A game of two halves but one we should’ve put to bed in the first half, with Brighton pegging us back after an early Ayoze Perez strike.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1): Dubravka (6) – Schar (7.5), Fernandez (6), Dummett (6) – Manquillo (7), Hayden (8) , Shelvey (6), Ritchie (6)–– Perez (7.5), Atsu (5) – Rondon (7) – SUBS – Kenedy (3), Ki (5), Muto (N/A)
Dubravka – 6 – Didn’t have a save to make in the first half. Claimed and punched a few crosses well but was caught in no mans land for their goal and wasn’t always convincing from second half corners.
Schar – 7.5 – Another composed and classy display at the back. Dealt with just about everything Brighton threw at him expertly and was always looking to get us on the front foot when in possession. Could’ve won us a penalty but stayed on his feet as a trademark burst forward saw Dunk trip him in the box.
Fernandez – 6 – Unspectacular but steady from the Argentine. Made a few well timed sliding challenges in the first half and cleared away a few balls into the box in the second half. A reliable option to have in Lascelles’ absence.
Dummett – 6 – No nonsense and solid for the most part, although a reckless first half challenge and resultant yellow card left him a bit limited when Knockaert was running at him late on. A decent display, but he will be frustrated to see Gross get the run on him for their equaliser.
Manquillo – 7 – He’s no world beater and has his limitations, but he put in a solid defensive display and also made some good supporting runs at the other end, putting in a few decent crosses too. They had very little joy up against him down their left, with him giving them little room to operate and stopping several crosses from getting into the box.
Hayden – 8* – Another brilliant midfield display from one of our standout players of 2019. He timed several tackles to perfection and also showed real confidence and quality on the ball at times, spraying a few passes out wide in the first half in particular.
Shelvey – 6 – A rare start under Rafa these days, but a mixed day for him. He showed his class at times, picking out the odd lovely passes, but he’ll be wishing he made a bit more of an impact given the amount of time he was afforded in the middle of the park. A big chance missed to REALLY impress Rafa?
Ritchie – 6 – Was quick to react to balls in behind and sharp on the ball in the first half, but, like many, he faded a little in the second half. Both he and Dummett struggled to deal with Knockaert late on, allowing a few too many balls to come into the box, but he never lacked effort and industry from left wing-back.
Perez – 7.5 – Only played 30 minutes, but his emphatic finish early on proved vital in the end, with him lashing home after a clever knock-down from Rondon. He linked up nicely early on and looked sharp on the ball, with us missing his spark and intelligence in attack as soon as he went off. That’s now 12 for the season in all competitions for Ayoze.
Atsu – 5 – Like Shelvey, this was a game that was there for the taking for Atsu if he was on his game, but he failed to take full advantage of the space Brighton gave him. He linked up quite nicely early on and enjoyed the odd burst or sharp turn here and there, but he didn’t offer enough in the end. Worked hard and was better than Kenedy, but looked far less of a threat than Almiron.
Rondon – 7 – Played a big part in Perez’s goal, chesting the ball down perfectly into Perez’s path to allow him to lash home. He was also brilliant defensively in the way he defended corners, clearing the ball away from danger on several occasions. He didn’t get too many clear sights of goal and struggled a little in the second half thanks to a real lack of service from Kenedy in particular, but proved once again what a valuable team player he is. If he’s not scoring, he’s assisting.
Kenedy – 3 – Another low mark for the Brazilian, but it was yet another hugely frustrating showing from him. He was on for 60 minutes following an early injury to Perez and was both wasteful and wayward throughout. His decision making was poor and his final ball was often so poor, with him overhitting simple crosses and smashing a few half chances well over. Erratic and hugely unconvincing.
Ki – 5 – Neat and tidy at times but didn’t really get into the game at all, with Brighton having the majority of the play in the final 20 minutes
Muto – N/A – Hard to give him a rating when he was only on for the final 10 minutes. Seemed to switch off defensively a few times, but surely deserves a chance ahead of the likes of Kenedy now Almiron is set to miss our final two games of the season?