#16: Swindon 0-1 Brighton 16/05/2004

#16 SWINDON 0-1 BRIGHTON Division Two Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg
Sunday 16th May 2004 Image result for

swi titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Brian Little
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Tony Gale REPORTER Fraser Robertson
4pm Kick Off; County Ground, Swindon     3.55-6.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

swi ident sky bet sponsor swi intro

Context of the Match: This was Brighton’s first foray into the end of season Play Offs since 1991 and that Final defeat at Wembley to Notts County. Whilst that match only featured in ITV highlights with Brian Moore’s commentary, today’s Semi Final at Swindon was given the full Sky Sports Live treatment. The Albion had finished fourth in Division Two, six points off QPR’s 2nd automatic promotion place, with Swindon in fifth place and four points worse off. As a result of the higher finish, Brighton would be at home in the second leg and supposedly have the advantage. Swindon possessed the most potent attack of the four Play Off teams and surprised most pundits by even getting to this stage. The Seagulls had dropped down from Division One after last season’s relegation and were looking for an immediate return. Leon Knight was the Division’s top scorer with 25 goals, joint with Stephen McPhee from a Port Vale side who missed out on this on just goal difference. The head to head record this season for the Robins and the Seagulls read as a draw at Withdean and a Brighton loss here at the County Ground, and going back further Swindon hadn’t lost to us in ten meetings. However as we’d already beaten the two sides who gained promotion, Plymouth and QPR, and both victories coming Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras, the mood was quietly confident ahead of this Sunday 4pm clash. As with all Live opportunities, fans used this to remind everyone about the club’s desperate need for the new stadium with chants and banners proclaiming Falmer as the only option – “One Site in Brighton”.  Whatever happened today it would only effectively be ‘half-time’ with the second leg to come on Thursday back in Sussex. It was sure to be a very close tie as the last of this season’s Play Off Semi Final 1st Legs got underway.

swi swindon swi brighton swi formation

The Teams: Mark McGhee made just one change from the side which won comfortably at Wrexham on the final day of the regular season, with midfielder Richard Carpenter returning in place of long-serving Gary Hart who dropped down to the bench. Top-scorer Leon Knight was leading the line with Scotsman Chris Iwelumo who joined in March. The core of the side that won back to back promotions under Micky Adams and Peter Taylor remained despite relegation last season, with Nathan Jones, Charlie Oatway and Danny Cullip starting whilst Michel Kuipers and Kerry Mayo were amongst the substitutes. Experience and strength at the back in the form of Guy Butters was complemented by skill and pace in midfield via new Australian signing Paul Reid for the Seagulls, who joined a few weeks ago initially until the end of this season. Ben Roberts in-goal had kept five successive clean sheets. Knight and Cullip were both in the PFA Division Two Team of the Season. The home side named former Premiership striker Tommy Mooney and Chelsea graduate Sam Parkin in their starting eleven. They provided a formidable 42 goal partnership up front, the best pairing in the Division. Defender Matt Heywood returned after an ankle injury. Andy King’s side look to cross at any opportunity so Brian Howard and Sammy Igoe on the wings would be ones to look out for. On the bench for Swindon was Grant Smith, son of Albion Cup Final striker Gordon. Premiership referee Neale Barry was in the middle.

swi gavin swi little swi studio

Presentation Team: George Gavin was Sky’s host. Presented from the studio, his guest this Sunday afternoon was Brian Little; a regular over the past two seasons but appearing slightly less now he’s back in management at fellow Division Two side Tranmere, whom he joined in October last year. He knows the League well, the Play Offs even better and it’s always a pleasure when he’s on punditry duty. You’re under the impression he and Gavin get on well which makes for much easier viewing. Little’s Tranmere had faced these two sides this season; beating both 1-0 at home but losing away. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Tony Gale. Crocker was firmly established now as the Football League number one, covering the vast majority of matches and only really missing out when logistics are against him. His fondness for a pun or a tabloid-style line make his goal calls all the more memorable and perfect for use on promos and clips. His partner today was one of Sky’s three regulars this season in Tony Gale. He’s a former West Ham defender who had been involved with Sky for a couple of years. He’s established as the League number three this season behind Chris Kamara and Garry Birtles. Reporting on the match was Fraser Robertson. He became Sky’s League reporter around November last season and covers the vast majority of the Live matches. Prior to this he reported for Sky Sports News and has also covered FA Cup Finals from the team hotels.

swi kick off swi comms swi other game swi coming up

The Coverage: The programme was due to begin half an hour before kick off but had to be cut right back until 3.55pm due to the overrunning programme preceding it. Sky Sports 1 had Live coverage of the 1pm kick off Conference Play Off Final between Aldershot and Shrewsbury which went all the way to penalties at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium. This meant there was just enough time to show the winning moments and trophy lift before coming off air in time for the start here. It would have been interesting to have seen what was planned to be featured during the proposed thirty minute build up, most likely a review of the Play Off action so far this week. There was still another match going on, in the Division Three Semi Final between Northampton and Mansfield, of which goals were being shown as they went in during coverage of our match. The five-minute build up included just a brief comment from Little and the only goal of the match thus far from Sixfields before our commentary team took over. Coverage was being presented from Sky’s Studios in Isleworth, allowing George Gavin to host all Play Off matches during this busy period. Sky increased their commitment to the end of season extras by broadcasting all four Division Two Semi Final matches Live this season – a first for the Third Tier. Previously only the four Division One Semis were shown Live, with the first dip into this level last year when the second leg of Bristol City v Cardiff was on. Titles and graphics remained as they had been for the regular season, with the red, black and white scoreboard style intro and The Skids’ catchy ‘Into the Valley’ instrumental theme tune. The replay transition was a very quick flash of the two team badges one after the other instead of the trophy that was used in the League season.

swi yellow swi carpenter

Half time analysis fed on the scraps we saw in the first half, with chances mainly falling Swindon’s way. After reviewing those, the goals from the Division Three Play Off match were shown. With that a 3pm kick off the match was now over, finishing two nil to Mansfield. In the second half at Swindon Sky briefly pulled the plug on the match, losing pictures around the 66 minute mark, with Gavin and Little having to fill for a minute by showing one or two bits of match action until the engineers fixed the connection. Once the pictures were back it took another minute or so before the commentary line was restored too. Thankfully the problems here were nothing like the repeated interference on our previous Live match against Rushden in 2001! After the game, reporter Fraser Robertson interviewed goalscorer Richard Carpenter alongside Man of the Match Danny Cullip, who was awarded a big bottle of champagne courtesy of League sponsors Nationwide. Gavin and Little talked us through the key moments of the match, with particular focus of course on the deflected goal itself as well as Brighton’s excellent defending to keep yet another clean sheet. We heard from winning boss Mark McGhee who admitted “there was a certain amount of fortune” for his team with Swindon hitting the frame of the goal twice. He was pleased with the shape, giving Swindon limited options. He also confirmed Brighton would be going out for the first goal in the Second Leg to kill off the tie, rather than sit back and defend from the off like here. Swindon manager Andy King thought his “were the better side by far”, disagreeing with McGhee’s assessment. He was understandably frustrated by the loss and having more chances but just one on target was the crucial factor. The Town fans interviewed afterwards were very confident they could go to Brighton and overturn the scoreline. The final few minutes of the half hour post match was devoted to the Play Off picture as a whole before, soundtracked by the excellent ’77 Strings’ by Chamonix, signing off for the afternoon with all First Leg matches now complete.

swi 2nd leg swi stats swi man of the match swi mcghee

Story of the Match: Play started fairly tamely with very little goalmouth action either end. The atmosphere was the liveliest part of the first half, with Brighton fans behind the goal to the right of camera packing out the away end and Swindon fans in full voice elsewhere. Leon Knight was proving a bit of a handful for the defence, even managing to win flick ons and headers despite his 5ft5 frame. After the half hour mark Andy Gurney jinked past a couple of Brighton defenders before unleashing a shot which flew well wide and very high. And that summed much of the opening 45 up; a little promise but no end product. At the other end, Nathan Jones was looking particularly lively down the left-wing and managed to provide a couple of really decent crosses which came to nothing. With ten minutes remaining before the break Tommy Mooney was presented with a golden chance with a header at the back post which he put wide when it seemed like the goal was gaping. A covering defender’s lunging body was enough to put him off to keep it goalless. Sammy Igoe had the first effort on target after forty minutes for the home team, his long-range effort very comfortable for Ben Roberts in-goal. But three minutes later he came the closest of anyone when his neat one-two on the edge of the box gave him a shooting opportunity which flew past the ‘keeper only to be thwarted by the post. By the time the whistle went for half time Swindon were looking the better of the two. This didn’t carry on when the second half got underway, with Brighton on the front foot. But still the cutting edge was lacking and chances were frustratingly rare. Swindon grew back into the game and after 63 minutes hit the woodwork again! Igoe and Smith linked up on the left flank, with the latter crossing a very dangerous ball in for Mooney’s volley six yards out to crash against the bar, whilst Parkin’s follow-up was tipped over. The home side would really rue these missed opportunities as with eighteen minutes remaining it was Brighton who took the lead. Iwelumo held the ball up strongly in the area, laying it off for substitute Gary Hart on the edge. He couldn’t find space for a shot but did find Richard Carpenter twenty yards out who hit it first time and, via a slight deflection off (would you believe) Grant Smith, the ball ended up in the net. Breakthrough! The Albion gameplan for this Leg was all about defending resolutely and grabbing a chance on the break or from set pieces, and that’s exactly how it played out. Cullip and Butters were solid at the back, ably assisted in front by Oatway and Carpenter. Swindon couldn’t find a way through as the Seagulls completed the shut out for six clean sheets in a row. Advantage Brighton ahead of the decisive Second Leg in four days time.

swi play off picture


swi replay 1 swi replay 2


NEXT; #17 BRIGHTON 0-1 SWINDON 20/05/2004

About Mark O'MEARA
I am Mark O'MEARA.

One Response to #16: Swindon 0-1 Brighton 16/05/2004

  1. Pingback: #17: Brighton 0-1 Swindon 20/05/2004 | Mark O'MEARA

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