Brighton manager Chris Hughton admitted that his team talk at half-time against Huddersfield had helped to deliver his side’s first Premier League victory of 2019 at the eighth attempt.
Florin Andone came off the bench to head the winner from Anthony Knockaert’s cross 11 minutes from time, his fourth league goal of the season.
But in a poor first half, Brighton had struggled to find the intensity necessary to get past the Premier League’s bottom team.
“It had to be a balance of getting into the players and telling them what I thought, but making sure they didn’t lose control,” Hughton said.
“The message was that we didn’t want to leave ourselves open, and we didn’t have to score in the first five minutes, but that we expected more.
“I thought it was the right result in the end, but there were not many clear chances and it was a matter of putting one or a couple away. Florin managed to do that.”
Andone had said that the pre-match mood made the game feel like a final, but Hughton’s approach, as ever, was more measured.
“I can’t afford to think that way because I am the manager and everything can’t be the be-all and end-all,” he said. “But I understand what he meant because it does feel like a big win because of recent results we have had.
“There have been some games where we could hold our hands up because we haven’t deserved to get anything. Today’s game was similar to other games in which we haven’t got results and (Huddersfield) had a couple of shots in that first half and if one of them goes in it might not be our day again.
“Those are the margins. Our levels of performance have not been bad but a little bit of nervousness sets in , a little apprehension the longer the game goes on and we haven’t scored and also, of course, huge relief when we did.”
Their recent poor run, Hughton admitted, had shocked some players. “The team has been knocked and it has been a fright. For some who don’t know the Premier League as much as others, that is how tough it is. I think we have enough character and quality but everyone else is fighting. We just have to fight harder.”