they had shipped 10 goals in their previous three Premier League matches.
- Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin has completed 121 of his 194 dribbles in the Premier League this season – only Adama Traore (174) and Wilfred Zaha (161) have completed more.
Brighton will travel to Burnley on the final day of the season (Sunday, 26 July – 16:00 BST), while Newcastle host champions Liverpool at the same time.