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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 Bournemouth 46 90
2 Watford 46 89
3 Norwich City 46 86
4 Middlesbrough 46 85
5 Brentford 46 78
6 Ipswich Town 46 78
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 46 78
8 Derby County 46 77
9 Blackburn Rovers 46 67
10 Birmingham City 46 63
11 Cardiff City 46 62
12 Charlton Athletic 46 60
13 Sheffield Wednesday 46 60
14 Nottingham Forest 46 59
15 Leeds United 46 56
16 Huddersfield Town 46 55
17 Fulham 46 52
18 Bolton Wanderers 46 51
19 Reading 46 50
20 Brighton and Hove Albion 46 47
21 Rotherham United 46 46
22 Millwall 46 41
23 Wigan Athletic 46 39
24 Blackpool 46 26