#29: Colchester 0-0 Brighton 08/03/2010

Monday 8th March 2010 Image result for

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PRESENTER David Jones GUESTS Phil Parkinson & Adam Virgo
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Garry Birtles REPORTER Patrick Davison
7.45pm Kick Off; Weston Homes Stadium, Colchester     7.30-10pm Monday Night Live on Sky Sports 1

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Context of the Match: Gus Poyet arrived in Brighton back in November with the aim of moving the club away from the relegation zone and to start climbing up the League One ladder. His improving team visited a Colchester side bang in form and chasing for promotion out of the Division. They sat in fourth place ahead of this match, winning their last four home games in a row. Brighton’s form was improving too, having beaten Charlton and drew at Leeds in the last two away matches and won the previous weekend at home to Exeter. In fact the Seagulls had lost just twice in the League since Christmas and had enjoyed an extended FA Cup run which saw them knock out Wycombe, Rushden & Diamonds and Torquay before losing 3-2 at Premier League Aston Villa. As we entered the business end of the season, Brighton were five points clear of the drop zone and just about able to look over their shoulders without too much panic. Colchester moved into their new stadium here at the beginning of last season, something which Brighton were looking to do the season after next with the long-running public battle for a ground nearing its long conclusion. They would hope for a better playing surface than what tonight’s hosts have been used to of late, with very muddy patches and bare, patchy grass causing issues in previous matches. Brighton would go into the match confident of getting a result here, boasting the fourth best away record in the Division.

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The Teams: Consistency is key for the Albion at the moment, with the side unchanged for the third time in a row. With Michel Kuipers an absentee until next season due to injury, Slovakian Peter Brezovan kept goal again. He’s supported by full-backs brought to the club in the January transfer window; Inigo Calderon, signed from Alaves, and Marcos Painter on loan from Championship Swansea. The midfield core of Elliott Bennett, Gary Dicker and skipper Andrew Crofts were mainstays under Poyet so far, boosted by Alan Navarro and loanee winger Kazenga LuaLua. Glenn Murray was the solitary striker in a familiar 4-5-1 formation, keeping out top scorer Nicky Forster. Among those on the subs bench, long-serving Gary Hart, youth graduate Mitch Walker as back up goalkeeper and defender Jim McNulty. Seb Carole returned to Brighton in January for a third short-term spell having previously spent the 2005/06 season here and a six month contract at the beginning of 2009. For Colchester, they made three changes from their last match – a defeat at Bristol Rovers. In came defender Magnus Okuonghae, Kemal Izzet and Kayode Odejayi up front. Former Southampton, Leeds and Nottingham Forest midfielder David Prutton joined in January until the end of the season. The experienced Clive Platt played up top, supported from attacking midfield by John-Joe O’Toole and youth team graduate Anthony Wordsworth. Their top scorer was also on the bench in the shape of Kevin Lisbie. Refereeing tonight; Tony Bates.

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Presentation Team: Coverage was presented from the studio inside Colchester’s nice new stadium by Sky’s first choice Football League host David Jones. He’s been a regular on the broadcasts since 2007 and currently hosts both Saturday Night Football and Monday Night Live. Jones’s stock has been rising ever since and does the vast majority of the League matches. Joining him in the studio were Charlton manager Phil Parkinson and current Albion defender Adam Virgo, who also had a loan spell with Colchester for the 2007/08 season. Parkinson had a vested interest in the match with his Charlton side flying high and chasing for promotion, with his former side Colchester amongst the chasing pack. Virgo was three games into his four match suspension for the Albion, having been sent off for the second time this season. Tonight’s appearance was clearly to test the waters for a future career in the media for the Brighton man, going on several years later after retirement to become a very successful co-commentator and pundit for BT Sport amongst others. That broadcaster didn’t even exist when tonight’s match took place of course. Commentating on the match were Bill Leslie and Garry Birtles. Leslie was the outright number one, having been so since Ian Crocker departed for Setanta back in 2006. Since then, Setanta went bust with their portfolio of football rights being divided up. This included some Scottish Premier League rights ending up back with Sky Sports so Crocker followed suit to become SPL lead commentator like he was for Sky up until 2002. Garry Birtles was once again behind the microphone as co-commentator for tonight’s fixture. He’s covered a lot of Brighton down the years, including earlier this season when the Southampton away match was televised Live. He knows League One inside out. Reporting on the touchline was Patrick Davison. He’d previously covered our JPT match at Luton last year and by now was regularly the second choice Football League reporter, deputising for Greg Whelan upon absence.

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The Coverage: Tonight’s programme began fifteen minutes before the 7.45pm kick off, Live from the Weston Homes Stadium. It went under the banner of “Monday Night Live”, which was a new initiative which encompassed all sports broadcast Live around this time on a Monday; lower league football, speedway, tennis, all sorts. There was a short uniformed title sequence which reflected the multi-sport aspect, culminating in a voiceover stating “Tonight; football from the Coca-Cola Football League”. It was a shame the usual title sequence wasn’t used with the ‘You’ve got the Love’ theme tune as that’s excellent. Apart from this all other aspects of the coverage was as it was for any other day of the week, with the red and black graphics and the flying trophy transition for all replays. There was a clear emphasis from Sky Sports towards promoting High Definition coverage and pushing us towards the HD version of the channel. This came with a slight change to their logo, with the Sky part now all in lower case rather than all upper like it has been throughout their history. The colouring had slightly changed too, with a darker red background and a glassy effect. Bet365 were the coverage sponsors this season, as they were for so many football shows in recent years. Hosting the show was David Jones alongside guest pundits Phil Parkinson and Adam Virgo. Virgo spoke well in the build up of both sides, showing knowledge of both teams and the League as a whole. The build up included a word with both managers; Gus Poyet and Aidy Boothroyd. Poyet spoke of Brighton’s more clinical edge away from home, stating that the football is the same but the reason for the impressive away record was simply due to chances being taken. He also confirmed it had been agreed with Newcastle that Kazenga LuaLua would be extending his loan spell until the end of the season. Reporter Patrick Davison brought up the recent sight of Boothroyd’s United side walking over hot coals, which the United manager explained as trying to unfreeze the pitch as well as freshening things up and forcing players outside of their comfort zone.

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The pitch was highlighted by Jones and his pundits for being patchy and a poor surface to play on; notably in a Live televised match a few weeks back where a comical goal was scored when the defender on the line was unable to clear the ball as his foot was stuck in the mud. The surface had improved since then but was still pretty bare in places. After commentator Bill Leslie talked us through the team news there was time for a quick break before coming back to join a minute’s silence for the much-loved Macclesfield manager and friend of Sky Sports Football League coverage down the years, Keith Alexander, who died last week at the age of just 53. At half time the boys reviewed the best of the first forty-five, with Brighton having more of the opportunities for the breakthrough. Virgo pleasingly referred to Albion as “us” and “we”, saying the game was going to plan so far for Poyet and more of the same please in the second. After the game there was around ten minutes or so to review a match low on chances but Adam and Phil did their best in the studio. Virgo stating he was “very proud of them, they’ve done very, very well tonight”, whilst Parkinson believed it was probably a fair result. Patrick Davison caught up with Glenn Murray and Man of the Match Tommy Elphick, with Murray adamant he should have had a first half penalty. Our reporter got the views of the home manager; Boothroyd joking the viewers probably switched over to EastEnders instead. And that was that, another Live match done.

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Story of the Match: It was very nearly the perfect start for the Albion side in their red and black change strip with Glenn Murray’s header from a free kick going just wide, beating the keeper all ends up. Colchester’s first sign of danger came after a jinking run from David Prutton found Platt wide. His first time cross was towards his strike partner but Adam El-Abd was in the right place at the right time to cut the ball out for a corner. Chances were at a premium during this match, with Brighton’s passing play meaning they dominated a lot of the ball but lacked a killer instinct to get in behind the defence. A chance did fall to the Seagulls when a thirty-third minute free kick from twenty-five yards was floated into the back post where El-Abd’s header was unfortunately straight where Williams was waiting in-goal to parry away. The passing game was paying off and with seven minutes to go before the break Brighton had another good chance. Andrew Crofts found Gary Dicker whose patient play waited for Calderon to run on the overlap. His shot was well saved again by Williams who was keeping the home side in it by now. They went in level at the break but the Albion were looking the more threatening. It was Colchester who enjoyed the early possession in the second half but the first opportunity came from another Brighton dead ball. Elliott Bennett’s excellent corner was just over the head of Murray and met firmly by Crofts but his effort flew wide of the target. Set pieces were the key for the Albion here. Peter Brezovan in the Brighton goal had a solid game all night, commanding from crosses and always in the right place. The one time he was caught out he was fouled. With fifteen minutes remaining a couple of hopeful balls into the box from the visitors caused a bit of a problem for the United defence but still nothing forthcoming in the way of a goal. Further danger occurred five minutes later as a ball across the box from Murray found Bennett lurking to touch back towards goal. Substitute Chris Holroyd couldn’t get a touch nor stay on his feet and the ball was scrambled clear. And so for the first time since 1968, or sixteen meetings, there was a goalless draw between Colchester and Brighton. The Seagulls played with confidence and cleverness, utilising set pieces and trying to make Poyet’s passing plan work on slightly bobbly conditions. There were clear signs that the lowly place in the table was undeserved and better things would come. They saw out the rest of the season losing just three more times and climbing up the table to 13th. By contrast, Colchester seriously derailed their promotion bid winning on just two more occasions in the run-in and missed out on the Play Offs by eight points in 8th place. After a worrying couple of years in Sussex, Brighton would go into their final season at Withdean with renewed hope under a positive, progressive manager and a decent squad.

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

3 Responses to #29: Colchester 0-0 Brighton 08/03/2010

  1. Pingback: #28: Southampton 1-3 Brighton 15/11/2009 | Mark O'MEARA

  2. Pingback: #30: Brighton 1-1 Bournemouth 09/10/2010 | Mark O'MEARA

  3. Pingback: #58: Brighton 2-3 Arsenal 25/01/2015 | Mark O'MEARA

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