Lambert: Draw was never acceptable

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert says that settling for a hard-earned point on the south coast was never on his mind on Saturday. City went behind to a first-half free-kick and needed two classic goal-line clearances to prevent their struggling hosts from moving out of sight.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert says that settling for a hard-earned point on the south coast was never on his mind on Saturday.

City went behind to a first-half free-kick and needed two classic goal-line clearances to prevent their struggling hosts from moving out of sight.

But three tactical substitutions - including the withdrawal of central defender Michael Nelson for lively striker Oli Johnson on 74 minutes - turned the game more and more in City's favour and then a late double burst sealed the win.

And it was a win that Lambert was after, even if a point looked the best outcome for long periods.


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"I said to Ian (Culverhouse) when we were thinking about it we thought we'd try to go to a back three to get the next goal and we got it and we changed back to a four to give it a solidity there," he explained.

"I am always trying to think, 'can we win it? Yes'. There are times when you think, 'we need to hang on' and grim death keeps you hanging on. The games it has happened we felt we could win it and that's what has happened.

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"At one stage there we had (Anthony) McNamee up front with (Grant) Holt, with (Chris) Martin, with (Wes) Hoolahan, with (Oli) Johnson. We had to go for it. We took Michael off, played three at the back again and it paid off again.

"I think you have got to go on the front foot. We had to win the game. But it's the lads that do it, they're the ones that actually go and win the game for us and they make decision and hopefully you make more right ones that not. Gus (Poyet) has got a really good side down here, there's not many teams that have come down here and found it easy and we're certainly no different."

It wasn't quite two equal portions of chalk and cheese, but City certainly dragged themselves back into the game after the break, having struggled to find their rhythm.

"First half I thought the game looked a bit too easy for us. We had a lot of the ball without really penetrating and we got caught with the free-kick, and it makes it harder and second half I thought we were excellent, very good."

If there was a dressing room lecture, Lambert wasn't telling.

"I think what's said in the dressing room stays there and the lads came out, responded brilliantly - a big, big effort and I was absolutely delighted with them second half."

Nelson, in the first half, and Simon Lappin, in the second, produced terrific goal-line clearances to prevent Brighton extending their lead.

"The lads did great, throwing their bodies in to keep the ball out of the net," he said. "We also hit the post and nearly had an own goal in the second half. I was delighted with the effort and the desire to keep going and win a game."

It could have been the first time Lambert has suffered back-to-back league defeats this season - not that he was thinking that way.

"I never think that," he said. "I always think we'll score in games with the lads we've got and all credit to them. I thought we were knocking on the door and eventually we get the first goal by Grant - great desire to get to the front post - and Doc comes up with a terrific winner."

When the dust had settled, City were four points ahead of Leeds, who have two games in hand, but were mightily relieved to see an injury-time own goal rescue a point at Leyton Orient.

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