BRIGHTON, England (AP)Solly March’s timely goal boosted Brighton’s bid for European qualification as the south-coast team beat big rival Crystal Palace 1-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday.
March scored the winner in the 15th minute – on March 15 – to move Brighton level on points with sixth-place Liverpool with a game in hand.
It also provided a double celebration for Brighton owner Tony Bloom, after his horse Energumene won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival hours earlier.
The problems are mounting for 12th-place Palace, though, after its winless run stretched to 11 matches.
Palace manager Patrick Vieira was forced to hand teenage goalkeeper Joe Whitworth a professional debut with regular No. 1 Vicente Guaita and deputy Sam Johnstone both injured.
At 19 years and 15 days, Whitworth was the youngest goalkeeper to appear in a Premier League game since Ben Alnwick played for Sunderland in December 2005.
The former Palace ballboy made a nervous start with an unconvincing headed clearance outside the area, but Brighton could not punish him.
Jason Steele was the busier keeper in the opening stages, despite Palace not managing a shot on target in their last three matches.
Wilfried Zaha ended that poor run by testing Steele with an angled drive. Steele saved with his knee after Joachim Andersen’s through-ball split the Brighton defense and sent Michael Olise through on goal, before he palmed Odsonne Edouard’s drive away.
Whitworth got his first decent touch of the ball when he held Kaoru Mitoma’s long-range effort but he was beaten moments later when Mitoma sent March through to find the net with a composed finish.
The second half was delayed after a floodlight failure momentarily plunged the stadium into darkness and referee Peter Bankes then stopped the match, apparently because his headset was no longer working.
Once play resumed, Whitworth highlighted his potential with a stunning reaction save to keep out Alexis Mac Allister’s header at a corner.
Mac Allister almost added a second with a mazy run and shot which flew just wide, but in the end Brighton had to hang on to March’s goal for nine minutes of stoppage time.
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