It is only one word but it divides the best from the rest - consistency.

That is what Mark McGhee is demanding from his players now as they aim for their first away win since November at struggling Stockport on Saturday.

Albion's promotion challenge has been damaged not only by their poor away form but also by fluctuating performance levels.

Their position inside the top eight has changed throughout the season as a result and so too has the mood within the camp.

McGhee said: "I know what it is going to be like. Today they will all be chirpy and happy.

"Expectations will be up again but we have somehow got to galvanise that into a win away from home.

"If we don't then the following week we will be picking everybody up again.

"We must find some sort of vein of form, rather than just stuttering with a good performance and then a bad one."

Albion find themselves in a similar situation now to the one they were in at the start of the month following a comprehensive victory over feeble Bournemouth.

Consecutive home wins then against Barnsley and Plymouth lifted morale, only for a depressing return of one point from trips to Wycombe, Luton and Grimsby to leave players and supporters alike down in the dumps.

A potentially significant difference this time is that a fit-again Nathan Jones and a rejuvenated Gary Hart are back together again in the wide midfield positions.

Jones' balancing influence on the left, where Albion are short of natural replacements, should not be under-estimated.

The infectiously enthusiastic Welshman had been missing from the starting line-up since Christmas due to suspension and a simultaneous injury.

Hart, his pride hurt by losing his place, was the tenacious and vigorous Hart of old down the right.

McGhee watched the pair of them score in the reserves last week. It confirmed his desire to return from 4-3-3 to the more coherent 4-4-2 formation he favours.

"They looked as if they were in the mood," McGhee said. "Also we felt we hadn't seen the best of Leon (Knight) and Trevor (Benjamin) playing in a three while Nathan was out, so we went back to orthodox and it worked for us.

"One of the things we spoke about before the game is that you need the wide players to carry the ball to get you up the field in attacking areas.

"We wanted Nathan and Gary to push on and not ask them to track back and tuck in so much. That worked well for us as well.

"I hope releasing Gary a little bit from some of the defensive responsibilities gave him a bit more energy further forward to use his ability, rather than playing almost like a fullback as he has done at times."

Hart needed only six minutes to remind us of the kind of form which has made him virtually an automatic selection over the past few seasons.

Latching on to Knight's lay-off, he ran at his marker Warren Cummings before rifling an angled right-foot drive past Neil Moss.

Hart credited reserve coach Dean White for helping him score his first goal since he was on target against Swindon at Withdean in September.

"That is what Dean White has been telling me to do, attack defenders," he said. "It's amazing what coaches do for you isn't it!"

Quite how Bournemouth had not conceded a goal for three games is hard to fathom. Albion, with a swirling wind behind them, blew them away with three in 24 minutes.

Benjamin, beginning his second month on loan from Leicester, capitalised on a terrible backpass by Lewis Buxton with another fine finish.

The big striker despatched a left-foot shot into the roof of the net, his fourth goal in five games.

Poor Buxton, on loan from Portsmouth, had an afternoon to forget. The 20-year-old rightback then conceded a penalty by bringing down Jones.

Knight converted confidently from the spot, his 21st of the season, to maintain his remarkable record of never going more than three games without a goal for Albion.

Ben Roberts, still feeling the effects when he kicked of the shin injury which sidelined him from the previous two and a half matches, was never seriously tested as the Seagulls made it four clean sheets out of five and 17 points from 21 at fortress Withdean.

Young Dan Harding was accomplished on his full home debut at leftback in place of the banned Kerry Mayo and the versatile Adam Virgo impressed again at rightback.

Bournemouth manager Sean O'Driscoll impressed less with a rather uncharitable verdict out of keeping with his club's support for Albion's new stadium at Falmer.

"We did our little bit to help Brighton get a new stadium by sending a petition off to Mr Prescott," he said."If they bottle that 90 minutes and send it I am sure he will feel sorry for the supporters and they might get one a little bit quicker."

It was the Bournemouth supporters I felt sorry for. O'Driscoll's team were dreadful.

ALBION (4-4-2): Roberts (gk) 7; Cullip (cd) 7, Knight (f) 7, Hart (rm) 8, Oatway (cm) 7, Carpenter (cm) 7, Butters (cd) 7, N. Jones (lm) 7, Benjamin (f) 7, Virgo (rb) 8, Harding (lb) 8. Subs: McPhee, Lee for Oatway (injured 74), El-Abd, S. Jones, Robinson.

Scorers: Hart (6), Benjamin (13), Knight (24).

Bookings: None.

BOURNEMOUTH (4-4-2): Moss; Purches, Browning, Maher, C. Fletcher, Feeney, S. Fletcher, Elliott, Buxton, Cummings, Jorgensen. Subs: Stock, O'Connor, Holmes for Buxton (withdrawn 57), Tindall, Williams for S. Fletcher (withdrawn 71).

Bookings: Buxton (24) foul, C. Fletcher (54) dissent, S. Fletcher (68) foul.

Half-Time: Albion 3 Bournemouth 0.

Attendance: 6,441.

Fans' Views:

MARK LEWIS (Horsham)

The first half was excellent because we had more shots at goal and seemed more pumped up. Benjamin scored a great goal and it was nice to see Gary Hart put one in as well, which should help his confidence. Dan Harding had a very good game and so did Adam Virgo.


I thought it was a good result for the boys, although Bournemouth shot themselves in the foot by presenting us with Benjamin's goal. I worry about our creativity at times, but hopefully John Piercy will be fit soon. Good game for Harding and Roberts, but why oh why was Carpenter not man of the match?

TOM McCARTHY (Burgess Hill)

It was much improved on the last three games. We took the bull by the horns in a brilliant first half, then it petered out a bit as no one seemed to want any more goals.


Bournemouth were pretty awful but it was a pleasing win. I felt sorry for the two lads who did well at Grimsby but lost their starting places while we changed the system and sorted out the midfield.