#61: Brighton 1-0 Nottingham Forest 07/08/2015

#61 BRIGHTON 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST Championship
Friday 7th August 2015 Image result for

61FOR Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Ian Holloway & David Prutton
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

2015 Ident 2015 Sponsor

61FOR Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

Brighton began life in the Championship for a fifth consecutive season, having narrowly avoided relegation to League One towards the end of the last campaign. A goalless draw at Middlesbrough on the final day saw Albion claim twentieth spot, six points above the drop zone. Huge improvements were required over the summer if Chris Hughton was to succeed in his first full season in charge.

The Seagulls recruited smartly during the break, bringing in the experience of full back Liam Rosenior from Hull, Cameroon left back Gaetan Bong from Wigan, both for free, and Israel striker Tomer Hemed from Almeria for £1million. Goals were extremely hard to come by last year for Brighton. In forty-six League games, just forty-four goals were netted; only one team that survived managed fewer. In addition to Hemed, an Albion legend returned after a long time away.

Bobby Zamora saw out the final season of his career by re-joining the club where he made his name back at the turn of the century. In the twelve years away, Zamora played for Tottenham, West Ham, Fulham and QPR. He won the Championship Play Offs with the Hammers in 2005 then scored the last-minute winner for QPR in the same match nine years later. At Fulham, he helped the club incredibly make it all the way to the Final of the Europa League, knocking out Italian giants Juventus en route, before they eventually succumbed to Atletico Madrid. Zamora represented England twice under Fabio Capello.

With key signings assembled, Brighton were ambitious ahead of the new campaign. They had the opportunity to open the entire Football League programme at The Amex when Sky Sports selected the game with Nottingham Forest for Live television coverage on the Friday night. The football was well and truly back again.

 

THE TEAMS

61FOR Brighton

Just five of the players who started the final game at Middlesbrough also started tonight. Goalkeeper David Stockdale missed just four League games of the disappointing 2014/15 season, the most appearances of any Albion player. Lewis Dunk’s seven goals in all competitions remarkably made him the club’s top scorer from centre back. Gordon Greer continued to skipper the side for another year. New signing Gaetan Bong slotted in to the left back position for his debut.

Beram Kayal joined in the January transfer window and showed signs of quality in the short time he had. Injury kept Dale Stephens away from the first team last year, making just ten League starts. Also curtailing most of Solly March’s time were two injuries but he was back to fill a place in the middle for this new season. Kazenga LuaLua featured in thirty-four of the forty-six Championship ties but nineteen of those were from the subs bench.

Sam Baldock would be looking for a better tally than just three League goals. Hoping to form a formidable strike partnership was new man up top, Tomer Hemed, with Bobby Zamora still a few weeks away from being match fit. Option from the sidelines included new Cup ‘keeper Niki Maenpaa, signed from Dutch side VVV-Venlo, as well as young Englishmen Rohan Ince and Jake Forster-Caskey. The latter pair had enjoyed decent spells in the side under first Sami Hyypia, then Chris Hughton.

61FOR Nottingham Forest

Former Palace and Bolton manager Dougie Freedman’s first win in charge of Forest was a three-two scoreline here at The Amex back in February. His current side included Dutch goalkeeper Dorus de Vries, replacing former number one Karl Darlow who moved to Newcastle. Defender Matt Mills had bags of experience at this level with the likes of Reading and Leicester before switching to Forest in the summer. Midfielder Henri Lansbury started out at Arsenal and won Premier League promotion with Norwich and West Ham in consecutive seasons at the start of the decade.

Striker Dexter Blackstock started out at Southampton before moving to QPR. He joined Forest move came back in March 2009. Winger Michail Antonio was an ever-present last year for the Reds, netting fourteen goals in his first season after moving from Sheffield Wednesday. He began in non-League with Tooting and Mitcham. Options on the bench included Welsh international David Vaughan and Scottish midfielder Chris Burke. Also present was eighteen-year-old striker Tyler Walker, son of former England rock Des. Refereeing the contest was little Keith Stroud.

61FOR Subs

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

61FOR Thomas

Sky Sports kicked off another new Football League season with many of their number one team in situ at The Amex. Simon Thomas was the League’s main presenter, hosting even more Live games as a new five-year broadcasting contract began this season, which also saw highlights move from the BBC to Channel 5. A total of 148 matches per season were now permitted, an increase of 37 from before, breaking down as 112 regular League games, all 15 Play Off matches, 15 from the Capital One Cup and a handful of Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clashes all exclusively Live. Former Chelsea man turned broadcaster Scott Minto transferred from Sky’s La Liga coverage to provide presenting back up for Thomas and replace Sky Sports News host Natalie Sawyer.

61FOR Holloway 61FOR Prutton

A new signing was also made in the studio as Ian Holloway joined Sky Sports, committing for the season. The former Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool manager was out of work after leaving relegation threatened Millwall back in March. He joined Sky’s regular FL72 pundits roster with long-serving Peter Beagrie. Alongside Holloway in Sussex was former Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder David Prutton. He joined Sky out of retirement for last season and would be a more prominent fixture in the studio this time round.

61FOR Hinchcliffe 61FOR Craig

In the commentary box to open the coverage were Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe. Leslie once again combined Premier League commentaries with the best of the Football League action on a weekly basis, still Sky’s main voice for FL72 coverage. Andy Hinchcliffe voiced regular Football League co-commentaries behind Don Goodman in the pecking order. The increase in Live matches enabled the pair to be heard on the vast majority of weeks, with Hinchcliffe also being heard on Sky’s top flight coverage. Completing tonight’s broadcast personnel was reporter David Craig, Sky’s second choice man on the touchline after Jonathan Oakes.

 

THE COVERAGE

61FOR Coverage 1 61FOR Pitchside

Sky’s Friday night programme began at 7pm, an extended pre-match to preview the new season. The Friday night matches would regularly begin at 7pm this season in the absence of a studio based preview or review programme as FL72 Preview and Review from the Studio Cafe were axed. Instead, all the goals were shown in a voiceover quick wrap up called FL72 Goals each weekend. Coverage was again sponsored by Screwfix. The SkyBet Championship trophy was in town, as fans could pose for a photo with it outside the stadium before it was moved pitchside to be with the presentation team. Sky continued to broadcast under the FL72 banner for Football League programming. Graphics saw a couple of tweaks for the new campaign. Caps lock was taken off, meaning words appeared on the sleek astons in both upper and lower case, and a modified font was used. The red and white backgrounds remained in place from before. The titles and theme tune were as they were when introduced last year, using Woodkid’s Run Boy Run whilst blocks flew around showing goals and players before forming the FL72 logo.

Host Simon Thomas introduced proceedings from a spot overlooking Brighton Pier and the seafront on a glorious August day in the sunshine as the football returned. Following the pulsating introductory VT to kick things off, Thomas was next seen Live at pitchside in front of the West Stand near to the South West corner of the stadium, accompanied by the Championship trophy. Standing by to be introduced were pundits David Prutton and new Sky signing Ian Holloway, who was very excited to be part of it. Co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe joined the trio pitchside towards the start of the programme to give his take on the teams and the season ahead.

61FOR Greer 61FOR Craig with Tempest 61FOR Odds

Reporter David Craig gathered the pre-match thoughts of some of the key personnel, including Albion skipper Gordon Greer. Speaking in the comfy seats of the dugout, Greer spoke of the new season confidence. “We’ve signed a good few players so we’re hopeful that we can kick on again this year and have a good season.” Addressing the issue of a lack of goals, Greer highlighted the recruitment. “We’ve got Tomer Hemed, Sam Baldock, Bobby [Zamora], Chris O’Grady. So we’ve got plenty of options for the manager to choose from so hopefully they can all score a few goals this year.”

As part of previewing the new season as a whole, David Craig was joined in the tunnel area by SkyBet’s Dale Tempest to offer some odds. Brighton were quoted at 7/1 for promotion, whilst the threat of relegation was 10/1; a clear indication last year was just a blip and things were expected to improve again this time.

After the break, the pundits reflected on Albion’s poor campaign last time, trying to give explanation to the drop in quality. David Prutton believed that the positive press had caught up with the club somewhat and they needed to adapt or leave yourself open to be exposed. “What we’ve become to imagine a Brighton football team to be over the last few years is very much a passing team, playing out from the back, and when things aren’t going so well that seems to be what attracts the most attention and the most offensive pressure against you.” He thought Hughton’s tactics would be to build solidly first, get a foot in the game before then unleashing the quality passing style of play the club would like.

61FOR Hemed 61FOR Zamora

The spotlight was shone on new Seagulls signing Tomer Hemed, showing goals and clips from his pre-season appearances. The pundits acknowledged the strength and knowledge Hemed will bring to goalscoring situations and expected him to do very well. Manager Chris Hughton then gave his thoughts ahead of the game to David Craig. On Bobby Zamora, he commented; “A wonderful signing for us to bring him back here, but we brought him back here for the quality he can give us. He wouldn’t be up to speed where the other players are… He’s in good shape but probably not enough to risk him tonight.” Zamora was presented to the crowd on the pitch just before the teams emerged, to a lovely reception. Hughton also confirmed a change of shape for this match, moving to a 4-4-2 formation.

The pitchside team switched their attention to Nottingham Forest to complete the build-up. New signing Jamie Ward from Derby was expected to slot straight into the side well, with the wingers swapping flanks throughout. Ian Holloway warned of the Forest threat on the counter attack, having worked with Dougie Freedman previously. The opposition boss was then interviewed by David Craig. A cagey, tight affair was expected from tonight’s match. With the talking done, after the break it was up to the gantry where commentators Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe were waiting to call the opening match of the new season.

61FOR Studio

The presentation team made their way up to the television studio box located in the North Stand for the half time analysis. The focus of the chat during the break was on Dorus de Vries’ fantastic save right at the end to deny Tomer Hemed the opening goal. David Prutton said, “The header, the timing of the run’s fantastic. The save is just absolutely out of this world. He’s had to see it, maybe at the last minute.”

Ian Holloway was buoyed by Brighton’s improvements going forward, getting more bodies in the box and attacking in numbers with purpose. Just before the teams kicked off the second period, reporter David Craig grabbed a quick word with Bobby Zamora to get a very brief take on the first half. Zamora saw Brighton as ‘dominating’ Forest and unlucky not to have the lead.

After full time was called, David Craig interviewed the goalscorer and the Man of the Match on the pitch; Kazenga LuaLua and Lewis Dunk. “We had to start on the right foot and we showed we can do it this year. We’ve just got to kick on from now. We knew we were expecting a tough game, so we dealt with it well”, said Dunk. LuaLua described his match winner as “a special feeling”.

61FOR Analysis 61FOR Hughton

After the adverts, the studio team relocated back to the pitchside position for the final ten minutes or so of post-match analysis. Ian Holloway thought the scoreline was the correct one and put the goal down to a lack of urgency in Forest moving up the pitch. “Brighton got the result they deserved just on the shade of it, you know. The goal came from the Notts Forest midfield not pushing out and pressing the ball as they were. And I’m sure Chris [Hughton] will look at the other chances they created and thought they were comfortable winners in the end.”

Analysing the goal, David Prutton saw exactly what LuaLua was looking for and executed so well. “It’s that turn of pace, that wonderful first step that he’s got which creates the opportunity. He does the right thing, goes back across goal but it’s in such a great area that nobody can cut it out.”

Chris Hughton joined the team pitchside for the final few minutes of the show to give his thoughts on the performance and the all-important three points. He was quick to point out the good things Forest did and how tough it was for his side, particularly the full backs against the pace and power of Antonio. He explained his thinking behind adapting the formation. “The fact that we went two up top, it’s about making sure that we get good movement. We knew that with the two wide players we could create something in the wide areas but it’s about the quality that they were able to get in.” And with that, there was just a few seconds to glance over the weekend to come before it was time to say goodbye on a good night for the Seagulls.

61FOR Coming Up

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

61FOR Kick Off 61FOR Comms

Brighton kicked the campaign off, shooting towards the South stand in the first half. In the fifth minute, Albion’s two wide players – Solly March and Kazenga LuaLua – combined for the first shot on goal. March came inside from the right and squared a pass for LuaLua. He waited for the defender to get near before trying to sidestep him and unleashing a low diagonal effort on goal which de Vries got down to keep out and keep hold of. Shortly after, Henri Lansbury, so often the scourge of Brighton, curled a free kick onto the outside of the post from just under thirty yards out.

It was the home side that was leading the stats in the first period. Dominating the ball, creating more chances and having more efforts on goal than their visitors. Beram Kayal was next to hit the woodwork when his strike from outside the area cannoned off the post. Approaching the half-hour mark, a neat run down the right from March deserved more, as the Forest defence was cut apart. Six minutes later, LuaLua almost turned provider for Sam Baldock after some outstanding work on the far side. His cutback found Baldock central, outside the penalty area. An excellent first touch got the ball out of his feet, the second touch to curl it missed the goal by centimetres.

Brighton were knocking on the door louder and louder. Right at the end of the half, Dorus de Vries somehow clawed away Tomer Hemed’s powerful six-yard header to keep it goalless. It was a magnificent reaction save.

61FOR LuaLua goal 61FOR Defending

It took just four minutes of the second half for Brighton to conjure up a lead. It arrived through Kazenga LuaLua, largely via his own creativity. The winger received the ball five yards from the penalty area on the left. He drove into the box towards his opponent. A touch took him just a yard to his left before deciding to shoot with the left foot. It was only twelve yards out, but the angle was very wide. The thing he did right was to send it low and hard into the opposite corner, across the goal. Cue the head over heels gymnastic celebration we’re accustomed to from the former Newcastle winger. One-nil.

Following the goal, Nottingham Forest enjoyed a decent spell of possession but created very little by way of key chances from it. Their efforts were restricted to free kicks from range. Said kicks were then executed poorly, flying high and wide into the visiting supporters behind the goal. Some heroic defending from Lewis Dunk on a couple of occasions kept the Albion clean sheet intact. A bizarre moment with ten minutes remaining saw the home side almost caught out from a long throw as it was headed on for substitute Tyler Walker. Dunk used his body to shield off Walker just yards away from the goalline before his teammates could scramble clear. The defender’s performance earned him Sky’s Man of the Match award.

Albion too offered rather little after the goal went in. Whilst not being threatened too much, they also didn’t look like adding more to the tally as the game fizzled out towards the end. It finished one-nil, Brighton’s first home win since March, their first home goal in over seven hours of football. After a poor start last time, it was all the more important this campaign to get off to a good one. Even if it was just to boost the confidence and belief of the fans, as they sang “We’re top of the League!” upon the final whistle.

61FOR Man of the Match

BRIGHTON 1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0
LuaLua

61FOR Replay 61FOR Goal

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

NEXT; #62 BURNLEY 1-1 BRIGHTON 22/11/2015

Small Screen Seagulls; The Record Unbeaten Run 2015

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

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

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

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

FLT Titles

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

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

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

FLT Presenters

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

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

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

FLT Studio


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

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

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

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


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

IPS Tribute IPS Fixture

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

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

IPS LuaLua IPS Hemed goal

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

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

IPS Hemed second IPS Hemed interview

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

LEE Fixture LEE March goal

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

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

LEE Zamora goal LEE Zamora interview

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

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

LEE Mackail-Smith LEE Table

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


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

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

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

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


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

MKD Fixture MKD Goal and reporter

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

MKD Murphy goal MKD Full Time

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


#18 AWAY SUN 22 NOV BURNLEY DRAW 1-1

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

BIR Unbeaten Run

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

BIR Unbeaten clubs BIR March goal

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

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

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

BIR Zamora goal BIR Hughton

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

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

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


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

CHA Virgo CHA Virgo and Cates

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

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

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

CHA Wilson goal CHA Zamora equaliser

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

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

CHA Hemed winner CHA Full Time

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

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


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

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

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

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


END HOME SAT 19 DEC MIDDLESBROUGH LOSE 3-0

MID Fixture MID Two nil

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

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

MID Full Time MID Virgo and Riley

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

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

MID Table


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

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

#60: Brighton 0-2 Watford 25/04/2015

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

60WAT Titles.JPG

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

60WAT Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

60WAT Brighton

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

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

60WAT Subs 60WAT Watford

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

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

 

PRESENTATION TEAM & COVERAGE

60WAT Ident 60WAT Thomas

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

60WAT Pitchside 60WAT Beagrie

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

60WAT Race for Promotion 60WAT Split screen interview

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

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

60WAT Studio 60WAT Interviews

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

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

60WAT Fixtures 60WAT Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

60WAT Kick Off 60WAT Comms

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

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

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

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

60WAT Deeney goal 60WAT Analysis

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

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

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

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

60WAT Table top 60WAT Table bottom

BRIGHTON 0 WATFORD 2
Deeney, Vydra

60WAT Replay.JPG

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

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

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

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

59BOU Titles

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

59BOU Ident 59BOU Sponsor 59BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

59BOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

59BOU Subs 59BOU Bournemouth

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

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

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

 

THE COVERAGE & PRESENTATION TEAM

59BOU Thomas 59BOU Anderton

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

59BOU Pitchside 59BOU Hughton split screen

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

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

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

59BOU Carayol 59BOU Studio

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

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

59BOU Match Stats 59BOU Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

59BOU Kick Off 59BOU Comms

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

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

59BOU Kermorgant goal 59BOU Wilson goal

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

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

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

59BOU Top 59BOU Bottom

BRIGHTON 0 BOURNEMOUTH 2
Kermorgant, Wilson

59BOU Replay

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

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

#58: Brighton 2-3 Arsenal 25/01/2015

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

58ARS Titles.JPG

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

58ARS Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

58ARS Hughton

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

58ARS Brighton

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

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

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

58ARS Arsenal

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

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

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

58ARS Formations

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

58ARS Humphrey 58ARS Virgo

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

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

58ARS Wright 58ARS McManaman

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

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

58ARS Studio

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

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

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

 

THE COVERAGE

58ARS Promo 58ARS Sponsor

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

58ARS Drone shots 58ARS Withdean

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

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

58ARS Gordon Smith 58ARS Jimmy Case

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

58ARS Last meeting 58ARS Dunk

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

58ARS Cool people 58ARS Walcott

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

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

58ARS BT Box 58ARS Coming Up

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

58ARS Sub 58ARS European Football Show

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

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

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

58ARS Kick Off 58ARS Comms

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

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

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

58ARS OGrady goal 58ARS Baldock goal

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

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

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

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

58ARS 5th Round.JPG

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

58ARS Replay

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