By Paul Fletcher
BBC Sport at the Withdean Stadium
Brighton maintained their eight-point lead at the top of League One with a comfortable victory over illness-hit Exeter.
Grecians boss Paul Tidsdale made six changes from the side that lost 4-2 at home to Brentford on Saturday but his team were no match for a Seagulls outfit that won their fourth straight league fixture without conceding.
Adam El-Abd headed the Seagulls in front in the opening minutes before Ashley Barnes struck from the penalty spot after the half-hour mark.
Barnes, who scored twice at Peterborough on Saturday, notched another double when he slotted home after the break as Albion completed a routine win in which they ground down their opponents with their passing and movement.
It was the final league match of Brighton manager Gus Poyet's first year in charge and his team played some delightful football, always trying to pass their way through their opponent's defensive structure.
Yet for all Albion's patient but high-tempo football it was El-Abd's old fashioned header from Elliott Bennett's corner that put the home team in front early on, with Exeter guilty of failing to pick up the goalscorer as he surged into the six-yard box.
The recalled Kazenga LuaLua almost doubled the lead with a low strike that deflected wide after a mazy run, while Bennett went close with a free-kick as Poyet's side tightened their grip on the contest.
The killer second came after Troy Archibald-Henville rashly brought down Glenn Murray just inside the Exeter area despite the Brighton striker overrunning the ball with a heavy touch.
Barnes, who turned 21 on Saturday, struck his sixth of the season with a spot kick into the top corner.
The Grecians did enjoy a spell of pressure before the break but James Norwood fired well wide with his team's only clear opening of the half.
It was scant encouragement for the 197 away fans and Brighton were soon on top again, with a Gary Dicker strike blocked and LuaLua failing to finish a sweeping move with a low strike that flashed across goal.
An increasingly pedestrian and one-sided encounter was enlivened when Exeter defender Rob Edwards clashed with Barnes in an off-the-ball incident that left the Brighton player holding his face on the ground but was unseen by the officials.
LuaLua was increasingly influential on the left side, giving Exeter full-back Steve Tully a torrid evening, but Barnes could not keep the wide man's shot on target.
Murray later shot wide but Barnes eventually found the target, converting Bennett's cross with a precise right-foot finish.
Brighton substitute Agustin Battipiedi had one shot blocked while another went wide and LuaLua also missed the target as Brighton went close to a fourth.
Brighton boss Gus Poyet told BBC Sussex: "We didn't know how Exeter would come and play. They started with one system then changed. Everything is easier when you score in the first seven or eight minutes. It was complicated but we beat them convincingly.
"I didn't think we started brilliantly today, especially up front. After the penalty Ashley Barnes was outstanding - the way he held the ball up and created chances for himself.
"He should have had a hat-trick. When you're playing in a team like this it makes you confident."
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale told BBC Radio Devon: "We were on the poor side of average against a very good team, and to go a goal down early on with a set-piece made things very difficult.
"It was a sorry night for us, we weren't at all at our best and it was disappointing.
"We have to make the best of it and be glad that we're in League One and at times we've been very good, but tonight, unfortunately, we were poor.
Live text and stats
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Npower League One
Barnes (pen) 30
07 Bennett (Bridcutt 78)
18 Dicker (Battipied 85)
17 Murray (Baz 80)
02 Tully yellow card
05 Archibald-Henville yellow card
04 Dunne yellow card
14 Cozic yellow card (Golbourne 46)
16 Stewart (Logan 55)
31 Norwood (Nardiello 56)
Ref: HillAtt: 7,212
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+3:08 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+2:34 The referee blows for offside. Artur Krysiak restarts play with the free kick.
90:00+1:39 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Cristian Baz.
90:00+1:04 Kazenga LuaLua takes a shot. Save by Artur Krysiak.
90:00+0:17 Cristian Baz decides to take a short corner.
87:49 Foul by Agustin Battipiedi on David Noble, free kick awarded. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Daniel Nardiello.
86:24 The ball is delivered by Agustin Battipiedi, Ashley Barnes produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box
which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
85:45 Unfair challenge on Ashley Barnes by Rob Edwards results in a free kick. Marcos Painter restarts play with the free kick.
85:19 Long range shot from Richard Logan misses to the left of the target.
84:22 Substitution Gary Dicker leaves the field to be replaced by Agustin Battipiedi.
82:36 Daniel Nardiello is adjudged to have handled the ball. Casper Ankergren takes the direct free kick.
81:39 The ball is swung over by Kazenga LuaLua.
79:32 The referee penalises Inigo Calderon for handball. Direct free kick taken by Billy Jones.
79:32 Substitution Cristian Baz on for Glenn Murray.
77:59 Effort on goal by Daniel Nardiello from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
76:46 Elliott Bennett provided the assist for the goal.
76:46 GOAL - Ashley Barnes:Brighton 3 - 0 Exeter Goal scored by Ashley Barnes from deep inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Brighton 3-0 Exeter.
74:43 Effort from deep inside the area by Glenn Murray misses to the right of the goal.
73:51 Foul by Steve Tully on Kazenga LuaLua, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Marcos Painter.
73:51 Booking Steve Tully booked.
71:51 The ball is delivered by Kazenga LuaLua, Ashley Barnes produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the
70:21 The ball is sent over by Kazenga LuaLua, Rob Edwards manages to make a clearance.
70:11 Centre by Inigo Calderon, clearance made by Rob Edwards.
64:25 The ball is crossed by Kazenga LuaLua, Close range effort by Ashley Barnes misses to the right of the goal.
60:32 Kazenga LuaLua produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.
60:14 Centre by Kazenga LuaLua, clearance by Billy Jones.
56:05 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by David Noble. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by David Noble, Troy Archibald-Henville
has a headed effort at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.
54:56 Substitution James Norwood leaves the field to be replaced by Daniel Nardiello.
54:56 Substitution Marcus Stewart leaves the field to be replaced by Richard Logan.
54:19 The ball is swung over by Kazenga LuaLua, Artur Krysiak makes a save.
53:42 Free kick awarded for a foul by James Dunne on Radostin Kishishev. Direct free kick taken by Elliott Bennett.
53:31 Steve Tully challenges Kazenga LuaLua unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Gary Dicker.
52:45 A cross is delivered by Kazenga LuaLua.
52:13 Glenn Murray is ruled offside. Rob Edwards takes the indirect free kick.
51:11 The assistant referee signals for offside against Kazenga LuaLua. Free kick taken by Artur Krysiak.
50:20 James Norwood challenges Inigo Calderon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Gordon Greer.
49:33 Billy Jones crosses the ball, Casper Ankergren makes a save.
48:51 Free kick awarded for a foul by Marcos Painter on Marcus Stewart. Direct free kick taken by Troy Archibald-Henville.
47:58 A cross is delivered by Marcos Painter.
46:06 Rob Edwards challenges Glenn Murray unfairly and gives away a free kick. Radostin Kishishev restarts play with the free kick.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:01 Substitution (Exeter) makes a substitution, with Scott Golbourne coming on for Bertrand Cozic.
45:00+2:50 It is the end of the first-half.
45:00+2:37 Booking Booking for James Dunne for unsporting behaviour.
45:00+1:50 A cross is delivered by Billy Jones, clearance made by Casper Ankergren.
44:59 James Norwood gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gary Dicker. Casper Ankergren takes the free kick.
43:42 Centre by Kazenga LuaLua, clearance by Rob Edwards. Elliott Bennett sends in a cross, Artur Krysiak fouled by Glenn Murray,
the ref awards a free kick. Artur Krysiak takes the free kick.
42:56 James Norwood sends in a cross.
40:01 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Elliott Bennett.
39:18 Corner taken short by Elliott Bennett.
39:03 The ball is sent over by Marcus Stewart, clearance made by Adam El-Abd.
38:51 The ball is swung over by Liam Sercombe, clearance by Gordon Greer.
37:58 Elliott Bennett fouled by David Noble, the ref awards a free kick. Gordon Greer takes the free kick.
36:14 The offside flag is raised against Ashley Barnes. Artur Krysiak takes the free kick.
35:45 James Norwood has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
33:03 Adam El-Abd concedes a free kick for a foul on Marcus Stewart. Billy Jones takes the direct free kick.
30:50 The ball is swung over by James Dunne.
29:29 Penalty awarded for an unfair challenge on Glenn Murray by Troy Archibald-Henville.
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