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Amex Stadium (ATT 26,594) 14th September 2012 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: N Miller

Brighton Brighton and Hove Albion vs Sheffield Wednesday Sheff Wed

Brighton 3

W Bridge (24)
C Mackail-Smith (54)
W Buckley (58)

ft

Seagulls brush Owls aside

Last Updated: 14/09/12 10:26pm

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Brighton: Celebrate Bridge's opener

Brighton: Celebrate Bridge's opener

Craig Mackail-Smith scored his fifth goal in three games as Brighton went top of the Championship with a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Gus Poyet's in-form side handed Sheffield Wednesday a sound beating after taking a first-half lead through Wayne Bridge's deflected free-kick.

But there was nothing fortuitous about the way they tore through their opponents at the start of the second half.

Mackail-Smith followed up consecutive braces against Barnsley and Burnley with a simple 54th minute finish following a jinking run from Spanish full-back Bruno Saltor.

Will Buckley made it three shortly afterward, with Bruno once again the architect, as Brighton secured a third consecutive win.

Dave Jones' Wednesday have now suffered back-to-back losses to check their impressive start.

On-loan Southampton midfielder Dean Hammond made his second Brighton debut in place of hamstring injury victim Andrew Crofts, while Buckley returned from a hip problem to make a first start this season and push Kazenga LuaLua to the substitutes' bench.

Joe Mattock, who enjoyed a spell at the Amex Stadium last season, came into Wednesday's defence due to Lewis Buxton's hamstring strain and QPR loanee Jay Bothroyd was handed a debut in attack, with new recruit Ross Barkley named on the bench.

Buckley forced a sharp stop from Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland at the end of a 15th-minute counter-attack he instigated when a pass to the unmarked Mackail-Smith might have been the better option.

The visitors weathered some pressure immediately after this chance but fell behind in the 24th minute. Bridge initially fainted to strike the dead ball from the edge of the area and, with the Wednesday wall attempting to reorganise, he hit a shot that looped off Rhys McCabe and beyond Kirkland into the far corner.

Bruno unconvincingly cleared McCabe's cross as Wednesday sought a response - something that looked most likely when the lively Jermaine Johnson was in possession.

Five minutes before half-time, Buckley's surge at the Owls defence forced Mattock to clear his low centre from the goalmouth.

On-loan Everton youngster Barkley was introduced in place of Rodri at the interval as Jones sought a spark, only for Brighton to double their lead nine minutes into the second period.

Bruno wormed his way through challenges to get inside the box from the right and his low cross allowed Mackail-Smith to stroke home.

Albion goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was scrambling as a curling Johnson effort flashed narrowly wide - a brief respite before Brighton made the points safe in sumptuous fashion.

Bruno's lofted diagonal ball caught out Wednesday's defence and found the rampaging Buckley, whose excellent first touch set up a cool, chipped finish.

It was almost four with an hour gone when Kirkland produced a superb reaction save from Mackail-Smith's header.

Wednesday belatedly tested Kuszczak inside the last 15 minutes - the first stop displaying excellent reflexes to thwart Bothroyd's close range header before Mattock's stinging drive was touched to safety.

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Matches

Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Leicester City 43 93
2 Burnley 43 86
3 Derby County 43 78
4 Queens Park Rangers 43 73
5 Wigan Athletic 42 70
6 Brighton and Hove Albion 43 65
7 Reading 43 64
8 Ipswich Town 43 64
9 Nottingham Forest 43 62
10 Bournemouth 43 62
11 Blackburn Rovers 43 61
12 Watford 42 60
13 Middlesbrough 43 58
14 Bolton Wanderers 43 55
15 Sheffield Wednesday 43 53
16 Leeds United 43 53
17 Huddersfield Town 43 47
18 Birmingham City 42 43
19 Doncaster Rovers 43 43
20 Millwall 43 43
21 Charlton Athletic 42 42
22 Blackpool 43 42
23 Barnsley 43 39
24 Yeovil Town 43 37