Small Screen Seagulls; The Record Unbeaten Run 2015

Small Screen Seagulls LogoAs a dismal season was drawing to a close, which included a change of manager half way through, little did any Albion supporter know about what the following campaign had in store. We set off for home after the final match of the season; a long, tiring journey from Middlesbrough for a 12.15pm kick off in May 2015 having witnessed a dull goalless draw. Approaching Christmas some twenty-one games later, the Seagulls had set a new club record having incredibly not lost a League match in that time, since before that ‘Boro trip. Chris Hughton had brought Brighton back into contention again in his first full season. Here is the lowdown of that run, including some of the key matches detailed through clips from new rights holder Channel 5.

FLT Unbeaten BrightonSaturday 2nd May 2015 saw the end of the BBC’s tenure as highlights partners, bringing the curtain down on six seasons of The Football League Show with Manish Bhasin. The best of the action from the three Divisions was moving to Channel 5 and with it a primetime Saturday evening slot. Brighton bid farewell to the Beeb signing off with a nil-nil draw at Middlesbrough. The result saw ‘Boro drop from third to fourth in the Championship, sending them to Brentford in the Play Offs.

GAME H/A DATE FIXTURE RESULT
#1 AWAY SAT 2ND MAY MIDDLESBROUGH DRAW 0-0

Whilst Albion had already stuttered to Championship survival, the stalemate saw them close the 2014/15 campaign in twentieth position, six points above the relegation zone. By some weird twist of fate, this unbeaten run would start and end with Middlesbrough. But before all that, I’ll detail how the 2015/16 season unfolded, after Channel 5 are put in the spotlight with the launch of their new highlights programme.

FLT Titles

Channel 5 wrestled rights to Football League highlights away from the BBC, with the promise of a primetime 9pm Saturday night slot believed to be part of the decision to sway. When the channel launched in 1997, to a blaze of Spice Girls publicity with Tim Vine fronting programming, they nabbed any football they could get their hands on, from pre-season friendlies, the Confederations Cup, Scottish League Cup and even a handful of England away internationals. It was their long-standing relationship with the UEFA Cup that was the most consistent pull but after losing those rights in 2012, Football on 5 came to an end after fifteen seasons. Three years later, the Football League highlights contract was won and the brand was revitalised.

Under the programme title of Football League Tonight, Channel 5 opted for a studio-based programme like their BBC predecessors. But instead of sticking it on after Match of the Day around midnight, they broadcast before it. The show went out Live in a ninety-minute slot from 9pm each week. There was a studio audience present to give it the Saturday night feeling, using Sky Studios as the initial location. The theme tune was provided by a band called Childcare with their single Diesel Therapy. It was appropriate that the Albion performed well during Channel 5’s tenure, as part of the title sequence was filmed at The Amex. The stadiums shots where the fans had been making their way to during the early seconds of the sequence was Falmer dressed down without the Brighton branding! See if you can spot specific areas in the clips below.

Upon the show’s launch, it drew criticism for gimmicks and pointless use of an audience and underwent a relaunch after Christmas 2015 to drop much of the early stuff, becoming a more straight programme. And it changed presenter line up with each season! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, this piece is specifically about the Albion’s unbeaten run in 2015 and Channel 5 covered those highlights.

FLT Presenters

Presenting Football League Tonight’s debut season were Kelly Cates and George Riley. Cates was already a well-known figure and vastly experienced. She began her telly life with the launch of Sky Sports News in the late 1990s where she became a key presenter. She joined Setanta in 2007 to be pitchside reporter on their new English Premier League and FA Cup rights before moving to ESPN when they took over two years later. In 2010 she went to the World Cup in South Africa reporting for ITV and kept links with the channel the following season on the Champions League coverage. She also covered the hugely successful 2012 London Paralympics on Channel 4 as their breakfast presenter.

George Riley was better known for his radio work with BBC 5 Live, where he first began in 2004. He was the Breakfast show’s sports correspondent from 2011 and covered a variety of sports including Rugby League, snooker and darts as well as football. He also covered these on television, hosting the BBC’s Super League Show and presented Late Kick Off in the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire region in 2013.

As well as Cates and Riley, regular guest pundits would appear on the programme. Ex-Albion man Adam Virgo was used most weeks in the show’s first season and would often appear alongside less experienced pundits such as Clinton Morrison and Chris Iwelumo. And current players would pop-in to the Live studio after playing locally, as we’ll see a guest appearance from our old favourite Craig Mackail-Smith later on. A couple of key games received commentary edits each week, with the rest being rounded up by voiceover reports. The early format of the show saw the running order flip between the three Divisions but as it progressed, they settled more with the traditional Championship followed by League One then League Two way of reviewing the day. Here we go then, season 2015/16 starts now.

FLT Studio


#2 HOME FRI 7 AUG NOTTINGHAM FOREST WIN 1-0
#3 AWAY SAT 15 AUG FULHAM WIN 2-1

The Seagulls kick started the entire SkyBet Football League season with a Friday night match at The Amex, Live on Sky Sports. Nottingham Forest were defeated one-nil thanks to a Kazenga LuaLua strike early in the second half. The following week saw a trip to the capital as Fulham awaited. Sam Baldock’s goal on the half-hour mark was cancelled out just before half time by Tom Cairney for the hosts. But, deep into second half injury time, the Albion were awarded a penalty. Up stepped summer signing from Almeria, Israel international Tomer Hemed, to tuck away the spot kick to give the visitors all three points and seal another memorable win at Craven Cottage.

#4 AWAY TUE 18 AUG HUDDERSFIELD TOWN DRAW 1-1
#5 HOME SAT 22 AUG BLACKBURN ROVERS WIN 1-0

The first midweek fixture of the campaign was a long trip up to Huddersfield. It took midfielder Beram Kayal just fourteen seconds to break the deadlock and put Brighton in the lead. Jacob Butterfield’s second half goal earned the Yorkshire side a point, bringing our 100% start to an end. Next up at The Amex were Blackburn Rovers. Like Forest on the opening day, they were dispatched one-nil thanks to a LuaLua goal to make it three wins and a draw from the opening four. Our overall unbeaten run stretched to five matches.


#6 AWAY SAT 29 AUG IPSWICH TOWN WIN 3-2

IPS Tribute IPS Fixture

The top two went head-to-head at Portman Road in the final match before the first international break of the season. Ipswich led the way thanks to a better goal difference, with the experienced head of Mick McCarthy taking on his former Republic of Ireland teammate Chris Hughton.

Whilst things were looking great on the pitch, off it the club was affected the previous week by the Shoreham Air disaster; a plane crash which took the lives of eleven people. Amongst the victims were Seagulls supporters Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, two young footballers for Worthing United who were on the way to their match. Grimstone had also worked as a groundsman for the Albion in recent years. Before the Ipswich game, Albion ‘keeper David Stockdale wore a top bearing their names in tribute and the players donned black armbands.

IPS LuaLua IPS Hemed goal

Brighton wore this season’s luminous yellow away kit against the blue of Ipswich. Highlights were shown as the main game on Football League Tonight with commentary by Paul Walker. The Seagulls again got off to a flyer, with Kazenga LuaLua firing home in the tenth minute on a beautiful sunny day in East Anglia. A long ball chipped over the top from new left back Gaetan Bong sent LuaLua on the chase. Outrunning two Ipswich defenders, he hit a fierce left foot shot low and hard into the far corner. Cue his trademark gymnastic celebration.

Albion made it two-nil just two minutes later when Tomer Hemed got the faintest of flicks with his head from a teasing free kick by Dale Stephens. It was a dream start which could have got even better when another long ball from Bong caught out the home defence. Sam Baldock at the stretch couldn’t quite get the angle right and his shot trickled a foot wide of the far post.

IPS Hemed second IPS Hemed interview

The attacking threat continued into the second half, with Dale Stephens crashing his shot against the post from the edge of the box. Ipswich should have been cut adrift by now but instead the clawed their way back into the match. Freddie Sears tapped home a rebound after Brett Pitman hit the post nine minutes into the second period. And they equalised from the penalty spot with twenty-five to play after Bruno clashed legs with Ryan Fraser. David McGoldrick squeezed the kick past Stockdale to level things up.

But Brighton didn’t let heads drop and just two minutes later were back in the lead through Tomer Hemed again. LuaLua’s deflected cross from the left looped up and Hemed jumped highest to get his head to it and take it past Dean Gerken in the net. A thrilling game ended Ipswich two, Brighton three and the Seagulls sat atop the Championship table. In his post-match interview, Hemed confirmed that he did touch the ball for his first goal from Stephens’ cross, though he would of course say that!


#7 HOME SAT 12 SEP HULL CITY WIN 1-0
#8 HOME TUE 15 SEP ROTHERHAM UNITED WIN 2-1
#9 AWAY SAT 22 SEP WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS DRAW 0-0

Tomer Hemed was back on the scoresheet for the Albion after the international break, netting the only goal of the game in a one-nil win over Hull. His strike five minutes in downed the Tigers who themselves had begun the season brightly and sat second ahead of the match. It was four wins in a row the following Tuesday when Hemed and Dale Stephens scored against Rotherham, Jonson Clarke-Harris getting the visitors consolation in a two-one result. A further point was added to the tally in a goalless draw at Wolves.

#10 AWAY SAT 26 SEP BOLTON WANDERERS DRAW 2-2
#11 HOME SAT 3 OCT CARDIFF CITY DRAW 1-1

Such was Albion’s fine start, that two more draws were enough to keep the Seagulls at the top of the table going into the next international break in October. An eventful two-two at Bolton saw Dale Stephens add another to his tally, but it was a mixed day for Jamie Murphy. The Scottish winger joined from Sheffield United in August and scored his first goal to put Brighton two up. Neil Danns pulled one back before half-time but Murphy was involved again with a quarter of an hour left. He received a red card for a heavy tackle on Danns. Ten-man Albion conceded the equaliser four minutes into stoppage time when Gary Madine rescued a point for the struggling side.

The following week at home to Cardiff, Brighton fell behind for the first time this season when Joe Mason scored after five minutes. Dale Stephens leveller seven minutes before the break ensured Brighton remained the only unbeaten side left in English football’s top four Leagues.


#12 AWAY SAT 17 OCT LEEDS UNITED WIN 2-1

LEE Fixture LEE March goal

Next up was a trip to Elland Road to face Leeds. Football League Tonight opened the show with the highlights, commentated on by Paul Walker. The first meaningful attack brought about the opening goal for Solly March on fourteen minutes, with the Albion again sporting that hi-vis shirt. Beram Kayal burst through a couple of challenges in the middle of the park and played a neat ball through for March to chase. His pace was no match for defender Scott Wootton, and March calmly slotted the ball across Marco Silvestri and into the goal.

Leeds were only behind for around eight minutes before Liam Cooper equalised. He glanced on Alex Mowatt’s cracking free kick delivery after Lewis Dunk’s foul on one-time Albion forward Chris Wood. Speaking of which, Wood had a terrific chance to nod Leeds ahead from a similar free kick position, instead putting it wide from close range and unmarked. In the second half, former Leeds season ticket holder David Stockdale in the Brighton net almost gifted his boyhood team a goal. Alex Mowatt charged down his kick only to see it bounce just wide of the post. A couple of let offs for the visitors.

LEE Zamora goal LEE Zamora interview

Solly March looked in good form, not afraid to cut in from the flank. He did so on one occasion which resulted in his shot from just inside the box thumping against the crossbar. An injury to Leeds scorer Liam Cooper left them no option but to play the final ten minutes or so with just ten men, having made all three subs. And Brighton capitalised with one left of the ninety, as returning hero Bobby Zamora scored a sublime dinked finish over the onrushing goalkeeper to steal three points at the death.

Zamora, signed on a free from QPR at the start of August, scored his first Albion goal in 4549 days having left for Tottenham back in July 2003. His previous goal was in a televised match at Grimsby where a point wasn’t enough to avoid Division One relegation. Today, it was enough to keep top spot in the Championship with another victory. Zamora was interviewed in the tunnel afterwards, delighted to have provided the winner. “Pleased to get that goal, you know. A lot of people have been asking, ‘When’s it gonna come?’, but pleased to score.”

LEE Mackail-Smith LEE Table

In the studio, hosts Kelly Cates and George Riley were joined by two former Albion players; regular guest Adam Virgo and Craig Mackail-Smith, who joined Luton after his Brighton contract expired in July. Of Zamora, Mackail-Smith said, “He’s a massive legend there. In the four years I was there, there were pictures of him everywhere, they were talking about him all the time so for him to go back to the club it’s fantastic.”


#13 HOME TUE 20 OCT BRISTOL CITY WIN 2-1
#14 HOME SAT 24 OCT PRESTON NORTH END DRAW 0-0

Three days after the Leeds win, Brighton made it six points out of six with a two-one home victory over Bristol City. Bobby Zamora was again on the scoresheet late on, though not quite as late as before, coming in the eighty-second minute. This was after Sam Baldock cancelled out City’s Derrick Williams first half opener. It was goalless at The Amex as Preston held firm in a game of little quality.

#15 AWAY SAT 31 OCT READING DRAW 1-1
#16 AWAY TUE 3 NOV SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY DRAW 0-0

Two more draws followed, both on the road, as Reading and Sheffield Wednesday were equal to the points. Despite being outplayed for much of the first half at the Madejski Stadium, Brighton took the lead early in the second period through Jamie Murphy. But with twelve minutes to go, Matej Vydra scored to make it one-one and keep the home side on the verge of the Play Off places. The stalemate at Hillsborough three days later cost Brighton top spot. The club slipped to third after three draws in succession, as Hull and Burnley both joined us on thirty-one points at the summit, though with better goal differences.


#17 HOME SAT 7 NOV MILTON KEYNES DONS WIN 2-1

MKD Fixture MKD Goal and reporter

The win over Milton Keynes Dons set a new club record of seventeen games without defeat, beating the previous one set back in 1931. All the action came in the first half, as rounded up on Football League Tonight by voiceover reporter Sue Thearle – a familiar voice to BBC Match of the Day viewers around the turn of the century as well as sports bulletins on BBC News. Solly March smashed home a terrific first-time strike from twenty-five yards after just five minutes. It flew into the top corner in style.

MKD Murphy goal MKD Full Time

Jamie Murphy doubled the lead a quarter of an hour later. Sam Baldock’s pass deflected through the legs of Dons defender Dean Lewington and into Murphy’s pass. His instant shot into the bottom corner of the net beat David Martin for two-nil. Pace and power was also how the visitors got their goal when Nicky Maynard thundered in a fantastic strike from almost thirty yards after rolling defender Lewis Dunk. Later on, Dunk looked like he’d given away a penalty when he slid in on Samir Carruthers but, to the bemusement of MK boss Karl Robinson, referee Dean Whitestone gave nothing and it finished two-one to the Albion. Brighton’s first win in four put the club in second place, behind Hull only on goal difference.


#18 AWAY SUN 22 NOV BURNLEY DRAW 1-1

A televised trip to Burnley was next, in which the entire action came and went within the first four minutes of the match. Bobby Zamora poached from close range inside the opening sixty seconds after Tomer Hemed’s shot hit the bar. But Burnley were awarded a spot kick three minutes later after Michael Keane’s shirt was tugged by Lewis Dunk. Their £6million signing from Brentford, Andre Gray, tucked away the penalty and it remained one-all; a result which kept Albion second and Burnley two points and three places behind.

BIR Unbeaten Run

#19 HOME SAT 28 NOV BIRMINGHAM CITY WIN 2-1

BIR Unbeaten clubs BIR March goal

Football League Tonight highlighted Brighton’s magnificent club-record unbeaten run ahead of the Birmingham match, of which highlights were called by Paul Walker. Of the eighteen games without defeat thus far, nine were wins and nine draws. The show also drew comparisons with other European Leagues, showing PSG behind on fourteen games undefeated and Bayern Munich on thirteen. Great to be in such fine company.

To the match action, and it took Solly March seventeen minutes to break the deadlock as he fired past ex-Albion stopped Tomasz Kuszczak. Jamie Murphy did well in the midfield, skipping through the middle of two challenges before laying it out wide for Liam Rosenior. His cross found March in the area; whose first time shot with his left was blocked by his own man Hemed. He made no mistake with the rebound though, blasting it home for one-nil.

Birmingham equalised four minutes later when space was exploited in the Albion back line. Jacques Maghoma struck from the right of the box, stinging the palms of David Stockdale. His parry went straight to the head of Jon Toral, who guided it into the empty net for one-one.

BIR Zamora goal BIR Hughton

Two minutes after the break, Brighton regained the lead through Bobby Zamora being in the right place at the right time. Jamie Murphy ran at the Blues defence on the left of the area and drilled a cross in low to find March. His shot was just about kept out by the goalkeeper, but the ricochet fell to the feet of Zamora who tapped home from three yards out on his first start at home for the Albion in a dozen years!

Youngster James Wilson joined on loan from Manchester United in the week and almost scored on his debut, flashing a shot just wide of the far post as he replaced Zamora after sixty-six minutes. He went even closer after that when put through one-on-one by Kayal. The shot agonisingly smacked the post and back into the grateful arms of Kuszczak. It finished two-one as Brighton got back to winning ways.

Despite continuing to set a new club record and returning to the top of the table, Chris Hughton’s feet remained firmly on the ground at this stage. “It’s a wonderful achievement, so far. I’m not saying we haven’t deserved this because I think our level of performance has been good. Generally, the League table doesn’t lie.”


#20 HOME SAT 5 DEC CHARLTON ATHLETIC WIN 3-2

CHA Virgo CHA Virgo and Cates

Regular studio pundit and former Brighton defender Adam Virgo provided Football League Tonight with analysis and comment on the key incidents across the Leagues, but also talked through one or two of the matches at first look on the screen instead of using a voiceover reporter. In December, Virgo and Kelly Cates discussed the Albion’s match with Charlton where the unbeaten run almost came unstuck. This format works well enough if you have a decent pundit like Virgo who describes and analyses seamlessly, but can be frustratingly lacking if a weaker pundit is used.

Charlton stormed into a two-goal lead after just five minutes. Ademola Lookman nabbed the first after just over a minute’s play as Brighton were countered. Winning the ball back just outside their own box, it took the visitors just three passes to get Lookman to drive to the byline before lashing a shot past Stockdale, defeating him at his near post and in. Virgo blamed Brighton’s lack of pace across the back line as a weakness for counter attacks.

The second came from Reza Ghoochannejhad and, again, resulted from a failed Albion attack, clearing it up the other end and scoring. A corner that wasn’t a corner was kicked away by the Charlton defence, two headers later they were breaking with pace. The ball eventually found its way to the back post where the goalscorer finished well to strike first time into the roof of the net from six yards. Two-nil at the break.

CHA Wilson goal CHA Zamora equaliser

Brighton pulled one back through James Wilson five minutes after the restart. Virgo believed the difference in character this season from last was leadership. With players such as Stockdale, Greer, Kayal and Zamora that had improved. The goal came about largely thanks to perseverance from both Stephens in the midfield driving the ball forward, and also from Wilson in the box. He kept going, dribbling past a couple on a mazy run, before hit shot squeezed through the legs of the goalkeeper and in.

The turning point came when defender Patrick Bauer was shown a red card for a last man foul on Zamora right on the edge of the area. Down to ten men for the final half an hour, Charlton tried but failed to hold out. Bobby Zamora bagged an equaliser with seven left on the clock, another case of right place, right time for the front man. After a couple of blocks from close range, the ball squirmed out to Zamora six yards out. He doesn’t miss from there.

CHA Hemed winner CHA Full Time

The winner came from Tomer Hemed just two minutes after getting back level. Dutch winger Rajiv van La Parra joined from Wolves on a five-week loan at the end of November and came on to provide the assist for the winner. His cross from the right found the head of Hemed, who flicked goalwards. Goalkeeper Stephen Henderson made a great reaction save to push it up but, unfortunately for him, the ball looped over and bounced into the net despite desperate efforts to claw it away.

As Virgo pointed out, “When you’re at the bottom of the League, that spins past the post. When you’re at the top of the League, Kelly, that tends to spin in. It’s a real dogged performance, second half, from Brighton.” Virgo also praised Hughton for changing tactics to three at the back after the red card and really going for the win, as an abundance of chances fell. The Seagulls remained top.


#21 AWAY SAT 12 DEC DERBY COUNTY DRAW 2-2

An entertaining contest in Derby’s four-hundredth match at their iPro Stadium as they shared the spoils with the Albion. James Wilson put the visitors ahead when his outstretched leg got the crucial touch to poke goalwards from Jamie Murphy’s cross on the left. Four minutes before half time, Derby got back on level terms through a powerful Bradley Johnson header. Substitute Rajiv van La Parra scored his first goal for the club with a quarter of an hour to play with a lovely finish to almost burst the net. But the win was denied with two minutes to go when a harsh penalty was awarded for Greer’s challenge on Johnny Russell. Chris Martin converted and Albion had to make do with a point.

#22 AWAY TUE 15 DEC QUEENS PARK RANGERS DRAW 2-2

Brighton raced into a two-nil lead shortly after the half-time break at QPR, in a midweek match televised Live on Sky Sports. Dale Stephens opened the scoring with a fabulous overhead kick from seven yards following a knockdown from a corner. Two minutes later, Rajiv van La Parra scored his second for the club to double the advantage. But Charlie Austin inspired the Rangers comeback, scoring either side of a Lewis Dunk dismissal for his second yellow card late on. The equaliser came just two minutes from time to make it two-two, both for the second game in a row, as Brighton slipped to second in the standings on goal difference.


END HOME SAT 19 DEC MIDDLESBROUGH LOSE 3-0

MID Fixture MID Two nil

The top two met in the lunchtime kick off at The Amex as leaders Middlesbrough were in town for another Live Sky Sports match. Football League Tonight led with highlights of this match and shared the Sky commentary from Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, as Channel 5 did with all televised Football League matches. ‘Boro got off to a flyer, taking the lead after four minutes through Kike. His strong header from Adomah’s cross was past Stockdale before he knew it.

On the stroke of half time it was two-nil. Grant Leadbitter’s corner was headed into the mixer by Daniel Ayala. Albert Adomah, standing just a couple of yards in front of the ‘keeper in a congested area, diverted the ball in past Stockdale’s despairing dive. The unbeaten run was under serious threat.

MID Full Time MID Virgo and Riley

Jamie Murphy had a couple of attempts in the second half to get Brighton back in it but is just wasn’t to be. With less than half an hour to play, Middlesbrough got their third courtesy of Christian Stuani. Starting with a corner on the far side, it fell to Kike in the area. His left footed curling effort was headed home by Stuani from just a couple of yards to complete a miserable afternoon for the Seagulls. Three-nil the final score, the unbeaten run ended after a record-breaking twenty-two matches. Aitor Karanka’s side secured the Championship Christmas number one.

In the studio, former Brighton defender Adam Virgo was looking to take the positives now that the run had ended. “I just think one or two performances this season, maybe around the seventeen, eighteen game mark where they were drawing, and I just thought the performances in the last twenty minutes was a little bit negative and they had this unbeaten record in the back of their mind.” He was critical of the Albion defending from crosses and set pieces which cost them the game but praised ‘Boro as a terrific side; “If you finish above Middlesbrough in the Championship, you’re going into the Premier League.”

MID Table


With Derby winning, the Middlesbrough result meant Brighton moved down to third in the table approaching the halfway point as the long unbeaten run came to a sticky end. But to go a whopping twenty-two games, and almost seven months of footballing action, without defeat was an incredible achievement. Even more so when you consider the dismal campaign the Albion had the previous year, stumbling over the safety line finishing twentieth in the League. Nobody had them down as promotion candidates. A summer of shrewd recruitment with a manager who knew how to get the best out of players and teams at this level were both vital components to this success.

Whilst the season didn’t go on to end as well as it had started, missing out on automatic promotion by goal difference alone before losing in the Play Offs once more, this set the marker for the following season. Keeping Brighton up last season was Chris Hughton’s primary objective. Getting them to become challengers for a place in the Premier League in his first full season in charge was perhaps too much too soon. He brought the good times back on the South Coast, and it all began here with the club record unbeaten run.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe opening months of Brighton’s 2013/14 campaign had mixed results. After spending much of the early stages around the middle of the table, a key victory over high-flying Leicester City at The Amex seemed to kick start Albion’s push up towards the coveted Play Off places. January saw Brighton make the top six for the first time in the season, albeit briefly. Consistency would be the key, converting losses to draws and draws to wins. Away from the pitch, the much-anticipated training ground neared completion. Just when things seemed to be coming together again, the transfer window robbed the squad of a number of key players as they were sold on to higher placed clubs. The season’s dramatic climax would go right down to the wire.

Here are some of the features and clips during the sole season under the reign of Oscar Garcia. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC, BT Sport and Sky Sports. This is part two, the first part is HERE.


Tour of new Training Ground in Lancing

SportsHub, BT Sport 1 (14th February 2014)

HUB Titles HUB Presenters

BT Sport launched on our televisions as the new rival to Sky on 1st August 2013. They wrestled Live Premier League rights away from ESPN and incorporated their FA Cup, Europa League and Rugby Premiership contracts to form a decent portfolio. To bulk up the daily schedules, BT had a plethora of magazine and news programmes coming Live from their Stratford home on the site of the London 2012 Olympic Broadcasting Centre during their first season on air. One of the regular shows was a daily news bulletin around 7pm weeknights, which began life simply as “BT Sport Live” before being rebranded as a more authoritatively named “SportsHub” after Christmas. The show was similar in remit to the “Sky Sports Centre” from the mid-1990s, the pre-cursor to Sky Sports News.

SportsHub aimed to bring us the day’s sporting news, supported with interviews and studio guests. The show uses a variety of hosts, from freelancers to their own talent, to front it. On this Friday 14th February edition, Helen Skelton and Chris Hollins were in the chair. Skelton rose to fame as the thirty-third presenter of flagship children’s show Blue Peter on the BBC for five years from 2008. Whilst there, she dabbled with primetime presenting on Countryfile and competing in the 2012 Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing. After leaving Blue Peter, she moved into sport with BT this season co-hosting coverage of the National League with Mark Clemmit as well as fronting their Women’s Super League matches.

Chris Hollins was also a familiar BBC name, having presented the sport on Breakfast for seven years from 2005. Joining BBC News in 1999, he reported at various major tournaments including the 2002 and 2010 World Cups and the Masters golf. His father, John, was He became a household name in 2009 winning Strictly and went on to front consumer shows Watchdog and Food Inspectors, and became a small part of BT’s output upon launch.

HUB Entrance HUB Perry

SportsHub went to visit the site of Brighton’s new training ground in Lancing, ahead of the Albion’s Live FA Cup appearance on BT against Hull the following Monday. The training ground wasn’t due to be completed until the summer so was still a work in progress, but the crux of the structure was in place. It promised to be a state-of-the-art world-class facility, with ‘Category One’ status – the highest that can be had – using the Elite Player Performance Plan mostly achieved by Premier League clubs. Around £32million was being invested by the club as they moved away from using the University to train in and had a base of their own.

First-team players Andrea Orlandi and Jake Forster-Caskey were shown around the site by Executive Director Martin Perry. All donning hi-vis jackets and hard hats, they made their way around the bricks and mortar to see just what the players would be getting, from first team all the way through the youth ranks and children’s levels. Martin Perry led the way for the Albion during the most difficult of times in the 1990s. He was part of the original consortium to buy the club in 1997 and became Chief Executive with the move to Withdean in 1999 – a position he held until 2012 when Paul Barber was appointed. Perry – along with former chairman Dick Knight – was at the forefront of all the public battles over planning permission for The Amex and did so again to bring this new training ground to fruition.

HUB Forster-Caskey HUB Orlandi

Jake Forster-Caskey rose up through the youth academy at the Seagulls, joining in 2007 at the age of fourteen. He gained a first team contract in April 2010 and immediately was named on the bench the following day. In the final match of that League One title winning campaign, he came on to make his debut. In doing so, he became the youngest Albion player ever. He featured with regularity during the 2013/14 campaign under Oscar Garcia having only made a handful of starts in previous years. He was always going to be a footballer as his father is former Reading midfielder Darren Caskey and is the stepson of ex-Albion striker Nicky Forster.

Andrea Orlandi joined the Seagulls from Swansea in August 2012. The winger spent five years in South Wales, signed by fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez, helping them to Premier League promotion. Orlandi began his career with Alaves of Spain but enjoyed more regular action with the Barcelona B team prior to his move to Britain. Orlandi compared this set up with the one he had at the Catalan giants; “Barcelona, when I was there, kind of built a new training ground and honestly it is similar to this one. I wouldn’t say that one is worse than the Barcelona one, which is incredible for Brighton.” After appearing regularly in his first season at the Albion, game time this campaign was much more limited.

HUB Corridor HUB Replica pitch

Martin Perry acted as tour guide for the two midfielders and us. He explained the Y shaped building, as seen upon entry, would split the facilities essentially into two halves; one half for the first team and the other half for the academy. Above left we see the trio standing in the corridor. Perry talked through the proposals; “You’ve got each age group working down the corridor.” The aim was to give a visual progression of literally working your way up the ages. Forster-Caskey pointed out the under-14 changing room where he would’ve started his journey had this been around then.

Perry pointed out the numerous surrounding pitches outdoors. One was specifically a soil-based pitch, whilst there was also space reserved for a synthetic pitch, a dreaded running hill and a specific surface for futsal. Orlandi was less than impressed by the running hill! The manager’s office had a wonderful windowed view overlooking a pitch that was an exact replica of the surface at The Amex, with the same dimensions and even undersoil heating (above right). This was all a million miles away from plodding around Hove Park and Waterhall.

HUB Building site HUB Studio

Most of the interior was still a way off completion so a lot was left to the imagination in terms of what Martin Perry was trying to have us visualise. For the players, luxuries such as a pool table, soft-seating areas and games consoles would all be included. Upstairs, a huge dining room and eating area was located opposite a gym, as they made their way around the builders working hard to ensure delivery on time and on budget. The whole place sounded incredible, especially given how far the club had come in a short space of time.

Back in the studio, guest Clarke Carlisle gave his take on the facilities. “If they can ally those facilities with a level of coaching you get at, say, the likes of Southampton, two or three players through the system and it’ll pay for itself.” The former Blackpool and Burnley centre half continued, “It will enable them to get the quality of player that’s usually monopolised by the Premier League clubs.” That being the Division Brighton were now aiming to be in, sooner rather than later.


2

Craig Mackail-Smith’s injury rehab

FL72 Preview, Sky Sports 1 (20th February 2014)

FL1 Titles FL1 Studio

Brighton featured on Sky Sports Thursday evening lookahead FL72 Preview on 20th February, as they went to the home of Craig Mackail-Smith as the striker was slowly on his way back and off the treatment table. Having missed almost a year through an injured achilles, there was finally some light in the darkness for the Seagulls one-time record signing.

Long-serving host, and ultimate professional, George Gavin was joined in the cafe setting of Sky Studios for this edition by the Portsmouth manager Richie Barker. The Sheffield-born striker spent eighteen months with the Albion in the late 1990s during the club’s spell ground sharing with Gillingham. More recently, as a manager he was up the road with Crawley Town before moving to Pompey.

FL1 CMS

Craig Mackail-Smith talked us through his spell on the sidelines and how important it was for him to return at the right time. “I don’t wanna come back and I’m struggling, and people start saying ‘Oh, he’s not the same as he was before the injury.’ I wanna come back and I wanna hit the ground and I wanna be flying.” The hardest part for him was the mental strain, not being able to play and do something he loved but seeing the rest of the squad doing so on a daily basis. “Now it’s getting closer and it’s weeks and weeks, I’m kind of getting more and more excited because I know it’s not too far away. But at the beginning it was like, flipping hell, this is gonna be a drag.”

Mackail-Smith earned much attention the season before joining the Albion, scoring an incredible thirty-five goals for Peterborough as they achieved promotion to the Championship via the Play Offs. In the first of his four seasons with the Posh, he helped the club move from League Two up to League One. Prior to joining, he spent three years at Dagenham in the Conference. He made seven international appearances for Scotland, scoring one goal in 2011.

FL1 Rehab FL1 Family

We were shown footage of some of the recovery he was going through to rehabilitate his injured ankle. A lot of fitness work, building up strength and small steps progressing as the weeks and months went by.

During his time on the sidelines, Mackail-Smith’s first child was born; daughter Isla. His wife Amber is the daughter of former Peterborough manager, chairman, owner and all-round character Barry Fry, who even assisted with the delivery of the baby! Mackail-Smith believed his daughter had helped him through the pain of being on the sidelines and something he focus on.

FL1 Training FL1 Barker

The thing strikers miss most is scoring goals. He recalled a nice story from a recent training session, where he was allowed to join in with the squad at The Amex. “I scored a goal against Casper [Ankergren] and all of them started cheering, making loads of noise and it was just such a great feeling.” Such a huge part of Mackail-Smith’s game, particularly for Brighton where he was often isolated up top, was about running here, there and everywhere. It was important that he could still bring this to the team despite such a long time out. He paid special tribute to his physio, Steve McAleer, and would be the first person he’d celebrate with upon his comeback. His focus now was to be back fit in time to elevate Brighton into those Play Off spots.

Back in the studio, guest Richie Barker could empathise with Craig’s situation. His own career was ended earlier than he’d have liked through a knee injury, and stressed the importance of making a full recovery, not returning too early but would be very welcome when fit. “They’ve done OK over the last couple of weeks but he’d be a timely boost, I’m sure, for everybody at Brighton to have him back for the last ten games or so.” The club sat four points off sixth place and with a game in hand.

FL1 Leeds win FL1 Fixtures

George Gavin and Richie Barker discussed Brighton’s prospects. They talked through the only goal of the game as Brighton defeated Leeds one-nil last time out in the League. A burst from the halfway line to the penalty box down the left flank from Kazenga LuaLua created the chance for Leonardo Ulloa. He took one touch to set it up before flicking the ball with the outside of his foot, whilst in mid-air, into the net past the Leeds goalkeeper.

Barker was positive about Albion’s Play Off chances when asked if he thought they could make it again. “I do, yeah, just because I think The Amex is such a tough place to go and the way that they play with the possession that I can’t see many teams coming away with anything.” Crucial games were upcoming, with fellow hopefuls Wigan up next followed by key clashes with Reading and QPR to follow.


3

Brighton 1-2 Wigan Report

The Football League Show, BBC One (22nd February 2014); Championship

WIGH Titles WIGH Clemmit

The Football League Show brought highlights and round ups of all the action from the three Divisions on Saturday 22nd February. Presented by the usual pairing of Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge, the show had extended highlights of Charlton against Queens Park Rangers as well as the Sky Live lunchtime clash between Middlesbrough and Leeds. But our focus was on The Amex as the race for the Play Off places intensified. Roving reporter Mark Clemmit watched on as Brighton hosted Wigan.

WIGH Clem WIGH Garcia

Clemmit introduced his report in the North Stand by recapping on the end of Albion’s last season, and that dreadful defeat to Crystal Palace. “Last season’s Play Off’s ended messily for Brighton, in more ways than one!” he joked. Before bringing us up to date with the current situation, managed by former Barcelona midfielder Oscar Garcia who, Clem explained, “lists Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Sir Bobby Robson and Johan Cruyff amongst his mentors”.

Clemmit caught up with the coach in the dressing room warm up area. He asked him about the so-called ‘Barcelona way’ of playing and if it remains with you throughout your career. “Yeah”, Garcia replied, “I grow with this philosophy, I grow as a person as well and, yes, it’s in my blood.” Fellow Spaniard Inigo Calderon said of his coach, “When you have a lot of managers you just take the best things of everyone. That’s the way you have to improve, we are lucky with that.”

WIGH Barber WIGH Reporter

Chief Executive Paul Barber explained the reasons for appointing Garcia to the Albion from Israel side Maccabi Tel Aviv. “The style of play was the most important factor and I think our fans have become accustomed to a style of play. We had the players to play our sort of way, pass and move, attacking football. Oscar plays that style.” The final word went back to Garcia himself, before we saw action from the clash with Wigan. He said, “What I want is to keep going, to keep improving, to keep being better every day and this is our philosophy.”

As with all Mark Clemmit reports on The Football League Show, he focussed on the before and after of a match whilst one of the voiceover reports described the match clips. Today it fell to Tom Skippings, a veteran of the art of football narration. He was a mainstay of ITV’s Football League Extra and The Championship during the 2000s as well as doing the same for Sky Sports in the late 1990s. As a freelance, he added his talents to the BBC’s version in the 2010s to maintain a long working relationship with England’s lower Leagues.

WIGH McArthur goal WIGH McCann goal

This was a busy period for the Seagulls, with an FA Cup Replay scheduled for Monday night against Hull Live on ITV4 following the previous Monday’s one-all draw. With games coming thick and fast, tiredness crept in and Wigan were gifted their opening goal. Matthew Upson’s attempt at a pass on the centre spot was charged down by James McArthur who then ran all the way to the edge of the penalty area. Still with much to do, he curled a left footed shot round Upson, past Tomasz Kuszczak and into the bottom corner of the net for one-nil.

Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens signed from Charlton in the January transfer window after an impressive spell with the Addicks. He went close twice in this match, first with a header just wide whilst the game was goalless, and second with a shot that crashed down off the crossbar. Into the second half, those misses proved crucial as Wigan doubled their lead through Chris McCann. He headed in from a corner on the far side after winning the tussle with David Lopez.

WIGH Ulloa goal WIGH Studio

With twelve minutes remaining, Leonardo Ulloa scored his fourth goal in four matches to halve the deficit. Matthew Upson headed down an Andrea Orlandi corner, it ricocheted off a Wigan body into the path of the Argentine finisher to strike from six yards out, hitting through the bodies on the line. It wasn’t enough to rescue a point, even with a late long-range effort from Rohan Ince going close. Wigan took maximum points and an advantage into the hunt for a top six position.

Afterwards, Garcia spoke with Clemmit to explain how undeserving his side were not to get anything from that performance. “We played, in the first half, their best game of the season. We had more than twenty chances to score and we only took one.” Wigan boss Uwe Rosler called the Albion “a fantastic footballing side” with a good squad, delighted to come away with a victory.

Pundit Steve Claridge in the studio gave his thoughts on Oscar Garcia’s season so far. “He’s got a wonderful squad, they have lost one or two important players, but when you take over a football club, normally it’s under circumstances where the manager hasn’t done very well and he’s had to move on.” He then questioned what Brighton’s ambitions were; having made the Play Offs last season would it be a failure if they weren’t to do the same this year? He summed up by saying, “I think he’s done OK; I still think there’s a little room for improvement.”


4

Brighton 1-1 Reading Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (8th March 2014); Championship

READ Titles READ Studio

After the Wigan defeat, Brighton lost to Hull in the FA Cup Fifth Round Replay, leaving the Seagulls free to concentrate fully on the League campaign as we entered the final third. A David Lopez penalty was the decider in a close fought tie at Millwall last time out, keeping Albion in eighth place on the fringes of the top six. Next up they hosted a Reading side also hoping to extend their season beyond the regular forty-six League matches.

The Football League Show afforded the clash extended highlights, presented by Manish Bhasin with Steve Claridge. Seventh placed Reading had a disappointing draw with struggling Yeovil, who finished with eight men, last week and had lost their last two at home. They were hoping life on the road would continue to bring more joy. After a televised goalless draw at the Madejski back in September in the League, the Albion knocked out Reading at The Amex in the FA Cup Third Round back in January thanks to an Andrew Crofts winner. Another similar result would be even better today.

READ Teams.JPG

Brighton changed two of the line-up that defeated Millwall. Rohan Ince and Jake Forster-Caskey came into the midfield, replacing Dale Stephens and Andrea Orlandi. Exciting attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard joined on loan from Manchester United at the end of February until the end of the season. The twenty-one-year-old made his Albion debut at Millwall and previously had a loan spell with Birmingham in this Division, where he hit four goals in his first match. Brighton were the lowest scorers amongst any of the top eighteen in the Championship, Leonardo Ulloa’s nine League goals were carrying a lot of the weight following Ashley Barnes departure to Burnley in January. He remained the second top scorer with five.

For Nigel Adkins’ Reading, four changes were made from the Yeovil performance. They had to rely on a John Lundstram own goal to cancel out Shane Duffy’s opener that day. Royston Drenthe made his first start of 2014. The Dutch winger spent four years at Real Madrid before a season-long loan deal saw him move to Everton. Captain Danny Guthrie spent time in the youth ranks of both Liverpool and Manchester United. Striker Adam Le Fondre was leading the club’s goalscoring charts, just as he had done for each of the previous two seasons in Berkshire. He was partnered up top by Welshman Hal Robson-Kanu. The referee was Fred Graham.

READ Comm READ Own Goal

Commentary was provided by Paul Walker. He had done voiceover reporting for The Football League Show in previous seasons but was now getting a run out as a commentator. He was a more familiar voice to listeners of local BBC radio in Sheffield, hosting their Saturday sports programme and phone-in show, as well as covering a variety of events right across the station.

Brighton began well, knocking the ball around with confidence and style. A nicely worked move caused confusion in the Royals backline and Chris Gunter nodded into his own net to give Albion the lead just after the quarter-hour mark. Ulloa, Lingard and Keith Andrews formed a neat triangle of passing before finding David Lopez. His ball over the top aimed to match Lingard’s run. As Alex McCarthy recklessly abandoned his goal line to claim the cross, an unaware Gunter tried to calmly head back to his goalkeeper. But with the net empty, he only succeeded in nodding the ball home.

READ Greer red card READ Drenthe goal

Six minutes into the second half, Brighton were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of captain Gordon Greer. He was shown receiving a yellow card for pulling down Adam Le Fondre in the first half action and received a second caution for a late challenge on the same man despite the protestations from the men in stripes. It seemed a rather petty yellow card to award from the referee for just a block.

Reading punished Brighton with their man advantage, as Royston Drenthe cut inside from the right of the area to equalise. He took a touch to move the ball onto his left foot before unleashing a fierce drive low to Tomasz Kuszczak’s left, catching the ‘keeper cold and squeezing the ball into the corner of the net inside the near post. It was the power in the shot that defeated him more than anything, and Reading were level just after the hour point. He made a point of running straight to the touchline where former Albion player, coach and manager Dean Wilkins stood. Wilkins had fallen out somewhat with the club since his surprise dismissal back in 2008. He went on to link up with Nigel Adkins first at Southampton before again with the Royals.

READ Corner Post READ Full Time

Chances fell to both sides to win it in the closing stages. Nick Blackman had an effort comfortably kept out by Kuszczak whilst the Albion had a rare venture forward when substitute Will Buckley was put through by Leonardo Ulloa. Buckley’s left footed shot just inside the box was dragged a foot or so wide of the far post. The best opportunity, though, was from Reading’s Jobi McAnuff after just coming on. He latched onto the ball before Bruno could attempt a backpass, racing clear on goal. Kuszczak stood tall and firm to deny him brilliantly. A bizarre moment at the other end saw another sub, Solly March, hit the post direct from his corner, almost catching McCarthy unawares. But it wasn’t to be and it ended all square.

In his post-match interview, Oscar Garcia spoke of the character of his players to hold out despite the dismissal of the skipper. “I’m very proud of all my players and the performance. Even though we had ten men, we created some good chances and we could have won.” A frustrated Nigel Adkins thought his side should have come away with all three points.

Steve Claridge told Manish Bhasin in the studio how the red card altered the game completely. “They [Reading] needed something like that to happen in this game and when it did, it changed the whole complexion because it was almost like a free-for-all but for both sides cos there were plenty of chances after that.” The draw kept both teams just outside the Play Offs but still in with a big shout come the final reckonings.


5

Push for the Play Offs

FL72 Preview, Sky Sports 1 (24th April 2014)

FL2 Titles FL2 Studio

Sky Sports looked ahead to the penultimate weekend of action across the Sky Bet Football League with magazine show FL72 Preview on Thursday 24th April, presented from the cafe in Sky Studios by main Live presenter Simon Thomas alongside Charlton midfielder Andy Hughes. The Sky Sports cameras were travelling down to The Amex to broadcast the following evening’s match between Albion and Yeovil Live. Ahead of that, reporter David Craig caught up with Oscar Garcia as his side sat seventh in the table and a point behind Reading in the final Play Off spot. They’d have to overtake the Royals across the final two matches to make the end of season showdown for a second successive season.

Brighton came unstuck in March, suffering three successive defeats to Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough. But since then they picked up form and started winning again to put them within touching distance of the Play Offs. Whilst it was still just out of their hands at this late stage, they’d be buoyed by excellent wins over Charlton and a four-win demolition of Champions Leicester on their own patch. Two more wins and they might be having to push back those summer holidays.

FL2 Garcia

Garcia set his mind firmly on securing a Play Off spot, he knew how much promotion would mean to the Albion. “You are playing and you are fighting for something special because this club hasn’t been in the Premier League and it will be a big achievement for us.” He wasn’t concerning himself about other teams and results, he knew he needed to do his job first and foremost and that was to win the remaining matches. Touching on the match against Yeovil in which the Glovers could be relegated, Garcia knew there were no easy games in the Division. “With the teams at the bottom, it’s hard to play well, to play comfortably. We always want to win; we are always positive with our substitutions.”

The Spaniard emphasised the dependency, if somewhat over-reliance, on Argentine front man Leonardo Ulloa. “When he scores, normally we win the game. Then it’s so important when he is fit and he can score goals.” The goalscoring struggles would be eased somewhat with the return to first team action of Craig Mackail-Smith now. “We wanted to have him back before, but it wasn’t possible.”

The old adage of experience being pivotal in high pressure games was not something Garcia wanted to focus on, with Albion only appearing in the Play Offs at this level once in the previous twenty years. Instead, he hoped the Seagulls desire would make the difference. Personally speaking, Garcia featured in a lot of big games as a player and could bring other experiences to the situation. “What I learned from my best coaches is this; that you have to be calm because you reached this stage because you were calm and you know how to play.”

FL2 Blackpool FL2 Ulloa

In the cafe, Simon Thomas and Andy Hughes discussed Garcia as well as Brighton’s form of late. The one-all draw with Blackpool on Easter Monday was a disappointing result given the two teams were at opposite ends of the table but it’s about picking up these points and not losing too much ground. Dale Stephens scored Brighton’s goal with a terrific strike from twenty-five yards out into the top corner of the net. An equally terrific equaliser was hit from outside the box former Seagull Stephen Dobbie.

They finished by turning their attention to two key men in the hunt for goals; Craig Mackail-Smith and Leonardo Ulloa. Hughes gave particular praise to the latter, putting him in the same bracket as the Championships leading marksmen Jamie Vardy, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes. Hughes pointed out that whilst the other names had been doing so in partnerships for promoted clubs, Ulloa tended to have to work on his own. “He’s pivotal, they play the ball into him, he holds the ball up, he gave the run-around to us the other week… He was the most impressive player on the pitch, for me.”


The season ended with two victories out of two as Brighton leapfrogged Reading into the final Play Off place. The last-gasp victory at Nottingham Forest, with Leonardo Ulloa’s headed goal in the final moments, provided Albion fans with one of their greatest away days in a decade. The journey of getting into the top six was, sadly, far greater than being in those Play Offs. An aggregate defeat to Derby by six goals to two showed the gulf in class, and the following day Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation as he felt he couldn’t do much more with what was available. But the job he did in somewhat difficult circumstances – taking over from a terrific job done by the previous manager, fans expectations on the up, yet key players sold off in January – Garcia’s reign has to be remembered as being a success. He was responsible for some great days which I’ll always look back fondly at. Brighton needed to rebuild over the following season if they were to mount a serious bid for top flight promotion.

This is the second part looking back at Season 2013/2014. The first part is available HERE.

 

Small Screen Seagulls; Leicester (H) 07/12/2013

Small Screen Seagulls LogoPicking up the pieces after the fallout from the Play Off defeat and departure of manager Gus Poyet, the 2013/2014 campaign had a mixed start for the Seagulls under new head coach Oscar Garcia. Approaching the half way point of the season, Albion spent most of that first period hovering in mid-table. More draws than wins were costing the club in the race to make the top six for the second successive season. Just when form looked to be improving, the Championship would throw a surprise result curve ball. In the first week of December, table-topping Leicester City were next to visit The Amex. The BBC highlights show went on the road to present from Falmer with extended coverage of this memorable match.


Brighton 3-1 Leicester, Championship; 3pm, Sat 7th Dec ’13

The Albion didn’t get off to the best of starts in the League under new coach Oscar Garcia. The former Barcelona midfielder lost his opening two Championship matches – away at Leeds and home to Derby – despite an encouraging 100% record in pre-season. The season properly launched with back-to-back victories over Birmingham and Burnley before three successive draws cemented a mid-table spot early on.

Form dropped off in October with a complete lack of victories. A point was rescued with just a minute to play at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The following Saturday saw a disappointing blow dealt by Nottingham Forest as they came from behind to take all three points at The Amex. Draws at Yeovil and home to Watford closed a famished month which saw Brighton slip out of the top half.

A terrific November came next, with important wins at Doncaster and Blackburn, plus a crucial victory at fellow promotion hopefuls Wigan, saw the club begin to climb again. A one-all draw at fellow South Coast club Bournemouth Live on Sky Sports saw another point added to the tally. Just when things were going well, struggling Barnsley claimed a shock midweek victory in Falmer as Paddy McCourt helped the Tykes to all three points. Brighton went into this clash with Leicester in eleventh place.

The Foxes, by contrast, were enjoying a sensational season. Five wins from the opening seven matches saw them hit top spot in mid-September under Nigel Pearson’s leadership. Two losses and a draw from their next nine saw them bounce around the top three in subsequent weeks. A convincing three-nil win over Millwall sent Leicester back on top but, like the Albion, went into this clash with a surprising midweek defeat, losing two-one at Hillsborough. It was all set up for an entertaining match at The Amex. Sky Sports highlights come later, but first; the BBC’s Football League Show made the trip to Sussex for a rare opportunity to host the programme on location.

1

The Football League Show, BBC One, 11.50pm (Saturday 7th December 2013)

FLSL Titles

FLSL Ident FLSL Introduction

Clubs from Leagues One and Two had FA Cup duties to fulfil on the weekend of the 7th December, leaving the Championship to take centre stage. As a result, the BBC decided to present their highlights programme on location from Saturday’s biggest match. Thankfully for the Albion, this meant the spotlight on The Amex as the League leader Leicester paid a visit.

With just one of the three Divisions in action, the programme ran for a reduced forty-minute duration beginning just before midnight and following on from Match of the Day. The BBC were in festive mode, with special Christmas idents used throughout December across their output. After the ident, the show’s titles kicked in with classic Football League clips and memories soundtracked by Snow Patrol’s In the End.

FLSL Bhasin FLSL Comm

As usual, Manish Bhasin hosted the programme. Since The Football League Show launched in 2009, Bhasin rarely missed an episode. But even rarer was to present it from a Football League ground so The Amex was granted special treatment. The previous highlights incarnation, ITV’s The Championship, always presented from the stadium and today’s edition felt very much a throwback to that era. So much so that the BBC went without a pundit as Bhasin just linked things together on his own from various points around the ground.

In fact, Bhasin even kicked it off at one of Brighton’s most iconic landmarks, in front of the Palace Pier on the Seafront. He also walked past the Brighton Wheel. Similar in principle to the London Eye, Brighton’s version opened in October 2011 costing £6million to transport it from South Africa where it was used during the 2010 World Cup. After outlining what was to come during this edition of the popular highlights show, Bhasin handed to match commentator Laurence Herdman, who was incorrectly captioned as ‘Lawrence’.

Herdman began his broadcasting life relatively later than most, having had a career in the Royal Navy for seventeen years and served in the Gulf War. He joined BBC Radio Solent in 2002, specialising in football and sailing commentary. Herdman made his BBC Match of the Day commentary debut in November 2011 and followed it up with appearances on The Football League Show. He added television reporting to his repertoire early in 2012, covering news and sport for BBC South Today. He was also heard on ITV covering the FA Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.

FLSL Brighton

Oscar Garcia was having to make do without talisman Leonardo Ulloa. The Argentine striker missed large chunks of the campaign firstly through a red card against Reading Live on Sky in September, then injury forced him out since early October. Ashley Barnes’ four goals in all competitions helped counter the issue. Adding his name to the sidelines, first choice goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak got injured in the warm up, elevating Peter Brezovan to a starting spot for the first time this campaign. Youngster Christian Walton also was promoted to the bench.

Gordon Greer marshalled the back line, captaining the Albion for another year. He was partnered by vastly experienced former England centre half Matt Upson. The defender was on loan from Stoke for the second half of the last season before joining permanently in the summer on a one-year deal. Following Wolves relegation to the third tier, confirmed at The Amex in May, left-back Stephen Ward moved to Sussex on a season-long loan. Protecting the defence was Liam Bridcutt, winner of the Albion Player of the Season for each of the previous two years.

David Lopez was part of the Athletic Bilbao side that finished runner-up in the 2012 UEFA Europa League before moving to England later that year. Rohan Ince was initially signed for the development squad in February before Garcia promoted him to the first team at the start of this season. Andrew Crofts added goals to his game, netting the winner at Wigan a fortnight ago. Scottish winger Craig Conway joined on a three-month loan from Cardiff back in September. The last goal he scored secured the draw Cardiff needed to secure the Championship title on their way to Premier League promotion. A striking option on the bench sat Leroy Lita, leaving Swansea for a short-term loan in mid-October.

FLSL Leicester

Nigel Pearson’s starting line-up featured a man with big connections to the Albion. Midfielder Dean Hammond left Brighton for Colchester in 2008 after a decade with his home club man and boy. The following season he joined Southampton where he got his career back on track, overturned a financial points deduction, became captain and won back-to-back promotions from League One all the way up to the Premier League. After struggling to nail down a place in the top flight last year, he rejoined the Seagulls on loan for the campaign and made a permanent switch to Leicester this August.

Elsewhere, star names included Peter’s son and Danish international goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. Experienced centre back and former Nottingham Forest man Wes Morgan skippered the side. Impressive young midfielder Danny Drinkwater was a youth product at Manchester United before joining the East Midlanders in 2012. Winger Lloyd Dyer joined from Milton Keynes in 2008 and was signed by Pearson during his first spell in charge.

Striker Jamie Vardy spent the best part of a decade in non-League with Stocksbridge then Halifax Town before firing Fleetwood to the Conference title in 2012. That earned him a £1million transfer to Leicester, a record fee for a player outside the top four Divisions in this country. Chris Wood played more than thirty games for the Albion on loan in the League One title winning side, scoring nine goals. He took his place on the bench today alongside French winger Anthony Knockaert. In front of the highest Football League attendance of the weekend, referee Bobby Madley took charge at The Amex.

FLSL Barnes 1st FLSL Conway goal

The eight-minute highlights edit began with stand-in ‘keeper Brezovan forced into making a good, low save from Danny Drinkwater’s effort. The midfielder marauded through a couple of Albion defenders before getting his shot off from the edge of the box. But it was the home side who took the lead thanks to a terrific through ball from David Lopez for Ashley Barnes to finish. The midfielder, affectionately known as ‘Spanish Dave’, drove forward twenty yards to the edge of the box. His assist was inch-perfect to the back post where Barnes evaded his marker to tap home from close range. But it was all about that pass which cut out three Leicester defenders and the goalkeeper to give the Albion a ninth-minute lead.

Brighton were stroking the ball around with confidence. They were rewarded with a second goal just before the half hour mark when, again, David Lopez was central to all things good for the Seagulls. The Spaniard picked up the ball mid-way inside his own half and pushed forward with purpose. He delayed the pass over the top until the right moment. Craig Conway’s run was timed brilliantly, his pace and determination getting the better of the back four. The pass landed on Conway’s chest, who controlled outstandingly to drop it down to his feet, wait for it to settle and bury past Schmeichel into the bottom corner of the net for his first Albion goal. It was one of the best counter-attacking goals seen at The Amex, magic from start to finish, only needing a couple of touches in the process. The Seagulls were flying high against the leaders.

FLSL King goal FLSL Leicester go close

Into the second half, Leicester had to make a change if they were to force their way back into the contest. Anthony Knockaert replaced Dean Hammond to provide more flair and attack. Later, they added former Brighton loanee Chris Wood, along with Gary Taylor-Fletcher, to the mix. The extra threat up top seemed to work as, with twenty-six minutes to go, Leicester pulled a goal back through Andy King. Knockaert floated in a free kick from the far side which missed the large group of bodies in the centre. But unmarked at the back post was King who executed a lovely diving header to power the ball past Brezovan from close range. The delivery was good, but the marking was dreadful. Game on again at two-one Brighton.

The Foxes tails were up and pushing for an equaliser. Knockaert again was causing problems. His cross into the box from the right this time found its way to Taylor-Fletcher. Not learning from previous mistakes, he too was left unmarked. His header was just too high, with Brezovan needing to palm it behind above the crossbar just to make sure. Soon after, when Liam Bridcutt was dispossessed in his own half, Paul Konchesky bundled his way forward. His blocked shot squirmed out to Taylor-Fletcher in the area. Brighton bodies stood firm not once but twice. The ricochet found King but his instinctive shot wasn’t powerful enough, allowing Brighton’s Slovakian goalie to maintain concentration and gather the ball into grateful arms.

FLSL Penalty incident FLSL Barnes penalty

As commentator Laurence Herdman pointed out, “the more Leicester City commit players forward, the more open spaces there will be at the back”. Right on cue, Brighton broke forward down the right with Conway. His ball was centred towards Ashley Barnes but as he leaped, Leicester centre back and captain Wes Morgan clattered into him to send Barnes sprawling. Referee Bobby Madley pointed to the spot and Brighton had a chance to restore the two-goal advantage, perhaps somewhat innocuously, with thirteen to play.

The visiting ‘keeper tried to convince Barnes he was aware of where the spot kick was going, repeatedly nodding his head and shouting “I know, I know”. But Kasper Schmeichel didn’t know, and Barnes converted the penalty for his second goal of the game. He smashed it down the middle, just past the Danish stopper who dived to his right. Schmeichel close but not close enough and Barnes could repay the taunting by pointing to the name on the back of his shirt right in front of the beaten player.

FLSL Full Time

FLSL Garcia FLSL Pearson

The full-time whistle blew to signify a huge win for Brighton and Hove Albion, probably the biggest in Oscar Garcia’s short time at the club to date. Manish Bhasin spoke with the Spanish manager pitchside after the result. A positive Garcia said, “I think the first half was our best performance, for sure, here at home… We needed a reaction and we did it. The performance of the players was really good.”

Losing boss Nigel Pearson drew comparisons with his side’s disappointing defeat to Sheffield Wednesday four days earlier, in his interview with Bhasin. “We’ve had two particularly poor first halves, we’ve conceded some cheap goals and given ourselves an awful lot to do.” He was more pleased with how the second half went at The Amex though credited the Albion as “a decent side”.

FLSL Presenting 1 FLSL Reporter

The rest of the programme was devoted to rounding up all the Championship action. Manish Bhasin hung around to link the action together, presenting from various points around The Amex stadium. The first of the voiceover wraps began with Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers hosting Blackburn, as the programme worked its way down the League from top to bottom.

FLSL Presenting 2 FLSL Round Ups

Voiceover reporters Chris Maughan, Jonathan Legard and Tony Lockwood put the carefully crafted words to the pictures. A second Championship game was afforded a full highlights edit with commentary; the day’s eventful lunchtime match Live on Sky Sports as Blackpool hosted Derby. Dan O’Hagan voiced the best of that one on a miserable afternoon for ‘Pool gaffer Paul Ince. The round-ups then continued, wrapping up the rest of the games starting with Huddersfield’s trip to Portman Road featuring a bearded Mick McCarthy.

FLSL Table top FLSL Table bottom

The final few minutes were devoted to showing the goals from the only two matches played in the bottom two Divisions with the teams knocked out of the First Round of the Cup taking the stage. Eighteen-year-old Jack Grealish’s goal inspired Notts County to victory over Gillingham in League One, whilst in League Two a late goal for Cheltenham saw off Morecambe.

A look at the League table showed the importance of Brighton’s three-one scoreline for both teams. Leicester slipped from first to third as Sean Dyche’s Burnley marched to the summit. Brighton were now within three points and four places of the top six. At the bottom, it was already looking bleak for Yorkshire as Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday occupied the final two positions and Doncaster looking over their shoulders in twentieth. Orient and Wolves led the way in League One. And in League Two, Torquay’s Football League status looked insecure, rooted to the foot of the entire structure. After a quick look around the messy state of the home dressing room at The Amex, Manish Bhasin signed off on a memorable day for those in blue and white.


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FL72 Review, Sky Sports 1, 6pm (Monday 9th December 2013)

FL72 Titles FL72 Studio

As the exclusive Live broadcaster partner for the Football League, Sky Sports made use of those rights by having regular magazine programmes throughout the season. This campaign, they broadcast from the cafe in Sky Studios for the Thursday preview and Monday review shows, going under the FL72 banner. The cafe setting gave the programming a more informal feel, with Sky staff wondering around in the background getting fancy coffees and light snacks.

The shows used the same graphics and titles as the Live coverage, with the red and white astons. The theme tune remained Candi Staton’s You Got The Love. Long-serving presenter George Gavin regularly hosted the magazine shows, with his opportunities for Live games decreasing as the seasons went on. He was joined for this Monday evening edition by Sky’s number one Football League pundit, Peter Beagrie. They reviewed the weekend’s Championship action, as well as the two games from the other Divisions. Like the BBC, Sky did not hold FA Cup rights so more was made of this League to fill time over the weekend.

FL72 Comm FL72 Final Score

With only around a third of the usual amount of games to review this week, Sky put together a couple of extra highlight edits with commentary than the show usually would fit into its one-hour duration. Normally only commentary was reserved for recapping Sky’s Live matches over the course of a weekend but exceptions were made here. The highlights edit was largely similar to the BBC’s one, albeit slightly more condensed. They showed all four goals as well as a couple of other key chances over the space of five minutes.

Mark Tompkins was the man behind the mic calling the action from Brighton versus Leicester. Tompkins was a familiar voice at this level, voicing reports for various highlights shows on Sky, ITV Sport Channel and BBC over the previous fifteen years or so. His commentary work was largely for the various world feeds and host broadcasters, particularly for FIFA and UEFA at tournaments – both major and minor.

FL72 Analysis FL72 Attendances

Back in the studio, George Gavin and Peter Beagrie dissected the game. Gavin in particular was full of praise for the David Lopez assist to open Austrian international Ashley Barnes’ account for the day; “Brilliant pass… I love the pass more than the goal!” Beagrie also singled out Albion midfielder Andrew Crofts as being pivotal in the centre. “He’s had a brilliant season. He’s added goals to his game but he’s also combative, he’s got a great range of passing.”

The studio team also mentioned the League attendances, with Brighton coming out on top as the best supported team in the Championship based on average number of fans buying tickets. Since moving from Withdean to The Amex, Albion’s attendances have gone through the roof. That was expected at the beginning, but stadium expansions happened within the first season as the demand for tickets quickly outgrew the capacity. Performances like this against top teams like Leicester would only increase the expectation and bring in even more people through those electronic barriers. Things were looking rosy for the Seagulls.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 1

Small Screen Seagulls LogoOscar Garcia was the surprising candidate who emerged to become the new Brighton and Hove Albion head coach following the dismissal of Gus Poyet after almost four years at the helm. Poyet’s tenure ended with defeat in the Play Offs, whilst Garcia’s task was to steady the ship and aim again for a top six berth. Using largely the same squad as the season before, the Seagulls had to regroup quickly. The style of play, emphasising quick passing and an attractive watch, remained in place during this transition. With The Amex regularly topping the attendance charts in the Championship, Brighton had a solid foundation on which to build from if League form could be a bit more consistent.

Here are some of the features and clips during the sole season under the reign of Oscar Garcia. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC and Sky Sports. This is part one, the second part is HERE.


Craig Mackail-Smith’s suit fitting featured on ’92 Live’

92 Live, Sky Sports News (1st August 2013)

92LIVE Titles 92LIVE Jim White

To celebrate the upcoming start of the new season, and in a television first, Sky Sports News embarked on an ambitious task of reporting Live from each and every one of the ninety-two League clubs in English football on Thursday 1st August 2013. Kicking off at seven in the morning and running throughout the day, a team of nineteen roving reporters were deployed across the country to deliver reports, interviews and updates from each team to give a glimpse into the preparations ahead of a new campaign. And it was in no way a gimmick to scupper the launch day of new rival broadcaster BT Sport, who came on air at 6pm on the same day.

More than one-hundred-and-twenty people Sky employees were utilised, from presenters, reporters, producers and outside broadcast engineers, to bring the magic of Live television to our screens. Leading the charge was host Jim White. Having presented sport for STV in the 1980s and 90s, he moved to Sky in 1998 to launch their exclusive Live coverage of the newly rebranded Scottish Premier League, as well as Scottish internationals and Cup football. When SPL rights were lost, White became a key part of the Sky Sports News presenting line-up and went on to make their coverage of Transfer Deadline Day his own during the latter part of the Noughties.

92LIVE Presenters 92LIVE Split Screen

Jim White was provided with his own helicopter for the day to allow him to fly between certain venues. He began the 92 Live coverage at 7am from the roof of Sky Studios, setting the scene for what was to come throughout the day and making a big deal of the chopper sat just behind Sky’s Osterley headquarters. He explained it would be making its way to Arsenal to see the groundsman, then on to Premier League newcomers Cardiff as well as opening Swansea’s new supporters club before concluding at the home of the Champions, Manchester United.

In the studio, presenters Mike Wedderburn and Hayley McQueen chaired the first few hours of the day. They introduced the usual news updates and reports as well as linked to various locations around the country for the Live features. Wedderburn joined Sky in 1998 for the launch of the new round-the-clock News channel and was most often found hosting the breakfast show Good Morning Sports Fans from six until ten. A former fast bowler for Hampshire, Wedderburn also presented cricket highlights and occasional matches for Sky including the World Cup.

Hayley McQueen joined Sky Sports News for a year in 2005 from Middlesbrough’s in-house online channel Boro TV. Next, Manchester United’s MUTV channel came calling where she hosted match day coverage, news bulletins and a phone-in show. Daughter of former United defender Gordon McQueen, Hayley returned to Sky Sports News in August 2010 when the channel relaunched to begin broadcasting in High Definition and is one of its most popular anchors.

92LIVE Jamie Weir 92LIVE Mackail-Smith

Albion fans didn’t have to wait too long for our moment in the spotlight during 92 Live. Just before twenty past eight in the morning, Sky Sports News crossed Live to reporter Jamie Weir at The Amex as they made their tenth visit to a club. Northern Irishman Weir was a reporter previously on Setanta Sports News, the rival broadcaster to Sky for the near eighteen months that channel was on air for between 2007 and 2009. He then switched to Sky Sports News to become a reporter as well as occasional stints presenting and reporting on sport for Sky News.

Weir was joined by Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith for the segment. Mackail-Smith was interviewed whilst getting his new club suit fitted for the upcoming season, with views of The Amex stadium in the sunshine visible through the windows. He had been out injured for almost five months, with rehab ongoing, and sported a new look with short hair. He explained, “I cut them off for charity. Once I got injured I needed a change, a fresh start, so they went but I’m slightly missing them now!”

92LIVE Suit Fitting 92LIVE Suit switch

Mackail-Smith spoke positively about the season ahead despite having to change coach. “We’ve still got a good squad, the new manager’s come in and he’s implemented his own way so we’re looking forward to pushing on and hopefully going one better.” Reporter Jamie Weir also had a brief word with the tailors fitting the suit to talk through the process. Weir tried a jacket on himself before the price tag was revealed at a steep £249. Bargain. With that, it was back to the studio to continue the tour around the country.


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Brighton 1-1 Millwall goals

The Football League Show, BBC One (31st August 2013); Championship

MIL Intro MIL Comm

The BBC’s Football League Show returned for its fifth season on BBC One, the second year of a new broadcasting deal. On 31st August edition, a very brief goals edit on the Brighton versus Millwall match featured commentary from Nigel Adderley, more familiar to BBC radio listeners but also deployed across the Football League output. His surname was incorrectly captioned as Adderly by the graphics department.

Millwall were in their fourth successive season at this level but had declined in the standings each time. They were tipped for more misery this year under the guidance of new manager Steve Lomas. The Albion hadn’t enjoyed huge amounts of joy thus far in the Championship, losing the opening two games of Garcia’s spell. They were back on track with wins at Birmingham thanks to Andrew Crofts second half winner. This was followed up by a terrific home display to beat Burnley by two goals to nil, Crofts again on the scoresheet and a third of the campaign from Leonardo Ulloa securing the points last time out.

MIL First goal MIL Red card

In fact, this goals edit was so brief it only lasted two minutes and was just as comprehensive as a regular voiceover report. Nevertheless, they persisted with the commentary and the clip began with action from six minutes into the second half. Millwall played the ball around from the halfway line nicely in what commentator Adderley described as “a rare break forward” by the Lions. Scott McDonald laid the ball off to Richard Chaplow on the edge of the box. He played in Martyn Woolford, who was free on the left of the area, to calmly slot the ball into the far corner of Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal to give the visitors the lead.

Millwall’s Irish right-back Alan Dunne was shown receiving a caution for perceived timewasting whilst taking a throw-in. Anybody who’s ever watched football highlights shows before knows that can only mean one, ominous thing. Sure enough, a little later on he was shown picking up a second yellow card, and therefore a red, when he upended Andrea Orlandi just outside the penalty area. Referee Bobby Madley had no hesitation in brandishing the card and Millwall’s lead was made even more difficult to cling on to.

MIL Equaliser MIL Full Time

Just before the dismissal, we saw Leonardo Ulloa have a goal ruled out. He connected with his head to guide Orlandi’s whipped free kick into the back of the net, but the referee was again in the thick of things, ruling it out for a push by the Argentinian. The game ticked on and the Albion side were desperately searching for an equaliser. They were made to wait until a minute from time when Ulloa did now get his leveller.

Some quick footwork on the far side from Kazenga LuaLua drove the winger to the byline. He flashed a dangerous ball right across the face of goal where there were a total of eight players inside the six-yard box. Waiting just outside, unmarked at the opposite post, was Ulloa. The ball ran straight into his path to hit home at last. The Seagulls almost won it at the death when Will Buckley’s deflected touch was hooked off the line by Shane Lowry as it finished one-one. Commentator Adderley’s closing line summed up the home frustration; “Somehow, Millwall hold on!” Oscar Garcia was frustrated that his side only started to play in the second half and was seeking improvements as the season wore on.


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Brighton in the Football League Trust Futsal Cup

Soccer AM, Sky Sports 1 (26th October 2013)

SAM Titles SAM Presenters

Sky Sports Saturday morning magazine show Soccer AM, presented by Max Rushden and Helen Chamberlain, brought the skills and technical abilities of the game of futsal onto our television screens during the 2013/14 season. The show joined forces with the Football League Trust to take us behind the scenes and showcase the best of the action from the new FLT Futsal Cup, sponsored by Soccer AM. The game of futsal is all about close ball skills and touches, quick thinking, creativity and tactical awareness. It’s a five-a-side game using hockey size goals and a smaller, heavier size four ball. Matches last two halves of twenty minutes.

In England, the first futsal League was formed back in 1990 based in Lancashire but didn’t really begin to take off until at least a decade later. League emerged in places such as Grimsby in 2002 and a London Cup the following year. Subsequent years saw international involvement, with the game being the only form of indoor football recognised by FIFA and UEFA. An England team began in 2003 and an FA National League set up in 2008.

SAM Futsal SAM Garcia

2013 saw the introduction of this FLT Futsal Cup, featuring over fifty Premier and Football League clubs lending their name behind a team for teenagers aged between sixteen and eighteen. On the 26th October edition of the programme, Soccer AM highlighted the efforts Brighton made for the competition, with the show having previously visited Leeds and Cardiff. Crew member James Kirtland voiced the Cup reports which included interviews with first team players and managers, as well as those more involved in the competition.

Albion head coach Oscar Garcia spoke of the importance of futsal, particularly where he’s from as it had a big influence on the Spanish style of play growing up. “Barcelona’s always training in small pitches, in small areas, because then you have to think quickly.” He was present at one the Brighton training sessions to pass on his own wisdom.

SAM Fisher SAM Calderon and Bruno

Brighton’s futsal coach was Owen Fisher, working as part of Albion in the Community. He also acted as one of the club’s goalkeeping coach at various levels. He mentioned the fact that Oscar Garcia visiting the futsal training was a fantastic opportunity for these youngsters to learn and grow their game. “Knowing someone who’s played this game, [they can] get some real good information from what he can teach them and where he’s got to through playing futsal.”

Albion first team regulars, and Garcia’s fellow Spaniards, Inigo Calderon and Bruno also dropped in on the session. They too grew up playing futsal back home. Calderon explained, “We played in school in the break between the classes. We had always to run to the pitch to get a pitch and play with friends.” Calderon went on to explain how the greatest players in the world, such as Lionel Messi and Neymar, began their careers playing futsal. Bruno was also a keen player in his youth. “I was playing two games a week. One game with my school; futsal. And with my club I was playing normal football.”

SAM Brighton team SAM Match Action

The Leyton Score Centre, near Orient’s Brisbane Road ground, played host to the latest round of fixtures in the South East Division of the Soccer AM Futsal Cup. Brief action was shown from those games in the round-up. Southend defeated Ipswich six-three and hosts Leyton Orient were downed three-one by Crystal Palace. The highlight though, of course, was Fisher’s Brighton side thrashing Chelsea by five goals to nil, including a couple of cracking long-range strikes to keep the Albion’s hopes of progressing to the knockouts alive.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the Seagulls, losing in the next stage last-32 of the competition finishing third in Group Five including to eventual overall Champions Grimsby Town. Still, not a bad first effort for the Sussex boys and the future looked in good shape.


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Wigan 0-1 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (23rd November 2013); Championship

WIGA Titles WIGA Oatley

The Football League Show on BBC One brought together all the day’s action across the three Divisions on 23rd November, including highlights of Nottingham Forest versus Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday against Huddersfield. Plus, Brighton’s trip to FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. Jacqui Oatley stood in for regular host Manish Bhasin in the studio whilst he was away. Joining her in this season’s new look studio was Steve Claridge. Gone was the brickwork effect, replaced by blue panels. The title music was still provided by Snow Patrol with their single In the End.

Both sides went into this match unbeaten in four, drawing two and winning two, after indifferent starts to the campaign. Having been relegated from the top flight in May, Wigan bounced back to winning ways in the Championship with an opening day thrashing of Barnsley. But just one win in the next five followed and the distraction of the UEFA Europa League group stage saw little reward on the pitch. Since losing to Blackpool in mid-October, the Latics began to slowly climb the table again, moving from thirteenth up to tenth at the start of today.

Albion too had spent much of the opening months occupying middling positions in the Division. A poor October performance saw no wins in five games but three goals in each of the last two victories – at Doncaster and at home to Blackburn – got Oscar Garcia’s men back in form. Commentary was provided by North West regional television stalwart Alistair Mann.

WIGA Teams

Owen Coyle and Oscar Garcia both named unchanged starting XI’s from last time out. For the home side, that meant places for summer free transfers Chris McCann from Burnley and Marc-Antoine Fortune from West Brom. Grant Holt joined to partner the latter up front for a fee of £1.5million from Norwich. Winger Callum McManaman grew up at Everton but later progressed through Wigan’s academy system before gaining a first team place under Roberto Martinez.

Albion’s side included loan signing Craig Conway, promoted from this Division last season with Cardiff. Andrew Crofts scored the equaliser in the televised match with Watford at the end of last month, adding much needed goals to his game. As had Jake Forster-Caskey, who netted in each of the last two wins. In Leonardo Ulloa’s absence through injury, Ashley Barnes scored two goals in the three-nil defeat of Blackburn a fortnight ago. Defender Matthew Upson made his Albion loan move permanent over the summer and was in fine form at the back. Iain Williamson refereed the contest.

WIGA Comm WIGA Half Time

A first half opportunity on goal fell the unlikely way of Spanish full back Bruno for the Seagulls wearing yellow. He was allowed to freely roam into the Wigan penalty box and hit a sweet strike from a bouncing ball after a knock down from home skipper Emmerson Boyce. At the other end, Cup Final winning goalscorer Ben Watson almost broke the deadlock when his determination saw him in a shooting position on the far corner of the penalty box. His early shot fizzed just wide of Tomasz Kuszczak’s post.

On loan Manchester United forward Nick Powell tested Albion’s Polish ‘keeper with an effort just inside the area. It was a half with little by way of quality and finesse and the sides went into the break goalless.

WIGA JFC Chance WIGA Crofts goal

Straight from kick off in the second period, Brighton had a wonderful chance to take the lead through an unmarked Jake Forster-Caskey at the back post. He got his header wrong from an Ashley Barnes cross, if only the move was the other way around, and it was an easy save for Nicholls in goal. Wigan were given a terrific opening when last man back Gordon Greer dithered on the ball. Grant Holt stole the ball from the Brighton captain and raced clear one-on-one with Kuszczak. Holt opened his body up to curl it into the corner but just got too much on it and it flew narrowly wide of the post. A real let off for the visitors. Commentator Alistair Mann joked, “You would have put your mortgage on Grant Holt. Well, I have to say, you’d be homeless.”

Wigan would rue that missed shot as Brighton immediately took the lead. With eighteen minutes remaining, Andrew Crofts netted with his head. Craig Conway found David Lopez on the right wing. He crossed to the centre where again Forster-Caskey was left on his own. At full speed to try to connect to the cross with his head, it ended up bouncing down hard and flicked up into the air by goalkeeper Lee Nicholls for a brilliant save. Crofts was there waiting for the ball to drop, along with three striped defenders surrounding him. The Seagulls midfielder got his head to the ball and it looped up over Nicholls and in.

WIGA Garcia WIGA Claridge

Craig Conway tried his luck from just inside the box to try and double the lead but again Nicholls stood firm. Whilst Grant Holt’s head forced Kuszczak into a fabulous low save to maintain Brighton’s clean sheet late on. It finished one-nil to the Albion, what a big three points on the road that was. Oscar Garcia spoke of ending Wigan’s unbeaten home record, “To come here and win at this big team with a strong squad, a good manager, it’s not easy because nobody did it before.”

Back in the studio, pundit Steve Claridge thought that the result was probably just about right, with the Seagulls edging the game. Of the goal, he bemoaned Wigan’s lack of reaction following the terrific save from Nicholls. “Crofts is the only one really who’s proactive in that situation. There’s three defenders around him. It’s almost as if they think, because the save’s been made, the danger clear.” Crofts was a former teammate of Claridge at Gillingham however he was ruled out for the rest of the season after Christmas through injury. The team’s form continued to pick up for Brighton in the coming weeks, including an outstanding victory over the League leaders Leicester in December, when The Football League Show was hosted from The Amex.


This is the first part looking back at Season 2013/2014. The second part is available HERE.

 

Small Screen Seagulls; Arsenal (H) 26/01/2013

Small Screen Seagulls LogoAfter an exciting debut season at The Amex, Brighton pushed on further under Gus Poyet during the 2012/2013 campaign. The club had its sights set on a top six finish, with the Championship Play Offs a real possibility. The Seagulls wanted to be plying their trade with the best the country had to offer in the Premier League. Opportunities arose in the Cup competitions for the Albion to test their mettle against the big clubs. Already in this stadium, they had seen off higher Division opponents in Sunderland and Newcastle (twice), as well as test Liverpool. The Fourth Round of the FA Cup in January 2013 presented another chance to showcase where this club could go as Arsenal came to town. BBC Football Focus previewed the match, whilst Saturday night highlights were shown on ITV as the Albion story was back in the television spotlight again.


Brighton 2-3 Arsenal, FA Cup R4; 3pm, Sat 26th Jan ’13

FAC Titles

Brighton progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 2013 after knocking out Premier League Newcastle United Live on TV for the second successive season. Goals from Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins secured a two-nil victory at the start of January. The draw was conducted the following day Live on ITV and ESPN. Overseen by Mark Pougatch at Wembley Stadium, ex-Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman picked out the home teams whilst former Albion ‘keeper and a winner of the competition with Wimbledon twenty-five years earlier, Dave Beasant selected the away teams.

Seaman picked up ball number two, giving Brighton another home tie. When Beasant picked out ball eleven, you could hear the nervous grimace from his colleague as it would be Arsenal who would be coming to The Amex – providing they could win their Third Round Replay. The Gunners drew two-all away at Swansea City in the original tie, with a Replay at The Emirates set ten days later. A goal from Jack Wilshere with four minutes remaining broke the deadlock there to send Arsenal through.

The broadcasters had already made their television selections by that time and opted not to risk a potential Brighton v Swansea fixture ending up on their screens, whilst Brighton versus Arsenal would have been much higher up the pecking order. So, because of the Replay, the match wasn’t selected for Live broadcast and therefore was played in the traditional slot of Saturday 3pm. It did garner media attention in the form of highlights on the Saturday evening, but first, I begin by looking at the BBC’s feature on the fixture from Football Focus.

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Football Focus, BBC One, 12.15pm (Saturday 26th January 2013)

FF Ident FF Titles

Saturday afternoons on BBC One had featured preview show Football Focus throughout the season dating all the way back to 1974. It was an integral part of Grandstand from then until 2001, when it was separated out to become a programme in its own right. Previous hosts included Sam Leitch, Bob Wilson, Gary Lineker and Ray Stubbs, but it was Dan Walker who became the latest face of Focus, when he joined the programme in 2009. This particular edition on Saturday 26th January was broadcast in its usual forty-five minute slot from a quarter past midday coming Live from BBC Sport’s home at Media City in Salford. The show never really stuck with a theme tune for very long, tending to change it each season. Soundtracking this one was Undegpedwar by Welsh instrumental band Y Niwi.

FF Walker FF Studio

Joining host Dan Walker was BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Ince and Bradford boss Phil Parkinson. Walker was born in Crawley, whom he supports. His broadcasting career began straight out of university in radio in Sheffield, where he studied, before moving to Manchester’s Key 103 for four years. He moved into television in the area with a brief spell at ITV Granada and then BBC North West from 2003. He began coverage for national television in 2008 when reporting at various major sporting events for the BBC including Wimbledon tennis and Royal Ascot horse racing before taking over this gig from Manish Bhasin in 2009. For the 2012 series, Walker also hosted regional magazine show Late Kick Off in London and the South East.

FF Protests FF Brady tenure

Reporter Mark Clemmit, regularly seen on highlights programme The Football League Show, produced a feature for Football Focus ahead of Brighton’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal taking place later that day. He focussed on one man who linked the two clubs; Liam Brady. The Irish attacking midfielder spent the 1970s at Arsenal, playing over 250 times and lifting the FA Cup in 1979.  He moved to Italy with the likes of Juventus and Inter Milan before returning to England in 1987 to see out his playing days with West Ham. After retiring, he managed Celtic for two years before joining the Albion in 1993, when the club was becoming overshadowed by financial problems. His two-year spell at the Goldstone came when Brighton were sinking down the Leagues and fans were beginning to uncover the truth about the corrupt ownership of the club. After departing in November 1995, Brady went on to lead a consortium bidding to take over the club but it was unable to achieve that.

Clemmit’s report began with Brady explaining the dire situation at the Albion in the 1990s over footage of fan protests and news reports about the chairman and chief executive, Bill Archer and David Bellotti. “They were in a bad way, they had no financial resources”, Brady explained, “inches away from going out of business completely”. The plan was for Archer and his cohorts sell the Goldstone Ground, profit from that and get out of the club, leaving it to die without a home. Brady added that Brighton had “great support in the city, in Sussex as well. And these people just didn’t care.”

FF Brady FF Knight

Brady talked about his time with the Seagulls and what caused him to leave in 1995. “I was better on the outside probably for the club that I was on the inside, because on the inside I couldn’t do anything. I was employed by them!” He started a campaign to stop the move away from the Goldstone, which had some success in delaying the sale back by a year. He paid tribute to Dick Knight, Brighton chairman between 1998 and 2011, whom Brady teamed up with during these troublesome times and was an important ally of Knight. “I helped him, I was always there. And all the people are so pleased that the club is in the position they’re in”, Brady added.

FF Poyet tenure FF Poyet interview

The report then shifted towards modern day Albion and the job Gus Poyet was doing for the three-and-a-bit-years since his 2009 appointment. Again in conversation with Mark Clemmit, Poyet revealed his first team coach Charlie Oatway had given him the lowdown on Brighton’s struggles in the 1990s and the history of all that; “He knows how much it means for people of Brighton”.

Poyet was asked what he knew about Liam Brady and particularly his time at the Albion which, as you may expect, wasn’t too much. “I hope he’s happy with what I’m doing because I’m sure that he’s got some part of his heart in Brighton.” Brady was happy; “You’ll only get highly technical players by playing in a highly technical way. And I think Poyet and Arsene Wenger do that.”

The report concluded by looking ahead to this Cup fixture. Poyet spoke of its importance; “When I sit there, 3 O’clock, it becomes the most important game of my life. Don’t worry, everybody’s going to be awake and it’s going to be a good game.” As the show returned to the studio, host Dan Walker remarked; “A lovely bit of telly, that, with the great Liam Brady.” Former Albion defender turned pundit, Mark Lawrenson, summed up the situation. “I think it’s a real tough tie for them but when you consider that game against Hereford all those years ago when they could’ve gone out the League and where they are now, it’s an absolutely fantastic story.” It really is, Mark. The scene was set very nicely for the big match.


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FA Cup Highlights, ITV, 11pm (Saturday 26th January 2013)

FAC Smith FAC Studio

ITV continued to broadcast coverage of the FA Cup this season, having won it back in 2008 from the BBC. Brighton supporters were well versed with ITV’s coverage of the competition this season having been shown Live on the channel in Round Three. Since that point, the ITV network underwent a rebrand. ITV1 became simply ITV, whilst their portfolio of channels all received a new logo which permanently remained in the top corner of the screen.

At the beginning of this season ITV launched new graphics and title sequence for their coverage. The specially composed music was by Jim Copperthwaite, a composer who had worked on several television and advertising soundtracks, and was simply known as ‘FA Cup’. The cinematic titles include various famous Cup moments from the ITV archives, including the great Brian Moore welcoming us to the coverage. The clips all form part of the trophy that slowly came together during the sequence.

Hosting the programme was Matt Smith, the usual highlights presenter and an ITV Sport anchor since 2001. He turned his hand at any sport the network threw his way, including darts, boxing, cricket, motor sport and, of course, football. He was even involved in the ITV coverage of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. For tonight’s highlights show he was joined in the studio by pundits Clarke Carlisle and Gordon Strachan, both regulars on ITV this season. Commentary was provided by Peter Drury, who also voiced our Third Round match.

FAC Teams

Gus Poyet gave a run out to former first choice goalie Casper Ankergren, now the club’s designated Cup ‘keeper. Inigo Calderon was preferred at right back to his Spanish compatriot Bruno. Despite being on loan, left back Wayne Bridge was given the go ahead to feature in the Cup as there were no plans for him to return to parent club Manchester City, likewise Dean Hammond in midfield on loan from Southampton. There was a first start for new £2million signing Leonardo Ulloa. The Argentine striker joined from La Liga’s Almeria ten days earlier. He partnered Ashley Barnes up front, who scored in two of his last three appearances. Options on the subs bench included Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua if the attack needed fresh legs.

Arsene Wenger introduced a new front line for the 2012/2013 season in a bid to end a trophy drought dating back to 2005. German striker Lukas Podolski was signed for just under £11million from Cologne, and Frenchman Olivier Giroud switched from Montpellier for a rumoured £13million. In goal, Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny was handed the number one shirt following the release of Manuel Almunia. German central defender Per Mertesacker was handed the captain’s armband for the first time today and had only missed one match so far this season. Czech international Tomas Rosicky missed the first few months of the campaign after injuring his achilles during Euro 2012. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was part of Southampton’s midfield when they were promoted behind the Albion from League One in 2011, making the Division’s PFA Team of the Season in the process and earning his move to the Gunners that summer. The referee was Michael Oliver.

FAC Comm FAC Giroud goal

The first chance fell the way of the Albion as Ashley Barnes went very close to breaking the deadlock. The move began with a throw in on the far touchline and, a couple of passes later, David Lopez was flicking on his header behind the Arsenal defence. The looping ball fell for Barnes, but he didn’t quite connect fully with the volley. It was hit into the ground rather than cleanly, enabling Szczesny to get fingertips on it and keep it out. This proved crucial.

The resulting corner was dealt with by the goalkeeper eventually, who then started a lightning quick counter attack to result in the opening goal in the sixteenth minute. Tomasz Rosicky was allowed to carry the ball forward from the half way line up to near the Brighton penalty box. He found Podolski who laid it off to Olivier Giroud inside the D on the edge of the area. Giroud curled a superb effort into the top corner of the net with his left foot for one-nil to the Arsenal.

FAC Barnes goal.JPG

Brighton thought they’d got an equaliser through debutant Leonardo Ulloa only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out for offside. The replay confirmed the decision, as he strayed just too much beyond the last defender when Inigo Calderon delivered his cross. Szczesny parried that into Ulloa’s path but by then it was too late and the flag was aloft. A bit of momentum was building though for the home side.

Moments later, the equaliser arrived through a powerful Ashley Barnes header. Will Buckley played a corner short to David Lopez on the near side. His delivery was perfectly into the heart of the six yard area. As Szczesny came to punch clear, he was beaten to the ball by Barnes who buried his header into the empty goal from just a couple of yards out with thirty-three minutes on the clock.

FAC Subs FAC Giroud second

Into the second half, Brighton changed things up a bit with the arrival of Gary Dicker and Kazenga LuaLua to bolster the midfield. But it was the Gunners who fired first and almost regained their lead. Adam El-Abd’s foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain presented a shooting opportunity from a free kick twenty-five yards out. Lukas Podolski did almost everything right but for the placement, as it cannoned off the crossbar with Ankergren beaten all ends up.

The visitors did have their lead back after eleven second half minutes and again it was Olivier Giroud who scored it. Abou Diaby chipped the ball from half way inside Brighton territory over the heads of the back line. Giroud brought the ball down and got the better of his marker El-Abd. As Ankergren rushed out of goal to close down the angle, Giroud stretched to rifle the ball home from the left of the six yard area to crash the back of the net. Two-one Arsenal.

FAC Ulloa goal

Albion heads did not lower despite the setback. Although, their second equaliser needed a stoop from Ulloa to connect with his head on the way to goal ten minutes later. Dean Hammond played the short ball out wide to Ashley Barnes. His cross was inch perfect into the danger zone where Ulloa had run between two Arsenal defenders. Being just six yards out, he only needed to nod the ball home and it would beat the ‘keeper for pace from that distance. The Argentinian watched it all the way, timed his run and netted a goal on his first start in the blue and white stripes. Game on again at two-two.

Arsenal changed their personnel, bringing on Theo Walcott and the man who rescued them in the last round, Jack Wilshere. Whilst the Seagulls swapped Ulloa out for the tireless running of Craig Mackail-Smith for the final part of the contest.

FAC Walcott goal FAC Final Score

For all the fight and spirit from the Albion, it took a deflected goal near the end to finally kill them off. Casper Ankergren flapped at an Arsenal corner. He pushed the ball to the edge of the box where Theo Walcott was waiting. He used his side foot to volley a shot back in. It looked like it was going centrally before taking a huge nick off what looked to be an instinctive arm out from the goalkeeper. That sent the ball into the other side of the goal, beyond Mackail-Smith on the line. Arsenal had their third lead of the match with just five minutes to hang on to it.

Craig Mackail-Smith had his appeal for a penalty late on turned down by referee Michael Oliver. He appeared to be shoved over in the area by Carl Jenkinson whilst awaiting Liam Bridcutt’s delivery but these cries were ignored. And it ended up being the last action of the match. Arsenal progressed to Round Five, knocking Brighton out at The Amex by three goals to two. They would go on to face Blackburn in the next round, where they’d suffer a surprise defeat at home. Meanwhile, Brighton could put all their focus onto the promotion push where they’d ultimately come unstuck in the Play Off Semi Finals.

FAC Wenger FAC Poyet

In his post-match interview, victorious manager Arsene Wenger admitted his nerves at the prospect of not winning on the day as Albion kept fighting back; “In the last twenty minutes I thought there was a bit nervous because, I thought, we do not want the replay and, of course, we do not want to go out.” Winning goalscorer Theo Walcott thought his fortunes were finally in with the deflection for the decisive strike; “I’m due a lucky goal! I haven’t had a lucky goal for a long time.”

Albion boss Gus Poyet spoke of Leonardo Ulloa’s goalscoring debut. “He’s the only one who looks a little bit happy in the dressing room!” He went on to add his disappointment about not quite getting the result the performance merited.

FAC Carlisle FAC Strachan

In ITV’s London Studio, Matt Smith analysed the match with his pundits; Clarke Carlisle and Gordon Strachan. Carlisle described the enjoyment he had of what he was watching; “The quality that was on show, the atmosphere in The Amex stadium, it made for a fantastic spectacle.” He praised the quality of Olivier Giroud, showcasing his talents with two very good strikes to get his brace.

Gordon Strachan referenced Arsenal’s replay victory at Swansea, which needed game changing substitutions to see them through. And the same happened here, with the introduction of Walcott to win it late on. “They brought the cavalry on again today. I don’t care what tactics you’re using, if you bring on three great players like that, your game will improve.” The difference in quality between the top clubs and teams in the Championship should always be the deciding factor, and it was on this occasion. Though, Brighton ran their Premier League opponents very close and real confidence could be taken from this performance.

#60: Brighton 0-2 Watford 25/04/2015

#60 BRIGHTON 0-2 WATFORD Championship
Saturday 25th April 2015 Image result for

60WAT Titles.JPG

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
12.15pm Kick Off; The Amex     12-2.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

60WAT Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

The Albion were back Live on television two weeks after their last appearance. Similar to that night, Brighton took on one of the promotion candidates in a crucial end of season match. This was the last game at The Amex in what had been a season to forget. Having had so much success over the past four years since leaving Withdean with the League One title, it was probably inevitable that at some point things would catch up with the club.

Three different manages had taken permanent charge of the club since this time last year; Oscar Garcia, Sami Hyypia and now Chris Hughton. A lack of quality investment meant a whole host of loan players were brought in and a clear imbalance was on display. Chris Hughton’s stock was extremely high in the Championship, having gained promotion with Newcastle and Norwich before. His task was to stabilise a side that weren’t keeping clean sheets and lacked potency up top. He managed the first part, but goals were proving much harder to come by.

As we headed into this final home game of a miserable campaign, Brighton were six points above the bottom three with two matches remaining. It would take a miracle for Millwall or Wigan to overtake the Seagulls at this late stage, which was handy as the final two opponents were Middlesbrough next week after Watford today. Both of those were still fighting for the title and expecting wins. Safety could have been mathematically secured earlier and looked likely after a crucial victory at Blackburn back in March. But Brighton’s Easter period was dreadful, defeat at home to Norwich was followed on Monday by a desperate loss at fellow strugglers Rotherham. Suddenly, sixteenth place became nineteenth and Hughton’s men were looking over their shoulders again. Further defeat at Wigan last time out kept alive the Latics hopes of staying up and made sure it wouldn’t be a comfortable end of season on the South Coast.

Today’s visitors Watford were at the tail end of a magnificent run which saw them top the table in the race for promotion, destiny was in their own hands. Since December, the Hornets had played twenty-five, won eighteen, drawn just two and lost five. They picked up fifty-six points from a possible seventy-five. This was serious promotion form and probably would have run away with the title had it not been for a turbulent opening couple of months off the field. Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic was appointed in early October and guided the club to top spot with win in his opening League game. They remained in the top seven for the rest of the season and were now guaranteed top four at worst.

But Jokanovic was their fourth head coach of the season! Beppe Sannino took over in January 2014 and won four of the opening five matches of this campaign but shocked everyone by resigning at the end of August, citing he had taken the club ‘as far as he could’. Former Albion boss Oscar Garcia then made a surprise return to English football just weeks after exiting Sussex. But he stepped down from Watford after less than four weeks, taking charge of the solitary match – a defeat to Charlton. He quit for health reasons, having been hospitalised for a week owing to chest pains. It was a worrying time for the Spaniard, but when he left there were apparently no further fears for his health. Billy McKinlay took over for a week before Deportivo and Chelsea midfielder Slovisa Jokanovic was brought in and McKinlay reverted to assistant. What an achievement it would be to gain promotion in his first months in charge and it could be secured if results went their way today. The Sky Sports cameras were back in town to witness it Live.

 

THE TEAMS

60WAT Brighton

Chris Hughton was looking ahead to next season and the changes he’d be making and needing for his first full campaign with the blue and white stripes. Amongst those he wouldn’t be needing were Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron Hughes, whose contracts were expiring and would not be offered a new one. Both were on the bench today for a farewell to The Amex. Also probably making his last bow was Mustapha Carayol. He moved on loan from next week’s opponents Middlesbrough at the end of March, the deadline for loan deals. He was moved up top alongside Chris O’Grady to provide more of an attacking threat. The lack of goals was probably the biggest weakness of the season; the tally of just forty-four was the fourth worst in the Division, only better than the bottom three. Of the strikers, Sam Baldock netted just four in all competitions whilst Chris O’Grady had three and Leon Best none. Departed pair Adrian Colunga had three and Darren Bent two. It was a huge let down in that department.

The club’s top scorer was centre back Lewis Dunk with seven in League and Cup. Going into this season he had never scored unless it was an own goal! He was part of a trial back three here, alongside captain Gordon Greer and Nottingham Forest’s Greg Halford. Regular full backs Bruno on the right and Joe Bennett on the left were pushed further forward to become wing backs in a three-five-two formation. Albion’s Young Player of the Year, Joao Teixeira, was missing from the middle after breaking his leg in the goalless draw with Huddersfield. The teenager impressed greatly, and it didn’t go unnoticed by parent club Liverpool, as he picked up their Academy Player of the Season for his performances on loan. The Seagulls Supporters Player of the Year was Inigo Calderon, who had enjoyed a new lease of life as a makeshift right midfielder. He was named on the bench today, as was Kazenga LuaLua and Rohan Ince. LuaLua missed two months of the season through injury, since returning to the squad in February he had only started three times was frequently utilised as a substitute.

60WAT Subs 60WAT Watford

Original Watford head coach for this season, Beppe Sannino, brought Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in from Tottenham on a free over the summer following the retirement of ex-Arsenal stopper Manuel Almunia. Craig Cathcart transferred from Blackpool. Watford were owned by Giampaolo Pozzo, who was also involved with Italian club Udinese and Spanish side Granada. As a result, several of their players spent time switching between the clubs. Strikers Matej Vydra and Odion Ighalo joined on loan from the Italian club, with Ighalo making it permanent back in October. Winger Juan Carlos Paredes came in from Granada over the summer whilst Ikechi Anya moved from Spain to Hertfordshire back in 2012. Closer to home, midfielder Adlene Guedioura was on loan from Crystal Palace.

Ben Watson, the man who scored Wigan’s winner in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City two years ago, joined from the Latics in January. Defender Matthew Connolly left Cardiff for a loan spell at Vicarage Road from mid-March until the end of the season. Captain Troy Deeney began his professional career with four seasons at Walsall before moving down to London in 2010. In June 2012 he was sentenced to ten months in prison for affray when he and a friend attacked a group of students. He was released after serving three months inside and went straight back into the Watford squad for the rest of the 2012/13 season. Since then he was most famously involved in the incredible dramatics which saw Anthony Knockaert miss a penalty for Leicester in the Play Off Semi Final Second Leg, where Watford then broke up the other end for Deeney to score with the last kick off the game to secure their place in the Final. It’s one of the most incredible Play Off moments of all time. Refereeing this afternoon’s clash was boyhood Luton fan – Watford’s famous rivals – little Keith Stroud.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM & COVERAGE

60WAT Ident 60WAT Thomas

Sky’s main Football League Live match each weekend was scheduled in the 12.15pm Saturday lunchtime slot. This was in a bid to deter viewers away from BT Sport’s Live top flight offering, which was regularly Saturdays at 12.45pm. This was not something new for the Football League. Ever since Sky encountered a rival in the Premier League market with Setanta in 2007, the lower League broadcasts were positioned directly against them on Sky, often pettily kicking off just minutes before in order to gain that little edge. As of last season, Sky branded their coverage of the Championship, Leagues One and Two as FL72; using that across the seventy-five Live games per season and the regular Thursday and Monday afternoon magazine programmes. Graphics and music for today remained as it had been all season.

60WAT Pitchside 60WAT Beagrie

FL72’s number one host Simon Thomas presented this afternoon’s coverage from The Amex, opening up the show with build-up done pitchside in front of the West Stand. Thomas was joined by his regular first choice pundit Peter Beagrie. Since hanging up his boots in 2006, the former Scunthorpe, Bradford, Manchester City and Middlesbrough winger forged a successful career in the media. He was paired with host David Jones for the 2007/08 season as Sky went for a new look, younger Football League presentation team and remained a constant ever since. As a player, he appeared in all four Divisions of English football and was still lacing up his boots at the age of forty. As a pundit, Beagrie read the game well and was a natural communicator. His North East accent was a mainstay of Sky’s FL72 coverage in the studio.

60WAT Race for Promotion 60WAT Split screen interview

Today’s broadcast began at midday, fifteen minutes prior to kick-off. On the penultimate round of Championship fixtures, the main focus for Sky was on who would make it up to the Premier League with still so much to be decided; what Sky were labelling the ‘Race for Promotion’. With previous leaders Bournemouth not playing until Monday, also Live on Sky, this was a chance for Watford to widen the gap to four points over the Cherries with a win, and if results went their way in the 3pm games, promotion could be secured on this day. Naturally then, Sky’s coverage reflected this battle, with little mention pre-match of Brighton. The Albion weren’t mathematically secure of their place in the Division again for next season, but a six point gap with two to play made life more comfortable; a point today or next week on the final day at Middlesbrough would be enough. After Thomas and Beagrie had briefly set the scene, we heard from Watford’s fourth manager of the season; Slavisa Jokanovic, in conversation with the main Football League reporter Jonathan Oakes.

Following the advert break and with the teams about to run out onto the turf, Oakes spoke with the Albion’s Chris Hughton for his pre-match thoughts. With not much left to play for other than pride, Brighton would have a greater say in how things panned out at the top in these last two matches and Hughton knew the importance of putting in a professional performance. “We want to finish this season as strong as we can. We also have a responsibility to this club and, of course, to the League to field as strong a side as we can in both games and to get as good a result as we can in both games.” The teams then left the tunnel to a live performance of Sussex By the Sea from soprano singer Donna-Marie Hughes to mark the final home game of the season. And it was up to the commentary box where Daniel Mann and Don Goodman were waiting, just as they were two weeks earlier. A new addition to the FL72 coverage today was a quick thirty second commercial immediately before the kick-off, known as a ‘turbo break’. It was more familiar to the Premier League coverage, where typically a betting ad with live odds was shown.

60WAT Studio 60WAT Interviews

Sky were increasingly presenting the Football League build up from the touchline, soaking in that atmosphere ahead of kick off, before moving up to the studio box for the rest of the show. That’s exactly what happened here, as the usual presentation area up in the back of the North Stand was utilised by Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie from half time onwards. They reviewed the first period, in which Brighton found themselves unlucky to be behind. The stats backed this up, with the Albion enjoying nearly two-thirds of the possession and the greater number of corners and attempts on goal. The early pressure from the home side was highlighted, passing the ball quicker and getting more numbers in the box when attacking.

When the final whistle sounded, the Watford players and fans were full of celebration. In the middle of the pitch was reporter Jonathan Oakes who grabbed a quick word with the captain, goal scorer and Man of the Match, Troy Deeney, alongside defender Matthew Connolly. Watford did their part of the bargain. If results for the two teams outside the automatic places went the Hornets way, they would be promoted come five o’clock. We wouldn’t see that on this Live broadcast of course, but results did go their way! Middlesbrough lost to Fulham whilst Norwich could only draw at Rotherham. Supporters of both Brighton and Watford stayed behind in the various bars at The Amex to watch Gillette Soccer Saturday as the scores came in, which then led to a big party after full time to share in the achievement of a place up to the top flight. Congratulations to Watford Football Club.

60WAT Fixtures 60WAT Coming Up

Rewinding back a couple of hours and to the end of today’s Live match broadcast; after the break Thomas and Beagrie had only six minutes or so left to wrap everything up before coming off-air at half two. Oakes spoke with victorious manager Jokanovic, treating today as the ‘semi-final’ and next week the ‘final’ in his quest for promotion. The studio team gave an overview of the situation, with Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Norwich all with two games remaining to chase Watford down. Sky were probably hoping things weren’t quite settled over this weekend, as the following Saturday they’d be showing two Live matches from the final day of the campaign, usually one of the highlights of the season. For Brighton, it was all pretty much done and dusted with six points clear of the drop zone and a superior goal difference. The team below, Rotherham, had been deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player, whilst the team in twenty-second, Millwall, had to work miracles. The bottom two – already relegated Blackpool and 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan – were too far away to catch the Albion. There was no time in the programme to hear the thoughts of Chris Hughton today but he knew that the primary task this season was to maintain Brighton’s Championship status, Big improvements were required next year to get the club back to where it ought to belong; competing for a place amongst England’s elite.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

60WAT Kick Off 60WAT Comms

Prior to kick off, a minute’s silence was observed for the thirtieth anniversary of the tragic fire at Bradford’s Valley Parade, which killed fifty-six and injured many, many more. Football paid its respects to the victims of that dreadful incident on the 11th May 1985. The penultimate weekend of the Championship season then got underway at The Amex, with Watford shooting towards the North Stand in the first half.

Inside the opening minute Brighton twice went close to getting on the scoresheet, both times just unable to pull the trigger. Firstly, Chris O’Grady caught the Watford defence napping. Joe Bennett found the target man in space but his touch took him to the left where the covering defender was. That opportunity went begging but in the away team’s panic to clear, the ball broke for Dale Stephens on the edge of the penalty area. He dribbled past one then tried to take it beyond a second, the men in yellow were not having that and they kicked to safety. A frantic start to the match, backed by a vocal Seagulls support. Brighton had the lion’s share of the possession and enjoyed success with long, diagonal passes from the back to the wing, enabling the wide players to drive forward in this 3-5-2 formation. As a consequence, Watford brought off Ikechi Anya and replaced him with Daniel Tozser in a diamond midfield. That enabled others to realign to make a more solid back four shape, as opposed to the three, after twenty-five minutes.

Whether these adjustments had any bearing on the deadlock being broken just three minutes later, I don’t know. But that’s exactly what Watford did, as Troy Deeney pounced to make it one-nil. The ball came in from the left from Matthew Connolly, Greg Halford met with the header but mistimed it, sending the ball straight up in the air. Gordon Greer then tried to trap the dropping ball as it fell but only seemed to knock it into the path of his own goal. Ighalo picked it up with his back to goal six-yards out to flick it over to Deeney. His first touch took it past the despairing lunge of Greer before firing a shot past Stockdale and three Albion bodies into the back of the net from twelve yards. Of all the people for the ball to drop to in that position, Troy Deeney is amongst the last you’d want. It was a goal from almost nothing, Brighton had ample opportunity to clear their lines but failed to do so and fell behind in a match they had had the better of to that point.

Five minutes after the goal, Brighton had their first shot on target forcing Gomes into a good save. Chris O’Grady’s strength and power had caused Watford problems earlier in the half but here it was the strength of his shot that almost nabbed an equaliser. His effort from twenty-odd yards was bending and swerving but the Brazilian ‘keeper watched to slap behind. He almost went from hero to villain straight after when he flapped at a cross. but Brighton couldn’t quite force the ball home. The sides went into the break with Deeney’s strike separating them.

60WAT Deeney goal 60WAT Analysis

Watford began the second half well and almost doubled the lead within ten minutes. Again, Brighton failed to clear their lines, allowing Guedioura to try some trickery on the edge of the box. The ball found its way through to an unmarked Odion Ighalo six yards out. He tried to round Stockdale, in doing so Guedioura took over with the first time finish – the goalkeeper dived at his feet excellently to block for a corner. The Albion attempted to address this by bringing on a player for his Amex farewell, replacing one likely to be doing the same. Craig Mackail-Smith arrived with half an hour remaining to a fantastic reception, coming on for Middlesbrough loanee Mustapha Carayol. Watford, perhaps looking for a counter attacking opportunity, introduced the pace of striker Matej Vydra on for Ighalo with the result not yet secure.

The changes made some difference, with Brighton pushing for an equaliser. But they just weren’t getting enough bodies into the box. Substitute Inigo Calderon, on for the injured Bruno, produced a very good cross for Chris O’Grady. His powerful header landed just wide of the post. The replays showed it actually bobbled up off a bit of sand patching up the pitch in the goalmouth, causing the ball to head wide instead of in! One for the groundsman to reconsider. In previous games, the diagonal ball to switch play worked a treat for Brighton but was finding it harder to come by today. As the game approached the final few minutes, Lewis Dunk clipped a terrific pass out wide to Calderon. His cut back saw Dale Stephens free on the edge, but he didn’t quite catch the low shot right and Gomes was able to get down to collect the tame effort.

But Albion’s best chance fell to Mackail-Smith in stoppage time. With bodies in the box, Brighton’s cross was cleared out as far as sub LuaLua. He headed it up to Calderon on the edge, who cleverly chested the ball beyond the Hornets defence to find the striker. Mackail-Smith just waited that fraction too long as the ball wouldn’t settle, allowing Gomes to rush out of goal and bravely punch away as he was ready to pull the trigger, whilst the rebound came to nothing.

In the fifth of five minutes of injury time, Watford sealed the three points with a terrific counter attacking goal. With the Seagulls upfield chasing that equaliser, the visitors managed to clear the ball to the half way line. The pace and determination of Troy Deeney saw him gather the loose ball on the near touchline. Dribbling it forward, he looked up to see Matej Vydra the only person in the middle with no defender anywhere near him. Deeney found him with a good pass, Vydra controlled well with his chest as Gordon Greer sprinted back. It was to no avail though as Vydra’s second touch was a terrific finish into the bottom left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net. Co-commentator Don Goodman called it when Vydra was brought on, saying they’d be looking to counter with his pace. Watford secured all three points to put them within touching distance of the Premier League again.

60WAT Table top 60WAT Table bottom

BRIGHTON 0 WATFORD 2
Deeney, Vydra

60WAT Replay.JPG

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NEXT; #61 BRIGHTON 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 07/08/2015

#59: Brighton 0-2 Bournemouth 10/04/2015

#59 BRIGHTON 0-2 BOURNEMOUTH Championship
Friday 10th April 2015 Image result for

59BOU Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Darren Anderton
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

59BOU Ident 59BOU Sponsor 59BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

Chris Hughton had been in charge of the Albion for three months by the time this televised clash at The Amex came around in early April. In that time he had made leaps in stabilising a hugely misfiring Brighton side. Hughton achieved six League victories, two more than Sami Hyypia did in the opening five months of the campaign.

On the back of the FA Cup Third Round win at Brentford in Hughton’s first match in charge, he followed it up with three points in the capital at Charlton the following Saturday. A first home win in six arrived when promotion chasing Ipswich were left empty handed towards the end of January. Form dipped after the televised Cup defeat at home to Arsenal, with two defeats and two draws, and the club found themselves back just one place above the Championship drop zone.

Back-to-back wins at The Amex with the first Saturday-Tuesday six points arrived as February drew to a close. Birmingham were edged by the odd goal in seven thanks to braces from Inigo Calderon and Joao Teixeira for a massive win. Three days later, Leeds were sent back to Yorkshire with their tails between their legs, losing two-nil to the Albion for the second time this season. This double celebration lifted Brighton to eighteenth, their highest position since September.

Defeat in a crunch game at the bottom at Bolton was swiftly forgotten with revenge over Derby, our conquerors in the Play Off Semis the year before. Two more vital points were picked up with draws at home to Wolves and away at Millwall in mid-November kept things ticking along. Then an absolutely vital win away at Blackburn thanks to a Matt Kilgallon own goal rocketed Brighton up to sixteenth ahead of the Easter period. More importantly, it put clear daylight between the club and the relegation zone with only a handful of matches to play.

Tonight’s visitors Bournemouth were enjoying one of their best ever seasons. They were firmly in the promotion picture having sat in the top four since October, following their record high eight-nil success at Birmingham. Now, they were going every step of the way with Norwich, Watford and Middlesbrough for the title. Bournemouth hadn’t lost since February, with just eight defeats all season. Between October and November, the Cherries went on an unbeaten sixteen match run – thirteen of which were victories. Eddie Howe was on the verge of guiding Bournemouth up to the Premier League for the very first time. The Sky cameras were in town to witness the next leg of their fantastic march from the bottom to the top. This was the one-hundredth League meeting between the two Meridian region clubs.

 

THE TEAMS

59BOU Brighton

A couple of new faces were brought in to the Albion during the January transfer window. The most notable addition was Israeli international midfielder Beram Kayal from Celtic. He spent four-and-a-half-years in Glasgow with mixed results. His debut got off to a cracker, winning Man of the Match and assisting one of the goals. But injury cost him three months of the season before it had barely got going. He went on to captain the Hoops for the occasional game, nabbed the League’s Player of the Month award for January 2011 and won the Premiership title in his first full season. But the following season was again blighted by injury, ankle ligaments ruling him out for the second half of the campaign. He lifted the SPL title a further three times before the move down South for an undisclosed fee.

Another addition to the line-up was Gambian winger Mustapha Carayol. He signed on loan from Middlesbrough at the end of March, making his first appearance in the disappointing defeat at Rotherham the following day. Tonight was his home debut. A ruptured ankle ligament a year earlier had kept him out of action and joined the Seagulls to gain match practice. Carayol joined ‘Boro in 2012 having previously been on the books of Torquay, Lincoln and Bristol Rovers. He was no stranger to Sussex, spending two-thirds of a season on loan at Crawley early in his career.

Alongside the new recruits in the midfield was the flair and excitement of Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira, the club’s top scorer this season in the League with six. Dale Stephens was fully on the comeback trail having missed the first half of the campaign through injury sustained this time last year. Inigo Calderon continued to be deployed on the right wing, joining the attack as well as supporting fellow Spaniard Bruno behind him at full back. There was no Gordon Greer available so Greg Halford, on loan from Nottingham Forest, partnered one of our own, Lewis Dunk, at the heart of the defence.

Goals were still hard to come by and, having tried various options and combinations, a new face was being tried to see out the season. Leon Best transferred on loan to the Seagulls from the end of January. Himself a former Cherry, Best joined Brighton from Blackburn but also had a loan spell earlier in the year at Derby County. He was yet to score a goal for either us or Derby in almost thirty appearances. Whilst Darren Bent flourished on loan earlier on, Leon Best was really struggling. Options on the bench included goal scorer against Arsenal in the Cup, Chris O’Grady, and a man more used to coming off the bench this season than starting, Craig Mackail-Smith. Veteran Northern Irish defender Aaron Hughes was there if the back line needed shoring up.

59BOU Subs 59BOU Bournemouth

Championship Manager of the Month Eddie Howe was on the brink of guiding Bournemouth from the bottom Division in 2009/10 all the way up to the very top just five seasons later, with an eighteen-month break managing Burnley in the middle. He made one change from their Easter Monday win as Marc Pugh returned following an ankle knock. Pugh was amongst the scorers when Bournemouth won against Brighton in November. This was pretty much Howe’s strongest eleven. Only Yann Kermorgant didn’t begin the reverse fixture, but he did come off the bench to score the decisive penalty.

The heart of the defence was very much ‘made in Brighton’, with captain Tommy Elphick playing over a hundred-and-fifty League appearances for the Albion over a seven-year period after coming up through the youth system at his hometown club. Had it not been for injury in the final match of the League One title winning campaign of 2010/11, which sidelined him for the entirety of the following season, he could have been leading the Seagulls out now. Fellow centre-half Steve Cook too came up through the academy at Brighton, having been born in nearby Hastings. His first team career in Sussex was much less successful, beginning just seven matches for the Albion over a four-year period, four of which came in Cup competitions. After various loan spells with lower and non-League teams, he moved to Dean Court permanently in January 2012 for £150,000. Both Elphick and Cook played every match of this season.

They weren’t just solid at the back; Bournemouth were also the Division’s top scorers. Callum Wilson, in his first season at the club, scored in all three competitions totalling twenty to date. Strike partner Yann Kermorgant netted a further fifteen in his first full season on the South Coast. If they weren’t firing, options on the bench included Kenwyne Jones, signed a couple of weeks earlier on loan from Cardiff, and Brett Pitman, himself with fourteen goals to his name in League and Cup. Tonight’s referee was Mr Craig Pawson.

 

THE COVERAGE & PRESENTATION TEAM

59BOU Thomas 59BOU Anderton

Sky Sports’ Friday night presentation came on-air fifteen minutes before the usual 7.45pm kick off. Going under the FL72 branding and sponsored by Screwfix, Sky’s Football League programming used the same style graphics as the Premier League, but with a red background instead of a blue one. The theme tune was provided by Woodkid, with their track Run Boy Run. Number one FL72 host Simon Thomas anchored proceedings alongside his guest Darren Anderton. Thomas had been hosting Live League matches for Sky since for over five years, graduating from Sky Sports News and stepping up to be main host for 2011/12. Darren Anderton enjoyed success with Tottenham and England but was present tonight for his connection to Bournemouth, where he spent two seasons to see out his career. He was also the guest for the televised reverse fixture back in November, where he was alongside second choice host Natalie Sawyer.

59BOU Pitchside 59BOU Hughton split screen

Thomas and Anderton presented tonight’s build up from pitchside in front of the West Stand towards the South side of the stadium and were accompanied by the magnificent Championship trophy; the prize Bournemouth had firmly set their sights on. The Cherries were the main focus, understandably, what with them having probably their best ever season. They topped the table, a point above both Norwich in second and Watford in third. Middlesbrough came next, two points adrift. The most important point was it was all in their own hands now for Bournemouth. The pitchside team talked through their remarkable fightback from two-nil down at home to Birmingham on Easter Monday to turn it around with four goals. Reporter David Craig, a regular in the Championship this season and last, spoke with their manager Eddie Howe in the first portion of the show.

Brighton’s position was this; nine points clear of the relegation zone. The club sat in nineteenth ahead of this match, with Fulham and Rotherham below and Millwall, Wigan and Blackpool occupying the three danger positions at the foot. Blackpool were already down, that was confirmed. Wigan were eight points off safety with five games to play, Millwall fared slightly better – seven points behind Rotherham and with a game in hand over the rest of the bottom six. The Albion’s position was looking alright for now, but it was still all to play for especially as tough fixtures against teams vying for promotion were still to come.

After the pre-match advert break and with the teams waiting in the tunnel, we heard Chris Hughton’s thoughts in conversation with David Craig. Sky used the split-screen facility in order to show both, a feature of their FL72 coverage immediately before the kick off. Hughton was aware of Bournemouth’s attacking prowess but wanted his side to aim for similar; “We’ve gotta be a threat ourselves. We’ve been decent here, we’re on the back of a decent performance against Norwich. If you give away too much possession, you know they’re gonna hurt you.” Looking ahead beyond this season, he wanted the squad to use these final five matches to be positive, keep the gap between themselves and the relegation zone and make it a comfortable end rather than scrabbling around for points. As the teams emerged onto the field, it was time to hand up to the commentary pairing of Daniel Mann, second choice Football League voice, and Don Goodman, long serving analyst and ex-Wolves and Walsall forward.

59BOU Carayol 59BOU Studio

In the moments before the start, the commentary team picked out a couple of players to watch out for. For the Albion, Mustapha Carayol was fighting for a future as parent club Middlesbrough were unlikely to be offering him a new deal once it runs out in the summer. During the half time break, the presentation team moved up from pitchside to the usual studio box within the right side of the North Stand. Thankfully, the Championship trophy went with them as there was little else to talk about at the interval as neither side had mustered a shot on target! It was one of those halves. Having to talk over replays of a Brighton corner which nobody touched in the box spoke volumes.

As usual, after the full time whistle we heard some immediate reaction on the pitch from a couple of the key men speaking with reporter David Craig; tonight, Tommy Elphick and Man of the Match Yann Kermorgant from Bournemouth. The studio team moved back to their pitchside position for the ten minutes or so left of post-match analysis, where they were joined for the majority of it by winning manager Eddie Howe. He was rather disappointed with his side’s effort, perhaps credit to Brighton for neutralising their threats for such a long time. The trio reviewed the second half goals, with two very good finishes the difference. The season’s achievements were touched upon, with tonight’s goals taking Bournemouth’s tally to eighty-nine, overtaking their previous best in the old Division Three South back in 1956/57.

59BOU Match Stats 59BOU Coming Up

The match stats showed that Brighton created a few chances, more than their opponents, but just a solitary effort on target summed up the failures of the season. Bournemouth’s tally of two shots on target was “their joint lowest this season”, according to host Simon Thomas. Crucially though, they scored with both. When Eddie Howe was done playing the pundit role, we heard from his opposite number Chris Hughton, in conversation with reporter David Craig. Hughton said the result was “hard to take” given the performance up until the opening goal. “We’re playing a team that’s in great form, that are not top of the Division by coincidence. And I thought in most aspects of that seventy minutes I thought we were the better side. But that’s why they are where they are – because they’ve got that little bit of quality when it counts.” He acknowledged mistakes were made, both in not taking chances up front and errors leading to opportunities at the back. The areas for improvement over next season were obvious. One other result came from the evening, affecting the bottom of the table, as Fulham and Wigan drew. That kept Fulham below the Albion in the table, now just on goal difference, whilst Wigan leapfrogged Millwall into twenty-second, still seven points from safety. With just four matches remaining for Brighton, safety looked pretty secure if not yet mathematically. As the clock approached 10pm, it was time to say goodbye as another Live broadcast concluded.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

59BOU Kick Off 59BOU Comms

The Championship title hunters kicked off tonight’s clash at The Amex, shooting towards the North Stand in the first half. Brighton had proved to be a more solid outfit under Chris Hughton than before and the game plan here was more than likely to be about cancelling Bournemouth’s threat above providing our own attacking impetus. Midfielder Dale Stephens set the early tempo with a crunching tackle six minutes in, lunging to win the loose ball against Matt Ritchie. Upon further inspection on the replay, he was fortunate to get away with it. His studs were showing, sliding through Ritchie to send the ball spinning elsewhere. Referee Craig Pawson was right on the spot just yards away with a perfect view and gave nothing, so the game continued but it was a dangerous challenge that really should have been punished with a yellow. Brighton didn’t allow their visitors to settle down in the opening exchanges, winning the ball back quickly and moving forward with more of a purpose than we had seen for patches this season.

The Albion pushed forward, earning a couple of corners. The presence of top scorer Lewis Dunk and six-foot defender Greg Halford were the target men from set pieces, but they couldn’t quite be found. Joao Teixeira had an opportunity when he created a couple of yards of space in the box, his strike firing just too high from a difficult angle. But this was exactly what the Seagulls supporters were crying out for, taking the game to their opponents. Co-commentator Don Goodman though summed up the situation when he said; “The only thing missing is that goal, really. For all of the good play and all of the good work they’ve done, Artur Boruc in the goal hasn’t had a save to make.” The key stat showed Brighton with more first half attempts but none of them on target. The sides went into the break goalless. A creditable, if not memorable, first forty-five for the Albion.

59BOU Kermorgant goal 59BOU Wilson goal

The second half began with a familiar pattern, as Brighton were urged forward by the supporters. Dale Stephens, in the thick of things once more, had a decent opportunity when the ball was won back just outside the Bournemouth box. Joao Teixeira tried to trick his way past the defence, they stood firm and the loose ball was latched onto by Stephens. His first-time shot flew just too high. A similar chance fell his way minutes later. This time on his weaker left with bodies charging him down. The result went the same way as before. Spells such as this needed to be capitalised on. Leon Best got the game’s first shot on target just before the hour mark, though in truth it was weaker than a backpass. The sort of effort from a man lacking in confidence and without a goal all season for two different clubs.

With around twenty minutes remaining, Bournemouth had their first shot on target. And what a shot, it provided the breakthrough to give the visitors the lead. Lewis Dunk’s late challenge gave Bournemouth a free kick twenty-five yards out, providing Dunk with his eleventh booking of the season. Co-commentator Goodman prophesised before the kick, “On a night where it hasn’t flowed for them, they are capable of the spectacular from situations like this.” Yann Kermorgant took the free kick with his right, as David Stockdale took two mini-steps to his left. That little movement was crucial as the goalkeeper was then committed one way before having to dive the other. Stockdale at full stretch couldn’t get there and the ball curled into the top right-hand corner of his net for a wonderful goal.

The result was sealed with ten minutes remaining as Bournemouth doubled their lead through Callum Wilson. Yann Kermorgant won the ball back in the middle of the park and played a terrific lobbed through ball from the centre circle towards Wilson just outside the box. He brought the ball down on the turn, managing to get behind his marker Greg Halford. Wilson tried to cut inside on his left by which time Halford was back in position. The striker patiently held it up, this time cutting the other way and skipping past his man. Before left back Joe Bennett could charge in the way, Wilson unleashed his strike past Stockdale and in for two-nil. Brighton had to make them wait for a long time, but two clinical finishes for Bournemouth’s only two shots on target in the match ensured the three points were heading back up along the Coast.

59BOU Top 59BOU Bottom

BRIGHTON 0 BOURNEMOUTH 2
Kermorgant, Wilson

59BOU Replay

PREVIOUS; #58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL 25/01/2015

NEXT; #60 BRIGHTON 0-2 WATFORD 25/04/2015

#58: Brighton 2-3 Arsenal 25/01/2015

#58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL FA Cup Round Four
Sunday 25th January 2015 Image result for bt sport logo

58ARS Titles.JPG

PRESENTER Jake Humphrey GUESTS Adam Virgo, Ian Wright & Steve McManaman
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Robbie Savage REPORTER Ray Stubbs
4pm Kick Off; The Amex     3.30-6.30pm FA Cup Live on BT Sport 1

58ARS Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

Sami Hyypia resigned from his position as Brighton and Hove Albion manager on Monday 22nd December 2014, with the club four points adrift in the Championship relegation zone.

Hyypia was in charge for just twenty-five first team matches. With a win ratio of just 24%, he achieved victory in just six games, half of which came in the League Cup. In fact, the Capital One Cup was probably the only success of his time on the South Coast, as the Seagulls went through to the Fourth Round for just the fifth time in the history of the competition, and the first since the 1979-80 season. Wins came against lower League opposition; defeating Cheltenham at The Amex before overcoming Swindon and Burton Albion on their travels. The run came to an end at White Hart Lane when Tottenham knocked Brighton out by two goals to nil.

Of the three League victories, two came back in August when Leeds and Bolton were dispatched back-to-back. The defeat of Wigan back on 4th November ended a run of eleven without success in the Championship. The team that had overachieved to reach the Play Offs in each of the previous two years were now sat in the drop zone at the halfway point in the campaign. Head of football operations, David Burke, followed Hyypia out two days later, indicating that it was recruitment as well as performances that the club struggled with.

Assistant manager and former Albion winger Nathan Jones took temporary charge and brought an immediate upturn in fortunes over the Christmas period. Boxing Day saw an entertaining two-all draw with Reading as Glenn Murray frustrated his former employers by scoring twice for the Royals. This was followed up three days later with an outstanding two-nil win away at Fulham to give the supporters some end of year cheer.

58ARS Hughton

On New Year’s Eve, former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss Chris Hughton was appointed manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal. As a player, Hughton spent thirteen years with Tottenham before a couple of years with West Ham and then Brentford took him into the early 1990s. He played over fifty times for the Republic of Ireland, making the squads for Euro ’88 and World Cup ’90. At Spurs, he lifted the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Cup in a successful start to the 1980s. He returned to the Lane coaching straight after retirement in 1993, where he moved up the rankings from being in charge of the under-21s, then the reserves before coaching the first team over a fourteen-year period.

Hughton first made the step up to manager at Newcastle United in 2009 and achieved promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking. Despite this, he was surprisingly sacked in December of the following season in a move which was condemned by players, fans and pundits alike. After a six-month break, he was back in management at Championship side Birmingham. He guided them to fourth place but lost in the Play Off Semi Finals to Blackpool. On the back of this, top flight Norwich City came calling. Tasked with keeping the Canaries up, he achieved an eleventh placed finish in his first season. Things didn’t go quite as well during the second year, but the club pulled the trigger somewhat at an odd time, with just a month left. They were in seventeenth and a point above relegation when Hughton was dismissed but were relegated a few weeks later under replacement Neil Adams. In the eight months that passed, Hughton was reportedly approached by other clubs but did not accept.

He cited the infrastructure at Brighton as being a deciding factor in choosing this one. Hughton’s first game in charge saw the Albion progress past his old club Brentford in the Third Round of the FA Cup with two late goals. That was followed with a one-nil victory at Charlton before Brentford got a revenge win at The Amex in the League. In midweek, another victory arrived as Ipswich were edged out three-two to ease the pressure and move the club up into nineteenth.

Today’s opponents Arsenal were enjoying much more consistency under Arsene Wenger. They won the FA Cup last season to end a run of nine years without a trophy and began this 2014/15 campaign well. They sat fifth in the Premier League, losing just five matches. To reach the Fourth Round they defeated Hull in a rematch of that Final. The Gunners defeated Brighton at this stage of the competition back in 2013, would they repeat the feat this time round with the added spotlight of Live television coverage?

 

THE TEAMS

58ARS Brighton

This was the fifth match of Chris Hughton’s reign at Brighton, beginning with the Brentford victory in the previous round. Captain Gordon Greer and makeshift right midfielder Inigo Calderon had started every game under the new boss and were also the only two Brighton survivors from this fixture two years ago. Goalkeeper David Stockdale signed from Fulham in the summer and played the first three months of the season before picking up an injury. That forced a ‘keeper crisis which saw Ali Al-Habsi drafted in on an emergency loan for one match and teenager Christian Walton start away at Tottenham in the Capital One Cup followed by two unbeaten Championship appearances in November. Since returning at Norwich later that month, Stockdale had played every minute. Lewis Dunk’s red card in the League loss to Brentford saw him miss the Ipswich game this week but was straight back in the eleven here.

Midfielder Dale Stephens remained a long-term absentee, having been forced off last April with an ankle problem. Impressive loanee Joao Teixeira was missing through illness. Dutchman Danny Holla and young Englishman Jake Forster-Caskey took two of the spots in the middle. Rohan Ince joined last season in mind for the development squad but quickly became a part of the first team. He scored a wonder volley at Swindon in the League Cup tie back in August, which earned him the Seagulls 2014 Goal of the Season accolade.

Around £2million was spent on striker Sam Baldock from Bristol City. He returned just two goals to date, including the opener in midweek. Chris O’Grady scored in stoppage time at Brentford in Round Three, his first for the Albion. Despite only joining in July, he struggled to get into the first team under Sami Hyypia and spent a month on loan at Sheffield United before being recalled on the day of the Fulham victory after Christmas. Adrian Colunga was an attacking presence on the bench, alongside Craig Mackail-Smith and Solly March. Defender Glen Rea was yet to play for the Seagulls but did make his Republic of Ireland under-21 debut in November. The contrast between Sami Hyypia’s squad and this one was clear; only one loanee started today – Aston Villa’s Joe Bennett. In the last televised starting eleven, at Millwall in December, Brighton fielded the maximum of five loan players.

58ARS Arsenal

Arsene Wenger made seven changes from their crucial two-nil victory at Manchester City in the Premier League. This included a return for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, his first start since New Year’s Day. Defender Calum Chambers won the fans Player of the Month award for August, having joined from Southampton in the summer. Left-back Kieran Gibbs represented England at under-19, 20, 21 and senior level all since signing pro terms with Arsenal in 2007.

Theo Walcott scored in this fixture in 2013 but suffered FA Cup heartbreak the following season when he ruptured knee ligaments. That kept him out of the 2014 World Cup and on the sidelines for ten months before returning in November. Fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey began life at Cardiff before transferring to London in 2008. He became a key part of Wales core and played in all four of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic matches. Three-time Czech Republic Player of the Year Tomas Rosicky won the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.

Striker Olivier Giroud netted twice at The Amex last time out. Mesut Ozil started for the first time since early October. Among the substitutes included talisman Alexis Sanchez, signed from Barcelona for £30million this season, and Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla won the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012. Also on the bench was England under-19 striker Chuba Akpom. The match referee was the Premier League’s Michael Oliver.

58ARS Formations

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

58ARS Humphrey 58ARS Virgo

The face of football on BT Sport was their star presenter Jake Humphrey. He was one of BBC Sport’s rising stars, hosting Olympic and Commonwealth Games, NFL Superbowl and BBC Sports Personality of the Year coverage, amongst other big events. He first came to prominence on children’s television, hosting programmes such as Bamzooki and the Fame Academy spin-off. After serving his apprenticeship with CBBC, he was keen to move into sports broadcasting and hosted all sorts of lower profile events that didn’t have a regular core team. He provided holiday cover on Football Focus and Final Score. Undoubtedly, the biggest sporting break came in 2009 when the BBC won back rights to Formula One, naming Humphrey as anchor. His profile grew, playing a part of Euro 2012 and both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. When the call came from BT Sport to front their Live football, he made the switch to launch this new venture.

Joining Humphrey pitchside at The Amex were pundits Ian Wright, Steve McManaman and Adam Virgo. Wright and McManaman were both key regulars on BT’s Premier League coverage, whilst Virgo was their co-commentator on the National League. Former Albion defender Virgo needs little introduction on here, having already played, scored, pundited and commentated on previous televised Brighton matches! He spent seven seasons playing for the Seagulls, over two spells, having graduated from the youth system. Spells at Celtic, Yeovil and Colchester followed before bringing his playing career to a close at Bristol Rovers. Following retirement in July 2013, he made the move into the media having previously appeared on Sky Sports and BBC Radio Sussex. In the Autumn of 2013, Virgo made his television co-commentary debut on BT Sport’s coverage of the National League alongside Steve Bower, a position he instantly made his own and became a BT regular.

58ARS Wright 58ARS McManaman

Ian Wright was very much the one that got away as far as Brighton were concerned. In November 1983, recently appointed Albion boss Chris Cattlin had nineteen-year-old Wright on trial at the Goldstone. The striker played twice for the reserves, scoring in the first match but was not taken on full-time, much to his surprise and disappointment. The Albion’s loss was Crystal Palace’s gain, as he joined Steve Coppell’s lot in 1985 where he began banging in the goals in a six-year spell at Selhurst. His big move was to join Arsenal in 1991 for £2.5million where he went on to earn legendary status, becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer (which he held until 2005) and bagging the League title in the process. He also lifted two FA Cups, a League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup at Highbury. Post-Arsenal, he played for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley before calling it a day in 2000. Since even before then, he forged a hugely successful television and radio career as both a pundit and an entertainment presenter. He joined BT from launch in 2013 to work across their domestic football, as well as being in the unusual position of doing BBC Match of the Day and international football for ITV.

Steve McManaman’s playing career was most associated with nine years at Liverpool before joining Spanish giants Real Madrid in 1999. He lifted the UEFA Champions League in his first season, scoring in the three-nil Final victory over Valencia. Subsequent seasons saw two La Liga titles and a further Champions League victory before he returned to England in 2003 with Manchester City. He won thirty-seven England caps, scoring three goals including the crashing strike to go two-nil up against Portugal in Euro 2000. He hung up his boots in 2005 upon his release by City and subsequently became a leading television pundit, firstly for Setanta Sports between 2007 and 2009. He teamed up in the commentary box with Ian Darke for America television with ESPN before joining BT in 2013.

58ARS Studio

His old sparring partner was on The Amex gantry here, as Ian Darke was joined by Robbie Savage. Darke covered boxing and football for BBC Radio for more than a decade before joining Sky Sports ahead of their Premier League launch in 1992. Teaming up with Andy Gray on the first three seasons of Monday Night Football, Darke then moved across to be the voice of boxing for a generation. He combined this back with Live football again from 2005 but was soon back behind Martin Tyler and Rob Hawthorne in the pecking order. In 2010 he made the move to the States with ESPN, covering the pick for the English top flight, before returning to UK screens to lead BT’s commentaries in 2013.

Robbie Savage worked hard to forge a career as a battling midfielder in the Premier League for the likes of Leicester, Birmingham and Blackburn having been released from Manchester United’s phenomenally successful youth side of the early 1990s. He switched to Derby in January 2008 but couldn’t force his way into the side for the start of the next campaign. He somehow ended up joining Brighton under Micky Adams, whom he worked with at Leicester. His one-month loan was hardly a success but, crucially for Savage, at least he was back playing in the first team again. After linking back up with Derby, and following a managerial change, Savage was a regular fixture in the midfield a renaissance in the East Midlands for another two seasons before retiring in 2011. His niggly, irritating playing style earned him a bad reputation amongst supporters of all clubs, often being the butt of jokes or the designated ‘boo-boy’. Despite this, he enjoyed a post-playing career in the media, starting with the BBC and ESPN before being taken on by BT as an analyst and co-commentator. From this season, along with BT commentator Darren Fletcher, he hosted two-hour Saturday morning preview programme Fletch and Sav ahead of the Live Premier League match.

One of the on-air mistakes Setanta made when joining the English football market was with their pitchside reporter. Alex Hayes, a fine print journalist at The Independent on Sunday, struggled to ask fluent questions of managers and players with the microphone, making for an awkward watch, before being dumped a few weeks in for Kelly Cates and Dan Roan. BT made no such mistake with their interviewer, employing a man with thirty years’ experience at the BBC and ESPN; Ray Stubbs. He joined BT as number one reporter from launch, covering the Premier League and FA Cup. Previously, he was front and centre hosting ESPN’s Live coverage of the same competitions, as well as a whole raft of high-profile events on the BBC. This included Match of the Day, Sportsnight, Grandstand, Football Focus and Final Score, as well as three Summer Olympics, the 1998 Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He reported from the England camp in both Euro ’96 and World Cup ’98 and interviewed at various FA Cup Finals throughout the 1990s. Stubbs brought an authority and gravitas to BT amongst a largely younger approach.

 

THE COVERAGE

58ARS Promo 58ARS Sponsor

The newest players on the British football broadcasting scene, BT Sport, were in their second season following launch in August 2013. Built on the foundation of thirty-eight exclusively Live Premier League matches having outbid previous holders ESPN, they then acquired the channel – in the process obtaining their key rights such as Premiership Rugby and American sports. This also included the final season of their FA Cup deal, which expired last season. From the start of this campaign, the Cup switched hands from ITV to BBC, whilst BT Sport retained their position as the satellite broadcaster. Under the new contract, BT would air up to thirty matches Live throughout the competition, including sharing the Final. Which brings us to this Fourth Round weekend as January drew to a close. BT’s three Live picks kicked off with Liverpool versus Bolton on the Saturday evening and concluded with Rochdale against Stoke on Monday night. Sandwiched in the middle was the Albion, who were drawn to host holders Arsenal in this Sunday afternoon clash.

58ARS Drone shots 58ARS Withdean

Coverage was sponsored by William Hill, yet another gambling firm to get involved in football broadcasting. BT Sport didn’t really do title sequences. The intros last season consisted of the BT globe logo spinning from the centre into the bottom left hand corner, with a short burst of music. That was retained for League coverage this year, but the FA Cup was given a makeover with an animated trophy and block bars listing the two clubs. The music was specially composed for BT to use on their Cup broadcasts, in use for its second season. Build up began thirty minutes before the 4pm kick-off, with beautiful aerial drone shots hovering over the Pier, seafront, the site of the former Goldstone stadium, now a retail park, and Withdean. This was all to highlight the contrast in where Brighton were from the glory days of the 1983 FA Cup Final through to the dark days of the 1990s. The graphics had been used since BT’s launch, nicely animating in and out from the channel logo position in the bottom right corner of the screen.

The presentation team of Jake Humphrey with pundits Adam Virgo, Ian Wright and Steve McManaman were situated pitchside at The Amex in front of the West Stand. Pitchside presentation was very much BT’s go-to position, allowing Humphrey the freedom to move around and explore the stadium in similar fashion when he successfully fronted the BBC’s F1 broadcasts. With Ian Wright very much an Arsenal man, McManaman assumed the role of neutral, whilst Virgo was clearly present to talk eloquently and knowledgeably about the Albion. The FA Cup trophy itself was on display alongside the team, on the back of three of the Premier League’s top four crashing out the previous day. Some of the goals and incidents from the key games played thus far on Fourth Round weekend were shown, with the pundits talking us through the action. Manchester United could only muster a goalless draw at Cambridge, League One Bradford ran riot at Chelsea scoring four, Spurs crashed out and Manchester City were upset by Middlesbrough.

58ARS Gordon Smith 58ARS Jimmy Case

The focus of the VT package in the pre-match coverage was around the Seagulls 1983 FA Cup campaign. Of course. Two members of the Cup Final starting line-up – Gordon Smith and Jimmy Case – both recounted their tales from that memorable run. Striker – and often forgotten as a Final goalscorer – Smith outlined the Albion thought process; “We had this plan, let’s be really relaxed and see how the Man United boys cope with that. We’ll come in the tunnel laughing and joking.” Tough tackling midfielder Case spoke about getting stuck into Manchester United’s Ray Wilkins early on; “I clattered Wilkins a couple of times. I used to love some of them tackles what you used to throw in every now and again!” Physio Malcolm Yaxley was also interviewed, as he tried to repair Chris Ramsey on the pitch following a hard challenge by Norman Whiteside. It was to no avail as Ramsey was just a yard short of Frank Stapleton who netted United’s equaliser after Smith put Brighton in front. Then came the famous Gordon Smith moment. In the last minute of Extra Time, with the scores level at two-all, he was put through on goal. Cue Peter Jones’ BBC Radio commentary line, with the commentator not missing a beat, “And Smith must score. And he hasn’t scored. And Bailey has saved it. And there goes the whistle for the end of Extra Time.” Of that chance, Smith honestly and bluntly admitted; “My decision I made was wrong, and I cost Brighton the Cup.”

58ARS Last meeting 58ARS Dunk

Attention then turned back to this afternoon’s clash. The two sides met at this stage two years earlier, with the Gunners edging a five-goal thriller. Humphrey asked Virgo if Brighton had a similar performance in them now to that day. “Well they have now, under the new manager Chris Hughton”, Virgo began. “I must admit if Sami was still here then you’d be slightly worried about the performance.” They picked out defender Lewis Dunk to preview, with Humphrey saying, “lots of clubs were sniffing around him.” As a former defender, Adam Virgo was well placed to praise the current Albion centre half, highlighting his ability on the ball as a particular strength on top of the threat he posed from set pieces in attack.

58ARS Cool people 58ARS Walcott

After the break, we saw a Brighton-made video spoofing one of the latest adverts BT used to promote their coverage. In BT’s ad, a few of their star names were shown walking slow-motion down the touchline with the strapline “The cool people to watch football with”, which Humphrey insisted was “completely tongue in cheek!” So a few Albion fans followed suit, with Albion Roar radio hosts Alan Wares and Ady Packham amongst the contingent. Wares then briefly chatted to Humphrey pitchside to explain “the mickey take of a mickey take”.

Back to the more serious business, reporter Ray Stubbs spoke with both managers; Chris Hughton and Arsene Wenger. Hughton explained the absence of star midfielder Joao Teixeira, missing through illness. It was a tough blow, particularly after another impressive performance in the midweek Ipswich win. Asked about his early impressions of the Albion’s potential, Hughton was quick to talk the club up; “Everyone will see today the stadium that we have here, which I think is a record crowd for the stadium. The training facility is excellent. But we’re not in the best position in the League and that’s certainly our priority.” After this, we heard the final thoughts of the studio team as they picked out returning stars Walcott and Ozil among Arsenal’s danger men, before another quick break. After which, we headed up to the gantry where commentators Ian Darke and Robbie Savage were waiting to take over.

58ARS BT Box 58ARS Coming Up

A feature of the channel’s coverage was their picture-in-picture split-screen, dubbed the ‘BT Box’. This was utilised, especially on replays, to show the Live action in the box and the replayed passage on the main screen. The box would also be used to show the bench or a different part of the action during play. At half-time, still presenting from pitchside, the team reviewed the two Arsenal goals. For the opener, Wright and Virgo were critical of Sam Baldock’s lack of challenge on the wing to allow Calum Chambers a crossing opportunity. They were impressed by Walcott’s finish and cited the difference in quality between the two Divisions as the difference. McManaman described Brighton’s half as “very, very poor”, allowing Arsenal too much space to play their football and showing a lack of adventure going forward.

58ARS Sub 58ARS European Football Show

After the final whistle and the advert break, there was around half an hour left before James Richardson and his journalistic experts took over for the usual Sunday evening European Football Show, rounding up the events on the continent before hosting Live coverage of a top match; tonight Fiorentina versus Roma. Reporter Ray Stubbs was busy in the tunnel gathering interviews with all the key men. He spoke first with two of Arsenal’s goalscorers; Theo Walcott and Man of the Match Tomas Rosicky, then latterly the manager Arsene Wenger. The studio team repositioned themselves slightly, in front of the dugouts by the tunnel, to wrap things up.

For Brighton’s first goal by Chris O’Grady, Adam Virgo dismissed talk of a foul on Chambers before the strike. Ian Wright questioned why Brighton didn’t make more use of O’Grady’s strength and power in the second period, seconded by Steve McManaman. On Arsenal’s third, it was of Brighton’s own making by giving away possession cheaply and dangerously. The finish though, real quality. Baldock’s goal to make it two-three was labelled “a great finish” by Virgo, with the assist from Holla also garnering praise. He also was pleased to see Brighton “passing with a purpose”, rather than just keeping the ball for the sake of it. Some of Arsenal’s defensive play caused concern for Wright.

Chris Hughton’s post-match thoughts were gathered by Ray Stubbs, particularly pleased with the response after the break. “Too often in that first half period we were too deep, not allowing ourselves to get out of trouble but I thought we stretched the game better in that second half. We certainly made more of a game of it and close in the end.” The final portion of the programme centred around the FA Cup weekend as a whole, with a glossy report reviewing some of the key incidents, goals and upsets from the previous day. This included a Leonardo Ulloa goal for Leicester in their surprise win at Tottenham. Back pitchside, the pundits talked through the goals from Sunday’s other ties as West Ham and Aston Villa both progressed. And with that it was time to go as another Live Albion broadcast came to a close.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

58ARS Kick Off 58ARS Comms

In front of a record crowd at The Amex of 30,278 supporters, Arsenal kicked the game off shooting from right to left using the Cup’s salmon pink ball. And they got the breakthrough after just eighty-nine seconds thanks to that man again, Theo Walcott. Calum Chambers did well on the far touchline to skip past Sam Baldock’s challenge and gain a bit of space. His cross found Walcott twelve yards out on the right of the penalty area. The touch to control allowed him to quickly adapt his feet and suddenly a shooting opportunity arrived. Walcott drove the ball low and hard across the goal into the corner of the net for the perfect start. Arsenal executed their game plan well in the first period, dominating the ball and attacking with threat. When Brighton were in possession, Arsenal allowed them to play it round the back and keep it in their own half. The two strikers switched over from their starting positions, with O’Grady moving from centre to the left wing to allow Baldock a chance to lead the line and try to get more joy. The two swapped and changed throughout.

Arsenal’s superior quality showed, particularly when in attack, with frightening pace and better decision making. With a quarter of the match played, they made it two-nil. It was all thanks to some patient build up play and Brighton standing off their top flight opponents. Tomas Rosicky was allowed the time to dribble the ball in acres of space from the wing to the middle, waiting for the right moment to make the pass. He picked it out superbly, cutting out four Albion defenders in the process, to find Mesut Ozil inside the penalty box. Before Lewis Dunk could slide across to attempt to block, Ozil got his shot off. Around twelve yards out, his left foot effort nestled in the left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net for another well taken goal. “Carved apart like precision surgeons there,” cried commentator Ian Darke. Co-commentator Robbie Savage had harsher words for the Albion play; “They’re giving top quality players too much space, they’re not winning second balls, they’re not getting the ball in the final third, Szczesny’s yet to be tested. We’re twenty-five minutes in, Darkie!”

Brighton’s first real chance came just before the half-hour point, when Sam Baldock curled an effort just high and wide. The ball broke to him free at the back post after Laurent Koscielny was caught dithering in the area by Calderon. Baldock’s right-foot aimed for the top corner but just couldn’t quite achieve the desired accuracy. The rest of the half was an improvement for Brighton but they could not penetrate the back line of the team in yellow. At the break it was two-nil to the Arsenal.

58ARS OGrady goal 58ARS Baldock goal

As the second period began, Robbie Savage was urging Brighton on to give it a go, totally unimpressed by their efforts thus far. Within five minutes, the deficit was halved through Chris O’Grady. Albion’s attack wasn’t cleared properly by Arsenal, with Rosicky booting the ball high up in the air instead of away from goal. Baldock outjumped Chambers to win the challenge as it dropped from the sky. The ball rolled off Chambers to the feet of O’Grady with his back to goal just inside the box. He cleverly let the ball run to his right foot on the half-turn, rolling his marker Mathieu Flamini in the process. O’Grady unleashed a fierce low drive into the near corner, through Koscielny’s legs en route, to give the Seagulls hope. The goalkeeper had no chance and the crowd roared, scoring with their first shot on target. Game on. “Ooh we’ve got a Cup tie now!” enthused Savage.

The bright spell continued for the next five minutes or so but you could sense Arsenal had more of a killer instinct. And if he didn’t cover himself in glory for the Brighton goal, Tomas Rosicky certainly made up for it just before the hour mark to restore their two-goal margin. Rosicky won the ball back off Holla in a dangerous area and provided a no-look pass to Giroud on the left of the penalty area. The striker chipped up a return pass to the Czech international on the edge of the box who volleyed it into the back of the net. What a strike. But again, no Albion shirts within five yards of him, allowing so much space and time to pick his target. Brighton’s response was to bring on Solly March to add another body going forward. Arsenal didn’t rest on their laurels, perhaps wary of another Brighton resurgence, bringing on strikers Chuba Akpom and Alexis Sanchez for the final twenty minutes.

However, Brighton did force their way back into it. Sam Baldock was the man to finish off a neat move to bring Albion back to within one of Arsenal. Lewis Dunk brought the ball forward from the half way line, allowed the freedom to stroll out of defence with no Arsenal man in sight. He found Danny Holla in space between the Gunners midfield and defensive lines. He guided it on to Baldock who latched onto the through ball. As Szczesny rushed out of his goal, Baldock gently lifted it over him to nestle nicely into the back of the net. A very well worked goal gave the Seagulls renewed hope into the final quarter of an hour.

If the first half was a disappointment for Brighton, the second was much better. It was more determined, more spirited and they showed more fight than before. But ultimately, as in 2013, it was not to be. Arsenal’s quality just too much to handle and the Gunners took the tie by three goals to two. The performance grew and gave Hughton and the supporters enough belief to believe they could do much better than the current League position of nineteenth showed. The rest of the season was now all about proving that and moving away from the Championship relegation zone. Arsenal would go on to lift the Cup for a second successive season.

58ARS 5th Round.JPG

BRIGHTON 2 ARSENAL 3
O’Grady, Baldock Walcott, Ozil, Rosicky

58ARS Replay

PREVIOUS; #57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL 12/12/2014

NEXT; #59 BRIGHTON 0-2 BOURNEMOUTH 10/04/2015

#57: Brighton 0-1 Millwall 12/12/2014

#57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL Championship
Friday 12th December 2014 Image result for

57MIL Titles

PRESENTER Natalie Sawyer GUESTS David Prutton & Keith Andrews
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Garry Birtles REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

57MIL Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

It was proving to be a very difficult introduction to Sami Hyypia’s managerial career in England. Back-to-back Championship defeat sent the Seagulls into the drop zone in the opening weeks but had plateaued to just above there after that. However, defeat at home to Fulham at the end of November saw the team sink back into the red again where they sat ahead of tonight’s crunch clash with fellow strugglers Millwall. Time and patience were wearing incredibly thin, with supporters already calling for the manager’s head. Hyypia had just three League victories in the campaign to his name; away at Leeds and home to Bolton back in August was followed by an eleven-match winless streak.

A one-nil defeat of Wigan Athletic in the first midweek of November, thanks to a first-minute Gary Gardner strike, provided three absolutely vital points but five weeks later and it hadn’t been matched. Two draws and two abject defeats followed to place Brighton in twenty-second. The problem wasn’t necessarily losing matches, it was the sheer number of draws which hampered progress. Nine of the last sixteen fixtures ended all square, with a real lack of potency in the final third clear to see. The club didn’t replace Leonardo Ulloa when he was sold up to Leicester in pre-season, instead investing the £8million fee somewhat cheaply on unproven Championship strikers Sam Baldock, Adrian Colunga and Chris O’Grady. Between them the trio had scored just three goals, whilst centre back Lewis Dunk led the way on five in all competitions.

A whole host of loan players were brought in as a bid to improve performances, but the rules stated a maximum of five were allowed in the matchday squad at any one time, forcing certain players to miss out. The combination of not owning much of your squad with a huge number of injuries spelt trouble for a club that went so close to the Premier League in each of the previous two campaigns. Not many had anticipated such a drop in results.

Tonight’s opposition Millwall however, were far more used to this. They only narrowly survived the drop last time, changing managers half way through in the process. The 2014/15 season began far brighter with three wins in the opening five games, and progression to the Second Round of the League Cup. Form dropped off completely in September, losing four out of five. Going into the clash at The Amex, Millwall were in a dreadful run of form having won just once in fifteen. Sky Sports, perhaps in gallows humour, selected this fixture for Live broadcast on a cold, Friday night in December.

 

THE TEAMS

57MIL Brighton

Goalkeeper David Stockdale transferred from Fulham over the summer to come straight in as first choice following the release of Tomasz Kuszczak. However, he was forced to miss much of last month through injury. Spanish right-back Bruno missed even longer, as injury set him back six weeks but was fighting fit again. Today’s captain Lewis Dunk was partnered by former Colchester and Portsmouth centre-half Greg Halford. He was drafted in on loan from Nottingham Forest and made his Albion starting debut tonight covering in Gordon Greer’s absence. Left-back Adam Chicksen made the move from MK Dons eighteen months ago but struggled to maintain a first team place; behind Stephen Ward last season and Joe Bennett this. Chicksen went out on loan to Gillingham to gain playing minutes but was recalled prematurely just the day before tonight’s clash. With the maximum of five loan players in the starting line-up, Joe Bennett had to be left out.

Jake Forster-Caskey only missed one League match thus far in the middle of the park, whilst Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira hadn’t started since the last win; against Wigan in the first week of November. Elliott Bennett won the League One title with the Albion back in 2011, earning himself a place in the Divisional Team of the Season en route, but then left Sussex for Premier League Norwich. After initial success there, injuries impacted his place; starting just twice during the Canaries relegation season in 2014. With spots limited, he re-joined Brighton on loan after the televised Bournemouth defeat. Winger Solly March started half of last season’s League games but didn’t feature in the side this campaign until last time out in the defeat to Derby due to a back injury.

The man charged with stopping the Seagulls rot in front of goal was the experienced Darren Bent. The Villa forward came in on a month’s loan and scored on debut in the defeat at Fulham two weeks ago. His top flight experience with the likes of Ipswich, Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland, as well as thirteen senior England caps, provided contrast to a fairly youthful side. The bench included Adrian Colunga, who had just two goals to his name to date, and Paddy McCourt, a summer transfer from relegated Barnsley.

57MIL Millwall 57MIL Subs

Ian Holloway returned to The Amex for the first time as a manager since that disastrous Play Off Semi Final in 2013, having taken over at Millwall in January. He guided the Lions to Championship safety in nineteenth, four points above the drop. He brought in striker Lee Gregory from Halifax and Everton midfielder Magaye Gueye over the break. Goalkeeper David Forde became the Republic of Ireland’s oldest ever debutant when he started in a goalless draw at Sweden in 2013, aged thirty-three.

Defender Danny Shittu won promotion to this Division under Ian Holloway in 2004, the year when Albion joined them via the Play Offs. Centre back partner Mark Beevers was targeted by Rotherham over the summer but their bid was rejected. Martyn Woolford was a regular in the middle having joined eighteen months ago from Bristol City. Spanish midfielder Angel Martinez was at Blackpool with Holloway and the pair were reunited at Millwall for his debut tonight. Substitute options included former Yeovil midfielder Ed Upson and Jamaican international striker Ricardo Fuller. Refereeing the contest was James Linington.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

57MIL Sawyer 57MIL Studio

Natalie Sawyer was once again at the helm for Brighton’s Live Championship match, following her first Seagulls game last month. Having begun hosting Leagues 1 and 2 and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy coverage last season, her role expanded to include some Championship games this season as number two behind Simon Thomas. This was previously the job of George Gavin, who very occasionally still covered Live matches, but was more regularly used to voice round-ups and present FL72 Preview and Review programming.

Joining Sawyer in the studio at The Amex was David Prutton and Keith Andrews. Prutton was Sky’s new signing this season, having retired from playing following a short spell with Coventry. The midfielder began at Nottingham Forest, coming through the youth system, spending five years in the East Midlands before moving up to the Premier League at Southampton. He spent three years at both Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, amongst other Football League teams, before bringing his career to a close over the summer. As well as punditing on Sky’s FL72 Live and magazine programming, he was an in-vision reporter on Gillette Soccer Saturday travelling around the country covering the lower Leagues.

Keith Andrews spent the whole of last season on loan with Brighton under Oscar Garcia, making thirty-five appearances. His solitary Albion goal came against Sheffield Wednesday in October 2013. He returned to parent club Bolton following our Play Offs defeat to Derby, but with first team opportunities looking unlikely, Andrews joined Championship side Watford on loan towards the end of July. The Republic of Ireland midfielder earned thirty-five caps for his country, including all three matches at Euro 2012 before being sent off in the defeat to Italy. Despite this, he was named Ireland’s Player of the Year for 2012. The 2014/15 campaign would be his final one before retirement.

57MIL Andrews 57MIL Prutton

In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Garry Birtles. Mann was firmly second choice in the Football League behind Bill Leslie, but with Leslie also covering some top flight Live action, Mann’s opportunities increased each season. He was Sky’s voice of 3D commentaries for the previous four years, but the project was quietly dropped by Sky now due to a lack of uptake. Garry Birtles had been involved in Sky’s League commentaries for over a decade, dating back to the opening day of the 2003/04 season. Whilst he had been overtaken by the likes of Don Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe in recent seasons, Birtles still did a wide range of football including Premier League 3pm world feed matches, La Liga and international matches. He also was a regular in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and Leagues 1 & 2.

The final member of the on-air team for tonight’s clash was reporter David Craig. He was a long-standing part of Sky’s reporting roster, primarily for Sky Sports News. This expanded to Live match interviewing as of last season, reporting on Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and under-16 international Victory Shield games, as well as the second choice on the Football League.

 

THE COVERAGE

57MIL Ident 57MIL Sponsor

Friday nights were a regular slot for Live FL72 action, as well as Saturday 12.15pm to go head-to-head with BT Sport’s top flight lunchtime games. The programme began fifteen minutes prior to the 7.45pm kick-off, hosted from the stadium studio at The Amex towards the corner of the North Stand. Throughout the month of December, Sky Sports used special Christmas themed idents, as was now tradition for them. The famous animated snowmen of yesteryear were a distant memory, instead focussing now on snow-topped streets with the logo prominently place and commentary from a classic match over the top. Lights displayed the message “Merry Christmas”. After the Screwfix sponsor bumpers and the “Run Boy Run” title sequence, new for this season, the programme was underway.

Host Natalie Sawyer emphasised the contrast in fortunes for supporters of the Seagulls who, for the past two seasons, were more used to the battle at the top than avoiding the drop. Millwall, on the other hand, had appointed a manager more used to getting teams out of this Division but were desperately fighting just to stay in it this time. A glance at the League table showed the precarious positions for both, with Albion in the drop zone in twenty-second place and two points from safety. Millwall had twenty points from twenty games, sitting prettier in twentieth spot. “This time last season, Brighton were thirteen points better off and just outside of the top six,” Sawyer compared.

She was joined in the box by guests Keith Andrews and David Prutton. Andrews experienced the Albion during the previous campaign, reaching the Championship Play Offs. The current Watford man was asked what the downturn in form could be attributed to; “You can bring it back to a few seasons of turbulence off the pitch – managerial changes for the last three summers. There’s huge ambition at this football club and it is set up for success and long-term sustainability, but I just think it’s caught up with them a little bit.”

57MIL Bent 57MIL Split screen interview

The studio team picked out a couple of key players to watch out for, including Brighton’s newest striking option Darren Bent. Keith Andrews was expecting Bent to do well at the club, citing “wherever he’s been he has got goals”. David Prutton believed the Albion were “in essence a great team”, with decent possession stats and passing football. Due to the amount of loan signings, they were needing players who could gel quickly. As for Millwall, their key man was signed out of non-League; Lee Gregory from Halifax. The question of if he could make it in the Football League out of the National League was answered using examples that had gone on to better things; Andre Gray at Brentford and Jamie Vardy at Leicester, who also came from Halifax to move up. The pundits both expected the home side to be a threat and have enough to defeat Millwall tonight. With the previewing done, it was time for a quick ad break before the teams were in the tunnel and raring to go.

Just before kick-off, both managers were interviewed by reporter David Craig. Sami Hyypia was asked about the expectation of the job after such a poor start to his reign; “In my playing career, you play under pressure. I think pressure is good to be there.” Ian Holloway explained he made five changes to freshen the squad up after a humiliating defeat the previous week; one which Holloway described as his “worst day in football”. Then it was over the commentary team of Daniel Mann and Garry Birtles to talk us through the first half action, with ‘Sussex By the Sea’ ringing round as the teams walked onto the pitch.

57MIL Coming Up 57MIL Proposal

The half time analysis centred around the goal from Lee Gregory. Pundit David Prutton pointed out the number of players Millwall were getting forward was much greater than when Brighton attacked. When Gregory struck for the goal, there were an additional five yellow shirts in the penalty area. There was praise for Lewis Dunk from Keith Andrews, blocking shots and being “a real leader at the back”. The only success for Brighton probably came away from the game, as a half time proposal from one of the fans made it onto the Sky coverage. Natalie Sawyer name checked them as Kristina Sinclair and Jamie Howell, so congratulations to them. She did say “yes”, by the way.

Straight after the final whistle, reporter David Craig was on the pitch speaking with Man of the Match and Millwall captain, Danny Shittu, alongside goalscorer Lee Gregory. “That’s what this League’s all about. You’ve gotta fight!” said Shittu. After the adverts, around eight minutes or so of the programme were left to wrap things up. The stats presented a slightly different picture than what the scoreline did, with Brighton having more possession, attempts and shots on target. But the lack of bodies in the box and clear-cut chances cost the Albion. The studio team spoke over a montage of half-chances created, with Keith Andrews adding “they lack real clinicalness and ruthlessness. They did create some decent chances, but the confidence is clearly low.”

During his interview with David Craig, Millwall boss Ian Holloway echoed the point about confidence; “It’s all about believing and your performances are what you work for. The last one was awful but we’ve got massive character at this football club, let’s keep going.” Once again, there wasn’t time during the Live broadcast to hear from Sami Hyypia, with Natalie Sawyer directing us towards Sky Sports News for that later on. That is where the broadcast concluded, on a very bleak evening for the Albion. Change was needed. Change would arrive very shortly.

57MIL Stats

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

57MIL Kick Off 57MIL Comms

The visitors, in their change kit of all yellow, kicked off playing from right to left in the first half. Darren Bent was quickly showing what a good player he was, better than this level of football, with intelligent flick ons and lay offs. Unfortunately, a nice move down the left grounded to a halt when it was played back inside to Solly March, who opted for the wrong man in trying to loop it over the defence for Teixeira. Millwall enjoyed a couple of good moves of their own early on too, forcing the defence to work hard to clear the danger. Just before the quarter-hour mark, the Lions broke the deadlock to take a deserved lead through Lee Gregory. Brighton struggled to properly clear from Malone’s cross on the left. It eventually went to Gueye who shaped to shoot on the edge of the box. He got into a tangle and dragged it but it fell kindly into the path of Gregory. With his marker Dunk on his backside, space opened up for Gregory on the right of the six-yard line to just lift it over David Stockdale charging out and nestle into the corner (below left image). Millwall had their opener as the boos began to creep in at The Amex.

The atmosphere worsened as the game went on. Misplaced passes were booed, groans were very audible and patience was wearing thin. Brighton were shading the possession but there was nothing to show for it. Ten minutes after the goal, the Albion tested Millwall ‘keeper David Forde twice in quick succession. Jake Forster-Caskey hit a low drive from almost thirty yards to force Forde into palming away down to his left. The rebound saw Bruno’s cross along the ground couldn’t quite reach Darren Bent, as Forde again got there to deny Brighton. It was the first sign of any intent. Much of the Albion joy was coming from the left, with Teixeira key and Adam Chicksen supporting well. But finding Bent was proving difficult. Indeed, it was the Portuguese winger who made Forde produce another save, stopping his shot from the right this time. Real clear-cut chances were few and far between and at the break, it remained one-nil Millwall.

57MIL Goal 57MIL Sub

A chorus of booing greeted the half-time whistle, whilst a banner was unfurled suggesting Hyypia’s time was up. It also criticised the role of David Burke, the ‘head of football operations, who had been at the club for three years. He had been tasked with recruiting players and his results were, at best, mixed. Under both Hyypia and previous coach Oscar Garcia, high profile stars had been sold on but these were not adequately replaced, consequently making the squad worse. If Brighton had overachieved last season, the reality under Burke was hitting hard this time. Burke was dismissed from his role less than two weeks after this match. The booing continued into the second half, whenever the ball went out of play and Sami Hyypia touched it. Certain sections of the home support wanted their dissatisfaction to be heard. Loudly.

Having been warned about taking his time very early on, Millwall goalie David Forde was booked for timewasting ten minutes after the restart. But it was he who was keeping the Lions in the lead. Brighton’s best chance so far though, a couple of minutes later, required no action from Forde as Solly March blazed a brilliant opportunity high and wide. Adam Chicksen put in a terrific first time cross from the left. It found March unmarked twelve yards out, in line with the near post. He got his shot all wrong as he leant back and allowed it to cannon off his calf to sail over. The England under-21 international really should have done better with that. After sixty-five minutes, March was replaced by Adrian Colunga, back following suspension for his sending off in the defeat here to Fulham.

57MIL Banner

Millwall had very little by way of attack in the final third throughout the second half. They did muster a tame shot with twenty minutes remaining which should have been easy for Stockdale to gather. But, perhaps due to the lack of confidence around the team, he spilled it and had to be quick to gather the loose ball. Albion made a second change, bringing on, according to commentator Daniel Mann, “the maverick talents” of Paddy McCourt, replacing Elliott Bennett in midfield. Within minutes he almost assisted an equaliser. McCourt’s free kick was sent in dangerously towards the back stick. Gary Gardner got his head to it to float it towards the other post but Beevers was there for Millwall to clear in front of the goal line as Bent was waiting for the tap in. The possession was again edged by Brighton, much like in the first half, but that was not being converted to the scoreline. The chants of “We want Sami out!” were audible over the television pictures.

Five minutes were added on at the end of the ninety. A corner presented an opportunity for everyone, including goalie David Stockdale, to get in the box and apply the pressure. Teixeira’s kick woefully didn’t get above waste height and was cleared by the first man. A crossing chance for Adrian Colunga arrived a minute later, with five in blue and white waiting. The cross was too deep and alluded everyone. Frustrations were clear for all to see and hear. It petered out into a sorry, one-nil defeat. The final whistle blew, the boos rang louder than before. “More anguish at The Amex for Brighton”, said Daniel Mann.

57MIL Table

BRIGHTON 0 MILLWALL 1
Gregory

57MIL Replay.JPG

PREVIOUS; #56 BOURNEMOUTH 3-2 BRIGHTON 01/11/2014

NEXT; #58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL 25/01/2015

#56: Bournemouth 3-2 Brighton 01/11/2014

#56 BOURNEMOUTH 3-2 BRIGHTON Championship
Saturday 1st November 2014 Image result for

56BOU Titles

PRESENTER Natalie Sawyer GUEST Darren Anderton
COMMENTATORS Gary Weaver & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
5.15pm Kick Off; Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth     5-7.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

56BOU Ident 56BOU Sponsor 56BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

It was all change at the Albion following the Play Off Semi Final defeat at Derby in May. Coach Oscar Garcia offered his resignation the same night, citing a lack of financial investment in both his transfer windows the key frustration, as well as offloading key started in Ashley Barnes and Liam Bridcutt in January. His dissatisfaction had been clear for a while. The club found itself in exactly the same situation for the second summer in a row.

On 6th June, former Liverpool and Finland defender Sami Hyypia was the surprise appointment as manager of the Albion on a three-year deal. He spent a decade in the Premier League at Anfield, where he made his name at the heart of the defence that won two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and, of course, the Champions League in 2005. After Liverpool, he spent the final two years of his playing career with Bayer Leverkusen before retiring in 2011. He immediately moved into coaching, first as Finland’s assistant before returning to Leverkusen initially as caretaker. By May 2012 he was in charge of the first team along with Sascha Lewandowski and finished their first full campaign third in the Bundesliga, qualifying for the Champions League. He took sole charge for the 2013/14 season but was sacked in April after a slightly less successful year.

Upon his appointment at Brighton, Hyypia was all set to bring in former Liverpool and England assistant Sammy Lee as his number two. But, after agreeing to join, Lee u-turned at the last minute to join Southampton instead. Former Albion winger Nathan Jones was promoted from within, rising to first team coach from assistant head coach. Hyypia’s appointment was initially met with optimism.  He followed in similar paths to Poyet and Garcia, whereby he was a terrific player who achieved a lot in his career but was young and new to management in this country.

However, initial results certainly did not go well both on and off the field. Star striker Leo Ulloa couldn’t resist the Premier League lure, joining Leicester for £8million, whilst Will Buckley linked up with former boss Poyet at Sunderland. Spanish contingent Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez were released and Matt Upson joined Leicester for one final go at the top flight. On the field, back-to-back defeats kicked off the new season, at home to Sheffield Wednesday and away to Birmingham, without scoring a goal. Some respite came next with two wins, away at Leeds and against Bolton at The Amex.

But ahead of today’s clash with Bournemouth, victories seemed a world away as the club were on a ten game winless streak stretching back to August. Seven draws suggested a lack of clinical edge in finishing teams off and the Seagulls were sat precariously in twenty-first, just a place above the drop zone almost a third of the way into the new season. What a contrast to the previous two years; where the Premier League was in sight, now all of a sudden League One was a more realistic prospect.

Bournemouth, by contrast, were enjoying a tremendous start to the season, building on an impressive tenth place finish back in the Championship last season. Boss Eddie Howe was named October’s Manager of the Month, whilst striker Callum Wilson won the Player’s award. A one-hundred-percent record last month included an eight-nil demolition of Birmingham at St Andrew’s to catapult them into the Play Off places. Sky Sports cameras were present to see the latest battle between two South Coast teams, Live on a Saturday teatime.

 

THE TEAMS

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Just two players who started the last televised match back in May also began here; Dunk and Greer in an otherwise new-look Brighton. After departing manager Oscar Garcia’s complaint of a lack of transfer funds, incoming boss Sami Hyypia didn’t enjoy much shrift from the board over the summer either. A plethora of players were brought in before the window shut, but six were free transfers with a further three on loan. Money was spent, although undisclosed amounts, on goalkeeper David Stockdale and striker Chris O’Grady but both were absent from the squad here due to injury. In fact, there was somewhat of a goalkeeping crisis.

Last season’s ‘keepers Tomasz Kuszczak and Peter Brezovan were released over the summer, and with Stockdale out, this left only teenage rookie Christian Walton. He made his debut during the midweek two-nil defeat in the League Cup Fourth Round at Tottenham, a game in which he performed well, but it would have been unfair to rely on him during a turbulent time in the League campaign. Former Bolton and Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi was signed yesterday on an emergency loan and went straight into the starting XI for his solitary appearance.

In front of him was a new look back line, as left-back Joe Bennett joined on a season-long loan from Aston Villa and experienced Northern Irishman Aaron Hughes came in from QPR. They slotted in alongside captain Gordon Greer whilst academy graduate Lewis Dunk became a regular starter after two seasons as a bit-part player. Another Villa loanee, Gary Gardner, sat in midfield next to summer freebie Danny Holla, transferred in from his native Netherlands.

Hyypia called in a favour from his old side, as Liverpool loaned Portuguese attacking midfielder Joao Teixeira to gain first team football for the year. Two summer signings started up top; Sam Baldock moving from Bristol City and Adrian Colunga flying in from Spain’s Getafe. The bench was probably more familiar to fans from last season than the starters, with Craig Mackail-Smith, Kazenga LuaLua and Inigo Calderon providing an option.

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Eddie Howe named Championship Player of the Month Callum Wilson up top. Wilson joined after five years at Coventry for around £3million in July. He netted twice on the opening day win at Huddersfield, with Marc Pugh and Yann Kermorgant also on the scoresheet. Pugh started for our match whilst Kermorgant sat on the bench. Midfielder Andrew Surman moved from Norwich ahead of the season, whilst goalkeeper Artur Boruc was on a season’s loan from Southampton.

There was a distinctly Brighton flavour in the centre of defence; Tommy Elphick spent seven seasons at the Albion after graduating from the youth setup and joined Bournemouth in 2012 following injury forcing him low down the pecking order. Steve Cook made his Seagulls debut in the League Cup penalty shoot-out defeat of Manchester City in 2008 as a seventeen-year-old but only made a handful of appearances in the subsequent three years. He joined Bournemouth initially on loan in October 2011 before making it permanent three months later. Elsewhere, Matt Ritchie was impressing for the Cherries on the wing whilst fellow Scotsman Ryan Fraser was part of the team that gained promotion from League One in 2013. Refereeing tonight’s big match was little Keith Stroud.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

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This evening’s coverage was hosted by Natalie Sawyer from the Goldsands Stadium, better known as Dean Court. Sawyer started out in production as Sky Sports in 2000, as a runner and graphics operator for Sky Sports News, before progressing on-screen to host on the channel. She became one of the faces of Sky’s coverage of Transfer Deadline Day alongside Jim White and all that yellow. As of the 2013/14 campaign, Sawyer began hosting Live League One and Two matches and became the secondary Football League presenter this season, behind Simon Thomas, combining this with her stints on Sky Sports News. Joining her in the studio was former England midfielder Darren Anderton. As well as thirty international caps and a World Cup finals goal, the majority of Anderton’s career was spent at Tottenham where he featured in the first dozen years of the Premiership. He started and ended his career playing for a team in the Meridian region, beginning at Portsmouth in 1990 before finishing at Bournemouth after three seasons in the Football League in 2008/09. He, perhaps unfairly, earned the nickname ‘sicknote’ for his apparent frequent injuries, though the records show he only ever made fewer than twenty appearances in a season on three occasions; coming in the mid-90s at Spurs. He represented England at both Euro ’96 and World Cup ’98 and since retirement worked as a studio pundit covering Euro 2012 for Canadian broadcaster TSN.

56BOU Studio

In the commentary box were Gary Weaver and Don Goodman. Weaver became more of a prominent voice on Sky’s Football League coverage from this season, having done just a handful of Live matches in the previous couple of years. One of these was Albion’s League One game during the promotion season away at Colchester, where a comical own goal took a little bit of gloss off the title. He was now essentially FL72 third choice, behind Bill Leslie and Daniel Mann. But with Leslie getting more Premier League opportunities, and 3D commentaries all but disappeared because Sky pulled the plug on this football project, the Football League provided Mann and Weaver increased Live match exposure. Co-commentator Don Goodman was one of Sky’s most experienced League analysts, having done the role since 2007. He tended to get the biggest Championship game of the weekend, with the likes of Andy Hinchcliffe and Garry Birtles picking up the rest. Completing the line-up was touchline reporter Jonathan Oakes. He was Sky’s main FL72 interviewer, having taken over from Patrick Davison two seasons ago. Oakes previously reported for Sky Sports News and the magazine programming.

 

THE COVERAGE

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Sky Sports introduced a new set of idents for the 2014/15 season, with even more dramatic music than before! The theme was based around putting Sky Sports into the picture, as the logo was part masked by the slow-mo action. The Football League coverage was again sponsored by Screwfix for this season, and still going under the branding of ‘FL72’ for the seventy-two clubs in the three Divisions. We did get brand new titles for this year, soundtracked by Woodkid’s track Run Boy Run. The music had previously been used on Eurosport’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics and more recently for the excellent closing montage to the BBC’s World Cup 2014 Final. The new sequence featured red and white rectangular panels flying around from all over the country towards a generic stadium where they’d build the FL72 logo. These red panels had clips of goals and celebrations on, whilst some of the white panels had club badges. It reached a crescendo in the revealing of the FL72 logo next to a giant Championship trophy, with either the word ‘Live’ or ‘Review’ underneath depending on if it was a match or magazine show.

Host Natalie Sawyer’s introduction VT focussed around Bournemouth, unsurprising given their excellent start and record win the previous week, playing on the ‘Bourne’ trilogy of films to end with ‘The Bournemouth Supremacy/Identity/Legacy’. There was a mention of the Albion’s struggles this season despite a Play Off place six months earlier. Sami Hyypia’s reign hadn’t begun well and Brighton were without a League win since the first month.

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Coverage began fifteen minutes before the 5.15pm kick off, hosted by Sawyer with her guest Darren Anderton from a box in the corner of the stadium. With this being the late game, a rarity for Sky’s Football League during the current rights cycle as the regular slot was 12.15pm on Saturdays, the rest of the day’s results were known before kick-off. Brighton hadn’t moved from their precarious twenty-first placed spot, whilst Bournemouth had been bumped down to seventh but a win would see them into the top two on goal difference. The graphics were as last season, with one tiny tweak being the introduction of a red card on the scoreboard if a player got sent off; as first used in this country by ESPN five years earlier.

In the limited amount of pre-match time before the adverts, the studio pairing picked out a couple of key players; Callum Wilson for the Cherries with his nine goals from fourteen League games, and summer transfer Sam Baldock, yet to get off the mark for the Albion. The form guide comparison showed the huge contrast in recent weeks between the two sides.

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After the ad break and with the teams waiting in the tunnel, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with both managers. Eddie Howe was in confident mood but was “under no illusions, Brighton are a very good team so we have to be at our best.” Sami Hyypia acknowledged his Brighton side were lacking in the final third, not turning chances to goals and needed immediate improvement on that. With everyone set, it was time for our commentators, Gary Weaver and Don Goodman, to take over for the match.

At half time, pundit Darren Anderton had some encouraging words to say about the Albion’s performance despite being behind. “They’ve actually looked to play very well, Brighton, even from the first minute. They’ve made the pitch big, passed the ball around really well, if anything they’re just not ruthless enough.” Upon reviewing the first half goals, Anderton had sympathy for Greer’s own goal to give Bournemouth the lead; there wasn’t much he could do about that due to the fantastic ball in. For Colunga’s equaliser, he praised the Brighton play as being “absolutely fantastic”, and Pugh restoring the home lead with “great technique.” But for the second half, he implored the Seagulls to continue how they’d been playing.

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Just before the adverts after the final whistle, reporter Jonathan Oakes got immediate reaction from ex-Albion and current Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick, alongside the Man of the Match Simon Francis. Back in the studio, host Natalie Sawyer pointed out this was Bournemouth’s first win in front of the Sky cameras since 2003. And you thought our Live record wasn’t great! She and Anderton reviewed the five goals from the game during the closing seven or eight minutes of the programme. For the second Albion equaliser, Anderton gave Baldock credit for “a great first touch and then he just kept his head down, drilled it with his left foot, with the laces, giving the ‘keeper no chance. Great finish.”

For the winning goal, he agreed with the referee’s decision to award the penalty, whilst there was no chance of saving the spot kick when it was hit with such pace and accuracy. Jonathan Oakes spoke with the Bournemouth boss but no time to hear from Sami Hyypia before the programme came off-air at 7.30pm. Eddie Howe was disappointed with the performance and lack of control on the game but gave credit to Brighton for forcing that to be the case. Plaudits were all well and good, but it was wins that were needed if we were to avoid sleepwalking into League One.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

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A minute’s silence preceded the match, as with all fixtures across the weekend, for Remembrance. The home team got the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half; both clubs wearing their traditional home kits. Brighton started on the front foot, dominating the ball and winning a dangerous free-kick position on the edge of the box. Gary Gardner’s low fizz took a touch of Elphick and nearly in the back of the net, flying just wide. Right-back Aaron Hughes dealt a blow to Brighton’s plans when he jumped, landed and twisted his ankle badly enough to force him off injured after just ten minutes and stretchered out of the ground; the current longest serving player, Inigo Calderon, took his place. It took Bournemouth a quarter of an hour to work a chance, with Ali Al-Habsi forced into a low save to keep Ritchie’s close range effort out well.

Bournemouth grew in confidence and nine minutes later had the lead. Co-commentator Don Goodman stated, “This is the first real concerted pressure that Brighton have come under here this evening. Got to stand firm.” As soon as he’d finished his sentence, Simon Francis delivered a fantastic cross from the right to bounce in between the Albion centre backs. Gordon Greer, six yards out aware of an attacker right behind him, couldn’t afford to allow the ball to go any further and tried to nod it behind for a corner. Unfortunately, it ended up flying into the corner of the net for an own goal.

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If things were looking down for Brighton, they didn’t show it as three minutes later they scored an equaliser. A defence-splitting through ball from the outside of Joao Teixeira’s right foot put Adrian Colunga in the clear. He latched onto the ball well, took a touch to the side of the onrushing Artur Boruc in goal and calmly slotted into the open goal to make it one-one. It was a terrific run from the striker and superb forward play to finish it off for his first Brighton League goal.

The game continued pretty evenly until the third goal eight minutes before the break. Marc Pugh would be credited with it, but they got a slice of luck through a deflection on the way in. A corner into a crowded box swirled up into the air. Brighton couldn’t clear the second ball either, with it bouncing to an unmarked Pugh fifteen yards out. He adjusted his body to side-volley the dropping ball very well. Lewis Dunk’s despairing lunge gave the ball further momentum as it slipped through the legs of Gary Gardner, past Al-Habsi and in.

56BOU Baldock goal 56BOU Penalty

Into the second half, Brighton again started well. Lewis Dunk went close to nabbing an equaliser when his header from a corner had to be saved very well down low to his right by Boruc. Dunk had four goals to his name this season already, proving what a threat he was from set pieces as Albion’s top scorer. At the hour mark, Brighton did score a second as Sam Baldock became the second player of the match to score his first League goal for the club. For a team that enjoyed playing the ball around, this was a much more direct approach. The ball was launched back in to the Bournemouth half by goalkeeper Al-Habsi. Gordon Greer flicked on and Baldock was all of a sudden bearing down on goal. The defensive offside trap did not work. Baldock’s first touch controlled a difficult, bobbling ball whilst his second with the left just drove it low and hard past Boruc for a terrific finish. A second leveller for the Seagulls sent the already buoyant travelling support, making terrific noise throughout, even more vocal as we entered the final third of the match.

A change saw LuaLua come on for Colunga, whilst Bournemouth brought on Yann Kermorgant and Ryan Fraser; both teams could smell a victory. LuaLua’s first action almost brought about a goal but certainly caused panic at the back. Having almost been clattered into through a clumsy fall from the defender, LuaLua fired the ball across the face of the goal which somehow managed to pass every player by. It ended up at the feet of Gary Gardner on the far side who blazed it high and wide. The arrival of Kermorgant improved Bournemouth’s attacking play, with everything going through the former Charlton and Leicester man. Hyypia’s attempt to wrestle back control saw Craig Mackail-Smith brought on for Sam Baldock.

But with a quarter of an hour left, Bournemouth were given the chance to take all three points when Lewis Dunk brought down Callum Wilson for a penalty kick. Dunk’s reaction showed he knew immediately that he did wrong, holding his head in his hands as Wilson went to ground. The tackle from behind got none of the ball and plenty of the man, unnecessarily sliding in when Wilson was only going towards the byline. Up stepped Yann Kermorgant who made no mistake to give Bournemouth the lead for a third time this evening, sending Al-Habsi the other way, finding the opposite corner for a great spot kick. No repeat of his dreadful chipped penalty miss for Leicester in the 2010 Play Offs to cost his side the shoot-out. Bournemouth stood firm in the closing stages and held on to the victory this time, the final score three-two. Albion’s winless run continued whilst the Cherries went from strength to strength.

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BOURNEMOUTH 3 BRIGHTON 2
Greer (own goal), Pugh, Kermorgant Colunga, Baldock

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