There were just 38 minutes on the clock at the Amex Stadium when noticeable gaps started to appear in the away end. Finding themselves 3-0 down before half time to their arch rivals, Crystal Palace fans started to abandon ship.
The humiliation at the hands of Brighton was too much to take. The time of Eagles supporters could be better spent going for a spin on the dodgems at the pier, browsing for bargains in an antiques shop in North Laine or jumping on a train back to Croydon in time for The Masked Singer starting at 6.25pm.
Those who lasted until the bitter end saw their side beaten 4-1. Arguments broke out at the final whistle between fans and players. Joachim Andersen and Dean Henderson had to be pulled away by Palace assistant boss Paddy McCarthy as things threatened to get out of hand.
You had to go back to 1958 to find the last time Brighton stuck four past Palace. Seeing as the Seagulls v Eagles rivalry did not become a thing until the 1970s, this was the Albion’s most dominant and commanding success in the history of what both sets of supporters hate being called the M23 Derby. They are least united by that.
The most concerning thing for Palace must be that the manner of their defeat did not come as a surprise. Brighton have been threatening to do this to the Eagles for some time, going all the way back to February 2021, when Palace infamously left the Amex with a 95th minute 2-1 win from one shot on target. Graham Potter’s Seagulls in contrast had 25 shots and 75% percent possession.
Since then, Brighton have dominated almost every meeting without really getting what they deserved. A goalkeeping error from Bart Verbruggen ensured Palace picked up a point from the December clash at Selhurst Park, which finished 1-1.
The Albion’s previous visit to Croydon last February saw another mistake from the man between the posts, on that occasion Robert Sanchez. VAR also managed to draw their offside lines from the wrong home defender, ruling out a perfectly legal Pervis Estupinan effort. Without those two moments of madness, Brighton would have won 2-0 rather than being held to a 1-1 draw.
Even the most ardent of Palace supporters must now admit that most uncomfortable of truths – the Seagulls have pulled miles clear of the Eagles. The gap between these two clubs is now the widest it has been since the 1990s, when Palace were Premier League regulars as the Albion only…