Before this Boxing Day feast it would have been unthinkable, but Leon Knight's place is suddenly under threat.

Albion's suspended top scorer looked on enviously as his team-mates cantered to their biggest victory since Watford were beaten by the same score in the final fixture at Withdean last season.

Knight would have fancied adding to his 17-goal tally against woeful Wycombe, especially as they played for 75 minutes with ten men and for the last 25 with only nine.

Instead his understudy, John Piercy, helped himself to the first double of his career to give manager Mark McGhee an intriguing selection dilemma for tomorrow's visit to Swindon.

McGhee is very much a 4-4-2 man, so he is unlikely to meddle with the system. That means deciding between Piercy and Knight or accommodating Piercy elsewhere, possibly on the left side of midfield which the former Spurs' player regards as his best position.

Either way, the Seagulls go into the Swindon game brimming with confidence after tearing relegation-bound Wycombe to pieces once they got their noses in front.

The opposition was so poor that Albion would have won comfortably even if Wycombe had enjoyed numerical parity, but they were helped by a ridiculous decision by referee Andy Hall on the quarter-hour.

Centre half Roger Johnson received a straight red card for foul and abusive language towards one of Hall's assistants.

The hushed surroundings of Withdean enabled those of us seated in the north stand to hear exactly what Johnson said. He shouted: "Linesman, get your f****** flag up."

That, I grant you, is not the sort of language you want young supporters in particular to be subjected to, but it goes on all the time during games.

In stadiums with more atmosphere what the players are saying is drowned out by noise, but if Hall's draconian punishment was followed by every referee then you would end up playing seven-a-side.

McGhee admitted: "I think that's very harsh if that is all he said. Some linesmen and refs wouldn't even react to that, they will just take it on the chin."

Piercy also had sympathy for Johnson. "I was standing right next to the guy when he was sent off and he was really unlucky.

"He did swear, but more just to himself if anything. The ref overheard it and it worked in our favour because they went down to ten men early on and we never looked back."

Wycombe manager Tony Adams must have used industrial language towards officials during his illustrious career with Arsenal and England, yet he condemned Johnson.

"I can't defend Roger at all," he said. "If you show dissent then you run the risk of getting sent off."

Adams, it seems, has a lot to learn about management. Having stepped back off the team coach to briefly answer reporters' questions, he proceeded to shoot himself in the foot.

Interrupted by an Albion supporter offering his view of Johnson's dismissal as he walked by, Adams shouted: "Keep your f****** mouth out!"

Adams did defend Mark Rogers, who was sent off in the 65th minute for a second bookable offence when he pulled the shirt of the outstanding Gary Hart.

Rogers had already been cautioned in the 29th minute for a reckless tackle from behind on Piercy, which Adams amazingly condoned by claiming: "I thought that yellow card was very harsh."

In the same incident youngster Steve Taylor, on loan from Newcastle, had his name taken for dissent and that proved very costly for the visitors.

Hall advanced the resulting free-kick ten yards to a central position 30 yards out from the Wycombe goal.

Richard Carpenter capitalised with a cracking strike in off the crossbar, his third goal in the last five games at Withdean.

As can often happen to the team with an extra man, Albion had in fact gone off the boil in the wake of Johnson's dismissal after starting the match brightly.

Carpenter's goal set the scene for another Christmas cracker, this time from Piercy, three minutes from the break. Michael Simpson, the Wycombe skipper, was caught in possession by Hart. Piercy, in space 25 yards out, curved a left-foot shot beyond the visitors' groping young custodian Steve Williams.

Two goals up and one man up, it was a matter of how many more Albion could score playing into the wind and rain in the second half.

If anything facing the elements probably helped. In the first half a number of passes zipped away from their intended targets.

The third goal arrived only four minutes into the restart, Chris McPhee tucking in his ninth of the campaign from close range when Guy Butters headed a Mark Yeates corner goalwards.

Piercy's second goal on 63 minutes was not as spectacular as his first or Carpenter's but probably the most pleasing from McGhee's point of view.

McPhee, encouraged during training to peel away from his marker, headed back Nathan Jones' cross from the far post for Piercy to slot in.

Wycombe's miserable afternoon was compounded when Rogers saw red two minutes later. McGhee had the luxury shortly afterwards of easing Charlie Oatway back into action following the back surgery which has sidelined him since September.

"I'm very pleased," McGhee said. "I hope the fact they had a couple of players sent off does not detract from our performance.

"Sometimes it can work the other way. I have played in plenty of games against ten men when you find it impossible because of the numbers they get behind the ball, but we broke them down time and time again and I thought we were very convincing."

ALBION (4-4-2): Flitney (gk) 6; Watson (rb) 7, Mayo (lb) 7, Cullip (cd) 7, Hart (rm) 8, Yeates (cm) 7, Carpenter (cm) 8, Butters (cd) 7, Jones (lm) 7, Piercy (f) 9, McPhee (f) 8. Subs: Pethick, Oatway for Carpenter (withdrawn 67), Marney for Hart (withdrawn 89), Keeley, Rehman for Yeates (withdrawn 74). SCORERS: Carpenter (31), Piercy (42) and (63), McPhee (49). BOOKINGS: Piercy (54) foul, Rehman (78) foul.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS (4-4-2): Williams; Vinnicombe, Johnson, Rogers, Currie, Ryan, Faulconbridge, McSporran, Moore, Simpson, Taylor. Subs: Talia, Bulman for Vinnicombe (injured 46), Roberts for Ryan (withdrawn 60), Bell, Simpenda for Faulconbridge (withdrawn 18). SENT-OFF: Johnson (15) foul and abusive language, Rogers (29) foul and (65) foul. BOOKINGS: Taylor (29) dissent.

Referee: A.Hall (West Midlands). Venue: Withdean. Attendance: 6,141. Pitch conditions: Good. Weather: Wet and windy.