#12: Reading 1-2 Brighton 04/04/2003

#12 READING 1-2 BRIGHTON Division One
Friday 4th April 2003 Image result for

REA Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Ray Houghton
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Fraser Robertson
8pm Kick Off; Madejski Stadium, Reading     7.30-10.10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 2

REA Promo REA Ident REA Intro

Context of the Match: What a turbulent season Brighton had back in the second tier for the first time in a decade. Having lost Peter Taylor due to budgetary restraints after securing the Division Two title, new manager Martin Hinshelwood was moved upstairs by the start of October. When Steve Coppell was appointed he couldn’t halt the slide of twelve successive defeats and inherited an Albion side low on confidence rock bottom of the League. It took a couple of matches to get the team playing the way he wanted but results soon picked up. In the last televised match back in November, Brighton picked up an invaluable point away at high-flying Wolves and were fifteen minutes away from a shock win. A win against Derby and a point at Preston saw the club close the gap on those above and suddenly relegation didn’t seem quite so nailed on. Coppell brought in a few players of his own, changed the formations up and made them a more solid, resilient side. A win away at Norwich sparked an unbeaten January in the League, with Steve loanee midfielder Steve Sidwell chipping in with three more vital goals to support star striker Bobby Zamora. Yet the Seagulls were still on the brink of the danger places towards the foot of the table. A thumping four-one victory over Wolves got the ball rolling for a fantastic three wins in a row to close February with renewed hope. This was scuppered by a costly defeat at relegation rivals Stoke but the team spirit was clear to see in battling wins against Rotherham and Play Off candidates Nottingham Forest. Draws in the last two outings – away at Ipswich and at Withdean to bitter rivals Crystal Palace – meant the Albion came into tonight’s televised clash with Reading having lost just once in five. In contrast, Reading were in with a real chance of a Play Off place up to the Premiership in only their first season back in the second tier. The Royals finished runners-up to Brighton last campaign but nine draws in their final ten matches cost them the title. This was clearly something that had been noted had drawn just four League games in this entire season. Five wins out of five in February saw them soar further up the table into the top six but March was very inconsistent, with each win immediately followed by a loss. It summed up this topsy-turvy Division in which anyone really could beat anyone. Having won at Bradford last time out, form would suggest Reading were due a loss tonight. The clash was moved forward to the Friday, kick starting the weekend’s action, to be televised Live by Sky Sports. It’s fourth top against fourth bottom. Under the Madejski Friday night lights, who would emerge the victor in this Meridian regional fight?

REA Reading REA Formation REA Brighton

The Teams: Brighton suffered an almighty goalkeeping crisis throughout the second half of the season. Number one Michel Kuipers started the campaign but injury forced him out for two long spells. First Andy Petterson replaced him for eight games before recovering until the New Year. Then a second setback saw a number of ‘keepers taking to the net. Ben Roberts made a brief cameo on loan from Charlton for three appearances before veteran Dave Beasant made the move from Wigan for the rest of the season. The forty-four-year-old triggered a clause in his contract in order to make the switch to Sussex in persuit of first team football and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. In his ten starts thus far Beasant kept four clean sheets as the Albion picked up eleven crucial points. If the last line of defence was constantly changing, the manager enjoyed a settled group in front of him. Paul Watson, Kerry Mayo and captain Danny Cullip were amongst the first names on a Steve Coppell teamsheet. Dean Blackwell hadn’t featured due to injury for a while so Coppell brough in another of his former players; Ivar Ingimarsson. The Icelandic defender slash midfielder came in on loan from Wolves. His start tonight meant he had the distinctive honour of playing in three of Brighton’s last four televised matches – and for three separate teams; for Brentford last January, for Wolves in November and now for us tonight. In the middle of the park, long-serving Gary Hart and Richard Carpenter rose through the Leagues with the Albion. Tricky winger Paul Brooker scored the decisive goal in last month’s win over Forest. Up front, striking duo Bobby Zamora and Graham Barrett’s partnership had been hampered by the latter’s niggling injuries and spells on and off the sidelines. Former West Ham and Newcastle forward Paul Kitson was one of Martin Hinshelwood’s first summer signings but rarely featured due to a number of injuries. The lesser-spotted Kitson featured in just five matches, with the last coming off the bench back in January. Patience ran thin with the Seagulls supporters who had barely witnessed him in consecutive matches let alone see a goal from him, but was on the bench tonight nevertheless. He sat alongside Albion stalwarts Charlie Oatway and Nathan Jones, waiting to come on and make an impact. Alan Pardew’s fourth placed Reading kept largely the same side that won promotion from Division Two behind the Albion last season. Top scorer that year and this, Nicky Forster, was the key man up top. Jamie Cureton got the goal on the final day last May to secure second place at Brentford’s expense but began on the bench today. Glen Little, signed on loan from Burnley a few days earlier, got the nod in his place. Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick was drafted in on loan initially for a month back in February before extending it the deal until May. Right-back Graeme Murty has made more appearances for the Royals than anyone else this term and last. American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann spent a short period on loan before joining permanently in the summer. On the bench was Steve Sidwell, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with the Albion in the autumn but were outbid by Reading when Arsenal sold him on permanently in January. Refereeing at the Madejski was Mark Cowburn from Lancashire.

REA Studio REA Kick Off REA Comms

Presentation Team: Sky Sports stuck with much of their team throughout the season that were hastily assembled in the weeks before the campaign began, having secured exclusive Live rights to the Football League at short notice in the summer. This followed ITV Digital’s collapse and liquidation, ceasing broadcast in May 2002 following the Live transmission of the Division Two Play Off Final. George Gavin hosted Sky’s Football League broadcasts, both Live and magazine programming. This was his busiest season to date for Sky, having joined in the mid 90s as a touchline and features reporter. With games being presented from the stadium, as much as possible this year, Gavin travelled the length and breadth of the country but so far had not taken in Withdean; both our Live matches had come away from home thus far. Joining him in the Madejski stands was Ray Houghton. The Glasgow born midfielder played internationally for the Republic of Ireland, scoring famously in World Cup ’94 and the winner against England at Euro ’88. His club career took off at Fulham before winning his first major trophy with Oxford in 1986, scoring in their League Cup Final victory. He then secured a move to Liverpool where he made the most appearances for the Reds than any of his other clubs, winning two League titles and two FA Cups in the process. At the start of the Premier League era Houghton was a major signing for Ron Atkinson, coming close to another League title in the first season. He later had spells at Crystal Palace and two years at tonight’s hosts Reading before ending his career in 2000 with Conference side Stevenage. He moved into media work with his distinctive Scottish accent, co-commentating and punditing for Sky Sports on Republic of Ireland internationals and Football League matches as of this season. He also became a regular voice on radio with Talksport. Houghton, along with Alvin Martin, would commentate on the League when number one Chris Kamara’s workload would not permit. This was usually Sundays, due to presenting Goals on Sunday, and some Saturdays, when he’d be at a ground reporting in-vision for results service Soccer Saturday. With this being a Friday, Kamara could take up his usual position alongside first choice Ian Crocker on the commentary gantry. The pairing covered our last televised match, the creditable one-one draw away at Wolves. During that match, Crocker pointed out Albion had never won a Live League fixture on the box. Quirky research, puns and enthusiasm were all key components to an Ian Crocker commentary, with his excitable, memorable goal calls often featuring in promos and adverts for upcoming matches. He made his name in Scotland and is very fondly thought of North of the border, leading Sky’s SPL commentaries for four years from 1998 before they lost the rights. Completing Sky’s broadcast team was a new name to Seagulls on the small screen – reporter Fraser Robertson. The Scotsman began television work on STV before moving to Sky in the late 1990s. He was a familiar voice on Sky Sports News reports and covered the 2000 FA Cup Final by reporting from the Aston Villa team hotel. Robertson joined the Football League team in November and has become the number one reporter since, replacing Bryn Law who began the season in the role.

REA Robertson REA Salako REA Reading form REA Little

The Coverage: Pre match build up began half an hour before the 8pm kick off, with Reading’s midweek matches usually beginning at this time instead of the regular 7.45pm start most others use. This extended the Sky coverage beyond the usual 7.30-10pm programme by an extra ten minutes or so. Still sponsored by SkyBet with those blokes enjoying a pizza and a gamble in their living room, the title sequence soundtracked by The Skids’ Into the Valley remained as it was for our last televised match at Wolves back in November. Host George Gavin introduced the programme by highlighting the contrasting fates of tonight’s two clubs; “They’re nervous, both sets of supporters, but for different reasons. Can Reading go up to the Premiership? Can Brighton avoid going straight back to Division Two?” With the intros done, Gavin brought in his guest for the evening, Sky regular Ray Houghton, up on the gantry. The studio coverage was still a single-camera set-up, meaning both were in shot when the other was speaking at all times and with a less experienced guest could make for slightly uncomfortable viewing. Houghton though was becoming well versed in telly since retirement. A glance at the table showed how precarious Brighton’s position was, out of the relegation zone on goal difference only and having played a game more than Stoke; both on thirty-seven points. There was a further six point gap to the team above in twentieth place – Derby County. At the other end, a win for Reading would move them one place up to third for the time being at least, though they’ve already played once more than current occupier Sheffield United as well as fifth placed Nottingham Forest. The Sky graphics were backed by Albion shirt sponsors, Skint records; their band Mighty Dub Katz and their track Let the Drums Speak, which I absolutely loved. The team news was brought to us by touchline reporter Fraser Robertson where the headline was Bobby Zamora’s return after two games out with a hamstring injury. The first VT piece centred around Reading, with their experienced midfielder John Salako talking us through their squad and the campaign overall. He was well placed having played under Steve Coppell and alongside Alan Pardew, both whilst at Crystal Palace. He singled out striker Nicky Forster for praise; “Great pace. I think Nicky would scare the life out of defenders and do really well in the top flight. I think he feels, at twenty-nine, that it may have passed him by but he’s got all the attributes and all the requirements to play at the very top level.” Reading’s form this season was documented, with 100% records in both November and February propelling them up the table. Manager Pardew spoke with Robertson on the touchline in cautious mode; “We need to have calm heads tonight and if we do that we’ll win… No-one gives up anything lightly, this is proper football tonight and looking forward to it.” Debutant Glen Little was in the spotlight, having joined from Burnley on loan; he’d be sure to be one to watch having already scored past us this campaign for his parent club.

REA Beasant REA Palm Reader REA Crystal Ball REA Zamora stats

When the attention turned to the Albion, the first man focussed on was the oldest; forty-four-year-old goalkeeper Dave Beasant. What followed can only be described as one of the most bizarre VT ideas in football as Beasant was sent along with Seafront to visit a palm reader! The full package is available to view at the foot of this post. With the Harry Potter music playing, Beasant was sat alongside this reader who predicted a bright future. “I’m very happy to see that you, and the people are you, are going to rise above where you are right now. I’m pleased to see that you and your team are going to do well because the outcome is what we’d all wish.” Presumably that wish being for this madness to end. I can only think that because of his big, goalkeeping hands they thought this palm reading idea up otherwise I’m really struggling. Because, after her empty platitudes (what else was she going to say? ‘I see you and your team being relegated by the end of the month’?!), Beasant had a normal interview in a normal surrounding. He told of the similarities between here and previous clubs; “The day I walked in the dressing room door at the training ground, the atmosphere in there was one that was very, very similar to what I left at Wimbledon all those years ago. It had got some characters in there; Charlie Oatway, Bobby Zamora.” Following this, the studio team analysed a man half Beasant’s ago; Zamora. Houghton was full of superlatives; “Fantastic player, a real livewire. Got all the ability, all the tricks and it’s tremendous news for Brighton this evening that he is fit and well and he looks like he really is up for this game.” His stats were displayed alongside him warming up, proving just what a huge part he played in the two title successes. His absence was sorely missed, with no wins this season when he didn’t play. The man trying to get the best out of him, Steve Coppell, then spoke in the tunnel to Fraser Robertson. He explained the team selections and the remaining games, taking his usual calm, measured approach to things. When asked why he believed they can save themselves from the drop, he responded with “I don’t know whether we can to be honest! If we’re good enough we can but that’s something we’ve got to prove over the next six games.” Sometimes he was a bit too honest. After a little more studio chat it was time to head for the adverts as kick off fast approached. Upon the return, the teams were in the tunnel and our commentators took over; Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara.

REA Infobar REA Coming Up REA Added Time REA MOTM

The Sky Sports Infobar at the bottom of the screen kept viewers up to date with the latest scores from the other match being played tonight; in Division Two between Northampton and Wigan. During half time, Gavin and Houghton looked back at the key incidents of the first period, which centred around the excellent decision making of Paul Brooker and Bobby Zamora to combine for the goal. The infobar showed Reading having had more attempts and corners but it was the goal that mattered most. George Gavin described it as “the cleverest goal you’ll see all season.” Houghton had no qualms over the decision to award the free kick saying it was a “definite backpass”. He did think Brighton rode their luck during the half at times and probably didn’t quite deserve a lead at the break. I think the 8pm kick off may have caught the schedulers out somewhat, as some listings had the programme down to finish at 10pm. As such, Sky actually continued until 10.10pm but did not take an advert break after the match, once it had finally finished following five minutes stoppage time and a referee change. This meant we got around ten minutes or so of post match reaction and analysis, beginning with a word from Man of the Match Bobby Zamora. On the unusual circumstances for the opening goal, Zamora explained his thought process; “It’s worth a try. You know, quick free kick and resulted in a goal – if he says no then we just take it again.” He paid tribute to the tireless defence for giving them a shout of survival before picking up the bottle of Champagne. The table made for much better reading for Seagulls fans, putting pressure on those above them now as well as inching clearer of those below. The studio team analysed the goals in more detail. Praise was placed upon Carpenter for his delivery in the second Brighton goal but the lack of marking of Paul Kitson was Reading’s undoing. Remarkably that was Kitson’s first goal since November 2001, when he scored a hat-trick for West Ham in their televised match with Charlton. Seeing the replay of the Cureton goal for the home team, the amount of swerve on the ball was evident. The surprising stat was the amount of corners; Reading having nine and Brigthon not a single one. But Beasant dealt with them all extremely well, commanding and claiming like the experienced pro he is. We also heard from Steve Coppell with Robertson. He said he could see Reading had the initiative as the final fifteen of the first half went by and wanted to quieten things down in the second, which is exactly what happened. Ray Houghton called for Coppell to be manager of the year if he kept Brighton up. After tidying up the other result from the night and looking at the League standings, it was time to shut down for the evening as George Gavin bid us farewell and “bye for now”.

REA Away fans REA Referee REA Quick free kick REA Brooker goal

Story of the Match: The Albion kicked off the match in their change kit of all red. It started positively with both goalkeepers getting early touches, with little concern. Referee Mark Cowburn signalled his intentions straight away by awarding Reading’s Steve Brown a yellow card in the fourth minute for a tackle from behind, forcing the centre back into having to be more careful for the entire match. The referee was involved again when the first real incident of note occurred after a quarter of an hour. Bobby Zamora brought the ball forward from the halfway line skipping past one defender before being dispossessed quite heavily by the next. A combination of Royals defenders then passed the ball back to goalkeeper Hahnemann who picked it up. Zamora appealed for the backpass, which the referee obliged with the indirect free kick in the area. The next thing you heard was the sound of the ball hitting the net and a cheer going up from the away supporters, whilst the camera had focussed in on Cowburn. It was a goal! The quick-thinking of both Bobby Zamora and Paul Brooker combined to break the deadlock in creative fashion. Once the kick was given, Hahnemann was being wrestled for the ball by Zamora. The ‘keeper threw the ball away but only as far as Paul Brooker on the edge of the box. He kicked it back to Zamora who was standing where the infringement took place, he settled the ball with his hand before tapping it to Brooker unmarked eight yards out who coolly slotted home for his sixth of the season, past the despairing dive. All this was done whilst Reading defenders stood around aimlessly, expecting the referee to disallow it. But he quite rightly deemed it a legitimate goal and it was their own fault for lacking concentration, just like the Sky match director in missing the goal Live. It was excellent work from the Albion, what a huge goal this was. It took Reading a full ten minutes to get over the goal and create a chance of their own. The ball bobbled around at the back post following a corner, Cullip couldn’t quite clear and it fell to Forster who scooped it high and wide when normally he’d bury it. As the half went on, Reading enjoyed a greater share of possession and many corners but very little was coming from this. That was until the thirty-ninth minute when James Harper’s corner was met by the head of Glen Little unmarked at the back stick. Paul Brooker was the man to rescue Brighton as he headed it off the line. A few minutes later it was Little again who had to be thwarted. It was chipped up to him to volley from fifteen yards which thankfully went straight down the throat of Beasant who was able to parry away and clear with the help of the defence. There were warning shots being fired Albion’s way for sure and the break probably came at the right time. Not before Nicky Forster was denied a penalty when Kerry Mayo tangled legs with him. The referee’s position prevented him from seeing the incident clearly enough and it was one-nil to the Albion at half time.

REA New Referee REA Subs REA Kitson goal REA Reading goal

One man heavily involved in the game that would not be returning for the second half was the referee Mark Cowburn. He picked up a calf injury and had to be replaced by Fourth Official Clive Penton, causing a momentary delay to the restart. Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle was amongst those watching at the Madejski, with long-standing rumours about Spurs seeking Bobby Zamora. Brighton sat back and invited Reading pressure on them in the second half. Chances were few and far between as the Seagulls held strong. The usually dependable Forster for Reading just wasn’t firing tonight. In the sixty-seventh minute it looked like he had carved an opportunity out for himself when he cut inside Danny Cullip but sliced the curling shot high and wide. A minute later though he went very close to the equaliser. Harper’s excellent through ball beat the offside trap. Forster managed to hold off Ingimarsson and took a shot on the slide as he approached the six yard box, the effort trickling just wide of Beasant’s far post. It was not his night. With less than twenty left on the clock, Brighton made a double substitution. Gary Hart, one of the most underrated players in the club’s history surely, ran himself into the ground all night and was replaced by Nathan Jones, whilst Paul Kitson made a rare cameo too. Whilst Reading made their second change having brought Kevin Watson on earlier, Jamie Cureton now entered the fray too. With less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Simon Rodger burst down the left wing at pace, only stopped by Murty’s foul. The resultant set piece was swung in to the middle of the box by Richard Carpenter where newbie Paul Kitson rose to glance a header goalwards. The ball went through Hahnemann’s legs and squirmed in to double the advantage. What an impact substitution! Finally, Kitson gave the Seagulls supporters something to cheer about after a season of virtually nothing, mainly due to injuries. For that moment, for those fans, it didn’t matter what went on before because suddenly a vital, precious win was well within their reach. Things got a little nervy with six minutes remaining when sub Cureton pulled one back for Reading from nowhere. A bouncing ball some thirty-five yards out sat up for the striker who hadn’t featured since January. He just went for it and, with Beasant on the six yard line, it flew into the goal. It was a wonderful strike, bending into the top corner for two-one. Somehow an additional five minutes were signalled by the new Fourth Official at the end of the ninety, prolonging the Albion agony. As they had done all evening, the Seagulls stood strong and came away with all three points as Reading could not force an equaliser. It was a huge result, giving a three point cushion above the drop zone, albeit having played more. But suddenly the great escape looked a slight possibility when for so long it was but a dream. The Albion had broken the television hoodoo, this the club’s first ever Live TV League win. Oh what a night!

REA Table.JPG

READING 1 BRIGHTON 2
Cureton Brooker, Kitson

REA Replay REA Goal

PREVIOUS; #11 WOLVES 1-1 BRIGHTON 11/11/2002

NEXT; #13 GRIMSBY 2-2 BRIGHTON 04/05/2003

 

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

2 Responses to #12: Reading 1-2 Brighton 04/04/2003

  1. Pingback: #13: Grimsby 2-2 Brighton 04/05/2003 | Mark O'MEARA

  2. Pingback: #11: Wolves 1-1 Brighton 11/11/2002 | Mark O'MEARA

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