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.

 

#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.

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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.”

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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

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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

56BOU Brighton

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.

56BOU Bournemouth 56BOU Subs

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

56BOU Sawyer 56BOU Anderton

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

56BOU Hyypia arriving 56BOU Results

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.

56BOU Form guide 56BOU Baldock

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.

56BOU Hyypia split screen 56BOU Analysis

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.

56BOU Elphick 56BOU Coming Up

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

56BOU Kick Off 56BOU Comms

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.

56BOU Own Goal 56BOU Colunga goal

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.

56BOU Table top 56BOU Table bottom

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

56BOU Replay 56BOU Goal

PREVIOUS; #55 DERBY 4-1 BRIGHTON 11/05/2014

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

#55: Derby 4-1 Brighton 11/05/2014

#55 DERBY 4-1 BRIGHTON Championship Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Sunday 11th May 2014 Image result for

DERA Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Uwe Rosler
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
5.15pm Kick Off; iPro Stadium, Derby     5-7.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 2

DERA Ident DERA Sponsor DERA Intro

Context of the Match: The 2nd Leg of this Championship Play Off tie came just under three days after the original. At The Amex on Thursday the spoils went to the away side as they turned around a blistering first twenty-five minutes for Brighton. On loan winger Jesse Lingard gave the Albion a deserved lead early on, finishing at the second attempt after a fierce defensive block. But a foul from club Player of the Season Matt Upson in the box gave Chris Martin the chance to level things from the penalty spot. And on the stroke of half time, Martin’s shot cannoned off the crossbar and onto the back of goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak to give the Rams the lead. They saw out the second half without any more goals, meaning that slender advantage is how things stand going into this Sunday late-evening decider at the iPro Stadium. Derby were the third best supported club in the Championship this season with an average attendance of nearly 25,000. The Albion had the highest, averaging 27,283 during the regular campaign. Today’s hosts were expecting a bumper crowd for their last chance to see the team at the iPro until next season – whatever Division they’d be playing in. Derby were favourites to progress to the Wembley Final in just over a fortnight and had already done the treble over the Seagulls. Both the First Leg and the League meeting at The Amex ended two-one to the away side, with Martin netting three of those four. The last meeting at this stadium ended one-nil, with Patrick Bamford getting the decisive goal in January. Derby’s first taste of the Play Offs came twenty years ago in this Division, when they made the Final after knocking out Millwall. They went on to lose to Leicester at Wembley. Brighton’s first experience also saw them defeat Millwall in the Semis before losing in the Final, back in 1991 to Neil Warnock’s Notts County. Brighton’s finest hour at the business end of the season was a decade ago in the third tier, when a Leon Knight penalty defeated Bristol City in the Final. They joined Derby in the new Championship for the 2004/05 season, at the end of which Derby surprisingly lost to Preston in the Play Off Semi Finals. Finally, their most recent venture saw a one-nil win over West Brom in the 2007 Final to gain promotion to the Premier League in Derby’s one and only success thus far. Who would progress to the big one this time round? The Sky cameras were present to find out.

DERA Derby DERA Subs DERA Brighton

The Teams: Oscar Garcia made two changes from the First Leg defeat; one enforced and one tactical. Jake Forster-Caskey dropped to the bench, replaced by the club’s Young Player of the Season Rohan Ince in midfield. At the back, Matt Upson’s season was over due to a reoccurrence of his previous ankle injury. Lewis Dunk stepped up once more to take his place alongside captain Gordon Greer and full backs Inigo Calderon and Stephen Ward. First Leg goalscorer Jesse Lingard maintained his run of starting every match since joining on loan in February from Manchester United. Lingard and Will Buckley were supporting Leo Ulloa up top in the quest for goals to overturn the two-one deficit. Six of the starting eleven also began the Play Off Semi Final Second Leg last season against Crystal Palace including Kuszczak in-goal and Andrea Orlandi in the middle. Stephen Ward also had experience of these ties, having lost at this stage for Wolves against West Brom in the 2007 Championship Play Offs. Keith Andrews continued his spell in the side, coming towards the end of his season long loan from Bolton. A surprise inclusion was named on the bench; Kemy Agustien hadn’t featured since the last time we were here back in January. For Derby, Steve McClaren named Will Hughes on their team sheet in the only change from Thursday, replacing Craig Bryson who was absent through a back injury. Hughes was awarded the PFA Championship Young Player of the Year gong by the Football League. Striker Chris Martin added to his twenty League goals this term at the Amex from the penalty spot, the club’s top scorer. On the subs bench, Connor Sammon was an option for the Rams, he came on during the first match. Both bosses had been named Championship Manager of the Month during the season; Garcia taking November’s prize whilst McClaren got the nod the following month. With Brighton needing goals to add to their aggregate tally, they could take inspiration from the fact Derby conceded four here back in October in an amazing draw with Ipswich, the joint highest scoring game in the League this year. Taking charge of tonight’s affair was Craig Pawson.

DERA Thomas DERA Rosler DERA Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: With this match taking place on the day of the final set of Premier League fixtures, the Play Off game was scheduled on Sky Sports 2 for a Sunday evening 5.15pm kick off. Super Sunday concentrated on the Premier League title race as it went down to the last day. With both Manchester City and Liverpool in the running, their games were both shown Live kicking off at 3pm. On the back of the full-time whistle at Anfield in which the Reds ended in second place, coverage concluded there to allow our match in Derby to receive fifteen minutes build up. Regular host Simon Thomas was joined in the studio in the corner of the iPro Stadium by the Wigan manager Uwe Rosler. His side finished a point and a place above the Albion in the Championship standings, and drew nil-nil with QPR in their First Leg of the Play Offs on Friday night. The return fixture at Loftus Road would take place tomorrow, giving Rosler a chance to weigh up his potential Final opponents here today. The East German took over the Latics in December earlier in the season and guided them to the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley, losing on penalties to Arsenal. During his playing career, he first came to the attention of English football supporters when he joined Manchester City in the mid 90s having spent his career in Germany until that point. He returned to his native land after City before moving to Southampton in 2000. He had the honour of scoring the final ever goal at Saints old home of The Dell during a friendly with Brighton in May 2001. Brighton were selected to close the ground as they had also been the first ever opponents there back in 1898 under the guise of Brighton United. Thomas and Rosler spent the first part of the programme discussing the Play Off picture so far. This included Rosler’s own Wigan and their First Leg with QPR. He was the manager of Brentford when they got to the League One Final last season, losing to Yeovil, and was able to draw from that big game pressure to explain what it might be like for today’s sides. The inclusion of Will Hughes due to Bryson’s injury was analysed, both very good but very different prospects for the Albion to face. After the break, the teams were in the tunnel. Using the familiar split screen we’ve seen all season, we saw the interviews with both managers played out as the players entered the field. Jonathan Oakes spoke to Oscar Garcia, who summed up the First Leg as “We played much better, but they were better than us in front of goal and that made the difference.” As with that match, the commentary pairing here were regulars Bill Leslie and Don Goodman.

DERA Garcia DERA Analysis

One change for the graphics from the last match was in the replay transitions, which now reverted back to the Play Off trophy as opposed to the logo. I can only assume the trophy animation wasn’t ready in time for that opening game. The aggregate score was tacked onto the scorebar as is customary for Second Legs. At half time, pundit Uwe Rosler believed the turning point was the enforced substitution bringing Greer off and shuffling the defence around. As a consequence, Will Hughes wasn’t picked up well by his marker, allowing that little bit of space to turn the ball home for one-nil. He said the defence looked unsure, particularly when Ward almost made it two-nil, with Stephen Ward not used to playing centre back and Lewis Dunk and Adam Chicksen not regulars. Just under fifteen minutes was left after the full-time adverts to conclude the game and Brighton’s season. Jonathan Oakes heard from victorious manager Steve McClaren in the tunnel, who as usual spent the majority of the game up in the stands watching from a high vantage point. You could hear the supporters chants and songs in the background as they crowded the pitch to celebrate. Some of the Derby players gathered in the stand above the tunnel with the stadium PA to join in, whilst for the viewers our studio team talked over these pictures for a couple of minutes. Their task was then to analyse the five goals we witnessed, four of which came in the second period. Rosler was especially impressed by scorer number three, George Thorne, believing he should have been awarded Man of the Match over Will Hughes. Having gone most of his Live games not able to emerge from the dressing room in time before the end of the programme to give his post match interview, we were afforded that with Oscar Garcia after this match. When speaking with Jonathan Oakes he told of how Derby deserved to go through despite Brighton’s excellent showing at The Amex; “The First Leg I think we deserved much more but, to be honest, they are better than us and they showed today.” With a nod to his frustrations in the transfer market, that later became apparent, the final question about strengthening over the summer was met with “That’s a question for the club, not for me.” Telling. The final couple of minutes were spent with Rosler discussing his own Second Leg fixture at QPR the following night. The final whistle was blown on Albion’s season Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras, as Simon Thomas bid farewell from another broadcast. A lot would change in the period between now and the next Live Brighton match both on and off the pitch.

DERA Kick Off DERA Comms

Story of the Match: The First Leg fixture three days earlier was a very open, attacking match with chances for both sides and three first half goals. If Brighton were to get through today they’d need a repeat performance being more clinical in their change kit of yellow with thin blue stripes today. The opening exchanges were equally as open, with both sides pushing forward. Jesse Lingard enjoyed a positive charge towards the Derby box but was ultimately crowded out. He was having to do a lot on his own going forward. A risky challenge with his studs showing cost Jeff Hendrick a caution when it could potentially have been more. Don Goodman in commentary believed so. As the half went on, the home side grew into the match and began shooting from the edge of the area on a number of occasions. Craig Forsyth had got forward from left back as a chance opened up for him, his effort curling into the outside of the netting. A formation change with a quarter of the match gone was required for Brighton as Gordon Greer picked up a knock injuring his hamstring. He had to be replaced by Adam Chicksen, usually a left-back. Consequently Stephen Ward moved into the centre to accommodate Chicksen’s arrival in a slightly makeshift defence. To make things worse, Lewis Dunk picked up a silly yellow card with an hour still to play for a late lunge. In the thirty-fourth minute, the first goal was scored. Forsyth got forward once more, providing a low cross from the left into the danger area. It was backflicked goalbound expertly by Will Hughes around twelve yards out to career into Kuszczak’s bottom left-hand corner. The pace of the touch gave the ‘keeper no chance and Derby deservedly increased their aggregate lead. Another goal was almost gifted their way four minutes before the break, when Jamie Ward chased down a backpass to Kuszczak. As he attempted to launch up field, the goalie’s kick cannoned off the striker only to see the ball bounce down into the ground and just over the bar. Brighton’s solitary first half chance fell to Leo Ulloa just a minute or so later. A clever ball over the defence from Lingard was matched by a clever run from Ulloa to allude his marker. Leaping outstretched, he brought the ball down but his body position ended up side-on facing the touchline. He quickly swiveled to get the effort on target but by this time Grant in-goal had gained on him and thwarted the shot well with his legs for a crucial save. With away goals not counting double in the Play Offs, an equaliser then would have reset the match for the second half with just the First Leg deficit separating them. Alas, it was not to be.

DERA LuaLua DERA Pitch Invasion

It took just ten minutes of the second half for Derby to increase the lead and effectively put the game out of Albion’s reach. The front three all combined to give Chris Martin his now obligatory goal against us. Russell crossed on the right-wing for Ward. His header back across the face of goal found Martin to tap home from just a couple of yards. His determination to get to the ball first, ahead of two defenders who had better starting positions than him, said all it needed to about the confidence at the back for Brighton. They didn’t react quick enough to the danger and it was game over at the aggregate scoreline became four-one. Garcia threw on his final two subs in reaction; Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua for Buckley and Orlandi, but the task was nigh-impossible for the team with the sixth lowest away scoring record in the Division. A brief pause from the crowd occurred to applaud and remember the fifty-six people who lost their lives twenty-nine years ago on this day in the fire at Bradford City’s Valley Parade stadium. The shots continued to pepper the Brighton back line with Derby showing no signs of letting up. Frustrations started to get the better of the players, with Leo Ulloa the latest to pick up an unneccesary yellow card for backchat. The scoring wasn’t complete yet as with less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Derby got their third of the day in some style. An attempted shot from sub Dawkins was blocked as far as the edge of the area. It fell to George Thorne to whack one on the volley into the bottom corner for a tremendous finish. Don Goodman described it as the cherry on top of the icing on the cake for Derby. And it got even better with a few minutes left as they got their fourth. Jeff Hendrick burst forward showing a turn of pace to skip away from Chicksen, he passed it to sub Bamford and continued his run into the penalty area. Bamford cut it back to an unmarked Hendrick who finished emphatically from around the penalty spot to compound the Albion misery. With a minute to go the travelling support had a small amount to cheer about when Kazenga LuaLua scored the scantest of consolation goals with a minute left, any emotions for it were long gone by this stage. Calderon cut back for the winger on the edge to sidefoot low into the corner. It was a neat finish, a shame it meant very little for only his second of the season. And so it would be Derby who would contest the Play Off Final at the end of May, as the fans spilled onto the pitch upon the final whistle. Their side clinching victory on aggregate by six goals to two. Steve McClaren headed back to Wembley for the first time since the end of his dismal England reign seven years earlier. A last-minute Bobby Zamora goal won the day for QPR in the Final. Whilst Brighton’s own managerial set up would be thrown into chaos just hours after today’s defeat, with Oscar Garcia handing in his resignation. The club reluctantly accepted the following day and had to begin the search for a new boss for the second successive summer. Garcia was clearly unhappy with the recruitment structure at the club, with David Burke in charge of transfers and a limited amount of funds available. The January transfer window hit him hard, losing key players without replacing them, and it was a massive achievement to drag this side into the Play Offs in the first place. I don’t think many Seagulls fans believed they would do it this season. The manner of the defeat and the resignation of a popular manager so soon after though were gutting and a rethink during the break would need careful consideration.

DERA Schedule

DERBY 4 BRIGHTON 1
Hughes, Martin, Thorne, Hendrick LuaLua

DERA Replay

PREVIOUS; #54 BRIGHTON 1-2 DERBY 08/05/2014

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

#54: Brighton 1-2 Derby 08/05/2014

#54 BRIGHTON 1-2 DERBY Championship Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg
Thursday 8th May 2014 Image result for

DER Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

DER Ident DER Sponsor DER Intro

Context of the Match: The final few minutes in the away end at Nottingham Forest would live long in the memory for Albion fans, as the club snatched the last Play Off place in the most dramatic circumstances. Reading were drawing at home with Burnley with just a minute left to play, whilst Brighton were level at Forest. In stoppage time up stepped Leo Ulloa to connect with a perfect Craig Mackail-Smith cross to send Seagulls supporters wild, leapfrog Reading into sixth and extend the season by a couple more games at least. The message didn’t quite filter through to all in Berkshire as a mini pitch invasion ensued before the fantastic sight of them suddenly realising it wasn’t to be their day, as Oscar Garcia and his men couldn’t contain their joy upon the final whistle at the City Ground a minute or so later. What a day. Now, the tension was only about to be ramped up as we enter the so-called lottery of the Play Offs. For Brighton fans, nothing could be worse than the sight of rivals Crystal Palace claiming victory at this stage last season so really, things couldn’t be as bad as before. Could they?! The reward for finishing sixth was a trip to the highest ranked team; third placed Derby County. They were favourites for promotion of the four teams remaining whilst Brighton were the outsiders. County finished thirteen points better off and scored the most goals of any team in the League with eighty-four, that’s a whopping twenty-nine more than the Albion. The First Leg would be held at The Amex on a Thursday night, kick starting the Football League Play Offs across the three Divisions. A lead would be needed to take to the iPro Stadium on Sunday if Brighton were to have any chance of progressing. The best attack were facing the best defence in terms of shut-outs. Something had to give.

DER BrightonDER Derby DER Subs

The Teams: Following the dramatic Final Day victory to catapult the Albion into this Play Off match, Oscar Garcia named an unchanged starting eleven. That meant the back line which served him so well throughout the season remained intact, with captain Gordon Greer partnering former England international Matt Upson. The Englishman and the Scotsman were joined by an Irishman; last week’s goalscorer Stephen Ward at left back. Whilst it was Upson who took the fans Player of the Season honour, Ward was runner-up and goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak poled third. Jake Forster-Caskey won the Goal of the Season for his long-range left-foot piledriver away at Doncaster in a three-one win back in November. Jesse Lingard’s loan spell from Manchester United was extended to include the Play Off matches. Leo Ulloa netted the winner to take us to this match and he also scored at The Amex when Derby were last here, a two-one defeat in the first home game of the campaign in August. Last week’s assist maker Craig Mackail-Smith continued to fill a space on the bench and would be hoping to feature for more than the handful of minutes he impacted at Forest. Steve McClaren’s Derby County secured their spot here with games to go and could afford the luxury of resting many first team regulars during their draw with Leeds on the Final Day. In all, six changes were made for tonight’s clash as the likes of Craig Bryson and Johnny Russell returned. Jamie Ward and Chris Martin were absent from the squad completely last week, both were straight back in here as McClaren reverted to the same starting line up that played against Watford two games ago. Only Ward has previous Play Off experience in the Derby side; he was sent off in the 2009 Final for Sheffield United in their defeat to Burnley. The referee for tonight’s encounter was Roger East.

DER Thomas DER Beagrie DER Pitchside DER Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: Number one pairing Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie hosted Live coverage of the first of the Play Off matches, kicking off a mammoth run for Sky Sports who were once again televising all twelve Semi Finals and all three Finals over the coming days and weeks. The programme began fifteen minutes before the quarter-to-eight kick off, allowing time to focus on the big match and soak up the atmosphere. As with last season, the title sequence was adapted using the same style as the regular campaign but with classic action from previous Play Off matches culminating with the trophies lined up at the end. The graphics and music remained as they were before. The dramatic introductory VT welcomed us to the entire Play Off picture, mentioning all twelve teams involved and heightening the tension and drama the occasion brings before joining our hosts who were standing by pitchside for the pre match build up. They ran through the odds, highlighting Derby’s tag as favourites and Brighton’s as outsiders. The form guide pitted the best two against each other, with both unbeaten in their last six matches. They were struggling to make themselves heard over the noise from the crowd and the music blaring from the PA system. After the advert break and with the teams in the tunnel ready for kick off, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with each manager – Oscar Garcia and Steve McClaren – played out on a split screen adjacent to the Live pictures. The Brighton boss told of his delight at the team reaching this stage; “I couldn’t be prouder of my players for what they did last game. They deserve to be here fighting for our place.” The build up was complete, time to hand over to the commentary team. Completing Sky’s A team were Bill Leslie and Don Goodman on the gantry.

DER Form DER Garcia pre match DER MOTM Award DER Analysis

As with last season at this stage, the Play Offs logo was added to the back of the club crests on Sky’s graphics so they rotated between each image. The logo was also used for replay transitions, spinning in and zooming towards us, as opposed to the Play Off trophy which was present last year. At half time the presentation team moved up from pitchside to the familiar North Stand box studio to analyse that great half of football. With three goals to look at, time was of the essence. Peter Beagrie described Lingard’s finish as “instinctive”, giving the goalkeeper no chance. He called for Brighton “not to panic… do not let the deficit increase”, praising them for much of their play so far but not getting the rub of the green with the own goal. Derby’s goalkeeper Lee Grant was named as the Man of the Match and he was interviewed along with Gordon Greer in the centre circle after the full-time whistle by reporter Jonathan Oakes. After the break more than ten minutes remained to review this entertaining Play Off encounter. Steve McClaren described it as “half the job done” before pointing out to Oakes that Brighton have a good away record and it would be a tough fixture. Thomas and Beagrie talked through the goals again, having no doubts about the award of the penalty. Reviewing what turned out to be the winner, Beagrie questioned four or five Albion defenders in the box but nobody closing down Martin as he struck the effort which would crash in off the ‘keeper. Lee Grant’s saves were highlighted, saving everything Brighton threw his way. The pundits said the referee should have awarded at least one penalty for shirt pulling on the home attackers, whilst Calderon’s collision in the first half was perhaps hindered by his over-reaction when falling. The programme concluded by looking ahead to the following night’s Play Off encounter between Wigan and Queens Park Rangers before signing off for the evening.

DER Kick Off DER Comms DER Lingard goal DER McGhee

Story of the Match: Brighton kicked off the first of this season’s Play Off encounters, shooting from left to right in their familiar blue and white stripes. The atmosphere was great early on, with Seagulls supporters fully embracing the extra bonus match at the wonderful stadium. Inigo Calderon was booked within eight minutes for a late lunge, putting extra pressure on him for the rest of the match. He was involved straight away at the other end of the field, when a tangle of legs with Forsyth could easily have been given as a penalty to Brighton. Referee Roger East was not interested on this occasion. The home side took the game to Derby in the first quarter, enjoying more possession and attacking threat. And in the eighteenth minute, that threat turned to a goal. Again Calderon was at the heart of things, driving forward down the right hand side and bursting into the penalty area. He cut the ball back for Jesse Lingard level with the penalty spot. His first attempt was blocked but he was not going to be denied a second time, as the England under-21 international fired past the ‘keeper to huge roars from the crowd. It was exactly what Brighton deserved after an excellent start. The old adage of being at your most vulnerable after scoring was almost proved right when a Derby free kick was whipped in and somehow missed everybody as it bounced just wide of the post. Despite the domination in corners and the ball spending half the time in the Derby third, Brighton were pegged back just before the half hour mark through a rash challenge and a penalty. A rapid counter attack from the away side saw Craig Forsyth burst from inside his own half right up to the Albion penalty box and, after a neat one-two with Hendrick, his run continued into the area. With three striped defenders around him one of them was bound to make contact, it was Upson’s reckless challenge which brought the left back down for a clear penalty. It fell to Chris Martin to convert the spot kick, sending Kuszczak the wrong way to calmly equalise against the run of play. Now it was Derby’s fans turn to make all the noise. The last successful Brighton manager in the Play Offs, Mark McGhee, was watching on in the stands. He was part of Gordon Strachan’s team with Scotland.

DER Own Goal DER Action Areas

Derby continued to threaten on the counter attack and almost took the lead but for the goalkeeper and Gordon Greer clearing away a dangerous cross. As the half eased to a close, Derby struck a killer blow with virtually the last kick. Johnny Martin controlled a ball drilled towards him well with his back to goal. He was able to lay it off to the edge of the box where Martin was shaping up to shoot. His left footer smacked against the crossbar and crashed in the net off the back of the outstretched Kuszczak in the most unfortunate of fashions. It was cruel luck for the goalkeeper who could do absolutely nothing about it. Derby took a two-one lead into the interval when it could have been oh so different. Garcia changed things at half time, with Buckley picking up a knock so LuaLua came on. Commentator Bill Leslie produced a great stat as the number 25 featured off the bench for the twenty-fifth time this season. Derby almost increased their lead within two minutes of the second half as Ward drove the ball across goal for Kuszczak to deflect onto the outside of the netting for a corner. With half an hour remaining, the Albion hit the crossbar. Orlandi’s cross from the left of the box was hit towards goal by the left foot of Ulloa. His connection wasn’t the greatest, hitting it down into the ground rather than true towards the net. The bounce though almost deceived Lee Grant in-goal, as he flung himself towards the effort and managed to get a palm on it to push onto the woodwork. There was no such luck from the rebound like Derby received at the end of the first, their defence clearing this one away. Brighton were upping their game more and more as the half wore on, with large spells of possession and much of the action occurring in Derby’s final third. The only thing lacking was the equaliser. For the third televised game in a row, Garcia turned to Solly March to come off the bench to chase a goal. Grant was increasingly getting called into action, first from a long-range Lingard attempt and then a follow-up effort on the edge of the box from Stephen Ward. The crowd was buoyant but it just wasn’t to be. The match finished with Derby edging Brighton by two goals to one, it would be a tough ask for the Albion but all was to play for on Sunday.

DER Coming Up

BRIGHTON 1 DERBY 2
Lingard Martin, Kuszczak own goal

DER Replay DER Goal

PREVIOUS; #53 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-2 BRIGHTON 03/05/2014

NEXT; #55 DERBY 4-1 BRIGHTON 11/05/2014

#53: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Brighton 03/05/2014

#53 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-2 BRIGHTON Championship
Saturday 3rd May 2014 Image result for

FOR Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Nicky Forster
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER David Craig
12.15pm Kick Off; City Ground, Nottingham     12-2.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 2

FOR Ident FOR Sponsor FOR Intro

Context of the Match: The final match of the Championship season saw Brighton in with a shout of making the Play Offs for the second successive season. In Oscar Garcia’s first season in charge, taking over in acrimonious circumstances from Gus Poyet and having lost key players in the January transfer window, to reach the additional stages would be quite the achievement in his first managerial spell in England. The Albion sat outside the top six for the vast majority of the campaign, only moving close in recent weeks. Having overtaken their rivals to fill one of the cherished spots in April, a home draw with relegation candidates Blackpool on Easter Monday saw Brighton slip into seventh – the spot occupied going into this Final Day clash. If they were to stake a claim for promotion, Brighton would have to do it the hard way. Reading occupied sixth place, a point clear of Brighton and three clear of Blackburn in eighth. Any of the three could join Derby, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan if results went their way. Reading were in the driving seat as they hosted already-promoted Burnley at the Madejski Stadium. A win for the Royals would be enough regardless of what anyone else did. A draw would open the door for Brighton to steal, providing the Albion won away at mid-table Nottingham Forest. The Seagulls knew they had to better Reading’s result so realistically it was win or bust. Defeat for both Reading and Brighton would enable Blackburn to complete the most unlikely of turnarounds. Rovers simply had to beat Wigan, the Latics already guaranteed at least two further games as they had sealed fifth spot, and overturn a seven goal swing. Nevertheless, anything could happen in football and you’d have been foolish to rule them out. Elsewhere in the Championship with one game to go, Leicester had sealed the title and promotion above Burnley. Whilst at the bottom, Yeovil were relegated by the Albion last week, Barnsley followed. The final relegation spot was between Blackpool, Millwall, Birmingham and Doncaster. Donny needed to avoid defeat at the Champions in order to secure their status. Should Rovers lose, a point would be enough for Birmingham to survive on goal difference. An unlikely but still possible situation could see Blackpool sent down owing to their dreadful goal difference; but only if they lost, the other two won and Millwall didn’t lose. The South Londoners would be relegated if they lost, Doncaster didn’t and Birmingham won. There was so much to play for as the regular season came to a dramatic conclusion. Rights holder Sky Sports selected two matches to be broadcast Live, with all twelve fixtures being played simultaneously at 12.15pm on the Saturday lunchtime. Sky elected to focus on the race for the final Play Off place, meaning Reading versus Burnley and Nottingham Forest against Brighton would both be beamed to the viewing public Live. Hold onto your hats, it was sure to be a rollercoaster ride.

FOR Forest FOR Subs FOR Brighton

The Teams: Oscar Garcia changed three men from last week’s home victory that confirmed Yeovil’s relegation. Player of the Year Matt Upson recovered from an ankle injury to return at the heart of the back line. Inigo Calderon came in for Spanish counterpart Bruno at right back, part of the defence which conceded the second lowest number of goals in the Division, behind only promoted Burnley. The final change saw midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey selected ahead of Dale Stephens. Tomasz Kuszczak collected the highest number of clean sheets in the League but was pipped to the PFA Team of the Season by Kasper Schmeichel of the Champions. Stephen Ward’s season long loan deal could conclude here unless the Albion make the Play Offs, as could Manchester United’s young starlet Jesse Lingard. His Man of the Match performance against Yeovil was capped off with the second goal. Leo Ulloa would once again be relied upon to add to his fifteen goal tally so far this campaign, with support from Will Buckley and Andrea Orlandi. Craig Mackail-Smith hadn’t made a start all season through injury but was beginning to get back to match fitness with substitute appearances. He was on the bench today alongside the club’s Young Player of the Season in midfield Rohan Ince and goalscorer last week Kazenga LuaLua. Nottingham Forest were between managers, with Stuart Pearce set to come in for next season to replace Billy Davies who was sacked at the end of March. Gary Brazil was placed in caretaker charge concluding with this match. Forest were in the midst of a defensive crisis. Greg Halford was suspended after seeing red last week at Bournemouth, Jamie Mackie had to slot in as a makeshift right back. Highly rated centre back Jamaal Lascelles was absent through injury so Lee Peltier was in the middle with captain for the day Danny Collins. Viewers would know whenever left back Dan Harding was on the ball, the away supporters would boo every touch, still not forgiven for his departure to Leeds back in 2005. Up front Marcus Tudgay made his first start of the season. Partnering him was former Blackburn and Olympiakos forward Matt Derbyshire. Winger Andy Reid was named in the PFA Team of the Season but wasn’t fit enough to feature. On the bench was Darius Henderson, who had a loan spell with Brighton eleven years prior. The referee for this all important fixture was Keith Stroud.

FOR Gavin FOR Forster FOR Split Coverage

Presentation Team: With two Live matches on Sky taking place simultaneously, there was a requirement here for two separate broadcast teams. With Reading in the driving seat in the race for the Play Offs, Sky’s main team were based at the Madejski Stadium. Number one team Simon Thomas and pundit Peter Beagrie presented coverage of that match from pitchside before moving upstairs to the studio box. Commentary on Reading versus Burnley was provided by the main Football League pairing of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, with first choice reporter Jonathan Oakes doing the interviews. Meanwhile at the City Ground in Nottingham, magazine programme host George Gavin was at the helm for Nottingham Forest against Brighton. Having rarely done any Live matches this season, this was the second in just over a week for Gavin, having also covered our match against Yeovil last Friday. Today he was joined by occasional Sky pundit and former Albion striker Nicky Forster. After retiring from the professional game in 2011, Forster became a semi-regular on Sky’s Football League preview programmes reporting around the country and appearing in the studio on punditry duties. Forster spent three years with the Albion playing over one hundred games and scored his 250th career goal whilst Live on the TV in a JPT match at Luton. In the commentary box were Sky’s second choice duo of Daniel Mann and Andy Hinchcliffe. Both had covered Brighton matches this season and in previous years and were well established as broadcasters having been involved for a little while on the Football League now. Reporting pitchside was David Craig, appointed at the start of this season as the secondary reporter.

FOR 3 Key Games FOR Race for the Play Offs FOR Score Update FOR Next Season

The Coverage: With two matches shown Live simultaneously, Sky’s resources were split between both the Madejski Stadium and the City Ground. Both broadcasts began at midday, fifteen minutes before the kick off, and the build up was simulcast for the first part of the programme. This meant Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie in Reading were previewing both games from pitchside, indeed with so much going on at both ends of the Championship table they took a general overview of the Division. Pundit Peter Beagrie argued that Brighton may even be slight favourites, as Reading’s home form was patchy, Burnley under Sean Dyche would not let up and Nottingham Forest had nothing much to play for but pride today. Around four minutes into the show, Thomas crossed over to the City Ground where our host George Gavin was standing by pitchside with his guest Nicky Forster to preview their match coming up on Sky Sports 2. Forster emphasised the importance of Brighton’s ability to keep their heads; “They’ve got to approach it in the way they approach every game, they cannot let their concentration fail.” And back we went to the Madejski for Thomas and Beagrie to continue the build up looking at the rest of the fixtures. The Final Day programmes are usually full of excitement and chaos, with so much going on. Sky do a brilliant job of hyping it up and maintaining the intensity and energy, the Final Day always makes for great television. After the advert break it was decision time; Sky Sports 1 for Reading’s match where Simon Thomas was or Sky Sports 2 for the Brighton game. This is the point where George Gavin took over for the rest of the broadcast, with Forster’s assistance, voicing over the pictures of the players ready in the tunnel ahead of kick off. As they emerged, time to hand over to match commentators Daniel Mann and Andy Hinchcliffe who would be in for a busy afternoon talking us through this game as well as keeping us up to date with all the other goings on. With separate presentation teams at both matches it did put an end, for today at least, to the absolute joy of the commentary team presenting the half-time segment in-vision. A chance to put a face to the voice you so often hear but wouldn’t recognise if they walked past you in the street. During the match, scores would flash up in the bottom left hand corner of the screen whilst goals from Reading and Blackburn’s matches would be shown moments after they scored, using a split screen facility. It was a day where multiple devices would be utilised by all involved!

FOR Goal Split Screen FOR Coming Up FOR Garcia FOR Analysis

At half time George Gavin and Nicky Forster brought us up to date with the state of play in the Championship at both ends of the League. Birmingham were set to go down whilst Reading were in the driving seat for the Play Offs, meaning it was pretty much as you were at the start of the day. Concentrating on the match at the City Ground, Forster described the away side as being “as poor today as I’ve seen them, giving the possession away far too easily. You’d expect the senior pros, the experienced boys, to hold the team together but they haven’t.” He was critical of many involved in the goal, with Andrews giving the ball away cheaply, marking lapse and Kuszczak nervy. The goals from the Reading game were also shown during the break, as Burnley were keeping their part of the deal up. During the half time coverage on Sky Sports 1, Thomas and Beagrie did the same for their game, analysing Reading before viewing the goals from Nottingham. During the second half, goals from the games affecting the final relegation place were shown on the split-screen, with twists and turns as Birmingham seemed doomed before staging their own late, late rescue mission. Somewhat lost amongst the drama unfolding in our own game, the Blues came from two down at Bolton to equalise in the last-minute and keep themselves in the Division at the expense of Doncaster who lost at Leicester. Stoppage time jubilation for both Brighton and Birmingham as decision day came to an end. On Sky Sports 2, with the celebrations in full swing in the stands and on the pitch, reporter David Craig caught up with winning goalscorer Leo Ulloa and assister Craig Mackail-Smith in the centre circle. Ulloa was named Man of the Match and spoke of how happy he was for himself, the team and the supporters as they’ve worked hard for this all year. When asked if they could go all the way through the Play Offs this time, CMS responded; “Yeah, the confidence we’ve got from this is fantastic. We’re gonna work hard over the next few weeks and get ready for the game.” The League table made for excellent viewing for Albion fans, as they nicked sixth place and would go on to face Derby in the Play Offs next Thursday. After the break, both channels reverted back to their separate presentation teams for the final nine minutes or so of coverage, as Thomas and Beagrie wrapped up Reading’s story and the rest of the Division whilst Gavin and Forster revelled in Brighton’s joy. David Craig was with Oscar Garcia with the fans as the backdrop. He said he didn’t want to know what was going on at Reading during the game but had a feeling due to the crowd reactions, his main job was to win. He wasn’t looking too far ahead, preferring to savour the moment before turning attention to Derby; “At home and away we lost against them but we will be prepared. Now we are full of confidence and first of all we have to enjoy today.” Forster reviewed both the Albion goals, impressed by Ward’s finish with his weaker foot. He remarked that, although it hadn’t been his day for much of the match, “In Ulloa they have got a player with quality, real Premier League quality I think. And you give him a chance and he’ll score.” In his view it would be a tough ask for Brighton to prevail in the Play Offs. The pair whizzed through the goals from the key games at Reading and Bolton, where Birmingham survived in the final moments, before confirming once and for all everybody’s placings in the final Championship table for this season. “What a day!” exclaimed our host and you could not argue with that.

FOR Kick Off FOR Comms FOR Ward FOR CMS Sub

Story of the Match: The Seagulls got the game underway on a beautifully sunny day in the East Midlands, wearing the change kit of yellow defending the goal in front of the travelling supporters. The first opportunity went the way of the visitors, as Leo Ulloa was in behind the defence following a long pass forward from Greer. Ulloa’s shot trickled just wide of the post as the ball almost got stuck under his feet. As Nottingham Forest started to get back in the game, goals were going in elsewhere which did not make good reading for Brighton. Reading took the lead at Burnley through an own goal from Kieran Trippier and Blackburn twice took the lead at home to Wigan inside the first twenty minutes. How quickly games could turn though. Moments after Burnley got an equaliser at Reading, Nottingham Forest took the lead here through Matt Derbyshire. Tomasz Kuszczak in-goal made a mess of the header, allowing the ball to fumble into the net to break the deadlock. He appeared to move past the flight of the ball, causing it to bounce off his hip and in. After twenty-six minutes of the match Brighton thought they’d found the equaliser only for the linesman’s flag to deny. A quickly taken free kick allowed Calderon space on the far side of the penalty area. His cross over the face of goal was tapped home by Ulloa but he was in an offside position, called correctly by the official. At the same time, Burnley were doing their bit for the Albion cause; Danny Ings turned the game on its head to put the Clarets two-one up. An equaliser for Brighton now would see them overtake the Royals into sixth as things stood. As the goals were flying in around the country, there weren’t any further forthcoming in the first half in Nottingham. There was little in the way of chances created too. The facts remained that Brighton needed to do their job before even thinking about any of the other sides, and at the halfway point they hadn’t done so. A better second half was in dire need.

FOR Ulloa Goal FOR Celebrations FOR As It Stands FOR MOTM

Seven minutes into the second period the breakthrough occurred. Andrea Orlandi’s in-swinging corner was headed across the box by the defence. It fell to Ulloa who had a swing and a miss before it scrambled its way to Stephen Ward waiting in front of the penalty spot. He took a touch to control with his chest before striking with his unfavoured right. The connection was true, the ball was driven low into the goalkeeper’s left hand corner, through the legs of Derbyshire on the way in, and Brighton had the equaliser through a most unlikely source! Ward netting his fourth goal for the Albion, game on again. At this point in the day, Brighton were in the Play Off places. As we approached the hour mark, Garcia made his first substitution as LuaLua replaced Jesse Lingard. As that was happening, a goal in the other game changed the complexion once more. Reading equalised through a fantastic volley from Gareth McCleary, meaning they were back in pole position. Only an Albion win would do now. And Nottingham Forest were certainly going to make us work for that. A terrific strike on the edge of the box from McLaughlin kept Kuszczak alive and alert. Further fresh legs were applied for Brighton with twenty-five to go as Solly March replaced Andrea Orlandi. It was LuaLua who went extremely close to giving his side the lead with a wonderful fizzing effort with the outside of his right boot from some twenty-five yards. Time was ticking away rapidly. The final throw of the dice came with less than four minutes on the clock as Will Buckley made way for Craig Mackail-Smith for his fifth sub appearance since the achilles injury which blighted him for over a year. The pressure was being piled on the Forest back line, even Inigo Calderon was taking a shot. But in true, hardcore Albion style they made you wait. And sweat. And panic. Until deep into stoppage time, the moment came. LuaLua drove forward from ten yards inside his own half charging towards the Forest area. He played it wide on the left to Mackail-Smith, himself having come on just minutes earlier. He took two touches to settle himself before whipping a cross in to the box. It was inch-perfect for the darting run of Leonardo Ulloa, you couldn’t have asked for a better delivery. All the Argentinian needed to do was connect well and it was a goal. The scenes of absolute pandemonium in the away end behind that net told you everything you needed to know. Ulloa connected brilliantly, powering a header straight through de Vries in-goal to make it two-one Brighton. “In towards ULLOA! Incredible! In stoppage time, Brighton on the brink of the Play Offs. They prised open the door to the Premier League” was the call from commentator Daniel Mann as just about everybody in that away section leapt up and down like a madman. Co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe was quick to praise the ‘outstanding quality’ of the cross from Mackail-Smith. The celebrations from the usually calm and reserved Oscar Garcia were a joy to watch as he ran around unsure what to do with himself. LuaLua grabbed the camera and pressed his face towards it, audibly cheering. The delight was clear for all concerned with the club.

FOR Readings Premature Pitch Invasion FOR Upset Child FOR Play Off Race FOR Full Times

There was still two minutes or so for Brighton left to play, just needing to hold on to that lead. The match at the Madejski was due to finish a couple of minutes before ours and that caused complete confusion amongst the Reading fans. Some were aware of the situation, desperately trying to communicate the need for a late, late winner of their own. As the clock reached 92 minutes in Reading, the split screen on Sky Sports 1 showed Leo Ulloa heading Brighton in the lead, as commentator Bill Leslie reacted Live to what he was witnessing from afar; “We’ll bring you everything from up there. Brighton coming forward, that’s Ulloa, THAT’S TWO-ONE! Brighton look like they’ve snatched it in the final knockings of the season.” Not often you get to commentate on a goal from a game you’re not even watching but he called it well. At the same time Reading had a corner. Their manager Nigel Adkins perhaps had just heard the news and sent his goalkeeper up to force everybody into the penalty area. It almost worked as the delivery caused panic. The cross came off the head of Royals defender Morrison and but for the fantastic reactions of ‘keeper Tom Heaton, Reading would’ve regained that crucial lead. Instead Burnley cleared and there were less than sixty seconds to go there. And that did for them, as there were no further chances and it finished Reading 2-2 Burnley. With the match still going on for a couple of minutes longer at the City Ground, both Sky Sports channels were showing Live pictures until the conclusion. False word had clearly spread to Berkshire though as some Reading fans invaded the pitch in celebration, despite play ongoing in the East Midlands. They were both incorrect and short-lived, as when the final whistles blew all around the country it was Brighton’s day, climbing up to sixth at Reading’s expense. So it would be the Albion marching onwards, to face third placed Derby to kick off the Play Offs at The Amex in just five days time. Between this and then, a well deserved lie down was overdue.

FOR Table Top FOR Table Bottom

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BRIGHTON 2
Derbyshire Ward, Ulloa

FOR Replay FOR Goal

EXTRA; Sky’s Thursday evening magazine programme FL72 Preview did exactly that ahead of the Final Day of the Championship season. Host Simon Thomas alongside regular pundit Peter Beagrie discussed all the possible permutations of promotion and relegation with just one match remaining. Situated in the cafe of Sky Studios in Isleworth, the pair looked ahead to the two Live matches; Reading against Burnley and Nottingham Forest taking on Brighton. Brighton just had to better Reading’s result to give themselves a chance of reaching that dream. Beagrie believed the Seagulls had missed a little bit of an opportunity, given the fixtures and position the club was in around six weeks ago, but to reach the Play Offs this year given all that had happened since last May would arguably be a better achievement, in his view.

PRE Studio PRE Permutations

The usual mix of chat, goals and interviews were on the programme. Albion goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was our feature, as he spoke to the Sky cameras during a community event at The Amex. He was concentrating on the task ahead; “First of all we have to think of our game, our football and do our job on the pitch.” He spoke highly of the facilities at the club, which surprised him when he first joined; “Definitely this club is preparing to be one of the Premier League teams in the future. When? We will see!” And Kuszczak’s dad would be pleased that the match in Nottingham would be Live; “I want my father to see me every week on Sky Sports. Because, obviously, not many games in the Championship are on TV.” Luckily for him then, this one would be.

PRE Kuszczak PRE Coming Up

PREVIOUS; #52 BRIGHTON 2-0 YEOVIL 25/04/2014

NEXT; #54 BRIGHTON 1-2 DERBY 08/05/2014

#52: Brighton 2-0 Yeovil 25/04/2014

#52 BRIGHTON 2-0 YEOVIL Championship
Friday 25th April 2014 Image result for

YEO Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Adam Virgo
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER David Craig
Delayed 8pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1 [Extended to 10.15pm]

YEO Ident YEO Sponsor YEO Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton’s quest for a spot in the Championship Play Offs for the second season running had hit a bit of a blip over the Easter period and now would have to rely on other results in order to sneak in. The Albion had only sat within the top six once all season – back in January – before an excellent rout at Champions-elect Leicester at the start of April was coupled with a fine three-nil victory over Charlton. That catapulted Brighton in but a draw on Good Friday at Huddersfield followed by another stalemate at home to relegation candidates Blackpool here on Easter Monday edged them down to seventh. Nigel Adkins’ Reading were the beneficiaries taking over sixth, one point better off with two games each to play. The first of which was selected for Live broadcast by Sky Sports to kick-start the weekend on Friday night. Our opponents were bottom of the table Yeovil Town, in their debut season at this level. Gary Johnson’s men were all but down, needing to overturn a thirteen goal swing from Birmingham in just two matches. Defeat tonight would confirm it, mathematically speaking. It would actually be Yeovil’s first relegation in the Football League whilst simultaneously being their highest ever finish, such is the way the game works. Brighton’s injury list was steadily decreasing, long-term absentees were on their way, or almost, back and the addition on loan of young Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard was proving dividends in attack. The reverse fixture this campaign ended in a disappointing goalless draw back in October. All three points tonight would be absolutely vital. The Friday night kick off was delayed by fifteen minutes owing to traffic problems caused by two crashes in the local area. With The Amex boasting the largest average attendance of any in the Division, and indeed whole Football League, time was afforded to make sure every single person could get in to witness the final scheduled home match of the season. If results went well, they’d also be coming back here one last time in the Play Offs too.

YEO Brighton YEO Yeovil YEO Subs

The Teams: Brighton’s defence was the best in the Championship having kept nineteen clean sheets thus far, carrying on from the outstanding records of the past couple of years. A huge part of that has been Matthew Upson but he was absent through injury for this match, allowing Lewis Dunk to step in alongside the captain Gordon Greer. Dunk had a month with Bristol City back in October in a bid to get more first team football, unable to depose the Albion’s first choice centre backs. Andrea Orlandi had been missing for the previous twelve due to a thigh problem but returned to the starting XI. Injuries have plagued winger Will Buckley numerous times during his career but was fit enough for this one. Providing attacking support on the other flank was 21-year-old winger Jesse Lingard. He joined on loan from Manchester United at the end of February and has started every game since, netting twice in the process including one during an amazing four-one victory at Champions Leicester. Stephen Ward from left-back and Leo Ulloa up top with a brace were the other scorers that night. Last season’s top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith had missed the entire season through injury though of late was taking his place as a substitute and started to regain his fitness and be match sharp. Dale Stephens got the Albion’s goal last time out against Blackpool. He was alongside Keith Andrews in the middle of the park. Other options on the bench included Solly March, Kazenga LuaLua and David Rodriguez. Gary Johnson’s Yeovil were favourites for relegation at the beginning of the campaign and that’s confirmed with a defeat here. He made a solitary change from their last outing – a two-one defeat at home to Huddersfield. Sam Hoskins replaced Kevin Dawson up front. Partnering Hoskins was James Hayter, a familiar name on the South Coast for his decade at Bournemouth, which was followed up by five years with Doncaster. Top scorer Ishmael Miller, another play borrowed this time from Nottingham Forest, hasn’t played since the start of April due to a bust up with the manager. In midfield Tom Lawrence is a loanee from Manchester United. Luke Ayling at right back began his career at Arsenal before joining the Glovers in 2010. 22-year-old Irishman Shane Duffy had been on loan since September from Everton and started again at the heart of defence. The match referee was Andy Madley.

YEO Gavin YEO Virgo YEO Kick Off YEO Comms

The Coverage & Presentation Team: Tonight saw a rare Live match appearance for George Gavin in the hosts chair, and a welcome one at that. Having been the regular number one in the Football League for five seasons from 2002, he had slowly been phased out as his years advanced and mostly spent the past couple of seasons presenting the preview and review programmes in the Sky Studios. He was at the helm inside The Amex’s North Stand studio alongside Adam Virgo. The former defender-turned-emergency-striker played for both Brighton and Yeovil and was well placed to call this match. Virgo made his Albion debut in 2001 at the age of eighteen and played a big part in the successful Championship season on 2004/05, where he was the club’s top scorer having also headed the last-minute equaliser in the Play Off Semi Final to get us to that point the previous year. He was sold to Celtic before returning to Brighton for two further seasons in 2008. Following that he spent a year with tonight’s visitors where he was a regular in the heart of the defence also netting five League goals. Since retiring in October 2013 he’s been working for various media outlets, including covering our Live matches against Hull in the Cup for BT Sport and Watford in the League for Sky. He’s grown in the role already and is now BT’s regular National League co-commentator. It was a little surprise to see him crop up on Sky given his numerous appearances for their new rivals, but one which was welcomed. Gavin and Virgo came on air at 7.30pm, originally fifteen minutes before kick off but with the traffic problems in Sussex causing delays getting to the match on time, kick off was put back to 8pm. This gave our studio team a bit longer to build up to the clash. The programme began by explaining about the delay and we heard from Brighton’s Events Safety Officer Chris Baker, who confirmed the reasoning; “We had a major road closure on the seafront earlier on today and we’ve just had a major accident on the A27.” He spoke to David Craig, the reporter making his first appearance on a televised Seagulls match. Craig has been a long servant for Sky going back almost two decades as a reporter. He began on Sky Sports News and for a long time was their North East correspondent, documenting Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. He would occasionally be touchline on Live matches for all sorts of competitions such as Youth football, Cup matches, the lower Leagues and any odds and ends that wouldn’t have a regular team in place. He was a regular on Soccer Saturday for many years, appearing both in and out of vision at grounds up and down the country providing updates for Jeff Stelling and co. He occasionally still does that in addition to, as of the start of this season, a regular, higher profile role as number two reporter on the Football League coverage behind Jonathan Oakes. Sky are coming towards the end of the second in a three-year contract to broadcast rights exclusively Live, which incorporates 75 regular League games as well as every Play Off match, fifteen League Cup games and selected Johntsone’s Paint Trophy ties. With two Live matches on most weekends from the Divisions, it made sense to utilise an experienced reporter such as Craig to share duties.

YEO Delay YEO Baker YEO Team YEO Match Stats

The now-extended build up gave George Gavin and Adam Virgo time to examine the teams in more depth and look at recent results, which saw Brighton’s grip on the Play Off places slip out of their own hands over the Easter period. The top of the Championship table was very tight, with six teams all in with a realistic shout of joining Leicester, Burnley, Derby and QPR in the top six. The two goals from the draw with Blackpool on Monday were shown, the result which saw the Albion drop to seventh as Stephen Dobbie came back to haunt his former side. David Craig spoke with both managers ahead of the game, with both dismissing the impact the delay would have on their side. Adam Virgo’s tactical assessment of Oscar Garcia’s season so far centred on being a bit too cautious; “Sometimes he has gone too defensive. I think the two wide players especially, they don’t attack enough, they don’t get beyond Leonardo Ulloa enough to get bodies into the box. They haven’t scored enough but defensively they’ve been very, very good.” Talking us through the match were commentators Daniel Mann and Don Goodman. Mann was firmly number two behind Bill Leslie, whilst Don Goodman continued to pick up the first choice matches. During the half time analysis Adam Virgo called for Oscar Garcia to make a change to shift Brighton up a gear in their quest for the win; “He might have to swallow his pride a little bit and maybe bring on Craig Mackail-Smith, LuaLua, Solly March. Cos they’re the players that have got pace and Yeovil’s back four will be suspect to that.” Club ambassador Alan Mullery, the last Albion manager to take the team to the top flight, was presented to the fans during the break ahead of the second forty-five. Brighton got the goals they needed to claim the points, however late they may have come, and one of the scorers was awarded Man of the Match; Jesse Lingard. He and Gordon Greer spoke to David Craig soon after the final whistle. The prize this season was an old-fashioned brown leather ball in a presentation case, owing to this being the 125th year since the beginning of the Football League in 1888. The various permutations and clubs involved seemed to have host George Gavin confused slightly straight after the break as he referred to Brighton as Reading – the team that occupied 6th place prior to kick off. Just a momentary blip for our experienced host! During the post match analysis in the studio box, you could see the players and staff making their way around the pitch for the lap of honour being the final home match of the regular campaign. David Craig caught up with Oscar Garcia during this to obtain his assessment. “It has been a fantastic season because we have been managing a lot of problems from the start. With the injuries, with a disappointing transfer window. I think we are the only team in the Championship to become weaker in the transfer window but I want to give all the credit to the players.” When asked if he’d be watching the scores go in from the rivals tomorrow he declined, saying he’d be spending time with the family instead. He’s a very cool, calm customer. Before the programme finished, there was just time to have a quick look at the race for the Play Offs and the fixtures Brighton and their rivals had to play. All Albion eyes would be on Nottingham Forest next Saturday but more immediately Reading’s match at Doncaster this Saturday. It was all set for a thrilling finale, as George Gavin bid us goodbye for tonight and Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’ closed the broadcast.

YEO Mullery YEO Yellow YEO LuaLua YEO Lingard

Story of the Match: The two sides came out the blocks with a fast tempo start, eager to get underway following the delay. Despite this, there were very few attempts on goal let alone on target. This changed in the eighteenth minute when Yeovil’s Ruben Palazuelos cracked the crossbar from twenty-five yards out. His shot flew high up off the bar and when the ball eventually landed back down it needed to be headed off the line by Lewis Dunk as Brighton cleared their lines. The Albion were sparked into life by the scare and had their own opportunity less than ten minutes later. A low cross from Lingard on the right of the box was cleared by the defence only as far as Orlandi. His shot was weak and off target on his unfavoured right foot, as Ulloa lay on the ground he almost nicked the ball in but knew little of it. Orlandi immediately followed this up with another decent chance, this time with his head from a Buckley ball in on the left. The connection wasn’t the best and the direction was worse but chances were being carved out. Unfortunately it was a bit of a case of ‘right place, wrong man’, as pointed out in commentary. Ten minutes before the break, Tomasz Kuszczak almost embarrassed himself to gift Yeovil the lead, with Lewis Dunk coming to the rescue to clear his lines. A free kick was floated in from the half way line which Kuszczak decided to claim, however he got nowhere near due to the bodies in front. The ball sailed past him, over the intended targets and would have bounced into the empty net had Dunk not read the path and retreated accordingly. You sensed a momentary lapse of concentration like that could be the difference as the game wore on as a stalemate. The Seagulls cranked up the pressure in the early stages of the second half as chances started to fall. Lingard crossed a ball for an unmarked Ulloa at the back post but he headed it down into the ground instead of powering past the bodies on the line, as Stech in goal managed to claw over the bar. For all the chances at one end not being taken, it was Yeovil who reminded us that it only takes one to score. After the hour mark they hit the bar again, this time through Joe Edwards. A ball across goal found its way to the midfielder twelve yards out. He had to hurry to get the effort away before Keith Andrews could slide in, the shot clipping the top of the woodwork. The introduction of substitutes Solly March and then Kazenga LuaLua helped pile the pressure back on the away side. As the clock ticked to twelve minutes remaining, it was LuaLua who came up with the goods. Standing on the near touchline, he fired in a cross to the centre which didn’t get a touch off anybody to go all the way through. The ‘keeper couldn’t gamble in case Ulloa got a touch and when he didn’t, the pace of the ball gathered momentum as it skipped up off the turf and past the outstretched arms of Stech for one-nil. The final ten minutes were nervy and not entirely comfortable but the fears were alleviated in stoppage time by Jesse Lingard nabbing a second. Solly March was played in down the right, jinked past his defender to get a low cross to an unmarked Lingard ten yards out. He made no mistake with a fine first time finish to wrap it all up with virtually the final kick of the match. They got their in the end as the Play Off hopes would go down to the final day of the season next week away at Nottingham Forest. Yeovil’s fate was precarious before kick off and nailed on after, as they were relegated to League One. Would the Albion also exit the Division, in the opposite direction?

YEO Garcia YEO Table YEO Race for the Play Offs

BRIGHTON 2 YEOVIL 0
LuaLua, Lingard

YEO Replay YEO Goal

PREVIOUS; #51 HULL 2-1 BRIGHTON 24/02/2014

NEXT; #53 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-2 BRIGHTON 03/05/2014

#51: Hull 2-1 Brighton 24/02/2014

#51 HULL 2-1 BRIGHTON FA Cup Round Five Replay
Monday 24th February 2014 LIVE on itv4

HULR Titles

PRESENTER Matt Smith GUESTS Gordon Strachan & Phil Brown
COMMENTATORS Sam Matterface & Clarke Carlisle REPORTER Ned Boulting
7.45pm Kick Off; KC Stadium, Hull     7.30-10pm FA Cup Live on ITV4

HULR Ident HULR Sponsor HULR Intro

Context of the Match: Tonight’s FA Cup Fifth Round Replay came just a week after the original tie in Falmer. That night ended in a one-all draw, with Leo Ulloa opening the scoring finishing superbly to lift it over the goalkeeper. The Albion held out until five minutes to go when Yannick Sagbo slotted home the equaliser. The draw for the Quarter Finals meant Sunderland awaited the winners, and a chance for Brighton to reunite with last summer’s departed manager Gus Poyet. The additional fixture tonight was the last thing either side wanted, with Hull using all their resources to remain a Premier League club again next season whilst the Seagulls are in the midst of another slog towards a Play Off place in the Championship for the second season running. Forty-six  League games plus several Cup matches really do take it out of you. To make things more complicated, this midweek had Champions League and Europa League fixtures in place. An agreement between UEFA and the various Football Associations tries, where very possible, to avoid scheduling top-level domestic fixtures up against UEFA matches to avoid a television clash. Consequently it was agreed that, as it was to be broadcast Live by ITV, the game would take place on the Monday night – just as it was in the original tie seven days ago. This forced both sides into playing two games in just over forty-eight hours. The Albion lost two-one at home to fellow promotion chasers Wigan; the first loss in Falmer since the beginning of December. Hull fared a lot better, victorious at struggling Cardiff by four goals to nil. Having lost Liam Bridcutt and Ashley Barnes in the January transfer window and with several injuries affecting the wider squad, Brighton were fighting against the odds as the games came thick and fast.

HULR Hull HULR Brighton

The Teams: Brighton struggled to replace the big names lost in the January transfer window. David Rodriguez came in to today’s starting eleven up front on a free from Celta Vigo. He had spent his entire career in the Spanish leagues at the likes of Almeria and Salamanca before enjoying success at Vigo. Another striker came in on loan; Jonathan Obika. He spent his youth at Tottenham but first-team appearances for them were virtually non-existent. Instead he’s had several loan spells with lower League sides, including four separate spells at Yeovil, whilst we are the latest club for him to try his luck away from Spurs at. He scored against Port Vale in the Fourth Round of this competition. The most well-known perhaps of the window signings was central midfielder Dale Stephens, a regular in the highly rated Charlton side champions of League One in 2012. He came through the ranks at Bury before moving to Oldham early in his career. Having played for Charlton during their FA Cup campaign he would be unavailable for tonight’s match. Brighton made five changes from the weekend as regular first choice members Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, Orlandi and Stephens made way. Coming in to the defence were Lewis Dunk and Inigo Calderon. Cup goalkeeper Peter Brezovan continued to deputise, whilst Jake Forster-Caskey and Keith Andrews were the options in midfield. LuaLua and Solly March were subs if required. Steve Bruce’s Hull City made even more changes to their line-up from Saturday, bringing in six new faces. This included goalkeeper Steve Harper, who played a handful of matches on-loan to the Albion early on in the first season at The Amex. Elsewhere Matty Fryatt returned to the side, as did Sone Aluko and Yannick Sagbo, who scored the equalising goal a week ago in Sussex to take this tie to tonight’s replay. Liam Rosenior and Tom Huddlestone warmed the bench. Refereeing was the Premier League’s Andre Marriner.

HULR Smith HULR Strachan HULR Brown HULR Studio

Presentation Team: ITV’s second choice host Matt Smith presented tonight’s Live Replay, continuing his long association with them stretching back to 2001 and the ITV Sport Channel. During his time with the commercial broadcaster he has hosted Live matches in the Champions League, FA Cup, international matches, Europa League, friendlies, World Cups and European Championships. He was the regular host of Football League highlights programme The Championship on Sunday mornings from its inception in 2004 to its demise in 2009 when rights moved to the BBC. Since 2008 he has been heavily involved in the FA Cup coverage, hosting Live games and doing the regular evening round ups and would be doing a lot for the upcoming 2014 World Cup. Alongside him in the studio were Gordon Strachan and Phil Brown. Strachan had formed a very good double act with Matt Smith from their coverage of the competition over the past couple of years and was a regular on the channel. The week after he last pundited on an Albion game, versus Newcastle in January 2013, Strachan secured the Scotland National Team managers job. They failed to secure qualification for the Brazil World Cup, but the Scotsman would be going with ITV instead. Being an international manager affords quite a lot of time spare during the season so he and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill often spent time in the studio, much to our enjoyment. Also on duty tonight was the former Hull gaffer Phil Brown. He gained notoriety as Sam Allardyce’s assistant during their successful Bolton Wanderers spell in the early noughties before becoming a number one in his own right at Derby. He joined the Tigers as Phil Parkinson’s coach before graduating to first team duties after Parkinson’s sacking. Brown kept Hull in the Championship in his first season and the following year won the Play Off Final at Wembley to rocket them into the Premier League for the first time. Life in the top Division began so well and avoided relegation on the final day of the season in 2009. The feat couldn’t be repeated the following campaign and he was placed on gardening leave before being sacked in the summer. A bad spell at Preston ended prematurely and he spent some time in the media on BBC Radio Five Live, Talksport and various magazine programmes on television to keep his profile up. He now was boss of League Two Southend enjoying happier times.

HULR Coming Next HULR Comms

In the commentary box were Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle, a relatively new pairing for ITV but due to circumstances were sat second in the pecking order going into the summer’s international tournament. Previous understudies to ITV number one Clive Tyldesley were Peter Drury and Jon Champion, were both offered better positions for international broadcasters for the World Cup and, understandably, prioritised that over picking up the scraps for the UK. Drury would be leading the world feed commentaries for the Host Broadcaster whilst Champion was snapped up with ESPN for America’s coverage behind Ian Darke. This lead to the rushed promotion of Sam Matterface this season having not had much television commentary experience. Prior to this point he was perhaps better known as a Sky Sports News presenter, which he did between 2007 and 2010 where he then moved to Talksport to voice their newly acquired Live radio commentary rights of the Premier League. From the 2011/12 season he started to pick up the odd commentary for ITV highlights on FA Cup and European matches. His regular partner of late was former Blackpool and Watford defender Clarke Carlisle. His playing career was mostly spent in the Football League where he achieved promotion with Queens Park Rangers and Burnley. However it was his work outside of the game which propelled him more into the public’s conscience, for good and bad reasons. The good reasons centred around his articulate speaking and media appearances. He famously won ITV’s Britain’s Brainiest Footballer and appeared as a contestant on three episodes of Countdown on Channel 4 and even BBC’s Question Time, all whilst still a player. Towards the end of his career he appeared more frequently as a pundit across various media outlets such as BBC’s Match of the Day 2 and Radio 5 Live, Sky Sports coverage of the Football League and on co-commentary for ITV. He also investigated racism in football for a BBC Three documentary and explored the taboo subject of men’s mental health, having suffered from depression himself and sadly attempted suicide. In 2010 he was announced as the new chairman of the Professional Footballers Association. After retirement in 2013 his appearances with ITV increased further. Completing the line-up was reporter Ned Boulting. He was ITV’s all-rounder, increasingly covering darts and cycling as well as the various football competitions. In addition he reported on the 2012 London Paralympics for Channel 4 and released cycling books based on his times at Le Tour de France.

HULR Garcia HULR Coming Up

The Coverage: Things had changed at ITV since our last appearance in January 2013. Firstly the logo had a major rebrand the week after that match to this joined-up curvy lettering across their family of channels. The ITV Sport logo became green and was added onto the scorebar for Live matches. The graphics hadn’t changed their look but there was no an additional entrance and exit sound which was akin to a loud paper tear, unfortunately. Enough to frighten the dog. The theme tune remained as Jim Copperthwaite’s ‘FA Cup’ track, especially composed for ITV. The big change was to come at the end of the season though as this would be the broadcaster’s last season of FA Cup coverage. The BBC would be taking over as terrestrial partner following this season’s climax. On top of this, the Champions League and Europa League would be moving to BT Sport on an exclusive basis from 2015, meaning that ITV would be left with no regular Live club football. They would still have European highlights and Live England international friendlies and qualifiers but these were sparse and irregular. With the contract coming towards its end, it was unsurprising that their obligation to cover a Live replay from this competition featuring two smaller sides would be shunted over to ITV4 rather than broadcast on the main channel. Hull versus Brighton was the only replay at this stage, meaning it automatically went to ITV as first choice. When the match would be played took some negotiating, with both sides in League action the previous Saturday and the midweek being a Champions League one, they were left with little option but to cram this one in on Monday night. This gave both sides only around fifty hours between matches. Matt Smith hosted from the in-stadium studio box at Hull’s Kingston Communications Stadium, with the coverage beginning fifteen minutes prior to kick-off. His pundits Gordon Strachan and Phil Brown were sat behind a high desk which slotted together so all three were in tandem, with a plasma screen covering their legs. With much talk being about both teams playing twice in three days, Gordon Strachan didn’t understand the complaints. “Top players get used to playing game after game after game. If you want to be a top player, you have to play a lot of games. If you want a lot of rest, play for a rubbish team, you’ll be fine, you’ll get loads of holidays.” Spoken with the trademark wit that has made him such an entertainer in press conferences and television studios over the years.

HULR Offside HULR Highlights

ITV crammed two short advert breaks into their fifteen minute build up, as they did with the Champions League coverage, meaning features and VTs were missing here and the pre-match was mostly chat. Reporter Ned Boulting interviewed both managers in the tunnel to hear their plans. Oscar Garcia told the style wouldn’t change despite playing away from home and to higher opposition; “We will try to play as we play every game. We want to keep the possession, to create chances and hopefully – we must – we have to be more clinical in front of goal.” With the teams starting to line-up in the tunnel, Smith got the final thoughts of his pundits before the second ad break, after which he handed to the commentary team of Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle with the referee set to kick things off. At half-time the focus was on the two Hull goals and how avoidable they were from Brighton’s perspective. Much of the blame for the pundits laid at Brezovan’s door for the first, whilst the second was shown to be offside using lines drawn on the pitch. At half-time and full-time, as well as score updates during the ninety minutes, we were kept abreast of the other FA Cup tie being played tonight; Sheffield Wednesday against Charlton which was postponed due to the weather on the original Fifth Round weekend. Just shy of fifteen minutes remained to get reaction and analysis from this replay. Ned Boulting spoke with the two Hull goalscorers in the tunnel; Curtis Davies and Robert Koren. Pundit Phil Brown bemoaned Brighton’s lack of urgency even when just one goal behind, not doing enough to threaten for an equaliser. The goals were all dissected, with a hint of offside on Brighton’s goal dismissed as it was Calderon rather than the scorer who was off. A further advert break came during the post match show, after which highlights of tonight’s other match – Sheffield Wednesday versus Charlton – were shown. Commentary on that edit was provided by Derek Rae, formerly of ESPN now of BT Sport and occasional ITV highlights commentaries. During that game a header was extremely close to crossing the line but was ruled not to. ITV applied their best graphics wizardry to clear it up in the style of the Hawkeye Goal Line Technology feature which was introduced in the Premier League at the beginning of the season, but not available to Football League teams. And we were done, as Matt Smith signed off from the KC Stadium around 10pm.

HULR Sub HULR Goal

Story of the Match: With the salmon ball on the centre spot, Brighton got the game underway kicking from left to right. Hull dominated the early stages and caused panic in the Albion defence on a few occasions within the opening quarter of an hour. Peter Brezovan in-goal seemed hesitant, his nerves spreading to the back four protecting him. The Tigers took the lead in the fourteenth minute. Captain Robert Koren floated in a corner from the near side and was headed back towards goal by Curtis Davies. His header looped up as Brezovan was scrambling to get across his line. Jake Forster-Caskey, under pressure from David Meyler, couldn’t leap high enough to help his goalkeeper out and the ball fell into the net via the post. Davies’ celebration summed it up, almost unsure if it was his and how that had gone in. It was his. After the goal Brighton grew into the match more without really looking too dangerous. Hull looked more likely to double their lead, particularly from set pieces. They did exactly that ten minutes before half-time when Koren’s free kick somehow found its way in. His shot from the edge of the D was low and looked to be heading straight into the arms of the goalkeeper before it got a little deflection right in front, four yards out. Brezovan had already committed himself down to his left, meaning the touch from Fryatt ricocheted off the Slovakian’s fist and bounced up over his line. Fryatt was actually in an offside position when the free kick was taken so the goal shouldn’t really have stood, but nonetheless it was another poor goal to concede. The wall didn’t do a particularly good job, the tracking for the second ball was slow and the spectacle as the ball crept in didn’t appear too clever. This was now a long way back for Brighton, both in terms of the match and geographically. Clarke Carlisle on co-commentary suggested pace was needed from the away team if they were to get back into this Cup tie. It was severely lacking. Kazenga LuaLua was brought on at half time to try to inject some pace and trickery into the Brighton side. Inside the first five minutes of the restart the away side hit the crossbar. Lewis Dunk was still forward following a cleared corner. Stephen Ward crossed from the left touchline to an area containing three blue and white stripes leaping for the same ball. It fell to the feet of Dunk to thunder a shot from ten yards with his left but the woodwork prevented the comeback. A quarter of an hour passed before Hull had a chance to really wrap things up through Sone Aluko. A poor touch from Calderon invited the Tigers to come forward in numbers, Hull played the ball nicely diagonally across the field where it eventually found Aluko on the near side in the penalty box. As he was preparing to shoot, Ward through his body full length to block for the corner. With a little over twenty minutes remaining, Brighton got their breakthrough. LuaLua was brought down by Meyler for a free kick on the near touchline. David Lopez whipped in a terrific ball, full of pace and curl. It only needed a glance on its way in from the head of Ulloa six yards out to take it past Harper in goal and bring Albion within one of an equaliser. It was the Argentinian striker’s fifth goal in as many games. Disappointingly though, a second never came. It never really looked like coming and the final twenty minutes weren’t too difficult for Hull to see out the tie. It would be the Premier League team who progressed by two goals to one. They would go all the way to the Final, where Arsenal needed Extra Time to overcome them. Brighton’s focus was now all about the League and up into a Play Off place.

HULR Full Time

HULL 2 BRIGHTON 1
Davies, Koren Ulloa

HULR Replay

PREVIOUS; #50 BRIGHTON 1-1 HULL 17/02/2014

NEXT; #52 BRIGHTON 2-0 YEOVIL 25/04/2014

#50: Brighton 1-1 Hull 17/02/2014

#50 BRIGHTON 1-1 HULL FA Cup Round Five
Monday 17th February 2014 Image result for bt sport logo

HUL Titles

PRESENTER Darrell Currie GUESTS David James & Jimmy Bullard
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Adam Virgo REPORTER Chris Hollins
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7-10pm FA Cup Live on BT Sport 1

HUL Promo HUL In Play Bet HUL Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton had started to find the consistency required if they were to make the top six in Oscar Garcia’s first season in charge. With two-thirds of the Championship campaign gone, the club were seventh in the table. A run of just two defeats in fourteen across all competitions saw the Seagulls cement their place as one of the contenders. The last three home matches were all settled by a solitary Brighton goal to nil, highlighting the defence’s solidity. With Gordon Greer and Matt Upson almost immoveable from the team sheet, 2011 Player of the Year Adam El-Abd wasn’t getting a look in so chose to depart for Bristol City in the January transfer window. He played his 300th, and final, League match for the Albion in the victory over Birmingham. Tonight ordinarily would have been an opportunity for him to have featured, being a Cup tie, as he did in the Third Round one-nil win over Reading at The Amex. Andrew Crofts got the only goal of that match. In Round Four the team beat League One Port Vale, managed for former Albion boss Micky Adams. Goals from Rohan Ince, Solly March and Jon Obika saw off the Valiants three-one to progress to this Fifth Round tie tonight. Newly promoted Premier League Hull City were drawn to come to The Amex. The Tigers went up as runners-up last year and were holding their own back in the top flight, sat thirteenth in the table. The last time they came to The Amex was a televised League match in which Vicente scored the only goal of the game almost a year ago. More recently, wins had been very hard to come by with just two in thirteen in the League. In the Cup they reached this stage by defeating Middlesbrough and Southend both by two goals to nil. Tonight’s Championship versus top Division clash attracted the attention of BT Sport, in their first season of broadcast, to elect to cover the game Live. The date was set for a Monday night fixture under the lights and in front of more than 21,000 spectators. The draw for the next round had already been done, with the winners due to host Sunderland. They of course were now managed by a certain Gus Poyet. Would the reunion be on or would it be Steve Bruce taking Hull to face his former club?

HUL Brighton HUL Hull HUL Formations

The Teams: Two key components of the League One title-winning squad left in the January transfer window. Midfielder Liam Bridcutt, pivotal to the Albion’s solid line and back-to-back Player of the Season in 2012 and 2013, was snapped up by his old boss Gus Poyet at Sunderland after weeks of speculation for around £3 million. This followed the news of striker Ashley Barnes move to Burnley after four years in Sussex. The Premier League was slowly picking apart the successful squad, a common theme during the Championship years. With Tomasz Kuszczak and Gordon Greer rested for the Cup and Adam El-Abd sold, Slovakian Peter Brezovan and academy graduate Lewis Dunk came into the starting eleven. With limited first-team football available this season for Dunk due to the experience of the regulars in his position, he joined Bristol City on loan for a month back in October. Previously he profited from injuries to Tommy Elphick and El-Abd by starting the early parts of the first season at The Amex back in 2011. Left-back Adam Chicksen had only started twice for the Albion before tonight; both in the FA Cup. Jake Forster-Caskey had featured in the majority of the League games so far but missed Rounds Three and Four. With Andrew Crofts out for the past month, midfielders Keith Andrews and Rohan Ince got more of a regular berth having featured on and off all campaign. Will Buckley had missed all of January through injury but returned to the bench last time out, graduating to a start tonight. Hampered by a lay-off mid-season, Kazenga LuaLua had only begun eight matches before this. Top scorer Leo Ulloa was back in goalscoring form, netting in both of Albion’s previous two matches. Local lad Solly March scored his first goal for the club during the Fourth Round victory at Port Vale and provided an option on the bench. For Hull and Steve Bruce, the squad was strengthened over the summer ahead of their step-up to the Premier League with goalkeeper Allan McGregor and defenders Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davies all signing. Midfield duo Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore moved from Tottenham. Captain Robert Koren missed more than a month through injury earlier on in the year. On the bench was Steve Harper, who had a brief time at the Albion on loan in 2011. Refereeing was Lee Probert.

HUL Currie HUL James HUL Bullard HUL Pitchside

Presentation Team: A familiar name to Brighton’s FA Cup coverage from the past few years hosted tonight’s broadcast. Scotsman Darrell Currie joined BT Sport at launch to be their face of Scottish Football. He transferred from ESPN where he was the pitchside reporter and occasional presenter North of the border, as well as doing FA Cup and Europa League matches. A similar approach was taken here by BT but instead of interviewing, he was now front and centre as host of the various competitions. Joining him tonight was one of BT’s star pundit signings David James. The former England and Liverpool goalkeeper retired from the professional game a year ago and has since been on BT’s roster, rotating with the likes of Owen Hargreaves, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen. James had previous punditry experience having been a part of the BBC’s Euro 2012 line-up. During his playing career he lifted the League Cup with Liverpool and the FA Cup with Portsmouth and won over fifty caps for his country, including wearing the jersey at the 2010 World Cup. Alongside David James on analysis duties was former Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard. He spent eighteen months with the Tigers, with perhaps his most infamous moment coming during a goal celebration which spoofed his manager Phil Brown’s on-field team talk from an earlier match. Bullard enjoyed greater success at Fulham, reaching the Europa League Final, and Wigan, League Cup runner-up. He came to the attention of Sky’s cult Saturday morning show Soccer AM where his personality and character shone through on funny clips and features. He retired from the game towards the end of 2012 having had several serious knee problems throughout his career. His profile remained high through various media appearances and occasional spells in non-League. On the touchline was reporter Chris Hollins. BT made a habit of sharing ‘talent’ with the BBC and employed many of their presenters across their sports coverage on an ad-hoc basis. This included the likes of Mark Clemmit and Helen Skelton on the National League, Clare Balding was given her own chat show, and Steve Bower and Darren Fletcher commentated for both. Hollins was more familiar on BBC light entertainment, hosting Watchdog and BBC Breakfast sport bulletins and even won the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing. I don’t think any of our other presenters on the Albion games could ever say they’ve achieved that! He’s the son of former Chelsea star John Hollins and even played a bit during his youth, featuring for Aldershot and Charlton. His appearances on BT were sporadic but mainly included youth internationals and lower-profile football and rugby but more often than not was in the studio for the daily news programme SportsHub (formerly BT Sport Live).

HUL Dugout HUL On Pitch

In the commentary box were two recognisable names from previous televised Albion matches, and both for different reasons, Ian Darke and Adam Virgo. Commentator Darke was, alongside Martin Tyler, the voice that launched Sky Sports coverage of the new Premier League back in 1992, covering their Monday Night Football strand for the first three years before moving across to boxing. He returned full-time to football in 2005 with Sky where he covered all the Leagues, including our match at Leyton Orient and the JPT defeat to Luton on penalties. He went to the 2010 World Cup for the American version of ESPN and viewers enjoyed his commentaries so much he joined the broadcaster permanently towards the end of that year, ending a long-running association with Sky and the UK. When BT launched at the start of this season, he was one of the first people snapped up, as lead commentator on Premier League and FA Cup duties. Sharing a gantry with him tonight was the former Albion defender-turned-emergency striker Adam Virgo. His playing career has been documented through previous posts here, most famously perhaps during the 2004 Division Two Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg when his goal in the final minute of Extra Time against Swindon took the game to a penalty shoot-out where the rest, as they say, is history. He was forced into early retirement last October and has been appearing across a variety of media outlets. He covered our last Live Amex game for Sky Sports as a studio pundit – the draw with Watford. He’s also regularly heard on BBC Radio Sussex’s commentaries of the Seagulls at The Amex this year. His association with BT Sport began back in November when he was in the commentary box on their new National League (formerly Conference) broadcasts where he was since become their regular. He took over from James Beattie who struggled to get to grips with Live analysis having done BT’s early handful before Virgo joined and stayed pretty much since, in partnership with Steve Bower. Virgo has a good broadcast voice, provides strong analysis and works very well with whoever he’s paired up with; he clearly has a future in this line of work. It was a vote of confidence from his new employers at BT to give him a relatively high-profile Live match here tonight.

HUL Tunnel HUL VT StatsHUL Naylor HUL Back of the tunnel

The Coverage: BT Sport launched in August at the start of this season as the new direct rival to Sky Sports. In the Olympic summer of 2012 they surprisingly won the rights to broadcast 38 Premier League matches exclusively Live for three seasons from 2013, taking the place of then-holders ESPN, with Sky retaining the vast majority. ESPN was then incorporated into the BT Sport family and therefore many of their existing rights now belonged to BT, including Premiership Rugby and the FA Cup. BT’s move into the pay TV market seemed to come out of the blue, having previously been a leader in telecommunications mainly. Several channels launched from their hub at the former Olympic Park broadcast centre in Stratford, where three multi-purpose shiny studios were housed and the majority of their own programming derived. Key talent were signed up including Jake Humphrey, the face of the channel. Their Premier League offering was initially hosted from their studios, complete with a glass pitch and huge towering screens, however they moved to present from pitchside from November onwards. The regular kick off was Saturday 12.45pm before their Live Rugby Union action. The whole day had a sort of Grandstand feel to it, with the presenters handing over to the next set of hosts at the end of many of their broadcasts, treating the days like one big event. Consequently, full title sequences weren’t really a thing, they appeared more like break bumpers in the bottom left corner. They launched with much fanfare and intrigue and soon signalled their intentions by winning the star prize of exclusive Live UEFA Champions League broadcast rights from long-running partners Sky and ITV having only been on-air for a few months. The rights wouldn’t begin until 2015 but a huge buzz was around the new BT Sport group so early on in its existence. In terms of their FA Cup coverage, this was all presented pitchside from round one onwards, utilising their wider talent that covered both English and Scottish League football. The graphics were used across all their own programming, both Live and magazine formats. The BT logo – complete with their multi-coloured ‘connected globe’ – was key to this set, using it as the replay transition, the titles and the different coloured microphones for presenters. Whilst their Premier League theme tune was Primal Scream’s excellent ‘Come Together’, the FA Cup music was specially composed for them. The biggest change to the norm was moving the scorebar from the top to the bottom of the screen. It was something Sky trialled briefly for a few months in 2007 before viewer feedback led them to revert back, however BT persisted and it worked nicely with their graphics and on-screen channel logo. The in-game astons would peek out from the DOG in the bottom-right, to fill the screen across to the scorebar. They were black and slightly translucent, whilst the programme astons were on purple and grey backgrounds flying in from either side. They were nice and sleek, less flashy than their rivals at Sky.

HUL Ulloa pre match HUL View from the tunnel

Tonight’s broadcast began at 7pm, forty-five minutes before kick off, and was presented from pitchside, and indeed all around the Amex, as BT gained access all areas. Host Darrell Currie introduced the show walking across the pitch to meet his guests for the evening, Jimmy Bullard and David James, waiting in front of the tunnel. This allowed them to grab a quick word with players going out to warm up, first of whom was Hull’s captain Curtis Davies. The presentation team ran through the weekend’s other Fifth Round goals and talking points at the top of the show. After running through the team news, they then went for a little wander inside the tunnel, on the pitch, anywhere they could. These were the advantages of the access-all-areas coverage BT enjoyed and did so well. A VT outlined the differences and similarities between tonight’s two clubs and a potted history, including of course the 1983 Final. A further VT went a little bit more in-depth into the Albion’s past, with interviews with local press gurus Andy Naylor of The Argus and Ian Hart, formerly of BBC Radio Sussex and a fanzine editor, all voiced by reporter Alex Gordon-Martin. They spoke of Tony Bloom’s ownership, the conditions at Withdean in comparison to now, Gus Poyet and current head coach Oscar Garcia, who we also heard from during the piece. Garcia told how he learnt his philosophy at Barcelona; “I was very lucky to play with most of the best players around the world. I learned to be proactive and I like my team to be proactive as well. The first day I came here, I said I want to play for the fans, for the supporters.” The Premier League was the aim, a realistic one at that, no longer the dream, and that’s perhaps the biggest difference over the past few years. On the back of the report, Brighton’s chief executive Paul Barber and tonight’s co-commentator Adam Virgo joined Darrell Currie in the dugout to chat more about the current day club.

HUL BT Box HUL Possession HUL Upson HUL Lifes A Pitch

Adam Virgo stayed with the rest of the presentation team for a bit longer before heading up to the gantry. They kept the step count up by walking and talking on pitch, weaving around the warm ups as we watched desperate for someone nobody to get hit by a stray football. They highlighted Leonardo Ulloa – captioned as Jose as technically that is his real first name. After the break, reporter Chris Hollins picked the brains of both managers in the tunnel. Garcia explained the changes made to his starting XI, believing those selected would have enough to do the job; “I am only focussed on this game and I prepared a team to do everything we can to get through to the next round,” whilst acknowledging of course that he was expecting a tough game. As kick-off neared, we got a further glimpse inside the tunnel as they kept on the move. Currie handled proceedings seamlessly, with a few technical hiccups with lights and microphones unsuccessfully trying to throw him. A final pre-match prediction before handing up to the commentary team saw both James and Bullard predicting comfortable Hull wins. One feature of BT’s big match coverage saw a split-screen bet365 (them again!) advert with Ray Winstone offering odds to “bet in play now!”, becoming his trademark as the last thing before the game kicked off. This was around the period that advertisers could add live info over the top of commercials, betting companies suddenly exploded and were ubiquitous in football coverage. One of the innovations BT claimed was the ‘BT Box’; a small picture-in-picture video which showed another angle to the main coverage. It was particularly useful for showing Live events during a replay or if an off-the-ball incident was occurring. However it was mainly wasted on manager shots and close-ups of players unfortunately. The idea was good, the execution wasn’t quite right. Just after the final whistle, Man of the Match Matt Upson was interviewed in the tunnel by Currie with his pundits, stating it was “Quite an intense game, bit disappointed, feel a little bit down when you lose a goal so late on but we’re still in the round.” The half and full-time analysis came from the corner between the West and East Stands, one of the few areas of the stadium they didn’t visit during the build up. Around fifteen minutes were afforded after the game to wrap things up and review the goals with the pundits. As usual, Oscar Garcia wasn’t ready to be interviewed prior to the programme coming off-air, though we did hear from Steve Bruce just before closing time. When ten o’clock approached Currie handed over to the next programme, Life’s a Pitch, coming Live from BT’s Stratford hub presented by Des Kelly. This ran most weeknights, reviewing the day’s football news and results and gained notoriety in its early weeks for a rare interview with former Sky anchor Richard Keys, who added fuel to his own fire denouncing his sexist remarks as “just banter.”

HUL Kick Off HUL Comms  HUL Sub HUL Goal

Story of the Match: Immediately prior to the match getting underway, a minute’s applause was held following the death three days ago of Sir Tom Finney. He was acknowledged by many as one of the greatest to have ever played the game, capped 76 times for England and spent his entire professional career at Preston, Finney died at the age of 91. Brighton got the match underway with the FA Cup’s salmon pink ball used this season. The home side made the brighter start, with particular joy on the right hand side through today’s captain Inigo Calderon and Will Buckley. Leo Ulloa used his presence and power up front to cause problems for the Hull back line. It was Hull who went closest first, hitting the crossbar from an excellently improvised overhead kick by Sagbo. Elmohamady crossed in from the right to the edge of the six yard box where the striker was waiting. Having just got in front of the cross he flung his right leg up acrobatically to flick goalwards, crashing against the bar. Peter Brezovan in between the sticks could only look on, relieved the woodwork came to his rescue. But it was Brighton who struck first at the half hour point. Moving the ball from the back, Jake Forster-Caskey played it to Ulloa ten yards inside his own half. He back-heeled it first time to Will Buckley to drive into the Hull half. His through ball sent Ulloa running towards goal in the clear, taking two touches before dinking it over the onrushing goalkeeper for a lovely finish to a fantastic move. The Tigers came roaring back and almost equalised within two minutes. Tom Huddlestone’s corner was powerfully met by the head of Curtis Davies, this time the post came to the Albion’s rescue. The resulting scramble ended up flicking off the knee of Upson into the grateful arms of Brezovan. Warning signs either side of taking the lead had come. In first half stoppage time the Albion should have doubled their lead through Ulloa once more. Buckley’s cross on the right was perfect for the Argentinian to head home ten yards out. It appeared he had too much time and space to make up his mind as he sent his header just inches wide when the chance was crying out for someone with his talents to meet it.

HUL Yellow Card HUL Equaliser

Solly March replaced Buckley at the start of the second half as Albion freshened things up bringing on the teenager. Hull began brighter this time, taking the game to their hosts and controlling the possession. Adam Chicksen picked up a yellow card for a foul at left-back on his one hundredth career appearance. The resulting free-kick was driven across low and the touch could have gone anywhere, luckily for Brighton it skewed over the bar. A tactical change from Hull came with twenty-five minutes left, as striker George Boyd came on for defender Abdoulaye Faye. Steve Bruce was looking to avoid a similar outcome in a Cup tie to when his Sunderland team lost here in 2011, but clear-cut chances were few and far between. The game opened up in the final stages, with counter attacks from both sides. The patience of the Tigers finally paid off with five minutes left as Yannick Sagbo grabbed an equaliser with a well worked finish. Sone Aluko curled a ball towards the penalty spot where Sagbo was waiting. His first touch got in front of Dunk and took it past the defender who laid sprawled out on the floor. Sagbo then found himself one-on-one with Brezovan to calmly slot the ball between his legs and into the goal. Brighton had sat deep, too deep for co-commentator Adam Virgo’s liking, for much of the latter stages and were finally punished. The Albion weren’t too downbeat and with a minute to go almost regained the lead from a corner. Upson’s header on was headed up by Curtis Davies, just enough to creep over his own crossbar. At the other end in stoppage time David Meyler saw his header cleared off the line by Jake Forster-Caskey as neither side wanted to give in for a Replay. It remained one-all at the final whistle, meaning these two would have to have another attempt next week in their bid to join the rest of the Quarter Finalists.

HUL Quarter Finals

BRIGHTON 1 HULL 1
Ulloa Sagbo

HUL Replay HUL Replay Outro

PREVIOUS; #49 BOURNEMOUTH 1-1 BRIGHTON 30/11/2013

NEXT; #51 HULL 2-1 BRIGHTON 24/02/2014

World Cup 2014 : #5 A-Z Review

“It’s a team game but an entire nation wins!” [Official Adidas twitter account, 2014]

It’s a horrible shame when things don’t live up to their expectations. ‘University will be the best three years of your life’, they said. It wasn’t. ‘Breaking Bad is the best television series ever’, they bragged. It isn’t. ‘Freddy Adu is the new Pele’, they thought. Still waiting on that one. After the horrible bore of the South Africa 2010 World Cup, where Spain won with seven goals in seven games and the most drab final in living memory, the pressure was on for this tournament to deliver. Hosted in Brazil, the samba beat of the footballing heart, people said this would be the best Coupe du Monde ever. Ever? Some billing.

I am delighted to say it did live up to the hype. This has been the best one by a long way. Entertaining games, wonderful goals, top defending, brilliant coverage and beautiful scenery. It’s hard to imagine how Russia will follow this in four years time. Here is my review of the tournament in A-Z format. I’ll admit now that Z was a cop-out but you try suggesting a better one! Zebras, Zulus or Zooey Deschanel all weren’t present and Zambia didn’t qualify.

Amazing

AMAZING
From start to finish the World Cup hasn’t disappointed. On the pitch and around the country, the view was amazing

Brazil

BRAZIL
The hosts provided breathtaking scenery, terrific fans, beautiful stadiums and the most memorable semi final of all time.

Colombia & Costa Rica

COLOMBIA & COSTA RICA
The surprise packages of the tournament were these two; exciting football, great results and terrific style

Deutschland

DEUTSCHLAND
The Germans were the best team. The Bundesliga has got it so right in so many ways and the national team have taken this on

Enjoyment

ENJOYMENT
From the fans through the media all the way to the players, it seemed everyone really enjoyed this. Great to see

Finally

FINALLY
After a 24 year wait finally the Germans win it again. The golden generation emerges victorious

Goalkeepers

GOALKEEPERS
The goalkeeping at this tournament has been top notch. In particular, Howard of USA, Ochoa of Mexico, Neuer of Germany & Navas of Costa Rica

Hammerings

HAMMERINGS
Three games stand out for particular humiliations; Germany 4-0 Portugal, Spain 1-5 Netherlands & Brazil 1-7 Germany

ITV

ITV
Much maligned but always deliver on the big occasion, ITV made the most of the Copacabana as they hosted & analysed from there. Their theme tune was also superb

James Rodriguez

JAMES RODRIGUEZ
The Colombian striker scored the best goal & was many people’s player of the tournament. He turned 23 the day before the final & is one to watch at Monaco this season

 

Klose

KLOSE
Miroslav Klose became the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer overtaking Ronaldo with 16 goals

Late Drama

LATE DRAMA
Never switch off early! This Cup was full of last minute goals & extra time heartache. The extra 30 minutes in Belgium v USA was enthralling

MURPHY Danny Murphy was the surprise star of the punditry. He was excellent in studio & outstanding in the commentary box, the Beeb have found their new number 1 now surely. He sounds eerily like Ron Atkinson too, which helps

MURPHY
Danny Murphy was the surprise star of the punditry. He was excellent in studio & outstanding in the commentary box, the Beeb have found their new number 1 now surely. He sounds eerily like Ron Atkinson too, which helps

Neymar

NEYMAR
The man single-handedly dragged Brazil through the tournament with his goals which were sorely missed when he was injured in the quarter final. The rest of the team reacted as if he’d died before the semi

Oranje

ORANJE
The Dutch delighted this time round & were unlucky not to make the final. Great players, manager & fans who surely will win overall one day?!

Penalties

PENALTIES
There were loads of shoot-outs but the one that stands out is the Dutch win over Costa Rica. Van Gaal brought on sub keeper Krul with 2 minutes of extra time remaining as a ‘specialist’ & he worked his minds games to save the tie

Qatar

QATAR
Unfortunately during the tournament it was revealed the Qatar 2022 bid may have had bribes and backhanders. FIFA corrupt? Surely not

RIO Rio was the base for much of the media & what a beautiful city. Fan parks packed, beaches swarming. Special mention to Rio Ferdinand who was a surprise hit for the BBC in the Rio studio

RIO
Rio was the base for much of the media & what a beautiful city. Fan parks packed, beaches swarming. Special mention to Rio Ferdinand who was a surprise hit for the BBC in the Rio studio

Spray

SPRAY
The referee’s vanishing spray was great, if not strange. It’s already used in Brazil & the MLS amongst others & will feature in this seasons Champions League

image

TWITTER The first social media World Cup provided hours of fun. Twitter showcased the internet's beat photoshoppers & quick wits. So much so that one picture is not enough!

TWITTER
The first social media World Cup provided hours of fun. Twitter showcased the internet’s best photoshoppers & quick wits. So much so that one picture is not enough! @FootballCliches set out to add Italia 90 graphics onto great moments from this Cup

Usa

USA
The United States caught World Cup fever at last. Even president Obama got in on the act & with coach Klinsmann in charge they were great viewing. Tim Howard was unbeatable, leading to several great photoshop moments

Video technology

VIDEO TECHNOLOGY
The goal decision system was used in the World Cup for the first time. For the first few days they showed it for EVERY goal but a few times it was needed & clearly worked well

 

Worldwide

WORLDWIDE
Everyone wanted a piece of the tournament. Viewing figures were up across the world. In Germany they opened up stadiums to fans to watch the big screen with their sofa

X rated

X-RATED
The cameramen spent much of the time focussing in on the beautiful women in the stands. Which twitter loved. As well as that there was of course the Suarez bite on Chiellini

Youth

YOUTH
The young players were the stars this time round. German Muller is only 24! Depay of Netherlands, Rodriguez of Colombia & Neymar of Brazil are younger still. Raheem Sterling of England (mentioned at last!) is still a teenager

ZZZ'S MISSED With the late kick off times sleep was sorely missed. The late games finished at 1am our time but that didn't mean I missed any of it

ZZZ’S MISSED
With the late kick off times sleep was sorely missed. The late games finished at 1am our time but that didn’t mean I missed any of it

So there we have it; 64 games over 32 days condensed into 26 letters to reflect on 1 fantastic tournament. This has been my fifth World Cup (he says, as if a player or pundit) and I’ve not enjoyed any as much as this. It’s hard to think there won’t be live, top quality football on a daily basis from a beautiful location for, well, a few weeks at least. Roll on Saturday 9th August at the American Express Community Stadium in Falmer. Channel that Samba beat, follow the Germans lead and we’ll be in for another fantastic season of football!