Small Screen Seagulls; 2012/13 Season part 1

Small Screen Seagulls LogoBrighton settled into life back in the second tier of English football, and at their new home in Falmer, with a very impressive campaign last time out. The Seagulls surprised most with their form as they narrowly missed out on a top six finish. But this season those Play Off places were a legitimate and realistic target. With Gus Poyet still at the helm and a squad full of talent, the mood was quietly confident on the South Coast. One of the improvements needed was to convert draws into wins. The Amex Stadium had been expanded to include an upper tier in the East Stand and further developments in the offing. It was a year that promised so much yet would all end in bitter tears.

Here are some of the features and coverage during the Albion’s highest placed finish for thirty years. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC Sport and Sky Sports. This is part one, the second part is HERE.


Craig Mackail-Smith phone interview

The Fantasy Football Club, Sky Sports 1 (28th September 2012)

FFC Titles FFC Hosts

For this season, Sky Sports introduced a new weekly programme on Friday evenings to replace football quiz Take It Like A Fan, called The Fantasy Football Club. This was based on the popular fantasy football game where competitors picked a ‘dream team’ comprised of players from a variety of top flight clubs. This studio show was again presented by John Fendley, AKA Fenners. Joining him was former Arsenal and England creative midfielder Paul Merson, part of the Soccer Saturday panel working with Jeff Stelling. The set was decorated out like a changing room and each week a guest would join them and a Live studio audience to talk through the game, their career and culminated by picking their ‘One2Eleven’; a starting line-up made of the best eleven they ever played with. As with most Sky magazine shows, there were also games, challenges and features to fill the hour, as well as a Fantasy Football Club scarf up for grabs for the viewer who picked the best fantasy team of the week.

Part of the show’s title sequence was filmed at The Amex, with them using the tunnel area before running out onto the turf. On Friday 28th September, Brighton’s Craig Mackail-Smith was interviewed on the phone to chat about his season so far. And, along with loan signing Wayne Bridge, he would be going head-to-head with Fenners and Merse in a round of the fantasy game. This was a regular feature, with the pair taking on Norwich’s John Ruddy and Anthony Pilkington the previous week. The Norwich duo scored more points which led Merson into the forfeit of wearing a full replica kit for the start of this week’s programme. They were also joined in the studio by West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor.

FFC Head to Head FFC Mackail-Smith on the phone

The phone interview kicked off with Mackail-Smith joking about how confident he was of beating the hosts after their recent form. Talk turned to a potential forfeit, with the striker offering Fenners the chance to come down to the Albion and train with the squad; “Maybe at the end stick you in goal and have a bit of shooting practice against you!”

Attention then turned to real life football, with Fenners reminding Mackail-Smith of the “dream start” this season; top of the Championship with Craig scoring six in seven so far. “I’m catching my target from last season quite quickly”, he said. Merson asked what had been different this year, to which Mackail-Smith responded; “Last season we kept the ball a lot and we didn’t really penetrate teams so well. I think this season with Bridgey and Bruno left and right wing back, we’re getting higher up the pitch and probing, getting more shots away.”

FFC Overhead kick FFC Oatway

They talked through his spectacular overhead goal against Burnley from the start of the month, where Albion went on to win three-one at Turf Moor. It was also pointed out during the celebration that Ashley Barnes got a bit carried away with the knee slide, careering straight into the goalscorer, giving him a bit of a dead leg in the process. They also discussed his rather unusual athletic prowess growing up; the pole vault. In typically modest fashion, he said; “I went and had a go and I wasn’t too bad at it and did it for three or four years”. On that note, the interview was concluded with results about the fantasy challenge to come the following week.

So, on Friday 5th October, Fenners was back to see which pairing came out on top. Points were awarded for players in the fantasy team that scored goals, provided assists and defensively for clean sheets, whilst yellow and red cards were punished as were goals conceded. The Brighton boys scored a total of eighty-two points between them, a whopping thirteen more than the hosts, meaning it was the Seagulls who defeated Sky in this challenge. First team coach Charlie Oatway, never one to stray away from the limelight, send the show a video message from the team bus implying they didn’t know what they were talking about and needed to “watch a proper game, like us.” He was right, Brighton’s season had begun so very well.

FFC Results


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Brighton 0-1 Middlesbrough Report

The Football League Show, BBC One (20th October 2012); Championship

MID Titles MID Clem

BBC highlights programme The Football League Show returned for its fourth season, and the first of a new broadcast contract, for the 2012/2013 campaign. There were a couple of changes; where previously the BBC held ten Live Championship fixtures and three League Cup games, it was now just highlights for the next three seasons. For this late October edition, regular host Manish Bhasin was joined in the studio by pundit Leroy Rosenior. Reporter Mark Clemmit was dispatched to Brighton to get an insight into how things had progressed during this second Amex season, ahead of a visit from fellow promotion candidates Middlesbrough.

Last season the format was tweaked slightly to drop the, admittedly unnecessary, viewer emails and texts read out by the likes of Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Jacqui Oatley. This year saw further amendments. The theme tune was changed to now use an actual piece of music! Out went the drum beating, crowd noise style opening replaced by Snow Patrol’s In the End. The title sequence featured football freestylers doing tricks and flicks in front of a brick wall. The wall was decorated with various Football League bits and pieces which then flew from the wall to become highlight clips from years gone by before bringing us up to date. It was an improvement on the previous sequence, for sure.

MID Poyet MID Building site

Mark Clemmit’s report began with a quick reminder of Brighton’s stadium saga; saying it “shaped a generation of supporters who were as familiar with land wrangles as football formations.” With development work done over the summer to increase capacity of The Amex from around 22,000 up to more than 27,000 now, with a further increase by the end of the campaign to sit at an incredible 30,750. Such was the demand for tickets so early on, the folk of Sussex couldn’t get enough! With things never better off the field, Clem explained that the next challenge was to re-write the history books on it. “Since their formation in 1901, Brighton have been in the top flight for only four seasons.”

He spoke with manager Gus Poyet near the dugouts in the empty bowl, the calm before the matchday storm. They talked through the fantastic facilities and the change in such a short space of time to when they last were together on this site, two years ago during the construction stage. Poyet told, “Last year it was spectacular, great football days here. And then I found out we were putting an extra five, six-thousand seats and I’m thinking ‘More pressure for the manager!'” But he said he loved the pressure, as long as there were no upper limits to where it could take us; “If we don’t hit the roof, if there is no roof and we can always go and improve, then I will stay here for long.” That ‘roof’ word would come back round a couple more times during the campaign when Poyet spoke of frustrations.

MID Barber MID Fatboy Slim

Changes were made to the Albion at boardroom level during the summer of 2012 as Paul Barber was appointed Chief Executive. The businessman moved from North American side Vancouver Whitecaps, where he oversaw two stadium moves in a short space of time. Prior to that he was Tottenham’s Executive Director, running the club’s day to day operations for five years from the mid-noughties. Perhaps his highest profile, and most successful, job came at the English FA where he worked for over a decade as their Commercial Director. This was during highly controversial times; appointing England’s first foreign manager, rebuilding Wembley and moving international matches and Cup Finals all around the UK. He arrived in Sussex with an impressive CV. Speaking with Clemmit in the hospitality lounge, Barber confirmed planning permission had been granted for a state-of-the-art training ground in Lancing; the next step on the way to attracting and attaining the best young players.

One of the biggest criticisms when a club moves stadium or makes major changes it that the ‘soul’ of the club is lost. Superstar DJ, Seagulls supporter and Falmer campaigner Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim, confirmed that was definitely not the case here. “It’s just got very bigger, very quickly. When we first got here, you had to pinch yourself, because we gone up the Division and were still playing well.”

MID Comm MID Goal

Next came the brief highlights from the match. Defeat on the opening day at Hull for the Albion followed an embarrassing Capital One Cup First Round exit to lower Division Swindon Live on Sky. Things were back on track by the end of August, with a five-one thumping of Barnsley which started a run of five consecutive victories. September ended with defeat at home to Birmingham to set off a three-match streak without a win, ahead of this clash with Middlesbrough. The Albion sat in fifth place at the start of the day, whilst Tony Mowbray’s ‘Boro were down in eleventh after a stop-start, inconsistent beginning.

Commentary was provided by Paul Walker. As well as commentating now, Walker was previously more familiar in a reporting role voicing the round-ups. He came from BBC Radio Sheffield where he hosted phone-in shows, Live football on Saturdays and covered other sports such as ice hockey and boxing.

The first piece of action shown was the goal, which arrived on twenty-one minutes through Marvin Emnes. The Dutchman was provided the ball on the right by Grant Leadbitter. He travelled ten yards forward to the corner of the penalty area, where he struck for goal. It took a huge deflection off Gordon Greer on the way through to wrong-foot summer signing Tomasz Kuszczak in goal, send the ball the other way and sneak in.

MID Full Time MID Studio

Brighton created several opportunities for the likes of Ashley Barnes, Will Buckley and Craig Mackail-Smith but they weren’t taken. ‘Boro goalie Jason Steele kept out a header from Barnes but Mackail-Smith really should have buried the rebound. Instead, he blazed over from five yards. Leadbitter tried one from range for the visitors which didn’t trouble Kuszczak too much but at the final whistle, it was the team in red who took all three points to leapfrog Brighton in the table.

Speaking with Clemmit after the game, Gus Poyet told of a couple of things his side needed to get used to if they were to go one further and make the Play Offs this time. As well as the increased crowds at home, Poyet said; “Second one is how the opposition is going to play here, how difficult they’re gonna make it for us.” Taking chances was crucial. Back in the studio in London, host Manish Bhasin surmised the team were being targeted for the success of late, whilst pundit Leroy Rosenior said “They’re being shown the respect they deserve. I saw them early on this season and was very impressed.” That result made it three home games in a row without a win for the Seagulls, as players adapted to the extra noise and pressure from the expectant crowd.


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Blackpool 1-1 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (27th October 2012); Championship

BLA Titles BLA Comm

The Albion were the featured match on The Football League Show the following Saturday, as the Seaside trip to Blackpool came calling. Host Manish Bhasin described it in the intro as; “Two ambitious clubs with realistic prospects of automatic promotion, but they share the same problem – lack of consistency.” Ian Holloway’s Blackpool finished fifth last year in their first campaign since Premier League relegation but ultimately lost in the Play Off Final to West Ham. After starting this season with four wins out of six, form dried up with five defeats from their last eight. The Albion followed up last Saturday’s Middlesbrough loss with a midweek defeat at Leicester to slide to ninth in the table and just a point above today’s hosts.

Steven Wyeth was the match commentator. Like Paul Walker, he was previously a long-standing local radio employee having worked at BBC Manchester since 2000 specialising in covering Manchester United. He went freelance in September to commentate across a wider variety including The Football League Show and European matches.

BLA Blackpool BLA Brighton

Blackpool welcome back French winger Elliott Grandin back for his first start in ten months, having joined Nice in January. He returned earlier this season but was left out altogether for the past five games and trained with the development squad for a perceived bad attitude. Striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored the club’s first ever Premier League goal on the opening day of the 2010/11 season. Attacking player Tom Ince started his career at Anfield but failed to break into the first team before moving to the Seaside in 2011. He’s the son of former England midfielder Paul Ince. There was a heavy Scottish presence in the side, with goalkeeper Matt Gilks, defenders Stephen Crainey and Kirk Broadfoot, making his home debut, and midfielder Matt Phillips all starters.

Gus Poyet made one change from the midweek defeat as Gary Dicker dropped to the bench for Dean Hammond to come in. Hammond returned to the Albion where he began his career after four years away, joining on a season-long loan from Southampton. Another loanee for the year was former England and Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge, dropping down from Manchester City. Andrew Crofts also made a comeback to Sussex, re-joining from Norwich after two seasons. Right-back Bruno transferred in from Valencia on a free. Craig Mackail-Smith top scored with six thus far, whilst Ashley Barnes netted three. On the bench sat striker Stephen Dobbie, who had two loan spells with Blackpool in the last two years. He joined on transfer deadline day from Swansea.

BLA Barnes goal BLA Grandin goal

The early chances fell Blackpool’s way, with Kuszczak denying Ince and Taylor-Fletcher narrowly heading wide from a corner. Centre-half Alex Baptiste was in the thick of Brighton’s half too, trying a shot from long range which went wide of the target. The Albion offered very little in the first period and went in goalless at the break.

That changed eleven minutes into the second half when Ashley Barnes nabbed the scrappiest of goals. A long ball from Adam El-Abd on the halfway line was flicked into the area by Mackail-Smith to Crofts. In battle with Broadfoot, the ball bounced around the penalty box. Gilks came out of goal to claim but instead tangled with the pair and the ball broke loose. Standing next to them was Barnes who was able to instinctively stab home into the empty net from six yards.

The opportunities were still falling the home side’s way, with Ince guilty of missing a golden chance with the goal gaping five yards out. With father Paul watching on in the stands, Tom Ince couldn’t adjust his body to turn the ball home and instead scooped it over the bar. Brighton were soaking up a lot of pressure again. But with less than twenty minutes to go, the equaliser finally came. Elliott Grandin provided the home relief, diving in for a header six yards out to connect with Matt Phillips’ perfect delivery.

BLA Full Time BLA Claridge

Kuszczak had to fly around his goal to keep Grandin from scoring again a minute later as Blackpool didn’t want to rest on their laurels. Another great chance had to be denied when substitute Nathan Delfouneso failed to connect properly central to the goal. The stripes too had their moments, including an attempt at an overhead kick from Mackail-Smith. The bounce unfortunately took the ball up and over the crossbar. When the full-time whistle arrived, it was a relief that the Seagulls clung on to the draw, finishing one a piece.

Gus Poyet summed it up well by saying; “The effort was there, desire was there. Quality was missing today.” Ian Holloway was frustrated by the missed chances and the “calamitous” goal they conceded but was pleased with the domination overall. First choice FLS pundit Steve Claridge analysed the Albion approach in the studio; “They just slightly tinkered and changed the emphasis on the way that they play. I look at the midfield; Buckley who can play a little bit, then you’ve got Hammond, you’ve got Crofts, you’ve got Bridcutt who are all players who are renowned for their defensive qualities. So there’s a little bit of an emphasis change there… bit of resilience.” He pointed out that just nine goals conceded shows an improvement in that area.

Both this game and the Middlesbrough one highlighted the difficulties faced in the Championship. Despite outplaying the opposition, Brighton came away empty handed last week. This week, they got an undeserved point on their travels. If the Play Offs were to be reached this season, there needed to be an upturn in consistency and winning whilst on top.


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Craig Mackail-Smith and Charlie Oatway on the sofas

Soccer AM, Sky Sports 2 (3rd November 2012)

SAM Titles SAM Hosts

Sky Sports Saturday morning football and entertainment show Soccer AM was by now in its eighteenth season, fantastic for a low budget satellite programme. From the 2008/09 season it was hosted by Max Rushden with Helen Chamberlain. The latter had been there since the first season back in 1995, working first with Russ Williams, Jane Hoffen and Gary Stevens before Tim Lovejoy took over and shaped what the show was to be recognised for. When Lovejoy left with most of the established crew including Fenners, Andy Goldstein came in for a season before ex-BBC London and radio presenter Rushden got the gig and had to move the show into a new dawn.

The show received an overhaul, with new graphics, titles and studio set as well as features and games. The duration was cut from three hours to two in 2010 in a bid to improve quality, now airing from 10am until midday. Entertainment always remained at the heart of it, with certain features standing the test of time, such as Taxi, Showboat, Third Eyes, Goals of the Week and the famous kicking the ball through a hole in the carpark, whilst others fell by the wayside as society moved away from the laddish nineties.

SAM Green Room SAM Walk On

On Saturday 3rd November, Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith and first team coach Charlie Oatway journeyed to Osterley in West London to Sky HQ to adorn the famous orange sofas. The last time Brighton had anyone from the club on this programme, Oatway was still a player and joined Nathan Jones and Leon Knight back in December 2004! Things had changed a lot since then. Now, with Albion playing the night before Live on Sky against Leeds, a rare Saturday off gave them the chance to join Max, Helen and the gang in the studio. Although, it was supposed to be Gus Poyet joining Oatway. He decided against it late on so sent Mackail-Smith instead. And completing the line-up were Suggs and Woody from the band Madness. The fans of Blackburn Rovers provided the noise in the Luther Blissett Stand, supported by a Live studio audience.

SAM Guests.JPG

Charlie Oatway’s cheeky nature was a good fit for a show like Soccer AM, where he could fit in with the mickey taking and show off. The previous night’s Leeds game was talked through, ending in a two-two draw with Mackail-Smith bagging both Brighton goals. Rushden said the Albion were “miles better” than their opponents, with Oatway adding “If it was a boxing match it would’ve been stopped”. Unfortunately Mackail-Smith saw his penalty saved to deny him the hat-trick and all three points. Having already scored from the spot earlier in the game, he was asked if it was mentally tough to take two penalties in a game. “Sometimes you change your mind, I thought I hit it really well.” Oatway joking; “Didn’t hit it well enough!”

SAM Leeds game SAM Studio

Having started the season so brightly in the first two months, form dropped off in October and the Albion pair were asked if that was a concern. Oatway batted it away saying performances were good; “I don’t think you really have to worry yourself, just keep going with what you’re doing and how the boys are playing.” Mackail-Smith’s form over the past eighteen months earned him a Scotland call up by manager Craig Levein, which Oatway also joked about. It backfired when Mackail-Smith enquired about Oatway’s international cap tally but, as always, the Londoner had the last laugh; “I’d rather none than play for Scotland!”

On a more serious and worthy note, they discussed Oatway’s testimonial year with the club. Having joined in 1999 from Brentford, he played for the Seagulls until 2007 before professional retirement. Then when Poyet was put in charge in late 2009, he rejoined the club on the coaching staff, with the combination of roles taking him to the tenth year with Brighton. With half of the earnings going towards Albion in the Community, the club’s charitable arm, he outlined what was in store; “We’ve got a game next year, we’ve got a golf day, we’ve got other events…”

SAM Bugs SAM Oatways Ordeals

He also explained the concept of ‘Oatway’s Ordeals’, in which he completed a series of challenges decided by a vote, all designed to play to his weaknesses and fears. He said he had fears of flying and being stranded in water, amongst others, so obviously they were going to be two of his challenges upcoming. Another was eating insects and, through the magic of television, Helen Chamberlain unveiled an ‘I’m A Celebrity’ style plate of bugs for him to try Live on the show. Mackail-Smith dived in to eat one first, before Oatway and Rushden joined. Suffice to say they didn’t recommend them to us. In return, Oatway’s testimonial events would be plugged on the Soccer AM website.

SAM Hairy Strikers SAM Sausage smashing

The main interview had concluded by the boys would stick around for the rest of the show. One of the Live studio sketches for the season was ‘The Hairy Strikers’, parodying its name from the Hairy Bikers television programme. The skit involved crew members Dave Morgan and Rocket Long dressed as hairy strikers Andy Carroll of West Ham and Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, as well as two of the sofa guests taking part in a game or challenge. For this edition falling during National Sausage Week, Craig Mackail-Smith and Suggs had to smash as many raw sausages with a mallet as they could in thirty seconds. And why not, all part of the fun.

SAM Carpark Game.JPG

The traditional culmination of the show took place outside in the Soccer AM car park with the end game featuring the Fans of the Week. The aim was always for them to kick a ball through a hole and score as many as possible within the allotted time. This season saw a variation on the format with five holes to choose from, as they had to progress in turn from the biggest – League Two – up through the Divisions to the smallest hole – the Champions League. After the fans had their go, it was the turn of the guests. Unfortunately for Suggs, Charlie Oatway was around and threw a football at his when he was about to strike. The Blackburn fans reached League One whilst none of the guests could get their effort on target. And once everyone was back inside, it was time to end another fun-packed programme as our Seagulls were once again in the TV spotlight.


This is the first part looking back at Season 2012/2013. The second part is available HERE.

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sThe media spotlight didn’t often shine on the Albion. Outside of the glorious run to the FA Cup Final, and Replay, in 1983, appearances on the television were rare. Goal clips were shown on the news and, if you were lucky, the Brighton game might have been selected for extended highlights on Match of the Day or The Big Match. Live games were even rarer, with the Seagulls on screen just three times in the 1980s and four in the 1990s. The satellite television boom didn’t really reach the South Coast until the 21st Century. The story of the club’s homelessness, two-year exile to Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium and twelve year stay at Withdean did garner some attention. Television helped play its part in this. This piece remembers some of the milestone matches Brighton played at their temporary abode. This is the SECOND part of the story, the first can be found here.

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

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BIGGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY (11th November 2006) FA Cup Round One

Match of the Day, BBC One; Brighton 8-0 Northwich Victoria 

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

After a disappointing 2005/06 season which saw the Albion relegated in last place from the Championship, and further frustrating delays over the planning permission for the new stadium in Falmer, the club were back in the third tier for a period of transition. It got worse just a month into the campaign when boss Mark McGhee left after a lacklustre start and three consecutive losses. Hopes of bouncing straight back up like the last time they were at this level were quickly diminished. Chairman Dick Knight said at the time he thought McGhee had lost the fans and accepted his proposal to stand down. Former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins, coach of the academy, was appointed initially in a caretaker role before being given the post full time. Results weren’t showing much sign of improving with five defeats on the bounce, including a disappointing defeat Live on Sky against Blackpool in October. That proved to be a bit of a turning point as Wilkins’ young Seagulls then began a six match unbeaten run, five of them wins, ahead of an FA Cup 1st Round tie at home to Conference side Northwich Victoria. As the 1990s showed, Albion taking on non-League sides in the Cup wasn’t always a guarantee of a result. Terrestrial FA Cup broadcaster BBC showed the pick of the First Round ties at the end of an extended one-hundred-minute Match of the Day, once all the Premiership highlights had been on. In fact there were so many goals to get through, there was only time to show three of ours on the main show, with the rest shunted to the BBC Red Button where every goal from every game was played on a loop overnight. Damien Johnson voiced all eight Albion finishes, eventually!

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

Dean Cox got us off to the perfect start with a goal in the eighth minute. A positive surge from Dean Hammond brought the ball inside the area where Cox finished first time to curl into the bottom corner (above, top left). Jake Robinson doubled the lead ten minutes later when he skipped past two to drill low into the corner past goalkeeper Phil Senior. The juniors were out on top at half time and it was three nil ten minutes after the break. Robinson was again the scorer, cutting in from the right touchline past his marker and finishing from a wide angle under the ‘keeper (above, top right). The low corners were proving to be the weak spot for Senior and Alex Revell took full advantage with a fantastic strike (above, bottom left) from twenty-five yards. Four more goals were added in the final twelve minutes, the first of which completed Jake Robinson’s hat-trick (below left). This time the effort flew high into the roof of the net from range. The sixth came about when, for some reason, the furthest forward was Adam El-Abd who saw his shot parried into the path of Joe Gatting, son of former Albion defender Steve, to tap home from six yards. That was his first senior goal for the club after coming up through the ranks and another also got that accolade with a minute to go. Sam Rents was put through by Dean Cox with time and space to make it number seven (above, bottom right). And it was Cox who rounded things off neatly, scoring the first and the last, to make it a great eight-nil. His run into the area was spotted by Gatting, the through ball perfect for Cox to lift it over the goalie and into the top corner. A fantastically ruthless display from a Brighton side full of youth and excitement. They progressed to the Second Round with the biggest margin of victory Withdean would see.

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

This result didn’t quite prove to be the shot in the arm to push on for the rest of the season. Further exploits in the Cup continued, ending with a Third Round defeat to Premiership West Ham away. League form was patchy and the club trundled to an eighteenth place finish in League One in 2007, picking up just eight points from the final twelve matches. The following season was much more positive though and Wilkins narrowly missed out on a Play Off spot by a single place. The biggest result came off the pitch, with permission finally granted for Falmer, this time Lewes District Council decided not to challenge. Things were on the up again! But sadly not for Dean Wilkins, who was relieved of his duties at the end of the season, in a surprise move. Brighton searched through their former glories and brought back Division Three winning manager Micky Adams after seven years away for the 2008/09 season. What could possibly go wrong?!


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BIGGEST SHOCK (24th September 2008) League Cup Round Two

Carling Cup Highlights, ITV1; Brighton 1-1 Man City (2-2 AET, 5-3 on pens) 

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

In September 2008, Manchester City were taken over by an Abu Dhabi Group consortium for £200 million which instantly made them the richest club in world football. The club finished ninth in the Premiership the season before and were now competing in Europe this time round. On Transfer deadline day they bought Brazilian superstar Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million. By contrast at the same time, Brighton were competing in League One having brought back the manager who left to become an assistant at Leicester seven years earlier, beginning their twelfth season without a home, lost to Crowborough Athletic in the final pre-season match and the biggest bit of transfer news was the re-signing of Adam Virgo on a free, having not spent a penny on a new player all summer and relying on youth, free agents and loans. So when the two sides were drawn to play each other in the Second Round of the Carling Cup it was fair to see it was a complete mismatch. The City schedule was jam-packed due to their progression in the UEFA Cup so this match had to be played when pretty much everybody else was playing the Third Round. They went into the match off the back of a six-nil thrashing of Portsmouth and won three out of the first five Premiership games. Brighton’s form had regressed since an unbeaten August, without a win in four and lost the previous Saturday to the nine-men of Walsall. Nobody really held out much hope of making it to the League Cup Third Round this Wednesday night at Withdean. Football League highlights broadcaster ITV put on a late-night programme at 11.35pm to round up the events of the week presented by Matt Smith in the studio, with our match receiving the voiceover treatment from regular reporter Tom Skippings.

Man City Opener Man City Murray Man City Anyinsah Man City Equaliser

Big money signing Robinho was a no-show but City’s side included several famous names, the likes of Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper, Richard Dunne, Vincent Kompany, Michael Ball (not that one), Michael Johnson (not that one either) and Jo all starting. The Albion’s team featured local born Adam Virgo, Tommy Elphick, Adam El-Abd and Tommy Fraser alongside new signing David Livermore and Ipswich loanee Matt Richards. But honours were even in the first half, with Steve Thomson nearly even putting Brighton one up when he struck the post. However, City took the lead just after the hour mark. Gelson Fernandes saw his effort take a huge deflection of Elphick and fly past Kuipers (above, top left). Just when you thought that would be that, Brighton popped up with an equaliser in the final minute after great work from Thomson. He received the ball from a throw-in on the left touchline, dribbled past Stephen Ireland and through Vincent Kompany. He received the ball in the box from a Virgo flick over the top before stabbing the ball goalwards. Waiting to pounce from no more than two yards out was Albion striker Glenn Murray who got there ahead of Fernandes to equalise (above, top right). Extra Time was required. Brighton turned the game around just five minutes in when substitute Joe Anyinsah, on loan from Preston making only his second appearance, pounced in the area (above, bottom left) after good work from Dean Cox. For all their wealth, experience and technique, it took Mark Hughes’ Manchester City side to go route one for their equaliser three minutes into the second period. A long punt upfield from goalkeeper Schmeichel was missed by everyone and allowed to bounce just outside the box. Stephen Ireland latched on to it to squeeze between the central defenders and slot the ball through the legs of Kuipers for two-two (above, bottom right). They still couldn’t be separated and a shoot-out was next.

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

Penalty shoot-outs had served Brighton rather well, with a superb dramatic win over Swindon in 2004 on the way to Play Off glory being the most famous thus far. Nobody was giving an inch during this, with the first seven spot kicks all being converted. Livermore, Elphick, Murray and Virgo scored for the Seagulls, with Ched Evans, Elano and Kompany replying for the visitors. Michael Ball couldn’t follow, with his kick saved well by Kuipers low to the Dutchman’s right. That presented Matt Richards with the opportunity to win it, which he duly did; dispatching his penalty to the left (above, top left) sending Schmeichel the wrong way and Brighton through! Cue a mini pitch invasion, the hoardings and running track of Withdean no barrier for the fans. There was no doubting this was an embarrassing exit for Manchester City, who would get over it in subsequent years of course. Pure elation for Brighton, supporters getting that little chance to gloat over the big clubs. In his interview afterwards, Micky Adams said “The fans have thoroughly enjoyed it tonight. It’s nice to see the Withdean packed out.” Adams wouldn’t go on to see that again too much. Defeat to Derby in Round Three saw a swift exit, they were knocked out of the FA Cup in Round One via a replay and were a penalty shoot-out away from a Wembley Final in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy but Luton edged it that night, Live on Sky. Form in the League crashed and burned and he was sacked in February after just nine months as the club slid into the relegation zone. An emergency rescue operation was required in the final third of the season to avoid falling into League Two.


3

THE GREAT ESCAPE IS ON (18th April 2009) League One

The Championship, ITV4 (repeat); Brighton 3-1 Oldham

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

With Micky Adams losing his job in February and the club in the bottom four of League One, it was a tall order to reverse the slide with so few matches remaining. Come in, Russell Slade! The 2007 League One Manager of the Year was appointed in March until the end of the season, giving him just fourteen matches to lift them from 22nd place. Early on he got the better of his old side Yeovil with a five-nil thrashing but that was the only win in March. Defeats on the road at Walsall, Scunthorpe and MK Dons followed before a vital win at Hereford. An Easter Monday victory at Colchester kick-started an incredible finish to the season which continued with this match, at home to Oldham. Joe Royle’s side were comfortably mid-table with the Play Offs not quite in reach so essentially had little to play for. But Brighton had the worst home record in the Division, with just two wins at Withdean since 1st November – that’s an astonishing thirteen matches. ITV’s The Championship continued to be the terrestrial highlights programme for the Football League but despite the name, they did show the goals from all three Divisions. Matt Smith presented the Sunday morning show on ITV1, repeated on Monday nights on digital channel ITV4, from Molineux as Wolves celebrated promotion. Reporter Chris Hall talked through the goals on a big day for Brighton.

Oldham League One Oldham 1st goal Oldham Owusu header Oldham consolation

Dean Cox got Brighton off the mark after twenty-six minutes, left unmarked at the back post to nod home Lloyd Owusu’s cross. And the assister became the goalscorer just before half-time in slightly unusual circumstances. Gary Hart, who was actually released in the summer by Dean Wilkins only to be immediately brought back when Micky Adams was appointed, provided a similar looking cross to the back stick where Owusu stood. The striker joined in March on loan from Cheltenham. He was denied a goal at the first attempt when his stooping header was saved by goalkeeper Mark Crossley but his quick reactions ensured he wasn’t to be denied completely. Whilst lying full stretch on the floor, he flicked the loose ball in from all of a yard to improvise brilliantly (above, top right). You don’t see too many horizontal headers! After an hour, Lewis Allesandra pulled a goal back for the Latics when he outmuscled Adam El-Abd to win a ball over the top and calmly slot past Michel Kuipers (above, bottom left). The hope was short-lived as Lloyd Owusu grabbed his second and Brighton’s third less than two minutes later to seal the points. Somehow the ball trickled through the middle of the Oldham defence and Owusu latched onto it to slot past Crossley (below left).

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

Three-one was the final scoreline as Brighton completed a huge victory and shook off that Withdean hoodoo. There were three more matches in order to pull off the greatest of great escapes, with just one of those coming at Withdean. The League One table still made for uncomfortable viewing from an Albion perspective, with the club languishing in 22nd spot but three vital points brought them that little bit closer to getting out. Hereford’s fate was sealed that weekend after another defeat, just three other spots now waited to be filled. Brighton followed up these back-to-back wins with two more great away performances. A two-one victory at Bristol Rovers saw the Seagulls come from behind to snatch the three points. That man Owusu scored again, cancelling Rickie Lambert’s opener, whilst on-loan Crystal Palace forward Calvin Andrew got the winner. This was backed up by a crucial point at Huddersfield, who had veteran Andy Booth still firing strong and on the scoresheet. Again, Andrew and Owusu netted. These results lifted Albion out of the relegation zone and meant that a win in the final match of the season at home to Stockport would be enough to complete what was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago; stay in the Division. Could the Seagulls hold their nerve for one more match?

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

Big League Weekend, Sky Sports 1; Brighton 1-0 Stockport

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

Sky Sports previewed the final weekend of the Football League season with their usual Friday night magazine show Big League Weekend 1. This replaced the old Football League Review show on Thursday nights in previous seasons with a Friday preview and a Monday review show under the Big League banner. This was introduced for the 2007/08 season. George Gavin was the main man fronting it in the presenter’s seat. Gone are the days of having to stand around that podium for an hour! Graphics and titles were the same as used on the Live matches. For this edition, Gavin was joined in the studio by Brentford manager Andy Scott and Sky Sports pundit Scott Minto.

Stockport Slade dugout Stockport Studio 1  Stockport table before match Stockport Fixtures

The studio team looked ahead to the intriguing battle at the bottom, where five teams were battling to avoid the drop; Crewe, Carlisle, Northampton, Hartlepool and, of course, the Albion. Crewe had the unenviable task of playing Champions Leicester and even a win might not have been enough for the Railwaymen to avoid joining Hereford and Cheltenham. Perennial escape artists Carlisle could do it again as they hosted Millwall, the Lions with nothing much to play for but pride having already secured a top five spot. Hartlepool headed South West to Bristol Rovers knowing a point would be enough for them. Northampton faced a tricky tie at Play Off bound Leeds, where coming away with anything is usually tough. And at Withdean, Stockport were dragged down towards the battle after a ten point deduction for going into administration. However, with their positive goal difference it was almost impossible for Carlisle to overturn that swing so effectively were safe. Brighton knew a win would secure the great escape for Russell Slade having only taken the reins in March. Reporter Dominic Johnson voiced a package interviewing someone from all the clubs involved in the relegation battle. Slade said “That was my biggest worry, that there wasn’t a lot of game to be played and to turn it around in such a short space of time.” Pundit Scott Minto thought Northampton and Crewe would be the two to drop, with tough final day fixtures for the pair.

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

The Monday after the Saturday before, Sky Sports broadcast their ninety minute weekend round-up of the Football League in Big League Weekend 2, presented by George Gavin with Birmingham’s Kevin Phillips and Burnley’s Robbie Blake. Tony Lockwood voiced a report detailing the season’s conclusion at the foot of League One, having discounted Crewe after their defeat at Leicester sent them down. Four teams remained trying not to get that final spot. The package began on the South Coast with the sun shining at Withdean as the fans and staff went about their preparations. Chairman Dick Knight was interviewed pitchside prior to kick off putting an excited, positive spin on the events. “It’s actually why we come to football, days like this, a wonderful, exciting day. We’re very optimistic, we’ve got a full house, record crowd that’s ever been here.” 8,618 turned up to the pack out the athletics ground, fully expecting a good result for Russell Slade’s miracle men.

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts though as an early goal from Graham Kavanagh put Carlisle one up in their match and with the Albion level with Stockport, the goal put Brighton into the relegation zone. However, that position didn’t last for long as a Leeds goal against Northampton sent the Cobblers dropping instead. As things stood, Brighton and Carlisle were safe, Northampton were joining Crewe, Cheltenham and Hereford in League Two. Carlisle extended their lead against Millwall to save them from the drop and Leeds soon doubled their advantage against Northampton. A third goal for the Yorkshire team secured Northampton’s fate late on. With seventeen minutes to go, Brighton made sure of it when Nicky Forster pounced to score the sort of poacher’s goal he was famous for (above, top right). On loan Gary Dicker’s volley on the edge of the box was parried by goalkeeper Conrad Logan but only as far as Forster who tapped home from five yards. It was enough to get the win, with the final whistle a cue for a pitch invasion to celebrate (above, bottom left). Afterwards, Forster (above, bottom right) was full of praise for the support; “It was a fantastic atmosphere, the fans came in force and that was definitely key to the day.”

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

Russell Slade told Sky Sports “The lads have responded exceptionally well in recent weeks and I think they deserve it.” The boss was carried on supporters’ shoulders (above, top right) on the pitch, enjoying every second of this magnificent achievement. It’s easy to underplay it in hindsight but when he arrived the club morale was low; the home form was abysmal and it was difficult to see where the next win would come from. A couple of loan signings and some fresh thinking from the manager galvanised the side into promotion form in the final third of the campaign, ending with a five-match unbeaten run taking thirteen points out of fifteen. Six goals from striker Lloyd Owusu earned him the Powerade Player of the Month award for April (above, bottom left and right). He rejected the offer of joining permanently in the summer, but there was better news (initially) for Russell Slade, who was offered the job on a two-year deal. The final table (below) actually saw the Seagulls leap up to sixteenth position, three points clear of the drop zone but four places. As Scott Minto predicted on the Friday show, it was Crewe and Northampton who joined the already relegated two on their journey down to the basement League. It could so easily have been Brighton were it not for good old Russell Slade. It was a shame that his good impact didn’t stretch into the 2009/2010 season where a terrible start saw him dismissed in November to be replaced by former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet for his first managerial role. The rest really was, as they say, history!

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

The Football League Show, BBC One; Brighton 2-3 Huddersfield

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

When Gus Poyet was appointed Albion boss in November 2009, the club were just above the relegation zone in League One. His first match was televised Live on Sky Sports and the terrific three-one away victory at Southampton was a taster of results to come. It wasn’t all rosy though and the first few months were hit and miss. Gradually as the campaign wore on, he went about adjusting the playing style to a more fluid, passing one. He got the best out of the likes of Adam El Abd at the back, Matt Sparrow in the middle and Ashley Barnes up top alongside Glenn Murray. There was a clear identity about the club again. That season ended with the club climbing the League table from twentieth in January up to thirteenth in March, where the club would finish. The second half of the season was more like the Brighton we would come to see during the 2010/11 campaign; our final year at Withdean Stadium. With a new look structure of Tony Bloom as chairman and Gus Poyet as manager, the Albion stormed League One from the off. Just one defeat in fifteen saw them in the top six places and they would never look back. A terrific run of eleven wins out of twelve in March and April saw firstly promotion clinched with a four-three defeat of Dagenham, then the title secured with a three-one scoreline at Walsall. The foot eased off the gas a little towards the end of the season, the first home defeat was inflicted by Southampton at the end of April before a comedic own goal at Colchester, Live on Sky, saw further points dropped. The target of one hundred points was just slightly out of reach. And so the final match after twelve long, hard seasons at Withdean was upon us. Huddersfield were the visitors, themselves needing the points to join Albion in the Championship next season. Terrestrial highlights had switched from ITV to BBC in 2009 so The Football League Show presented by Manish Bhasin in the studio with Steve Claridge was where we could witness the best of the action.

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

It was only right that Dave Beckett, a Brighton supporter and voice of the Football League for more than a decade, got to narrate the final ever Albion match at Withdean. Beckett was there throughout the entire story of the sale of the Goldstone and playing at Gillingham, where he reported for ITV Meridian News. He was the presenter of ITV’s Football League Extra in the early years at Withdean before providing the reports for The Championship when that began in 2004. And when the BBC gained the League highlights he became one of their principle voices on the round-ups. He summed up the departure of Withdean nicely, beginning his report with “No electronic scoreboard at Withdean’s humble surroundings, a ground Brighton’s fans are delighted to say goodbye to after twelve years, even if it has seen some excellent seasons.” Huddersfield provided a guard of honour for the Champions but soon took the lead after just eight minutes. Benik Afobe swivelled to sell Gordon Greer a dummy in the area before slotting the ball under Peter Brezovan’s dive and into the back of the net. Brighton had their chances to equaliser, immediately with Ashley Barnes thwarted then later with Chris Wood, who saw his header crash against the crossbar. The Terriers lead at the break but just two minutes into the second half there was a chance of an equaliser when Elliott Bennett was fouled for a penalty. Up stepped Barnes. Goalkeeper Ian Bennett guessed the right way to keep it out but couldn’t do anything about the rebound, as Barnes stooped to nod in (above, top right). With less than half an hour remaining, Huddersfield regained the lead through Afobe’s second. He was presented the opportunity from a mistake by right back Inigo Calderon, whose chest back to Brezovan did not reach the intended target and Afobe nipped in to finish smartly. Eight minutes later and the Seagulls were on level terms again. A terrific through ball from Greer was dummied by Gary Hart to allow Matt Sparrow to latch onto it. Through on goal, he took two touches before finishing into the far corner for two-two (above, bottom left). That wasn’t the end of things as Danny Ward won it for Huddersfield in stoppage time when he put two Albion defenders on their backsides with one simple touch before firing past Brezovan at the near post (above, bottom right). Three-two the final scoreline for the final match.

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

That win for Huddersfield kept alive their hopes of joining Brighton in the Championship via the automatic promotion route, going level on points with Southampton in second place. The Saints also won that day, a three-nil scoreline at Brentford, but with a game in hand they were still favourites to go up. That’s exactly what happened, with Huddersfield having to try their luck in the Play Offs. For Brighton fans, the final ninety minutes was just a sideshow for the main event of the day – saying goodbye to this peculiar stadium in style with the presentation of the League One trophy. Captain Gordon Greer held the silverware aloft as the champagne flowed and the celebrations began. Manager Gus Poyet was lapping it up with the supporters (above, bottom left). It capped off a remarkable last season there, blowing away the rest of the competition and ending up on a hugely impressive 95 League points. The second tier would be where Brighton would begin life at Falmer in. The 2011/2012 season would not only see a change of Division, but also a change of home. At long, long, long last! Goodbye Withdean, and thanks for the memories.


Huddersfield Goodbye

#49: Bournemouth 1-1 Brighton 30/11/2013

#49 BOURNEMOUTH 1-1 BRIGHTON Championship
Saturday 30th November 2013 Image result for

BOU Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
12.15pm Kick Off; Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth     12-2.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

BOU Ident BOU Sponsor BOU Intro

Context of the Match: Since defeat at home to Nottingham Forest back at the start of October, the Albion hadn’t lost another League game ahead of a visit to Bournemouth today. Draws at Yeovil and against Watford in the televised clash were followed up with three wins in a row. Doncaster, Blackburn and Wigan were all dispatched, scoring seven goals conceding only one. Ashley Barnes netted for the first time since April, whilst Jake Forster-Caskey and loan signing Leroy Lita were also chipping in, as the long list of absentees continued to hamper the squad. The victories had moved Brighton up to ninth in the Sky Bet Championship, with the Play Offs in sight. The opposition, Bournemouth, were promoted from League One last season finishing as runners-up to Doncaster. They were adjusting to life back in the second tier and, after a bright start, had just one win in the last nine sat in the lower half of the table. Under manager Eddie Howe, back at the club for his second spell in charge, had seen the Cherries rise up the Divisions. In his first tenure he saved the team from relegation to the Conference, overturning a ten point deficit with the club in administration. With millions of pounds of debt, they nearly went out of business. A result on the final day kept them in the Football League, now where have we heard that before? There were similarities in the trouble both seaside clubs had experienced on and off the field, both now enjoying much better days together. Television broadcasters had picked our head-to-heads on a couple of occasions previously, seemingly pushing the South Coast angle as some kind of ‘derby’ match. Sky Sports selected this game to be brought forward to a 12.15pm kick off to be televised Live in front of the nation.

BOU Bournemouth BOU Subs BOU Brighton

The Teams: With Brighton still without top scorer Leo Ulloa, long-term absentee Craig Mackail-Smith and winger Kazenga LuaLua, those that were available tended to feature a lot. As a result, just one change was made from the side that won at then-unbeaten-at-home Wigan last time out. That came at right-back where Inigo Calderon returned to replace fellow Spaniard Bruno – suspended for this one – in a defence that included three ever-presents in the League thus far; goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, skipper Gordon Greer and experienced centre-half Matt Upson. Andrew Crofts was in goalscoring form, grabbing the winners at Birmingham and Wigan, as well as the equaliser in the last televised match versus Watford. He started in the middle next to Jake Forster-Caskey, who was forging a regular place in Oscar Garcia’s side of late. Rohan Ince started for the ninth time since moving up from the development squad. Ashley Barnes was the sole striker pivotal to all attacking moves if the Albion were to get anything from this fixture. Bridcutt and Orlandi’s time on the treatment table had thankfully come to an end, both were fit enough for the bench. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side included two former Brighton youth team graduates at the back; Steve Cook and Tommy Elphick. Cook was at the club for four years but never managed to guarantee a first-team place, making only a handful of appearances before moving to Bournemouth on-loan before making it permanent in January 2012. Of the few games he did play in, his debut in the penalty shoot-out victory over Premier League Manchester City at Withdean in the League Cup would surely rank high amongst the most memorable. Tommy Elphick left the Seagulls after a long-term injury kept him out of the entire first season at The Amex. When he had recovered, Eddie Howe snapped the centre-half up on a three-year contract at the start of last season and made him captain. Elphick was unfortunate that he did not extend his career at Brighton, having been a regular for many of the seven years he spent there. He was a pivotal part of the League One survival campaign in 2010 and played over half of the title-winning season, battling with Gordon Greer and Adam El-Abd for the two central defensive spots before suffering an achilles problem in the final day of the 2011 season. Elsewhere Harry Arter and Matt Ritchie were ones to watch in midfield and Brett Pitman up front was in his second spell at the club. Jonathan Moss was today’s referee.

BOU Thomas BOU Beagrie BOU Studio BOU Pitchside 

The Coverage & Presentation Team: The 12.15pm Saturday afternoon slot was Sky Sports first choice for Football League broadcasts this season, going head to head with the Live Premier League offering on new rivals BT Sport. This allowed for around fifteen minutes of pre and post match coverage between midday and 2.30pm when Sky’s attention moved to the Premier League and Live scores on the iconic Soccer Saturday programme. The first choice presentation team were all deployed for today’s match; host Simon Thomas and number one pundit Peter Beagrie presented, Jonathan Oakes as usual was on the touchline and Bill Leslie partnered Don Goodman on the gantry. This was the core of Sky’s FL72 coverage. Thomas and Beagrie presented from pitchside at the stadium formerly known as Dean Court, now under the name of the Goldsands for sponsorship purposes. The graphics that were introduced at the beginning of the season were tweaked by now to include a glassy-effect clear background surrounding the red and white astons. Presentation began pitchside in the Bournemouth winter sun. Thomas and Beagrie highlighted a couple of key men for the home side in the build-up; record signing Tokelo Rantie and midfielder Matt Ritchie. Brighton’s recent good form was discussed, showing the goal in the win at Wigan – their first home defeat of the season. After the adverts, the teams came out onto the pitch. Whilst that happened, a split-screen was used to show that and play the interviews with the managers, as is the norm this season. Then it was over to our match commentator Bill Leslie to talk through the teams.

BOU Form BOU Split Screen BOU Sub BOU Coming Up

At half time the presentation moved up to the temporary studio box placed in the corner of the stadium. Praise rightly went Matt Ritchie’s way for his goal and the threat he possessed in the first period. Peter Beagrie wanted to see Orlandi or Lita come on for Brighton to help get things going forward and support Barnes in the second half. Straight after the conclusion of the match, reporter Jonathan Oakes caught up with both goalscorers; Ashley Barnes and Man of the Match Matt Ritchie. An honest Barnes said “My goals haven’t been coming this year, I’ve been out with a little injury but that’s beside the point. As long as I play well for the team, that’s all that matters. But today I thought I wasn’t the best but lucky enough I come up with that goal and it got us back in the game.” After the commercials, the ten minutes of post-match analysis was presented back on the touchline by Thomas and Beagrie, where Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe had joined them for the remainder of the programme to discuss the performance. Understandably then, the chat was Bournemouth-heavy, looking ahead to their next six fixtures and honing in on Howe’s ambitions. Once again there wasn’t time to hear from Oscar Garcia during the Live broadcast, seemingly he spends a bit more time in the dressing room after the game talking to his players before he’s ready for the various media duties. Before the show came off-air, Simon Thomas handed over to David Jones in the Saturday Night Football studio back in Isleworth, complete with a studio audience, where they were getting ready to preview the days 3pm kick offs in the half-hour Team Talk programme prior to Soccer Saturday Live scores. Jones would then return at 5pm for that evening’s Premier League clash between Newcastle and West Brom.

BOU Kick Off BOU Comms BOU Crofts BOU Barnes

Story of the Match: Brighton, in their change kit of all-yellow, got the game off an underway kicking from right to left. The first effort on goal didn’t arrive until a quarter of an hour in, Daniels with good work on the left-wing crossed for Pitman who teed himself up for an overhead kick. No problem for Tomasz Kuszcak. Ten minutes later Inigo Calderon had a great chance to put the Albion one up. His cross from the right ended up bouncing back to him in the area. The ball bounced and Calderon leaned back, causing his effort to high and wide, but it was a positive sign to see the full back so high up the field and looking to create chances. However one moment of quality from a free kick put Bournemouth in the lead before the half hour mark. Charlie Daniels rolled the spot kick to Matt Ritchie just over twenty yards out. His low, left-footed drive deceived Kuszcak with the spin; the ‘keeper took a step to his left only to see the shot fly the other side, in the corner, for one-nil. He almost doubled the advantage a couple of minutes later after an excellent cross in from Fraser. Ritchie slid in to get his foot to the ball as it was rising, Kuszczak had to react from point-blank to push it away. Bournemouth were growing in confidence. Five minutes prior to the break, Ritchie saw another free-kick go just wide following a huge deflection. He was the star man so far. A change was made at half-time to bring Liam Bridcutt back into the side after injury, replacing Jake Forster-Caskey and allowing Rohan Ince to push forward more. A collision with the shoulder of Eunan O’Kane left Andrew Crofts fuming and with an immediate large lump under his left eye. Nasty. Referee Jon Moss didn’t give either a card or a foul for the challenge. Ten minutes into the second half, Ashley Barnes produced an absolute wonder-goal from nowhere. He received Calderon’s throw-in on the far side of the box with his back to goal. He took a touch with his chest, on to his knee for two more before swivelling and blasting the ball into the top right-hand corner of Camp’s net. It fizzed in, drawing comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo from Don Goodman in commentary. “Take a bow, Ashley Barnes” he added. Much of the rest of the game passed by without incident, aside from a few pot shots from the likes of Fraser and Pitman for Bournemouth and Conway and Barnes for the Albion but nothing too troubling. The game ended in a deserved draw, keeping the Seagulls in ninth place in the Championship table.

BOU Table

BOURNEMOUTH 1 BRIGHTON 1
Ritchie Barnes

BOU Replay BOU Goal

PREVIOUS; #48 BRIGHTON 1-1 WATFORD 28/10/2013

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

#37: Wrexham 1-1 Brighton 18/01/2012

#37 WREXHAM 1-1 BRIGHTON (AET, BRI win 5-3 on pens) FA Cup Round Three Replay
Wednesday 18th January 2012 Related imageS4C

WRE Titles

PRESENTER Ray Stubbs GUESTS Brian Flynn & John Barnes
COMMENTATORS Derek Rae & Chris Waddle REPORTER Darrell Currie
7.15pm Kick Off; Racecourse Ground, Wrexham     7-9.30pm FA Cup Live on ESPN (Extended to 10.30pm)

WRE Bumper WRE Sponsor WRE Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton certainly liked to make heavy work of their FA Cup ties against non-League opposition. Last season in the competition the Albion drew at home to Woking, from tier five of the football pyramid, and FC United of Manchester, tier seven, before eventually knocking out both in the televised replays. The draw was kind again this season, with Conference Wrexham having to go to The Amex. That, of course, also ended in a tie and here we were twelve days later having to face off again. In the first match, seventeen-year-old Jake Forster-Caskey, who graduated through the club’s youth system, put Brighton ahead to score his second goal in as many games. The lead lasted for around fifteen minutes before Wrexham grabbed an equaliser through Cieslewicz with a shot looping over Cup ‘keeper Brezovan. The Welsh side deserved a replay, indeed they have FA Cup pedigree. In 1992 Mickey Thomas, once of the Seagulls, scored a thunderous free-kick to write his name in history as the fourth tier Dragons upset top Division Arsenal in the Third Round. It’s still one of the most memorable Cup moments of all time. The Racecourse Ground then was muddy, patchy and a proper old-school surface. Twenty years on and the pitch was causing problems here, namely that it was completely frozen. The replay was due to take place on Tuesday 17th but the weather did for that. With the Albion having already travelled over on Monday, a discussion took place with all parties to agree to getting the game on the following night. The forecast was much better for the Wednesday and come kick off time it was perfectly playable. Game on! Eventually. And we would now be Live on two channels; S4C in Welsh and ESPN in English. More on that below. Brighton’s form going into the match was dreadful in December, with four straight League losses. Wins against Southampton and Bristol City at the weekend had seen an improvement but we were going to be in for another tough night in Wrexham. The Welshmen were top of the Blue Square Bet Premier Division, having sat there since October and unbeaten in their last fifteen League matches. In order to reach Round Three of the Budweiser FA Cup, they had to beat York in the Fourth Qualifying Round, dispatch of Cambridge in a replay and win away at Brentford in Round Two. Tonight would be their sixth match in the competition in front of the highest crowd of the season at the Racecourse, they were the last non-league side remaining. The incentive in reaching Round Four was to host Premier League Newcastle.

WRE Wrexham WRE Brighton

The Teams: Gus Poyet stated after the one-all at The Amex that he would be fielding a very inexperienced team in the replay; telling BBC Radio Sussex “We have another opportunity next week for the kids to play an important game. There’s a chance the whole second team will play.” In the original tie he gave a debut in defence to Ben Sampayo, his only appearance for the Albion, and a first start to centre-back Grant Hall, yet another academy graduate, as part of six changes from the side that beat Southampton in the League. However with the extra day’s preparation following last night’s postponement, Poyet had a reshuffle and played a stronger team than anticipated for the replay. He made four changes from the draw. Craig Mackail-Smith had been suffering with an eye injury but the extra recovery time meant he was passed fit and started up top with the two Wills supporting; Hoskins and Buckley. Lewis Dunk was recalled in place of Sampayo and Liam Bridcutt returned with LuaLua not in the squad. Grant Hall kept his position at the back, as did Calderon and Vincelot wide of him. Peter Brezovan had played in every match since the turn of the year, dropping Ankergren after an awful December, and the Slovakian goalkeeper started again tonight. Wrexham’s top scorer Jake Speight was absent from the squad through injury, Danny Wright partnering player-manager Andy Morrell in attack. Goalscorer at The Amex Adrian Cieslewicz was on the wing again. The centre-half pairing of Nat Knight-Percival and Mark Creighton provided the solid wall ahead of Cameroonian goalkeeper Joslain Mayebi, who only joined at the start of the month. Colin Webster was the official.

WRE Stubbs WRE Barnes WRE FlynnWRE Studio

Presentation Team: Studio coverage was chaired by Ray Stubbs. Now in ESPN’s second season of FA Cup broadcasting, and third Premier League, Stubbs fronted the lot both sides of the border. He hosted his first FA Cup Final last May between Manchester City and Stoke, which would be the last Final to kick off at the traditional 3pm time. They rewound the clock to the 1970s and 80s by having all day coverage, beginning at 8am right through to the match starting, it was a pleasure to watch. Setanta did similar for their one and only Cup Final two years earlier. Stubbs had worked on several Finals for the BBC during his 26 years there but never hosted the FA Cup Final, with Des Lynam then Gary Lineker helming those, leaving him in the tunnel to do the interviews. Alongside him in the studio were John Barnes and Brian Flynn. Barnes was becoming quite the ESPN regular now, having left his regular gig on Channel 5 to return for a brief stint in management. Barnes covered both of our Live games on ESPN last season. Brian Flynn was the current Wales under-21 manager, he managed the full National side for nine years in the 70s and 80s as well as Swansea and, of course, Wrexham. He was the third longest-serving manager in the English leagues behind Sir Alex Ferguson and Dario Gradi of Crewe when he left his position in 2001. As a 5 foot 4 inch midfielder, Flynn enjoyed long spells at Burnley and Leeds before seeing out his playing days with the Dragons. It was clear why he was in the studio tonight. Whilst they were warm in London, out on the coal face were commentators Derek Rae and Chris Waddle. Rae was ESPN’s Scottish Premier League voice as well as featuring heavily in the FA Cup and Europa League. He covered our penalty shoot-out victory at Woking last season and is a very warm broadcaster with a clear, distinctive voice. Chris Waddle was ESPN’s Premier League co-commentator, working on the vast majority of their exclusively Live games on Saturday evenings. Having taken the 46 matches from Setanta for 2009/10, the contract for the following three years was only 23 per season, making it easier to utilise a core team. Waddle was also a regular on the FA Cup and Europa League. He previously worked for Setanta and had long been a voice on BBC Radio 5 Live’s big match coverage, particularly for England. Despite lots of television work in recent seasons, he had gone several years solely on radio after starting out on BBC television at the 1994 & 1998 World Cups. Waddle’s pronunciation of the word ‘shape’ in his Geordie tongue without fail always sounds like ‘shite’. Even though you know he’s not saying it, you do nearly always double-take, as pointed out by Baddiel and Skinner on ITV’s excellent Fantasy World Cup. He also sounds like he says ‘pelanty’ instead of ‘penalty’. Reporting on the touchline as usual was Darrell Currie. This was the third Albion match he’d covered for ESPN, combining FA Cup duties with his regular gig in Scotland.

WRE v Arsenal WRE Teams WRE Kick Off WRE Comms

The Coverage: Coverage of this Replay, originally scheduled for the day before, was due to be exclusively Live on Welsh language channel S4C as part of their Sgorio programme. Whilst ITV and ESPN held the broadcast rights for the UK, an additional deal saw S4C able to pick an extra match that hadn’t been chosen for Live coverage involving a Welsh side for broadcast with Welsh commentary. ESPN had been interested in showing this match but were unable to secure a deal and agree on scheduling so S4C went ahead and became the host broadcaster. When the match was called off due to the frozen pitch, discussions went on as to what to do next. With the FA and both clubs agreeing to come back the following night, and S4C accommodating it in their new schedule, ESPN agreed to take a feed and broadcast the match themselves too for the benefit of the English-speaking population. S4C would remain the host broadcaster, meaning cameras, facilities and production would be done by them including the replay animation of a swipe of the two crests from top-left to bottom-right of screen. It was actually very similar to Sky Sports Premier League transition from 2004. With the facilities in place, ESPN were able to make a last-minute decision to simply to opt-in to the feed, stick their own commentary over it and top and tail the programme from their London studio. This also meant there would be no ESPN caravan pitchside or Access All Areas style coverage unfortunately. It was all very hap-hazard and unclear exactly why they didn’t just elect to broadcast it in the first place, but I for one was relieved they did. Watching a televised match featuring your team can be frustrating enough, without commentary over the top in another language not knowing what’s being said! Coverage on the channel was sponsored by payday loans company Wonga with their odd elderly puppets. ESPN’s broadcast began fifteen minutes before the 7.15pm kick-off, with Ray Stubbs hosting from their Matchday Live studio; home to all their Live Premier League broadcasts. He was joined by regular ESPN pundit John Barnes and former Wrexham player and manager Brian Flynn. Their usual graphics were all used, apart from for action replays, meaning we saw those nice red and black astons once more. Unfortunately the old club crest was used, obviously not updating it from last season’s coverage. Flynn was manager when Wrexham famously knocked out Arsenal twenty years earlier and that was the first thing discussed during the build up, with clips of Thomas’ goal and the jubilation from the supporters.

WRE MOTM WRE Interviews WRE Poyet WRE Odds

Reporter Darrell Currie caught up with the two managers pre-match. Poyet praised the hotel they were staying in for allowing them an extra night so they didn’t have to shift elsewhere. In the commentary box were Derek Rae and Chris Waddle. As ESPN did not have any say in angles used or camera directions, we didn’t get a chance to go through the team line ups in the normal manner. Half way through the build up they crossed to an off-camera Rae to talk us through the formations but that was it. Before the teams emerged they cut to an advert break and returned just seconds before the kick-off. This would normally be when they’d show the line-ups and the co-commentator would discuss the formations but there was no time so the names scrolled along the bottom of the screen during the opening few minutes. Rae actually acknowledged that pictures were being brought to us “courtesy of our colleagues at S4C”. You only usually hear that when commentators are bemoaning the foreign director’s decision-making during an overseas Champions League tie. The scorebar was adapted once more to highlight the team colours in a full block behind the team name, as opposed to last season’s colour stripe. The half-time analysis was all about Wrexham and their excellent display capped off with Morrell’s fantastic finish. During the match viewers were invited to log on to the website to vote for their Man of the Match, instead of having the co-commentator decide like usual. Wrexham’s Andy Morrell won with the public. With Extra Time required and an extension to the Live broadcast, an advert break separated the end of the second half and the beginning of the further thirty minutes, with a quick word with the studio team thrown in for good measure. We heard from them again to fill the gaps between Extra Time halves, and then again before the shoot-out. Brighton emerged victorious after five successful spot-kicks and we heard from two of the takers after the break; Craig Mackail-Smith, sporting a huge black eye, and Ashley Barnes who got the equaliser. Barnes must have been on autopilot when he provided this classic answer when asked if they were expecting penalties; “We hopefully would’ve come here and got the three points first” before quickly correcting himself “err to get through to the next round.” Just under twenty minutes were given over to reaction and analysis to the match, with ESPN extending their broadcast by an hour to incorporate the extra action. Darrell Currie also interviewed the two managers, with Poyet looking forward to the next round; “We can do something important against Newcastle, I’m sure that the fans they’re gonna be very happy… We’d take Extra Time and penalties against Newcastle! We will try our best and show that we can play football as well.” The team looked ahead to the Fourth Round, with some mouthwatering ties such as Liverpool versus Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers against Chelsea. The odds showed Brighton at 200/1 to win the competition, with Premier League opposition up next. Brian Flynn was championing our cause, saying if there was only one Championship team that could make it to the Final he hoped it was us. He also praised Gus Poyet for his kind words about Wrexham in his interview. And that just about did it for another evening, a success in the end for Brighton as Ray Stubbs told us it was time to go.

WRE Injury WRE Sub

Story of the Match: Wrexham’s bumper crowd was in full voice creating an excellent atmosphere for the early stages. Brighton wore their change kit of luminous green and black stripes. As you’d expect, the Championship side had a lot of the ball early on without creating any chances. In fact, the first one fell the home team’s way; with Andy Morrell unable to strike on goal past numerous bodies back defending a free-kick. He would have no such trouble after twenty-three minutes though. Danny Wright burst down the left-wing from the halfway line before cutting the ball back to Morrell on the edge of the box. He took a touch to steady it before curling the ball into the top corner of the net for a lovely finish, hit to perfection. Brezovan was nowhere near it, neither were the defence who left him with almost ten yards of space to do as he pleased. Co-commentator Chris Waddle was critical of Brighton, saying they had to up the tempo as it hadn’t been good enough so far. A corner from Matt Sparrow ten minutes before the break was met by a header from Vincelot which caused problems in the area but Wrexham eventually got it away. At the other end Jay Harris had a long-range drive which Brezovan was equal to, but the home side were on top as we went in at half-time. Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers was in attendance, with son Anton sitting on the Seagulls bench. Ten minutes into the second period the match was stopped whilst Danny Wright got medical attention. After a few minutes he was stretchered off, having gone down without a challenge or foul, he had dislocated his elbow. Wrexham had experience in their ranks, with 36-year-old Glen Little, coming on for the injured Wright, combining with 37-year-old Morrell before lashing a shot high and wide after a neat move. Brighton continued to have a lot of the ball but the service wasn’t there on a surface that was bobbling and patchy in places. Something needed to change, substitutions came in the form of Ashley Barnes and youngster Toby Adgestein making his first appearance. Finally with thirteen minutes remaining, the breakthrough came. The ball went to Mackail-Smith in the area surrounded by two Wrexham defenders. He held the ball up until Sparrow got on the overlap. He just about kept the ball in, hitting a first time cross with his left which held up around the penalty spot. Waiting unmarked to head the ball goalwards was the new man, Ashley Barnes, who managed to guide the ball brilliantly into the corner of the net with a powerful nod in off the post. It was his first goal since the last televised match, sixteen games ago. The Welsh side had a chance to immediately regain the lead thanks to a great Glen Little ball in met by the head of Harris but it went just too high to trouble. Barnes got himself booked into the first of six minutes of stoppage time with a needlessly petulant tread on the back of his opponent in a poor attempt to hurdle over him. The final action of the ninety gave Wrexham a golden chance with a free header from a corner four yards out for Joe Clarke who didn’t get the right connection as it sailed over. And so for the second time the match ended one-all, Extra Time would be called upon.

WRE Penalty WRE Final Score

A corner three minutes into the additional thirty almost saw Wrexham regain their lead. Mark Creighton’s powerful header was well pushed away by Brezovan for another corner. Brighton went up the other end with a good ball through for Buckley who in turn found Adgestein behind the defence with just the ‘keeper to beat. He fluffed his lines as Mayebi dived to block. In the second half Romain Vincelot was the surprise man who had a shot on goal, calling Mayebi into action once again, low to his left to keep it level. Usually these periods are dreadful as players are tired and nervous to be the one that costs the tie but this was far more lively than that. Then, in the final minute a lovely flighted cross from Little into the Brighton box was met by the head of Harris but it clipped the bar, via a touch off Calderon’s head, for the best chance of the night. There were a few half-chances here and there throughout Extra Time but nothing that either defence couldn’t deal with and so, for the second time on ESPN, we were heading for a penalty shoot-out. The home side went first through Dean Keates, who got off to the worst possible start as Brezovan guessed the right way and saved it. That gave Barnes the chance to put Brighton in front, which he fully took. Joe Clarke sent Brezovan the wrong way for one-one, which was immediately countered by Matt Sparrow to give Brighton the advantage again. Substitute Hunt smashed his penalty down the middle to score for Wrexham. Mayebi in-goal was doing all sorts of leaping around to try to put the Albion players off but it didn’t work. Bridcutt coolly slotted home for three-two, before Ashton levelled it up. Wearing the captain’s armband tonight, Inigo Calderon scored his kick to put Brighton on the brink, sending it into the top bin. Glen Little, who had done so well since coming on, also scored to try to keep the Dragons in it. But Craig Mackail-Smith blasted Brighton’s final penalty down the middle to make it five from five and send the Seagulls through to Round Four after two scares against their non-league opposition. The Amex would be the venue, with ESPN following us down there in ten days time for a showpiece match against Newcastle. Bring it on!

WRE Coming Up

WREXHAM 1 BRIGHTON 1
Morrell Barnes. (AET, BRI win 5-4 on penalties)

WRE Replay

EXTRAThe original tie at The Amex received a brief highlights edit on terrestrial broadcaster ITV’s Saturday night Third Round show on 7th January 2012. Presenter Matt Smith hosted with guest pundits Paul Ince and Gordon Strachan. ITV had held the free-to-air rights to the competition since 2008 when they regained them from the BBC. This entitled them to a Live match from each of Rounds One and Two, and two games from each of the subsequent stages, plus one Live replay, up until the Semi Final where one match was theirs exclusively. The Final was Live on both ITV and ESPN.

Highlights Titles Highlights Studio

Regular highlights programmes featured on ITV on Saturday and Sunday nights, featuring their core team as well as a host of freelance commentators. The Wrexham home match had commentary from Seth Conway; he worked for ITV Westcountry doing the sports reports on the local news as well as a bit of commentary. In the studio, Gordon Strachan was impressed by the lower and non-league sides like Wrexham and Crawley – who knocked out Bristol City earlier.

Highlights Commentator Highlights Final Score

 

PREVIOUS; #36 BRIGHTON 0-1 WEST HAM 24/10/2011

NEXT; #38 BRIGHTON 1-0 NEWCASTLE 28/01/2012

#35: Brighton 3-3 Leeds 23/09/2011

#35 BRIGHTON 3-3 LEEDS Championship
Friday 23rd September 2011 Image result for

LEE Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Peter Beagrie & Mark McGhee
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Patrick Davison
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

COLU Ident LEE Bet365 LEE Intro

Context of the Match: You wait twelve months for a televised home match and then two come along within forty-eight hours. That was the case for the Albion up against Leeds tonight, having narrowly lost to Premier League Liverpool on Wednesday in the Third Round of the Carling Cup. The Leeds match was the first League game to be broadcast Live from the Amex Stadium, a marked difference from Bournemouth at Withdean last October. Already there’s been an average attendance of over 21,000 fans, compared to the 7,000 at the athletics ground. Gus Poyet’s first home League match almost two years ago was tonight’s opponents, he’ll be hoping for a much better result after losing that one by three goals to nil in League One. United were promoted that season and adapted to Championship life immediately, narrowly missing the Play Offs by one position. The Albion will be aiming for something similar, if not better, this campaign. Poyet also was their assistant manager under Dennis Wise before getting his big break with us. Both sides went into tonight having lost to a Premier League side in midweek, with Manchester United knocking out the Yorkshiremen on Tuesday. A win for Brighton would see them go top of the table. The visitors sat in eleventh ahead of this one after an inconsistent start, however they had won their previous two Championship games. Goals were expected ahead of Sky Sports first Football League visit to our new residence.

LEE Brighton LEE Leeds LEE Subs

The Teams: Gus Poyet made five changes to the starting line up which lost to Liverpool. One academy graduate replaced another as Lewis Dunk returned for Steve Cook. First choice left-back Marcos Painter was back after a one-match suspension for his red card at Leicester, Romain Vincelot dropped down to the bench. Two changes came in midfield as out went Matt Sparrow and Alan Navarro, bringing in Kazenga LuaLua and Gary Dicker. This was LuaLua’s first start since the opening day victory over Doncaster. And after his goal from the spot late on, Ashley Barnes was straight back in to partner the ever-running Craig Mackail-Smith in a 4-4-2 formation. Casper Ankergren faced up against the club he helped get promoted in 2010. Whilst seven substitutes were permitted in the Cup, we were back to five for the League. Taking their places were the much-anticipated Vicente, who won the penalty against Liverpool, and new signing Will Hoskins; brought in for a rumoured £1 million from Bristol Rovers. He scored a cracker against us last season as part of a brace, prompting his capture in May. Leeds under Simon Grayson made one change from their three-nil defeat at home to Manchester United, with Danny Pugh going straight into the first team having been signed on loan from Premier League Stoke just yesterday. Pugh enjoyed a couple of years at Elland Road at the beginning of his career, making a half-century of appearance. Ross McCormack had already scored seven goals this season, alongside Andy Keogh who was another man to return to the club on loan having risen to prominence in Yorkshire early on in his career. They had former Manchester United goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and ex-Chelsea and Finland forward Mikael Forssell to call upon from reserve. United hadn’t kept a clean sheet yet this term. Tonight’s referee was Lee Probert.

LEE Thomas LEE Beagrie LEE McGhee LEE Studio

Presentation Team: Hosting from the portable glass studio in the South-East corner of the stadium was Simon Thomas. As of this season he was officially the Football League number one presenter now David Jones had stepped up full-time to chair the Premier League’s Saturday lunchtime matches. This came just one season after first doing a League game; on the opening weekend of 2010/11 at League One Southampton. As well as being a regular on Sky Sports News until last season, Thomas had presented a whole host of low-key football for the broadcaster. He first did the under-16 international Victory Shield games in 2006 and subsequently mopped up the likes of the under-21 internationals and FA Youth Cup matches Sky held the rights to, gradually working his way up the ladder gaining experience. With him tonight were Peter Beagrie and Mark McGhee. Beagrie was now in his fifth season as the Leagues premier pundit, covering the vast majority of matches week in week out. Mark McGhee had popped up quite a few times on duty analysing Brighton matches since leaving the club in five years ago. The most recent of these came in the last televised League game at Colchester in April. In the commentary box were Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, Sky’s first choice pairing. Somewhat surprisingly this was the first time Goodman had done a Brighton match despite being a regular for four years now. He enjoyed a successful career in the Football League as a striker for both Wolves and West Brom, starting off at Bradford and playing over a hundred games for Sunderland. He scored in Walsall’s Division Two Play Off Final victory over Reading in 2001. Bill Leslie did his first Brighton commentary in the defeat at home to Crystal Palace in 2005, they would be the Seagulls next opponents on Tuesday. Leslie’s the current voice of the Football League and called our Live match on Wednesday against Liverpool. Completing the line-up was reporter Patrick Davison, stepping into the number one role following Greg Whelan’s promotion to the Premier League coverage working with Geoff Shreeves and Guy Havord.

LEE Pavillion LEE Team LEE Kick Off LEE Comms

The Coverage: Sky hosted their regular Friday night preview programme Football League Weekend Live from The Amex between 6 and 7pm earlier. Full details of that can be found at the bottom of this post but it was a fantastic build-up to the big game. This was also the first regular Football League match to be broadcast in 3D on the Sky 3D channel, which required separate camera angles and commentary. On the slightly lower gantry were Daniel Mann and Tony Gale as they were on Wednesday in the Cup. The main Live show came on-air fifteen minutes prior to the 7.45pm kick off, with Simon Thomas in the hosts chair next to Peter Beagrie and Mark McGhee. The studio on Wednesday had a desk, comfy chairs and Carling Cup decorations within, whereas tonight the setup was a bit more stripped back; just three simple stools. And I’m not talking about the pundits. The new graphics this season to be utilised on their 65 Championship Live games were shinier and smoother than before, all framed within the 4×3 safe area instead of extending across the entire screen like before. The title sequence remained the same as last year, just different clips used, with Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’ soundtracking it once more. The team line-ups now contained static player pictures as well as the names and numbers underneath to give it a more dynamic look. The Premier League had these for a while before. “You can’t beat a trip to Brighton. There’s loads to do and always plenty on offer. But there’s a new attraction around here that’s been causing heads to turn recently and it’s got all the makings of a great night out” were the words Simon Thomas opened the programme with, shot from various locations around the city including the pier and the Pavillion. His guest Mark McGhee was able to compare and contrast to what he had as manager compared to what Poyet has now, with the stadium, the fantastic crowds and some excellent signings. McGhee was hampered by having to work on less than a shoestring budget, a long way off the million pound-plus spent on multiple players in the summer. A look at the table saw third-placed Brighton six points ahead of Leeds, just creeping into the top half. Patrick Davison spoke with both managers in the tunnel, with Poyet emphasising the mental toughness his side would need to go the distance here. Leeds boss Grayson expected an entertaining game despite the drains of midweek. Further studio chat ensued before the line ups were confirmed by commentator Bill Leslie pre-kick off.

LEE All the Action LEE Analysis

At half-time Thomas, Beagrie and McGhee were full of praise for Leeds for their fantastic first period. Beagrie criticised the Albion’s approach, saying “Brighton played into their hands to a degree because they play total football out from the back and allowed Leeds to swarm all over them.” McGhee didn’t think having one fewer day’s rest than Leeds had anything to do with the scoreline, saying the shape was more at fault. The trio laid the blame for the goals with the defence first before giving United credit and expecting better in the second half. They certainly got that. Around fifteen minutes of post-match analysis was afforded to review the terrifically topsy-turvy game. Immediately after the final whistle Patrick Davison caught up with the Man of the Match two-goal Craig Mackail-Smith who was joined midway through by Leeds’ Ross McCormack. He spoke of the wager he had with Michael Brown – who wasn’t in the squad – whereby he would receive £100 for every goal, and had to give Brown £50 for any game he didn’t score. He was quids in tonight. In the studio, Thomas asked McGhee what he would say to defenders trying to face Mackail-Smith, answering how the body position was key and the movement and anticipation needed to be impeccable because he’s always running and getting to the ball first. They analysed all six goals having hardly got their breath back from the on-field entertainment. We also heard from both managers, with Grayson “pretty devastated but obviously delighted as well”. Poyet spoke similarly, “If you look first half, I think it’s a great point. If you look about the last two minutes, probably not.” He said high scoring draws are not their style, conceding lots and wanted to address the defending to stop it happening again. And so another broadcast concluded, one which showcased both the good and the bad of the team finding their feet in this Division once again.

LEE Ticker LEE CMS

Story of the Match: The crowd was bang up for this match under the lights, with all stands joining in the singing. After Brighton enjoyed much of the early possession, a warning shot was fired by Robert Snodgrass cutting in from the left-wing before stabbing the ball goalwards with the outside of his boot. Ankergren seemed pretty calm about leaving the shot to go over the bar but it didn’t miss by too much. It didn’t take Leeds long after that to crank up the pressure and score the opening goal with eighteen minutes played. White did well on the left, driving into the area and cutting the ball back for Keogh. He laid it off for Clayton to hit it, Albion bodies blocked but the resulting scramble saw the ball ricochet back to Andy Keogh to finish past desperate lunges on the line from both Ankergren and Calderon. Leeds doubled their lead five minutes later with a goal from nowhere thanks to a rocket from Ross McCormack. Their top-scorer picked up the ball around twenty-five yards out, took a touch to spin away from Bridcutt, and fired a fierce drive hard and low into the corner of the net, to beat Ankergren for pace to make it two-nil. The home side were rocked. It took until the 38th minute for the Albion to look dangerous and work the goalkeeper. A Craig Noone corner was floated into a scrum of bodies around the penalty spot, with the ball bouncing out towards an unmarked Mackail-Smith at the near post. Lonergan in-goal just got his body in the way ahead of the striker and his defence managed to clear the danger. Soon after, a wicked ball in from LuaLua stretched the Leeds back line. The cross deflected up by a defender with Noone giving chase with the ‘keeper diving for it, he caught Noone’s ankle to bring him down for what should have been a penalty. As the linesman was on the near side and the incident on the far, it was up to the referee who clearly did not wish to give it. Set pieces were providing the greatest threat to the Leeds goal.

LEE Man of the Match LEE Poyet

Vicente came on at half-time to replace Craig Noone in a tactical change for the Albion. Under two minutes in and Brighton had their breakthrough. Craig Mackail-Smith received a pass with his back to goal from Barnes on the right. Knowing there was a defender in front and another breathing down his neck, the record-signing expertly dragged the ball with his first touch to skip through them before slotting into the corner of the net across goal for a fantastic finish all down to an individual piece of skill. It was the perfect start. The emphasis continued and approaching the hour mark they got themselves level. LuaLua played it forward for Mackail-Smith to run behind, Leigh Bromby lunged in and brought the striker down rather unnecessarily. After a hit and miss season of penalties in League One which saw responsibility passed around the team, it seems Brighton have their designated taker again. Ashley Barnes scored his penalty against Liverpool, and he scored his penalty against Leeds here in very similar style. He took just a couple of steps to run up before lashing it into the top left-hand corner of the net, the ‘keeper sent the wrong way but it wouldn’t have mattered. Nobody was saving that. Within the opening quarter of an hour of the second half Brighton had pegged Leeds back and the crowd was buoyant once more. And just like on Wednesday, the home side dominated the second period possession stats, with 65% of the ball by the time the equaliser occurred. Leeds weren’t caving in though, and a free-kick from McCormack was whipped in dangerously, Ankergren having to stay alert to parry away. Into the final six minutes, Calderon brought the ball forward and released Barnes in the box. His low cross into the middle was met by Mackail-Smith to sidefoot into the back of the net to turn the game around. The movement was excellent from the striker to get there ahead of Bromby, the hard work done all he needed to do was finish. A lovely goal for the man who worked his socks off all evening. All they had to do now was hold on to that lead. And it looked like that was going to be the case right up until the second minute of injury time. An opportunity to keep hold of the ball was squandered with a huge drop kick up field from Ankergren. His opposite number in return launched the ball back where it came from, a flick on was won well by sub Becchio for Howson who did really well to skip through Painter to get to the byline. He pulled it back for McCormack to score via a Dunk deflection. “They looked down and out but in the third minute of added time Leeds have found the equaliser – three-three!” was the call from commentator Bill Leslie. What a match! After fighting back so well Brighton couldn’t quite hold on to the win and the match ended in a hugely entertaining score draw. The Albion remained in third place in the Championship table and were going so very well back in the second tier.

LEE Table

BRIGHTON 3 LEEDS 3
Mackail-Smith (2), Barnes Keogh, McCormack (2)

LEE Replay LEE Goal LEE Goal 2


EXTRA; Sky’s Friday night preview programme Football League Weekend was on location this week, broadcasting Live from Brighton’s Amex Stadium ahead of the match against Leeds which followed later. This was a very rare occasion when Sky would leave their Isleworth studio and host the preview from a stadium but an exception was made ahead of their first Football League visit to our wonderful new abode. This was quite a week for Sky’s relationship with the club, having already shown our Carling Cup match here against Liverpool 48 hours previously, all the cabling and facilities were left set up for tonight’s broadcasts. Regular magazine programme host George Gavin was granted access all areas for the show. He opened proceedings from the centre circle with the words “This is the Football League Weekend show on the road, we’re at the country’s newest stadium. Brighton, after being homeless for fourteen years, finally have a place to call their own.”

FLW Titles FLW Gavin

With George Gavin was former Albion striker Nicky Forster. Since retiring in the summer he’s taken up a semi-regular role with Sky Sports on the Football League coverage in studio and reporting out and about. He brings a wealth of lower league experience with him and speaks well, so naturally slotted into the coverage from the off. Forster was certainly a fan of the new place, “It’s magnificent. It’s geared up for Championship football and beyond. They’ve had a fantastic start to the season and, who knows, the dream’s on isn’t it?” It was still early days in the season of course but Brighton were flying. He predicted a good first season back in the second tier for the Albion, perhaps not quite emulating Norwich’s back-to-back promotions, but certainly avoiding going straight back down like others have.

FLW Forster FLW Duo

Reporter Mark McAdam was in search of manager Gus Poyet, and granted access to his office for an interview. McAdam has been with Sky Sports for years working across a variety of things such as reporting on Sky Sports News, Soccer Saturday and of course FLW here. He’s based in the south for the News channel so often covers the Albion as well as the likes of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. He spoke with Poyet about going toe-to-toe with Liverpool, facing up against Leeds tonight and only having 48 hours in between matches. “I think it’s good. Normally I’d be complaining, you don’t want to play every two days, but I think it’s good because when you have a bad result you want to play. The players want to go back, they want to try to go and win a football game and get that feeling back of a winning team.”

FLW McAdam FLW Poyet

Peter Beagrie joined Gavin and Forster pitchside ahead of his appearance as a pundit for the match coverage afterwards. The trio reviewed the midweek Liverpool match, full of praise for how the Seagulls fared in defeat. “When you’ve come on the back of a promotion as well, you’ve got to make sure that you also add to the squad. He’s done that with Mackail-Smith and there’s no shrinking violets here, all of them want to accept responsibility, they can all pass a football. As we’ve seen here, they give Liverpool a real run for their money and that was a very, very strong – packed full of internationals – Liverpool side,” Beagrie commented. They then discussed the prospect of former Valencia midfield creative Vicente, who came on in midweek for his first appearance. “Up against defenders in the Championship,” Forster began, ” I think he will unlock them with his quality… It shows how far Brighton have come that they are bringing in players that have had bids in the past of £35 million.”

FLW Trio FLW Vicente

Two of Brighton’s younger members of the squad joined the trio pitchside in injured defender Tommy Elphick and Nicky’s stepson Jake Forster-Caskey. JFC had played for the England under-17s already, going to the Euros and World Cups with the youth squads, and became Albion’s youngest ever player when he appeared off the bench at home to Yeovil in the final game of the 2009/10 season in League One. Elphick injured his achilles in the final game of last season and said visiting the stadium only adds to the frustration of not being able to play. “Can’t wait to get back. Starting to be treated like a proper team now, whereas before we struggled for places to train and pre-match we didn’t really have nowhere to go. But now we’ve got a home, got a base, it’s really what the club has waited for and we can really push on to, hopefully, Premier League football.”

FLW Players FLW Forster-Caskey

Mark McAdam moved over to the hospitality areas where we saw some of the chefs preparing to cater for up to 3,000 people tonight, compared to the 200 maximum back in the Withdean days across the two portakabins. The difference never ceases to amaze. In the Lounge chairman Tony Bloom was waiting to speak to us, whilst the tables filled up around him as it edged closer to kick-off. Bloom couldn’t be happier with the start the club’s made; “We’ve got our momentum from the brilliant season where we won the League One title. We’ve built on that and we’re holding our own, and even better than that, in the Championship playing really good football. And the team will have the confidence as well beating Sunderland a few weeks ago and playing so well in the second half against Liverpool, there’s no reason to be overawed by any team.” It was all so different fourteen years ago when the club had to fight constantly just to stay alive, and that’s never going to be forgotten at Brighton. Bloom was wearing a green tie in aid of supporting Plymouth Argyle in their ‘Fans United’ day on Saturday, reciprocating the support we received thanks to fourteen-year-old Richard Vaughan’s idea of uniting supporters across the land when we were at our lowest point. Fast-forward to today and Argyle were struggling financially in administration, bottom of the entire Football League and parting with their manager Peter Reid recently. Bloom encouraged Albion fans, and supporters across the country, to help out Plymouth and attend their fixture this weekend.

FLW Lounge FLW Bloom

The Brighton versus Leeds match was Sky’s first ever 3D Football League broadcast and reporter Patrick Davison took us behind the scenes into the VT trucks to see some of the preparations involved. Banks of screens showing various angles and graphics were everywhere, hundreds of button doing all sorts of things. Commentator Daniel Mann was present compiling last-minute notes ahead of him being heard on the 3D coverage, as separate commentary teams talked us through the main broadcast and this one due to differing angles being shown. Sky’s Steve Smith explained “We’ve got seven 3D cameras. The main difference between the 2D and the 3D is that two main cameras are at a slightly lower angle. That creates good, natural 3D depth on the main pictures.”

FLW Davison FLW 3D Truck

Co-commentator for the match Don Goodman joined the team pitchside for a quick chat and expected goals to come. “It’s almost deja vu for Leeds at the minute, isn’t it? They are very, very capable of scoring goals and they are certainly capable of conceding goals. That was the story of their season last season… They’re up against a team that, maybe not quite as prolific… but they’ve conceded seven less and that’s where Gus will be really pleased.” Goodman was excited for the prospect of Mackail-Smith and Vicente playing, for the supporters to be in for a treat and the fantastic surroundings at this great place. The programme set the scene brilliantly for another classic at The Amex Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras, reminding us again how having a place to call our own can really change everything.

FLW Goodman FLW Stadium

 


EXTRA; The BBC’s Football League Show had short highlights of tonight’s match in their regular Saturday post-MOTD slot. The programme as ever was hosted by Manish Bhasin, seen below up on the balcony. He was joined in the studio for this edition by his main regular pundit Steve Claridge to review the action from the three Divisions. With our game being on a Friday, these matches rarely took precedence over Saturday’s action therefore only a quick summary tended to get shown, usually with commentary.

FLS Titles FLS Studio

Jonathan Legard called the brief three-minute highlights of the match which consisted largely of just the goals, followed by a brief thirty second chat with the Leeds assistant manager followed by an equally brief word from Gus Poyet. The commentary was so short it was even captioned as being from a “reporter”. Legard had long been a voice of BBC Radio 5 Live on multiple sports before becoming the lead Formula One commentator when the BBC regained Live rights back from ITV in 2009 after a twelve-year absence. He was in that position for two years before changes were made. He started commentating for The Football League Show in February 2011.

FLS Graphic FLS Commentator

 

PREVIOUS; #34 BRIGHTON 1-2 LIVERPOOL 21/09/2011

NEXT; #36 BRIGHTON 0-1 WEST HAM 24/10/2011

#34: Brighton 1-2 Liverpool 21/09/2011

#34 BRIGHTON 1-2 LIVERPOOL Carling Cup Round Three
Wednesday 21st September 2011 Image result for

LIV Titles

PRESENTER Ben Shephard GUESTS Jamie Redknapp & Tommy Elphick
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Ray Wilkins REPORTER Andy Burton
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Carling Cup Live on Sky Sports 2

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Context of the Match: The aim when The Amex opened was to have Premier League teams playing against us. Tottenham Hotspur had already visited for the opening pre-season friendly back in July. Then in August we were drawn against top-flight Sunderland in Round Two of the League Cup. Making it a hat-trick of the country’s top teams was Liverpool tonight, in the Third Round. This would be by far the biggest test for an Albion side enjoying life back in the second tier after five seasons away. Unbeaten so far at fortress Amex and third in the Championship table, the Seagulls were flying again. The momentum from last season’s title-winning side continued, with a few summer signings topping the squad up. This would be the start of a very busy period with Leeds next up on Friday, just 48 hours after this match, followed by bitter rivals Crystal Palace next Tuesday. It would also be Gus Poyet’s 100th match in charge of the Albion. After a fairytale start on the opening day beating Doncaster in the eighth minute of stoppage time through Will Buckley, the great form continued with memorable away wins at Portsmouth and Cardiff and just a solitary defeat thus far; away at big-spending Leicester City managed by ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson. Tonight was the third successive Carling Cup match at The Amex, dispatching of Gillingham and that Extra Time victory over Sunderland, could they go one further and knock the great Liverpool out? The Scousers were not in European action at all this season so the Cup represented a great chance of silverware. It was the first meeting between the two sides in twenty years; a thrilling FA Cup Replay which saw Liverpool victors three-two at the Goldstone. That match had to make do with extended highlights on BBC’s Sportsnight, tonight the Sky Sports cameras were welcomed for their first trip to a noisy and sold out Falmer.

LIV Brighton LIV Liverpool LIV Subs

The Teams: Brighton made five changes from the side that lost to Leicester at the weekend, possibly with one eye on the upcoming Leeds game on Friday, but also to shore up the midfield. Liam Bridcutt was the sole survivor in that area, with Matt Sparrow and Liverpool lad Alan Navarro coming in for Gary Dicker and Ryan Harley. Craig Noone famously used to be a roofer before becoming a pro and worked on Steven Gerrard’s house. He was further forward as Craig Mackail-Smith led the line and scored the only goal of the game to get the Albion past Sunderland in Round Two. He joined in the summer to become the club’s record transfer signing at an initial £2.5 million. He was supported by £1 million close-season transfer Will Buckley in a 4-3-3 when attacking, 4-3-2-1 when defending kind of formation. Casper Ankergren has played every minute of every game so far in all competitions. In defence, Inigo Calderon and Gordon Greer were both in last season’s PFA Team of the Year. Partnering the skipper here was local lad Steve Cook for his first game this season, the last time he appeared was two-and-a-half years ago having had various loan spells away from Brighton. Newly-signed Romain Vincelot returned to the starting XI here having made his debut in the First Round victory over Gillingham, he took the place of Marcos Painter who was sent off on Saturday. Due to a shortage of left-backs, assistant boss Mauricio Taricco is again being utilised as a substitute, with first team regulars this campaign Lewis Dunk and Ashley Barnes also named. Huge anticipation surrounded Vicente Rodriguez, brought in at the beginning of the month somehow from Valencia. He’s a former Spain midfielder who played at Euro 2004, he twice won La Liga as well as the UEFA Cup, the Super Cup and the Copa Del Rey. Quite what he was doing at Brighton was anybody’s guess but injury had plagued his career, particularly of late. Kenny Dalglish named a strong Liverpool side which included World Cup semi-finalist Luis Suarez up front with Wales’ Craig Bellamy. Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva were in the heart of the midfield. Pepe Reina notched up his 150th consecutive Liverpool league match back in May and recently announced he wanted to stay long-term at the club. Jamie Carragher won the Champions League in that incredible second-half comeback in 2005 against AC Milan and is the only starter today who was in that squad in Istanbul. Club captain then and now, Steven Gerrard, has been recovering from injury and is fit enough to make the bench. All-in-all seven changes were made from the weekend as the likes of Jay Spearing and Seb Coates came in; the latter making his debut. Also on the bench was £50 million striker Andy Carroll and League Cup winner in 2005 Stewart Downing. Tonight’s match official was Michael Oliver.

LIV Shephard LIV Redknapp LIV Elphick LIV Studio

Presentation Team: Sky Sports Carling Cup matches were presented by Ben Shephard. He joined the team at the beginning of last season to co-host Goals on Sunday with Chris Kamara, as well as supporting Premier League host Richard Keys on Live matches. In January 2011 his workload suddenly increased thanks to the massive fallout from the sexist remarks made in a leaked off-air conversation between Keys and Andy Gray. Consequently Keys resigned and Gray was sacked, moving existing presenters David Jones, Ed Chamberlin, Jeff Stelling and Ben Shephard up in the pecking order to cover the large hole left behind in the Premier and Champions Leagues coverage. Whereas for the latter half of last season the roles were shared, this season it became more defined. Jones would do Saturday Premier League games with Chamberlin on Super Sunday and Monday Night Football. Stelling took over the Champions League, assisted by Shephard who in turn replaced Jeff on the League Cup. His pundits for tonight’s match were Jamie Redknapp and Tommy Elphick. Redknapp became a full-time Sky Sports pundit from the 2005/06 season to coincide with his retirement from the game; joining Keys and Gray for the majority of the big matches. Prior to that he had worked for the BBC across Live FA Cup matches and Euro 2004 whilst still playing. Tommy Elphick played a huge part in Brighton’s title-winning season last year but unfortunately was now a long-term casualty due to an achilles injury. He’s done a few interviews and bits in the media of late and perhaps may be looking to go down this route later on after his playing days.

LIV Kick Off LIV Comms LIV Burton LIV Coming Up

In the commentary box were Bill Leslie and Ray Wilkins. Leslie is vastly experienced on Live matches, having been covering the Football League regularly for Sky since the 2004/05 season, going on to take over from Ian Crocker as number one in 2006. He still holds that position now as well as a regular on the Champions League, international matches and the occasional Premier League game. It was an absolute delight to welcome Ray Wilkins to Brighton’s Live televised coverage for the first time. Wilkins of course was involved in our first ever televised match – the 1983 FA Cup Final – where he scored a great goal for Manchester United. Since retiring he’s been a manager at QPR and Fulham and spent several seasons at different spells as an assistant at Chelsea. He also won 84 caps for England. When not actively in the game he’s been a beloved pundit and commentator, in the 21st century with Sky Sports across all matches from Champions League and Premier League latterly, through to England internationals and resident pundit on the early days of the Football League moving to Sky. During the 1990s he was a hugely popular co-commentator on Channel 4’s cult Football Italia coverage, working closely with Brighton fan Peter Brackley as the pair voiced many a classic Italian match on a Sunday afternoon. He’s an extremely warm and charming broadcaster who is a joy to listen to. Reporting was Andy Burton. He has been a regular figure at Sky for the past six years or so, commentating on Football First Premier League highlights before moving to the touchline on Football League then Premier League matches. Burton was working on the broadcast at Wolves which led to Keys and Gray’s departures, and perhaps was impacted by that row as it was he who Gray had first said derogatory words about Sian Massey to. Since then he has left top flight coverage, becoming the regular reporter on the League Cup as well as picking up other matches here and there and reporting for Sky Sports News.

LIV Welcome LIV Poyet split screen LIV Stadium VT LIV Yellow

The Coverage: Pre-match build up began at 7.30pm from a temporary portable glass studio located above the away fans in the South Stand at The Amex towards the corner with the East Stand. Ben Shephard hosted his first Albion match, and indeed Sky’s first Live match at the new stadium, alongside Brighton’s Tommy Elphick and regular pundit Jamie Redknapp. The Carling Cup uses the Football League graphics as it falls under the same contract, so the familiar red and black colours appeared and the programme was sponsored by bet365. There was a new design for the graphics this season to match the principles of the ones seen on the Premier League since the beginning of last season, with 3D effects and the badge tilting rather than rotating. The replay transitions used the flying League Cup from the top left into the middle of the screen then back out bottom left. When a goal was scored the replay featured the club crest flying out one way with the word ‘GOAL’ flying out the other, in a return to the style of a few years ago when the crest would crash into the screen. Carling Cup coverage used Texas’ classic hit “Inner Smile” as the theme tune since Worthington were replaced as sponsors of the competition in 2004. The title sequence featured a virtual Wembley slowly filling up as the music goes on, with video blocks of previous Cup moments and goals flying onto the side of the stadium. Tonight’s broadcast was also available in 3D, a first for an Albion match, where different camera angles and different commentators would be used. For the Sky 3D commentary, viewers heard Daniel Mann and Tony Gale, whilst on the regular 2D coverage we got Bill Leslie and Ray Wilkins. The Albion would have to play two matches here within 48 hours with the Live game against Leeds on Friday, owing to Liverpool playing last Sunday and therefore preferring not to play Tuesday and having two matches in 48 hours themselves. So Brighton took the extra television revenues and accommodated the short resting period.

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During the fifteen minute build up there was a VT showing various parts around The Amex with stats appearing in the middle of the screen such as the capacity, a quote from Poyet and the overall cost. Sky were suitably impressed by the surroundings, with Redknapp remarking “It’s special, it really is. The pitch is really good… He wanted the biggest pitch possible, Gus Poyet.” Andy Burton spoke with both managers before the kick-off. Poyet put his midfield selection of Navarro and Bridcutt in particular down to wanting to be a bit more solid than usual in that area, knowing they’d have to do a bit more defending and sit deeper than the usual front-foot style in the League. Kenny Dalglish explained his selection of many first-team regulars was partly due to how disappointing a defeat they had the previous Sunday at Tottenham. After some brief chat in the studio Shephard handed over to the commentary teams for this evening’s big match who took us through the teams before the adverts. Throughout the game we were kept abreast of the other Third Round matches with goalflashes in the bottom left corner of the screen. At half time Shephard, Elphick and Redknapp analysed Liverpool’s first half dominance, particularly highlighting Craig Bellamy and Luis Suarez. Just before the second half began, Jimmy Case was presented to the crowd on the pitch. The retired midfielder spent eight years at Liverpool before moving down to the Goldstone in 1981 and was part of the FA Cup Final side two years later, scoring at Anfield in the run. He returned to the Albion to see off his playing days in the early 90s, and at 41 was the oldest registered outfield player in English professional football. He took charge of the team for just under a year during his final season with the club when we were relegated to Division Three before being sacked. After the match reporter Andy Burton had a joint-interview with Steven Gerrard and Craig Noone side by side, finally giving a chance to bring up that roof job he did! “He’s a down-to-earth lad, good Scouser, done a great job on my house and in my eyes tonight he was Man of the Match” Gerrard said. Burton also had a slightly prickly chat with Dalglish, who didn’t want to focus on Brighton preferring to talk up his own side. This left the studio team with just under ten minutes to review the match and wrap things up, allowing for plenty of time to give Brighton the credit they deserved.

LIV Stadium LIV Possession

Story of the Match: The crowd was rocking ahead of the match, commented on by co-commentator Ray Wilkins who opened his broadcast with “Good evening one and all. This is the first time I’ve been here, what an amazing atmosphere. It’s a fabulous stadium that they’ve built, the playing surface is wonderful; it’s as big as the Emirates – 105 metres by 68 – and they do play some football, Brighton.” I do enjoy it when a co-commentator says hello to us, David Pleat always did on ITV’s Champions League nights and Sir Clive Woodward does on the rugby coverage. It’s a little touch of class. In the seventh minute of the match Liverpool got the early advantage. Quick passing found Suarez just inside the area. He played the ball on for Craig Bellamy in behind the Albion defence wide left of the six yard box. Acknowledging there was an onrushing covering defender he took his shot first time and drilled it across goal where it went in off the far post to go one-nil up. Great movement from the striker who was allowed to wander past Bridcutt. The away side were in the ascendancy and dominated possession for the early stages. Just over ten minutes later Brighton had to clear off their own goalline. A short corner from Bellamy to Lucas, his cross was flicked on by Suarez’s head but instead of being on target it looped high towards the back stick. Ankergren came to punch but didn’t claim, instead Dirk Kuyt got some sort of touch, I don’t think he knew too much about it, and it needed to be hooked off the line by Mackail-Smith; doing his bit in the Albion defence. Craig Noone looked the liveliest Brighton player with his trickery getting the better of the young Liverpool left-back. Noone and Buckley would swap wings throughout to freshen the attacks up. Luis Suarez was presented with a decent chance to double the advantage one-on-one but slotted just wide. After half an hour a Suarez header from a free-kick just grazed the outside of the post. Five minutes before the break Craig Bellamy absolutely thwacked a free-kick from at least thirty-five yards out which flew and swirled before thundering against the bar. What an effort, so unlucky. They hit the woodwork again not long after, this time Jay Spearing’s long-range effort from almost thirty yards skidded off the turf hitting the outside of the far post thanks to fingertips from Casper Ankergren. Liverpool looked so dangerous. The last action of the half went Brighton’s way, with Noone put through by Mackail-Smith, Pepe Reina’s body got in the way of the shot but it squirmed out past him and had to be cleared by Martin Kelly who got there just fractions before Matt Sparrow, who was stretching to tap in from four yards.

LIV Double Sub LIV Interview

Brighton flew out of the traps in the second half, with Craig Noone smacking one against the crossbar from almost twenty-five yards out after a misplaced defensive pass. You could tell this match meant more to him than any other, having been released from the club as a youth prospect and being from the area facing the team he supported. On the hour mark, Will Buckley had ran his course and had to go off injured. In his place came Vicente for his Brighton debut. The same Vicente who has played in Champions League Finals, international tournaments, won La Liga and was the subject of bids of over £35 million. And here he was turning out for the Seagulls at the age of just thirty. Brighton enjoyed a lot of the second half possession but clear chances weren’t there. A stat popped up late on showing how much they enjoyed the ball in the second forty-five; with 61% against the Premier League opposition. With a quarter of an hour left, the away side could bring on their own star name; Steven Gerrard. He captained England at the World Cup last year but had been out with an injured groin for the past six months, this was his comeback appearance. The Albion responded with a double substitution, bringing on top-scorer Ashley Barnes and the ever-tricky Kazenga LuaLua for Sparrow and Navarro. Pushing for the equaliser let Liverpool in on the counter-attack. The ball was cleared up to Bellamy ten yards inside the Brighton half out on the wing. He played a perfect cross-field ball into the path of Maxi Rodriguez who held it up for Dirk Kuyt bursting forward in support. He was one-on-one with Ankergren who could only throw himself towards the forward, then watch the ball roll in aided by the far post for two-nil. Brighton deserved better for their second half showing, with co-commentator Wilkins adding “If they continue this brand of football in the Championship, and have the confidence to keep cracking at it with this super passing game of theirs, you can see them right up there at the end of the season.” Praise indeed. It got even better in the 89th minute as Jay Spearing was caught in possession and off balance by Vicente in the Liverpool penalty area, causing Jamie Carragher to come sliding in and foul the Spaniard for a spot kick. Up stepped Ashley Barnes who launched it into the top left hand corner of the net and the belief was there again going into four minutes of added time. Alas it wasn’t to be but the performance, especially in the second half, was absolutely fantastic, bringing the game to their higher-Division counterparts and fighting all the way. Attention immediately turned to the Leeds game in less than forty-eight hours time. For Liverpool, this competition did provide them with a trophy when they beat Cardiff on penalties at Wembley five months later.

LIV Attendance

BRIGHTON 1 LIVERPOOL 2
Barnes Bellamy, Kuyt

LIV Replay LIV Goal 1 LIV Goal 2


EXTRA; Sky Sports News was the place to see all the build up ahead of the night’s full card of Third Round fixtures before the main coverage began at 7.30pm. They were first to bring the team news, with presenters Jim White and Charlie Webster at the desk, as well as all the day’s sporting news from around seven o’clock. There was also a report featuring Brighton’s Craig Noone and his story of working as a roofer on Steven Gerrard’s house.

SSN Titles SSN Presenters

Charlie Webster introduced the piece saying, “If Gerrard does play he’ll come face to face with a man who spent a bit of time around the England midfielder’s house.” Sky reporter Amy Lewis took Noone back to his working days to recall the first time he met the Liverpool and England captain and the prospect of facing him tonight. “I always dreamed about it when I was working there, to be honest. I thought imagine what I could say if I do come up against him, I could mention it to him, and now I am it’s surreal really. Can’t wait for it.”

SSN Reporter SSN Noone

Sky Sports News carried reaction and interviews after the match coverage had ended too. This included a package voiced by long-serving reporter Gary Cotterill featuring the best bits of the match. There was also another chance to hear the Steven Gerrard and Craig Noone joint-interview, as well as from both managers chatting to Andy Burton. Gus Poyet spoke of how proud he was of the team “After giving Liverpool a little bit of respect in the first half, I think the players realised that they had the chance to go in the second half and do something special and I think will be closest to being one of the best games of the season, that forty-five minutes.”

SSN Report SSN Poyet


EXTRA; Along with Saturday night highlights of all three Divisions of the Football League, the contract provides the rights holder with action from every round of the Carling Cup. The BBC broadcast The League Cup Show late on Wednesday night showing all the goals from the midweek third round matches. Manish Bhasin hosted this programme as well from the regular studio. Tonight he was alongside Mark Bright.

LCS Titles LCS Studio

The highlights edit lasted for around ten minutes on what was a pulsating Cup tie. Jonathan Pearce commentated. He lives in Sussex so knew the Brighton story well and had even been involved in some media work for the club ahead of the stadium move. He was a regular on Match of the Day since they regained the top-flight highlights in 2004, having previously been the voice of football for Channel 5 since their launch in 1997. His excitable style got him noticed and is now high up in the BBC pecking order. He’s also been the voice of cult game show Robot Wars.

LCS Commentator LCS Line Up   LCS Gerrard LCS Barnes goal

Pundit Mark Bright seemed to be nursing a sore throat as his voice was hoarse. Not that what he did say was of much interest. He said of Craig Noone, “When you play against your heroes, your team and a special occasion, for him I was quite impressed with him.” He praised the Albion’s fightback, “In the first half I thought that Brighton were a little bit afraid of them and stood off them but in the second half Brighton gave a really good account of themselves. Could’ve scored a couple of goals as well.” Bright had been a regular on the BBC in the commentary box since the 2002 World Cup and featured across their various magazine programmes during the domestic season.

LCS Full Time  LCS Bright

 

PREVIOUS; #33 COLCHESTER 1-1 BRIGHTON 25/04/2011

NEXT; #35 BRIGHTON 3-3 LEEDS 23/09/2011

#33: Colchester 1-1 Brighton 25/04/2011

#33 COLCHESTER 1-1 BRIGHTON League One
Monday 25th April 2011 Image result for

COLU Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Phil Parkinson & Mark McGhee
COMMENTATORS Gary Weaver & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER Patrick Davison
12.15pm Kick Off; Weston Homes Stadium, Colchester     12-2.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

COLU Ident COLU Sponsor COLU Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton and Hove Albion had done it. After narrowly avoiding relegation into League Two on the final day of the season under Russell Slade in 2009, climbing out of the relegation fight to finish 13th under Gus Poyet in 2010, the Seagulls secured promotion into the Championship in 2011 with a month of the campaign to spare. By the time this Easter Monday fixture arrived, we’d gone one better than promotion; we were the Champions! The Albion had achieved the fairytale story of arriving into our wonderful new home this summer in the best possible style. When today’s match away at Colchester was initially selected for Live coverage by Sky Sports, it was hoped that promotion could be secured in front of the television cameras, possibly even confirmation of the title. Poyet’s men were that good this season that we did it much earlier than that, so we could relax and enjoy a Bank Holiday stroll knowing the outcome really didn’t matter. Owing to the progress to Round Five of the FA Cup plus December postponements, the players had to get through eight games in twenty-nine days in March. The result; eight straight victories. Promotion was secured in early April at home to Dagenham before sealing the thoroughly deserved title away at Walsall. There was one little bit left to achieve, though. Including today’s fixture, three games remained of the season and Brighton were on an incredible 93 points. Could we reach that magical 100 point mark, becoming the first side since Wigan in 2003 to achieve it in this Division? The hosts Colchester had left it too late to have a serious crack at reaching the Play-Offs and for the second season running would have to sit a couple of places outside. The focus was all about the Albion today, enjoying somewhat of an early promotion party in the Easter sunshine.

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The Teams: Four changes were made to the Albion side which lost at home to Southampton on Saturday. Top scorer Glenn Murray injured himself so in came Chris Wood, who’d been on loan from West Brom since November. Local teenager Lewis Dunk started for only the second time in the League, with El-Abd dropping to the bench, as was Matt Sparrow. Liam Bridcutt scored a fabulous goal in the 4-3 win over Dagenham and Redbridge which secured promotion earlier in the month but he sat out this one with Alan Navarro coming in. Former roofer Craig Noone was signed from Plymouth in the January transfer window, having excelled during the first half of the season on the wing and returned to the line-up here. Left-back Marcos Painter was the only player to start every League match for the Albion this season, whilst midfielders Gary Dicker and Elliott Bennett also featured in all matches. PFA Team of the Season defender Inigo Calderon continued a fine run at right-back. John Ward’s Colchester were much changed from this fixture last season; with just four survivors from the starting XI thirteen months ago also starting today. They were Ben Williams in-goal, defender Matt Heath, and midfielders John-Joe O’Toole and Kemal Izzet. The U’s were without leading striker Steven Gillespie through injury. David Mooney scored thirteen goals for United, all of them coming at home. The man in black was little Keith Stroud.

COLU Thomas COLU Parkinson COLU McGhee COLU Studio

Presentation Team: Coverage was hosted by Simon Thomas, who had enjoyed a sharp rise into presenting Live football this season. Thomas was most associated with his six years and more than 550 episodes on iconic children’s BBC programme Blue Peter, where he completed London Marathons, climbed mountains, met the Queen, boxed with Amir Khan and all sorts of exciting adventures you associate with the long-running show. Upon leaving in 2005 he acknowledged that “whatever I go on to do now is not going to be a patch on what I’ve done. That’s one of the hardest things about leaving.” He outlined his intentions to go into sports reporting or presenting and that’s exactly what happened. Soon after leaving the BBC, and with their sports department not willing to take him on, Thomas joined Sky Sports News as a newsreader working regularly with Georgie Thompson in the afternoon slot. He hosted a number of Live shows for Sky Sports in the intervening years before getting the chance to host Live Football League broadcasts this season, deputising for number one host David Jones on lower League games. He benefitted greatly from the huge fallout in January 2011 when Sky’s Premier League faces, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, left after leaked sexist comments. This forced a major reshuffle of personnel for the rest of this season. Effectively four hosts auditioned to present their flagship Super Sunday and Monday Night Football programmes; Jeff Stelling, Ben Shephard, Ed Chamberlin and David Jones. With Jones stepping up to the top flight, Simon Thomas presented far more Championship matches, the vast majority in fact, with Jones returning for the bigger games. Thomas’ pundits for today’s game were Phil Parkinson and Mark McGhee. This very fixture was broadcast Live in March last season, with Parkinson a guest on that too, given his Colchester connections as manager between 2003 and 2006. Most recently, until January, he was the Charlton boss. Mark McGhee needs no introduction having achieved promotion with Brighton out of this League, the last Albion manager to do so, in 2004 via the Play Offs and then successfully keeping them in the Championship the following year. That survival was arguably a bigger achievement than the Play Offs owing to the vast differences in budget, stadium and players between McGhee’s Albion and the high-flyers like Sunderland, Leeds and West Ham. McGhee is remembered fondly by many Seagulls supporters for his part in bringing great success to the South Coast, and he still had a property locally long after he’d left the club. McGhee was in-between jobs after managing Motherwell and Aberdeen. In the commentary box were two newcomers to Brighton matches; Gary Weaver and Andy Hinchcliffe. Both men began appearing on Sky’s Live Football League matches this season in a big overhaul of the personnel. Bill Leslie and Don Goodman were the long-established number one pairing, with Weaver used when Leslie or Daniel Mann weren’t, and Hinchcliffe was third choice behind Goodman and Garry Birtles. Today was the perfect low-key opportunity to give the newbies some vital Live experience. On the touchline was Patrick Davison, now in his third season as number two reporter behind Greg Whelan. He also covered this fixture Live last year.

COLU Murray COLU Talent COLU Kick Off COLU Comms

The Coverage: All this year Sky Sports were celebrating 20 years of broadcasting, with special idents and anniversary programming such as the excellently nostalgic The Sky Sports Years, which looked back over Sky’s portfolio for each and every year since 1991. Coverage of the League remained sponsored by bet365, who had their animated logo splashed over so much football output across all the broadcasters around this time it seemed they sponsored everything outside the top flight. The title sequence continued to be soundtracked by Candi Staton’s “You Got the Love”. However the graphics had a slight tweak to them, with the ends effectively chopped off so they sat within the 4×3 aspect ratio ‘safe area’ rather than extended horizontally all the way across the screen. This was introduced around the turn of the year, in a slight effort to look more in-line with the new graphics the Premier League coverage had at the beginning of this season that the Football League wouldn’t adopt until next year. The replay transition was the beautiful trophy the Albion would get their hands on at the final home match of the season, and the last to be played at Withdean, against Huddersfield next Saturday. The show came on-air at noon, fifteen minutes before the early afternoon kick-off. Pre-match build up was presented from pitchside at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Sky taking advantage of the hot weather. The atmosphere came across well, with Albion fans in full voice and a party mood. For the half and full-time analysis, the team moved up to a more familiar studio position in the corner of the stadium. During Gus Poyet’s pre-match interview he spoke of when he saw this fixture was to be broadcast “how nice it would be to get promoted or to win the League Live on TV. We were so good we done it before coming here so now it’s time to enjoy and to plan next season.” The PFA Team of the Season was announced earlier in the month, with the Seagulls having three representatives; Inigo Calderon, captain Gordon Greer and Elliott Bennett. Whilst former Brighton defender Dan Harding was in there for Southampton, and future signing Craig Mackail-Smith up front for Peterborough.

COLU Pitchside COLU Play Off COLU PFA Team COLU Coming Up

The coverage was all about the Champions, kicking off with a ‘Brighton’s Got Talent’ intro highlighting the individual stars the Seagulls had this season, taking inspiration from Britain’s Got Talent. Phil Parkinson noted of Brighton that “right from the word go they’ve been the best team in the Division. I think back in pre-season, no-one thought they’d have the season they’ve had but as soon as the season started they hit the ground running.” Mark McGhee spoke about the 2004 Play Off Final victory, saying the club had a better opportunity now than his side did what with the ground arriving, giving Albion “a new platform, a new revenue stream that we didn’t have then. A lot of what we earned then was sacrificed in the fight for the new stadium.” Whilst looking at the table it was noted how Brighton could reach the magical 100 points marker. In conversation with reporter Patrick Davison, Gus Poyet told what was left to achieve in the remaining three matches; “Keep the momentum, keep the identity, keep playing football. Keep enjoying, and making people enjoy watching us.” After previewing the game for around ten minutes or so it was time for commentator Gary Weaver to talk us through the team news before the pre-kick-off advert break. At half time the team analysed the first half chances from their studio position, looking at Ankergren’s injury and the Colchester goal as well as the half-chances the away side had mustered. They joked at one point Poyet shouted out to his players “You’re not in blue and white today, you’re in red!” Emphasising how un-Brighton like that first half was. Straight after the final whistle reporter Patrick Davison spoke to Man of the Match Craig Noone and Elliott Bennett. The latter was asked directly about his future, having previously handed a transfer request in. Brighton had rejected offers from a number of higher Division clubs. He responded to if he would be playing for the Albion in the Championship saying, “Yeah, definitely. What Gus Poyet’s created here is unbelievable and all the lads are pulling in the right direction. We play great football, a magnificent stadium to move into and Championship football so why would I want to move anywhere else?” Elliott Bennett joined Norwich in June. After the break the team had just under ten minutes to wrap the match up. Davison spoke with Poyet, who reminded us just what a slog it is in the Football League. “It’s difficult because it was a long season for us, very, very long. From September we were at the top under pressure, the effort and everything you have to do, you’ve done it for a long, long time,” he said before going on to bemoan the goal conceded as probably the worst of the season from a defensive point of view. Thomas, with Parkinson and McGhee, reviewed the goals and the key moments as well as highlighting a couple of players who might be making a case for the manager to include them more next season before it was time to sign off for the afternoon.

COLU Comedy goal COLU Substitute  COLU Stat COLU Yellow

Story of the Match: The glorious sunshine was beaming down in Essex as the Albion, in their change kit of red and black stripes, kicked off. Tactically both teams matched each other in a 4-3-3 formation, slightly different to how Sky had set the graphics up, as Craig Noone was playing much further forward with Bennett sitting in central midfield. Casper Ankergren broke his nose in the last televised League fixture, against Bournemouth back in October, and he was in the wars early on here. Whilst collecting a loose ball his left knee was caught by Henderson but hobbled on. Perhaps the niggle was playing on his mind as a couple of minutes later on the quarter-hour mark, Colchester took the lead after an almighty comedy of errors. John-Joe O’Toole’s effort was dragged somewhat but Ankergren was scrabbling around to get a hand to it, pushing the ball into the path of Tommy Elphick. He swiped at it, completely miscuing it back towards goal where Calderon was waiting. He then also miscued under pressure from the attack, with his attempted clearance across goal falling to the feet of Ian Henderson; presented with the easiest chance of his season to break the deadlock from six yards out. It was a terrible goal to concede and so unlike the solid Brighton defence which earned them twenty League clean sheets. The ‘keeper immediately signalled to the bench calling for a sub, as Peter Brezovan came on for his first League appearance this season. The Albion weren’t playing anywhere near as well as they had done this campaign, passes were sloppy and the defence was sitting deep allowing Colchester to control the ball and the midfield. The first chance came to Ashley Barnes six minutes before half-time with his header from a Calderon cross being simple for Williams in-goal. Bennett was booked a minute later for sarcastically applauding the referee, which for somebody as fussy as Keith Stroud was never a good idea. Colchester should have doubled their lead after James was allowed to run towards the Albion defence, his shot dragged towards the far post where an outstretched Henderson could only divert it over from six yards out.

COLU Barnes COLU Man of the Match

Ten minutes into the second half Peter Brezovan was called into action having to block with his chest and then leap to claw away a second effort. The half time break hadn’t done Brighton too much good as it was still Colchester who were enjoying the better of the play. The Albion’s best chance of the match thus far occurred in the 65th minute, following a quickly taken throw-in to set Marcos Painter free down the left. He pulled it back for Barnes to shoot with his left but inadvertently helped it on towards Chris Wood waiting at the back post. The goalkeeper palmed Barnes’ tame shot onto Wood as they both went for the ball, the ricochet taking it inches wide of the far post. The luck just not quite there for the Champions but the momentum began to swing their way. A couple of scrambles in the area followed in the next couple of minutes as Brighton really began to knock on the door for an equaliser. After a spell of domination, enjoying 74% of the possession, that goal finally arrived through Ashley Barnes. “A clinical finish. It’s the response of Champions!” cried commentator Gary Weaver as Barnes did the pregnant belly celebration. Elliott Bennett was found on the right-wing, turned back on his defender to swing in a cross on his weaker left-foot. It was a fantastic ball in to the right foot of Barnes to volley home on the edge of the six yard box, having ran in front of his marker to beat him to the ball for his eighteenth goal in all competitions this season. Brighton nearly completed the comeback with seven minutes to go when Elphick’s powerful header from an excellent Craig Noone cross was well tipped over by Williams. At the other end Brezovan had to remain alert with a couple of straightforward saves in the final few minutes. The last chance of the match was Chris Wood’s; his header from Bennett’s cross landed the wrong side of the post and the match ended all square at one-one. Brighton didn’t quite manage to reach the 100 point target, losing the final Withdean game against Huddersfield and drawing away at Notts County, but that barely mattered in the end. Promotion was achieved in the best way, as Champions, and second tier football would be played in Falmer come August. The football Brighton played this season was excellent, Poyet’s stock was extremely high and everybody couldn’t wait for the summer break to be over so we could take our seats in a place we could, finally, call home. What a time to be a Seagulls supporter.

COLU Table

COLCHESTER 1 BRIGHTON 1
Henderson Barnes

COLU Replay

PREVIOUS; #32 FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 0-4 BRIGHTON 08/12/2010

NEXT; #34 BRIGHTON 1-2 LIVERPOOL 21/09/2011

2011 Champions

Brighton & Hove Albion League One Champions 2010/2011

Brighton Season Review 2013/2014

“The club will always have a place in my heart and I hope very soon they will be competing at the top level in English football.” [Oscar Garcia, former Brighton manager, 2014]

I am both surprised and saddened to be writing an end of season report which, just one week ago, was looking oh, so different. Oh, so positive. Not so much now. Today is three days after the Play Off semi final 2nd leg defeat to Derby. They were the better team by far. We looked fragile. Out of sorts. Out of luck. In the 72 hours that have passed the club has gone into meltdown. Again.

Garcia goes

Oscar Garcia during happier times

For the second season running we are now without a manager and about to lose some of our best players. Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation on Sunday night. By Monday afternoon the club confirmed it had been accepted. As his letter to the fans shows, he’s not got a new job lined up and he certainly has not been asked to leave. So the big question is why has he decided to go; a decision, apparently, which has been thought over for the past few months? This is the man who joined only last summer after Gus Poyet left the club in such clouded circumstances, again so soon after losing in the Play Offs.

It doesn’t make sense and points to bigger problems behind the scenes. I thought the days of managers leaving due to budget constraints and lack of ambition were left behind at Withdean along with temporary seating, waterlogged pitches and terrible chips. Selling excellent players in January in Bridcutt, Barnes and El Abd and not replacing them was a major blow, two of whom will be in the Premier League next season. We won’t. But that’s not so bad. I was never expecting to be there. The Play Off defeat this season was so much different to last year’s. This was a magnificent bonus that was secured in the most dramatic, last-gasp fashion at Nottingham Forest by Leo Ulloa. What a great day that was for me; dressed in full Harchester United kit, it really was like something out of Dream Team. Since then only nightmares.

Dream Team

Harchester kit amongst Brighton and Berlin

The most disappointing thing now is that it looks like we’re having to start again despite picking up the pieces so well from the mess of last summer. Back to square one. No manager to make the decisions on signings; who to keep, who to bring in, who to get rid of? This morning the retained list was announced. Star goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and flair midfielder Andrea Orlandi are the big names out of contract and, amazingly, won’t be offered a new one. What madness. The goalkeeper is the second most important part of a Championship team after a goalscorer. Kuszczak is amongst the best in the league. He’s now going somewhere else for free.

It’s a real shame to be starting this in such a negative tone because again it’s been an incredible season with so many highs. It took a while to get going at the Amex but once we did it was well worth another season in the back row of the North Stand. Key wins over champions Leicester, promoted Burnley and Play Off finalists QPR showed we could beat the best on our day. Yet that was countered with a frustrating draw with Blackpool, which nearly ended the dream of promotion, an against-all-logic defeat to Wigan and back to back catastrophes against Ipswich and Middlesbrough. At times the home form seemed to be costing us but we’d soon go and pick up a vital win. Consistently inconsistent on the South Coast.

The North Stand

The North Stand at the Amex

Away from Sussex there were some wonderful days out as ever. If Forest on the final day was the cherry on top of the clichéd cake, then count the Christmas jumper-infested surprise win at Middlesbrough as the icing, Port Vale in the cup as the necessary but nostalgically brilliant jam and overnight party trip to Bournemouth as the sponge all good cakes need. I think you can tell that I’m no Gordon Ramsay so I’ll leave the food analogy there. Special mentions also to great days at Wigan and new forays for me into Reading, Blackburn and Yeovil. All genuinely enjoyable in their own ways and reminders as to why football is the greatest game in the world.

Middlesbrough away

Christmas jumpers all round at Middlesbrough

On the pitch exceptional seasons from player of the year Matthew Upson (another one worryingly out of contract), Andrew Crofts (his season cruelly cut short half way through by injury) and top-scorer Leo Ulloa who had the unenviable task of having to win flick-ons and then chase it down all on his own. He seems to have mastered the trick of both creating the assist for, and scoring, his own, unstoppable goals. Fingers crossed the sniffing dogs of Leicester and their millions of pounds will be kept at bay over the summer as we cannot afford to lose him. Rohan Ince, or Ronan Since as my autocorrect keeps trying to put, has been a revelation in the midfield and is going a long way to replacing Bridcutt. Solly March is featuring and impressing more and more. Stephen Ward has replaced Wayne Bridge in the role of ‘excellent on-loan left back who for some strange reason won’t be around next season’ brilliantly. And finally, after more than a year out, Craig Mackail Smith has returned and will hopefully lead the line when we go again in August.

We were defensively amongst the best in the league but going forward left a lot to be desired and ultimately too many draws cost us cementing a higher finish. Still though, 6th place is excellent. It’s better than I could have hoped for. A remarkable achievement to have steadied the ship and guided it round that iceberg when many thought we were heading straight for it. It seems there may be a different obstacle this summer with no manager to guide us just yet. If bookmakers are to believed, and of course they aren’t, then gilet-wearing, borderline maniac Tim Sherwood will be in charge or, failing that, former never-say-die defender and friend of idiot owner Vincent Tan, Malky Mackay. Either appointment would be a clear step in the right direction. As would anyone on the supposed short list apart from Alan Curbishley. Or Alan Pardew. Or any Alan. It’s just a name synonymous with poor management.

Sherwood's famous gilet

Is Tim Sherwood next in the Amex dugout?

So the World Cup is around the corner. The fixtures for next season are out in five weeks and I start a new job at Sky in four. I’ve renewed my season ticket and only a dozen grounds away from ticking off all 92 league clubs. Exciting trips to Norwich, Brentford and Wolves await the Albion and for me some extra journeys across to Swansea, Everton and further north with a bit of luck. Seasons come and go and tend to be remembered for how they end. The season just gone is defined by further play off heartbreak and managerial uncertainty but throughout the campaign there were more than enough reasons to do it all again next season. So I’ll see you back here for pre-season in less than two months. You just know it’ll be here before we have time to draw breath.

Fan made YouTube Season Review video by jmac8