Brighton match-winner Solly March: England call would be an honour

Solly March struck the winner for Brighton (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
Solly March struck the winner for Brighton (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Solly March remains hopeful of an England call-up after his timely goal boosted Brighton’s bid for Europe as they sank derby rivals Crystal Palace 1-0.

March scored the winner in the 15th minute – on March 15 – to move the Seagulls level on points with sixth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand.

March’s seventh goal of the season was also a useful reminder to Gareth Southgate, who names his latest England squad on Thursday.

The 28-year-old also scored in last week’s draw at Leeds, and if he gets the nod from Southgate it really would be the month of March.

“Every English player wants to work towards playing for their national team,” March told BBC Sport.

“It would be an honour but I have to keep doing what I am doing and let’s see what happens.”

The victory also provided a double celebration for Brighton chairman Tony Bloom, who flew in by helicopter after watching his horse Energumene win the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Manager Roberto De Zerbi said: “He won two times, huh? He usually calls me the day after the game but I’m really happy for him. I think he prefers football.”

The Italian added: “I’m really pleased for the players, for the result, for the fans and for the table.

“We could not close the game and in stoppage time we suffered. But we are Brighton, not Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United or Liverpool. It’s important for us to win in different ways.”

The problems are mounting up for Palace, though, after their winless league run stretched to 11 matches.

They were forced to hand teenage goalkeeper Joe Whitworth a professional debut with regular number one Vicente Guaita and deputy Sam Johnstone both injured.

At 19 years and 15 days, he was the youngest goalkeeper to appear in a Premier League game since Ben Alnwick played for Sunderland in December 2005.

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 clean through to find the net with a composed finish.

Eagles boss Patrick Vieira said: “Joe has the self-belief and the calmness. He showed a lot of good things.

“It’s even more special because he came through the academy.”

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 at least righted that particular wrong early on when he tested Steele with an angled drive.

Steele saved with his knee after Joachim Andersen’s through-ball split the Brighton defence and sent Michael Olise through on goal, before he palmed Odsonne Edouard’s drive away.

“Of course when you create chances but don’t take them you worry about that,” added Vieira.

“Our front players have to change their mindset. We have to be more aggressive going forward.”