Brighton had almost all of the ball and almost all of the chances but they so nearly left Selhurst Park with none of the points. It took a last-minute equaliser from Alexis Mac Allister to pull them level against Crystal Palace, their bitter rivals, and seal a draw that was the very least they deserved.
From the first minute to the last Brighton played the more progressive football here, working their way forwards and trying to crack apart Palace’s rigid defensive shape. For much of the afternoon it felt like another day when the result would not match their performance, until Mac Allister’s fierce finish cancelled out Wilfried Zaha’s early penalty in the final moments of normal time.
It would not be a derby between these two teams without some scuffles on the pitch and the absence of supporters did nothing to reduce the bad blood. There were clashes throughout, with plenty of bickering and, right at the end, a straight red card for Lewis Dunk.
The Brighton centre-back’s late challenge, a desperate attempt to score a winner, was a horribly mistimed lunge for which Graham Potter could offer no defence. “He knows it’s not what we are about and it’s not what he is about,” Potter said. “He is a fully committed footballer who got it wrong. It’s as simple as that.”
Dunk was the player who lost control but he was far from the only one to be fired up by the passions of this rivalry. Zaha appeared particularly on edge, tussling with Brighton’s Ben White as early as the first few minutes and generally looking for a squabble wherever he could find one. After Palace’s previous game he had said it was “nonsense” to suggest he was disinterested in his club football and his actions certainly backed up his words on this occasion.
Zaha has scored more times against Brighton than any other opponent and he is now up to four goals this campaign, the same tally for the whole of last season. Disinterested? Clearly not. Frustrated that his defenders could not hold on to seal the win? Absolutely, as could be seen on his face at the end.
“It was a hardworking defensive display,” said Hodgson, who was without forward Jordan Ayew due to a positive coronavirus test. “We were slightly guilty of defending the lead rather than looking forward and trying to increase the lead.”
With Palace defending in their usual shape, Brighton struggled for so long to convert their dominance into goalscoring opportunities. Their hope will be that the arrival of Danny Welbeck, signed this weekend, will add more of an edge to their attack.
It was entirely in keeping with Brighton’s campaign that Palace scored on their first meaningful visit to the opposition half. The penalty looked soft, with Tariq Lamptey penalised for putting his hand on the shoulder of Michy Batshuayi in the box. "If that is a penalty then there are probably nine or 10 a game,” said Brighton’s Adam Lallana.
It was a sign of Brighton’s dominance that Zaha’s effort, sent low into the corner, was Palace’s only shot. By contrast Brighton had 20 efforts, with Neal Maupay missing a series of half-chances either side of half-time. Maupay was far more involved in the general play than Batshuayi, although the Palace striker soon had the ball in the net. It was a superb finish, ripped into the top corner, but the offside flag cut short his celebrations.
At the other end a lovely passing move sent Maupay into the box, in space, but the Frenchman hesitated before shooting, allowing Palace to block the effort when it finally came.
Still Brighton pushed, weaving their passing patterns and waiting for the break they needed. It came when Joel Ward’s clearance fell at the feet of Maupay, who teed up Mac Allister on the edge of the box. “To concede late on with a direct ball down the middle is disappointing,” said Palace defender Gary Cahill.
As Brighton then pushed for a winner, Dunk flew into a goalmouth scramble in an attempt to force the ball home. Instead he collided with Gary Cahill and received a red card which robbed the visitors of their late momentum.
Full time: Palace 1 Brighton 1
The match finishes as it has been contested for 99 minutes: Brighton pushing for the goal. Maupay has a shot blocked and the ref brings thing to a close.
Brighton made all the running and if a side deserved it, it was probably they. But they did not create a huge number of chances. A spicy affair and I think Brighton all things considered deserved a point. Match report coming up...
Crystal Palace's formula often works for them, but I can't see why they'd defend a lead for so long and play so negatively at home against a side below them in the table (late Brighton equaliser, 1-1 ft)— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) October 18, 2020
90+ mins: Palace 1 Brighton 1
Absurd dive from Connolly as he runs for the ball with Kouyate, he's not booked although I woudl say he should have been. There's been some good argy bargy in this match.
90+ mins: Palace 1 Brighton 1
Zaha and Maupay also getting involved in a dispute. We were having seven minutes added anyway and there will be further. Ref just taking a moment to calm everyone down.
90+ mins: Palace 1 Brighton 1
There's going to be seven minutes added on. Another goalmouth scramble, another foul from Lewis Dunk... a wild lunge at the ball, nowhere near making contact with the ball but he's absolutely mullered poor Gary Cahill there. Oh that's a red card all day long. Not malicious as such but wild and reckless. Dunk apologises to Cahill and takes the red card like a man.
90 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 1
Alexis Mac Allister had only come on as a sub for Lallana/Trossard on 78 minutes, Connolly also on in that switch. And he's lashed his side level.
GOAL! Palace 1 Brighton 1 (Mac Allister 89)
There is! Brighton surge forward, Maupay brings the ball and slips it, perhaps a bit fortunately via a miscontrolled touch form Connolly, onward to Mac Allister... he hits a cracking shot and it beats the keeper!
88 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Is there one last attack for Brighton?
87 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Schlupp is taken off for Benteke.
Dangerous ball played into the Palace box from that freekick, there's a scramble. Dunk tries to hack it in and instead catches the Palace goalie, and there's some bad feeling. Fair enough from Dunk in my view to try for the ball.
85 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Brighton still putting all the pressure on. March goes past Townsend, who fouls him.
82 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Palace still resolutely stuck on their whole one shot, one goal policy.
Mr Roy further looks to shore things up by bringing on holding midfielder Milivojevic for Batshuayi, 83 % possession for Brighton in the last 10 mins.
I wish Palace vs Brighton had been £15 because then I wouldn’t have watched it— Matthew Stanger (@MatthewStanger) October 18, 2020
78 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
McAllister delivers it in, Kouate with a solid header that is blocked. March goes down in the box, they play on but VAR VAR VAR will check that later... no penalty.
72 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Brighton have managed full 14 shots, albeit only two have been on target.
70 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Brighton camped in the Palace half, lots of the ball as well but they are not really creating that many openings. Palace, as ever, carry a threat on the break and Townsend here has done just that, but he fouls Dunk.
68 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Brighton corner drops handily for Bissouma but that's well blocked by Riedewald. Another opportunity shortly after for the same player, this time it is Cahill who gets in the way. Another corner. And for the third time it flass to Bissouma in the edge of the box but he's not got his shooting boots on.
65 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Zaha and Lamptey clash and the ref does a good job in defusing the situation, calling over senior players Dunk and Cahill to impress his point upon the players.
61 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Mitchell has broken up a promising break by a tactical grab on Trossard.
Lallana is growing into the game, good feet. I am sure he will be a creative asset for this side albeit that he looks a little bit ring-rusty today.
55 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
I dunno, what can you say about all this? He's probably offside by an inch or two. I don't believe a human eye could tell that in real time. The excitement of a goal is lost. Who benefits?
There's a wee delay as Kouyate gets some treatment for a foot knock. He picked up an injury diving in to block there.
52 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Palace are through and Batshuayi has slotted it home. There is an offside call via VAR. Desperately close but probably offside? "He's leaning into an offside position," says the great Alan Smith. I mean, come on. Leaning now?
48 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Both guys okay. And Guaita is in the action again. A cross from the left for Brighton, March delivers it. Lallana with the step over and Maupay gathers, turns, and shoots but fluffs the contact. Guaita gathers the dribbling ball.
James McArthur seems to have twisted something as he tried to defend that and is limping around. He's a real warhorse that lad, has played something like 96 of their last 97 games, I think Bill Leslie just said on Sky.
46 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Long ball forward aimed at Lamptey who rushes onto it and crashes into the Palace keeper Guaita. Both of them feeling that.
The players are out for the second half
Palace have not lost after taking the lead sine Jan 2019, that against Liverpool at Anfield which is fair enough.
Half time: Crystal Palace 1 Brighton 0
Sort of typical from both sides. Brighton looked pretty but toothless, Palace obdurate at the back and dangerous on a rare attack. Bit of a soft penalty as Townsend crossed and Webster grabbed at Batshuayi, who needed no second invitation to have a lovely rest on the Selhurst Park grass. Zaha tucked it away and that was really the sum total of Palace's attacking ambitions.
43 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
A really dangerous break from Palace! Schulpp is off and Bissouma has no option, in the modern worldview, but to bring him down. He accepts his yellow card without complaint.
41 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Here's Lamptey down the right, good duel with Trossard. Young Lamptey will feel he might have done more there with his cross, lots of colleagues in the centre.
39 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Plenty of debate online about whether that was a penalty or not, should VAR have overturned it.
35 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
March has the ball down the left in a great position but he does not trust his left foot so has to go down a blind alley. Brighton having lots of the ball and in good areas but they are not able to fashion many chances, this Palace side are defensively well organised and Brighton don't quite have the flair player to open them up if the opponents are well set.
30 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Here is Maupay again, into the area, game's getting a little hectic and frantic and the more enjoyable to watch for it... Maupay unfortunately slips over before he can feed the free Lallana.
26 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Brighton come down the right now, March volleys the ball into the area with excellent tech from the left and Maupay manages to contort his body and get a header at the goal.
24 mins: Palace 1 Brighton 0
Matthew Upson on the BBC about the penalty: "The fact that it is a penalty for me is a problem. It's a poor choice from the referee, it's a poor decision. It can't be that easy that the centre-forward leans into you while you are up against him."
Palace don't care about that and they are looking dangerous again now. Schulpp drives forward and is fouled but nothing given.
GOAL! Crystal Palace 1 Brighton (Zaha 18p)
Zaha sends the keeper the wrong way and slots it home.
VAR checked the penalty and found nothing to overturn it. Michy B made the best of the contact as he went down but it was a foul.
Keeper Mat Ryan was booked for trying to delay the spot kick unfairly, I guess, or for running his mouth.
Penalty to Crystal Palace
And Referee Atwell has given a penalty! Webster has pulled down his opponent Batshuayi! It was the first positive thing Palace have done, or even attempted, and it has led to a spot kick opportunity for Wilf Zaha.
16 mins: Palace 0 Brighton 0
Brighton's weakness as a side over recent times has been turning spells of dominance into points.
Finally something for Palace as Townsend gets down the right and crosses...
14 mins: Palace 0 Brighton 0
Palace have not turned up yet. They are second to everything and have barely had a kick. They dose here, White nicks in and surges forward, and he drills a shot just wide.
9 mins: Palace 0 Brighton 0
Lamptey is a real bright spark down that right, he drops his shoulder and burns past Mitchell in the Palace left back area. A corner.
There's some argy bargy at the corner and Kouyate and Burn, who are having a little cuddle. Ref has a word with them both. They're still at it. Eventually the corner comes in and Bissouma unleashes a fierce shot that is not far wide.
7 mins: Palace 0 Brighton 0
Nice move from Brighton, Trossard prominent down the left and he gets to the byline and crosses. Lamptey meets it! But he wants a touch and is crowded out. He ought to have hit it first time.
4 mins: Palace 0 Brighton 0
Two contrasting approaches for thee sides: Brighton like to keep the ball and play it, and it is they who are having much more of the ball early on.
1 mins: Palace 0 Brighton 0
A back three for Brighton, A midfield four providing some width for them. Here comes Adam Lallana, who drives forward and has an effort.
Bill Leslie on Sky
"You could call this the out-of-form derby: no sides have taken fewer Premier League points this calendar year than Brighton and Palace."
The players are out on the pitch
I like both these two teams, and indeed both these two clubs. The notion of this as a fierce rivalry has always had a slightly surreal whiff (albeit that there's nothing funny about some of the fan bovver over the years) and it seems even more strange in an empty ground. Anyway, that's not for the players to worry about right now. The Seagulls in their yellow and blue change strips.
"This is the strongest squad we have had in my time at Palace. When I came in 2017, we had a lot of talented players but this lot tops them. For a long time here I have struggled to find a centre half and now I have five that are willing, ready and good enough to play. Gary Cahill is the club vice captain and he comes back in.
"I've left out Eze because we have got a guy called Jeffrey Schlupp who is ready and raring to go. If he plays well and I've left Eze out then I've got that right and if not then I'm an idiot!"
Really good feature on Sky
right now with Wilf Zaha talking about poverty, setbacks, South London, life choices and role models and his journey to the Premier League. Michail Antonio also telling his story.
Palace and Brighton has developed into one of English football's more surprising rivalries, but it means a good amount to both of these sides and both will be well aware that fans watching at home are extra keen for them to do well in this one.
Here are the teams that managers Potter and Hodgson have selected to carry their hopes.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Kouyate, Mitchell, Townsend, McArthur, Riedewald, Schlupp, Batshuayi, Zaha. Subs: van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Sakho, Clyne, Henderson, Benteke, Eze.
Brighton: Ryan, White, Dunk, Webster, Lamptey, Bissouma, Lallana, Burn, Trossard, March, Maupay. Subs: Connolly, Mac Allister, Gross, Alzate, Steele, Bernardo, Veltman.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
That is four changes to the team that lost four - nil to Chelsea. Cahill comes into the centre of the defence, Sakho makes way. McCarthy misses out, as does Ayew. Michy B up front, Schlupp also into the side.
Two changes for the visitors, Lallana into the side, Alzate and Connolly miss out. They also lost last time out.
Former Manchester United and Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck joined Brighton on Sunday on a one-season deal.
The 29-year-old Welbeck was available on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract at Watford where he scored three goals in 20 appearances last season as the team was relegated from the Premier League.
"He's got an undoubted pedigree, and he is quick and technically very good," Brighton manager Graham Potter said. "He will add to our attacking threat and we are thrilled to add another player of his experience and quality."
Welbeck has scored 16 times in 42 appearances for England but has not played for his country in two years.
He adds to Brighton's attacking options alongside Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly but was not available for Sunday's Premier League game against Crystal Palace.
Here is Potter: "Dan Burn gives us another dimension in both boxes, Lallana brings his personality and experience. Welbeck is a really good guy, wants to help the team and the young guys. And on the pitch he is selfless, works hard and will contribute. I know his professionalism and he will be pushing for a place soon."