Like the post-match R and S buses, the goals which Brighton fans had been so patiently waiting for arrived en masse against a hugely depleted Barnsley side.
Gus Poyet’s team ran riot against The Tykes, with a brace each from Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith and a first goal in nine years from Wayne Bridge. Twitter would later confirm Bridge’s pop singer girlfriend Frankie missed his well struck strike from distance and, having run up against a Barnsley outfit missing 12 first team players, that was probably the biggest concern for the Seagulls on what was a fruitful day at the office / Amex.
The only regular starter for the visitors was one time Albion forward Craig Davies, although clownish ‘keeper David Gonzalez was in the sticks for Barnsley making his second Amex appearance after a shockingly bad bow for the Stripes last term before being released.
On that occasion Poyet reacted angrily at fans who mocked Gonzalez’s poor performance but the Brighton boss will have been sharing in their smirks when the gloveman dropped a clanger at the grateful left foot of Barnes, who prodded home after just three minutes.
Barnsley’s third former Seagulls, Jim McNulty, was among the dozen absentees and the club’s newly appointed captain was missed at the heart of the defence as Barnes and Mackail-Smith ran the Yorkshire outfit ragged.
Brighton themselves had William Buckley and Vicente still left on the sidelines and, had the Albion run into a slightly more formidable team than Barnsley’s Reserves (plus Davies) they might have missed them.
As it was Bridge added a quick-fire second before Mackail-Smith deflected a wayward Barnes strike at goal off his shins and into the onion bag to give him the sort of good luck goal which Brighton fans will be hoping could kick-start a scoring streak.
Moments earlier Davies had dispatched a penalty after Andrew Crofts left his leg dangling in the box but, despite reducing the deficit at the time to a single strike, there was only ever going to be one winner.
Bridge and Bruno impressed at full back again while Barnes capped an impressive all-round performance with a net bulging fifth after good play by Kazenga Lua Lua. By then Mackail-Smith had already bagged his second, cleverly flicking home a Barnes header.
Craig Noone looked back to his impish best, spending large chunks of the match on the right hand side as well as drifting into the sort of on the pitch parking space which has become so readily reserved for Vicente.
A morale boosting ownership of the men from Oakwell, but just how impressive a performance this was is hard to judge. Barnsley are already among the favourites for relegation with a full team out. The side they fielded at The Amex would be down by Christmas.
And, as strange as it may sound on the back of a five goal fest, where Brighton find themselves come December will still likely hinge on whether Poyet can add the frontman he so obviously needs.
Burnley away in the Albion’s next outing will provide a far sterner test and a better yardstick with which to gauge in front of goal improvement.
Player ratings: Kuszczak 7, Bruno 8, Greer 7, El-Abd 7, Bridge 8, Crofts 6, Dicker 7, Bridcutt 6, Noone 8, Barnes 9, Mackail-Smith 8. Subs: Harley 6, Lua Lua 7, Agdestein 6.