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

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

61FOR Titles

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

2015 Ident 2015 Sponsor

61FOR Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

61FOR Brighton

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

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

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

61FOR Nottingham Forest

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

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

61FOR Subs

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

61FOR Thomas

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

61FOR Holloway 61FOR Prutton

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

61FOR Hinchcliffe 61FOR Craig

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

 

THE COVERAGE

61FOR Coverage 1 61FOR Pitchside

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

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

61FOR Greer 61FOR Craig with Tempest 61FOR Odds

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

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

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

61FOR Hemed 61FOR Zamora

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

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

61FOR Studio

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

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

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

61FOR Analysis 61FOR Hughton

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

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

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

61FOR Coming Up

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

61FOR Kick Off 61FOR Comms

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

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

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

61FOR LuaLua goal 61FOR Defending

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

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

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

61FOR Man of the Match

BRIGHTON 1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0
LuaLua

61FOR Replay 61FOR Goal

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

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

#55: Derby 4-1 Brighton 11/05/2014

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

DERA Titles

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

DERA Ident DERA Sponsor DERA Intro

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

DERA Derby DERA Subs DERA Brighton

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

DERA Thomas DERA Rosler DERA Studio

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

DERA Garcia DERA Analysis

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

DERA Kick Off DERA Comms

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

DERA LuaLua DERA Pitch Invasion

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

DERA Schedule

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

DERA Replay

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

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

#54: Brighton 1-2 Derby 08/05/2014

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

DER Titles

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

DER Ident DER Sponsor DER Intro

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

DER BrightonDER Derby DER Subs

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

DER Thomas DER Beagrie DER Pitchside DER Studio

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

DER Form DER Garcia pre match DER MOTM Award DER Analysis

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

DER Kick Off DER Comms DER Lingard goal DER McGhee

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

DER Own Goal DER Action Areas

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

DER Coming Up

BRIGHTON 1 DERBY 2
Lingard Martin, Kuszczak own goal

DER Replay DER Goal

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

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

#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

#48: Brighton 1-1 Watford 28/10/2013

#48 BRIGHTON 1-1 WATFORD Championship
Monday 28th October 2013 Image result for

WAT Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Adam Virgo
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
Delayed 8pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1 [Extended to 10.15pm]

WAT Ident WAT Sponsor WAT Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton were still finding their feet under new manager Oscar Garcia, with form best described as mixed. The club had won just three League matches out of the opening twelve, with just one in the last eight. Four defeats and five draws placed the club in sixteenth place in the Division. Goals were a problem with just eleven in twelve matches coming from only five different goalscorers. The top scorer Ulloa was out injured, leaving midfielder Andrew Crofts as the man with the most prolific record in the current squad. He had netted thrice before tonight. Striker Ashley Barnes was suffering from a lack of scoring which stretched as far back as April. Support was brought in up front in the form of loan signing Leroy Lita. Much was being heaped on the young shoulders of Jake Forster-Caskey to create openings. The defence remained solid, with the core of Bruno, Greer, Upson and Ward protecting Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal. Both the Albion and today’s opponents Watford had an unfortunate thing in common from last season; they were both defeated by Crystal Palace in May’s Championship Play Offs. Brighton lost in the semis whilst Watford went down in extra time. The Hornets had started well again this season, sitting in the top six. However their form had also suffered of late with two defeats in the last three, compounded by losing to promotion rivals Derby at home last week. If both sides were to repeat an extended season, consistency would be key. The corresponding fixture back in December 2012 was televised by Sky Sports in a post-Christmas Saturday evening kick-off, resulting in a three-one away win. Sky picked the match once more for Live broadcast, this time on a Monday night during half-term. Halloween was coming, Brighton were hoping to avoid a scare this time round.

WAT Brighton WAT Subs WAT Watford

The Teams: Brighton’s talented squad was being decimated by an ever-growing injury list, with several key players having lengthy spells on the sidelines. Among these include Liam Bridcutt, Craig Mackail-Smith, Andrea Orlandi, Kazenga LuaLua and Leonardo Ulloa. One change was made from the goalless draw last time out away to Yeovil, with Jake Forster-Caskey coming in for Rohan Ince. He grew up in the Chelsea academy, winning the FA Youth Cup in 2010 before turning professional. He joined the Albion initially with the development squad back in February before moving into the first team under Garcia. As the name suggests, he is related to former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Ince, being his third cousin. Will Buckley made his 200th career appearance tonight, whilst Craig Conway started at The Amex for the first time. Among the substitutes were new loan signing Leroy Lita, who joined last week from Swansea until January. The striker enjoyed success at Bristol City and Reading early in his career and most recently at Middlesbrough. Also named as a substitute was 19-year-old winger Solly March. He grew up in Eastbourne and signed with the Albion in December 2011 but didn’t feature until earlier this campaign when he made a couple of appearances off the bench. Gianfranco Zola made four changes to his Watford side that lost three-two at home to Derby in their last game. Talisman striker Troy Deeney returned, with Sean Murray, Lloyd Doyley and Davide Faraoni all coming in. Fernando Forestieri would be one to watch up front for his trickery and ability. Last season they were a squad full on loanees with some fourteen players only temporary, this time round a lot of their key players had been signed to the club on permanent deals The biggest loss from the last campaign was striker Matej Vydra who was now a West Bromwich Albion player. Blowing the whistle for tonight’s clash was Keith Hill.

WAT Thomas WAT Virgo WAT Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: Sky hosted tonight’s match from the permanent studio within the North Stand, as was now the norm. Regular host Simon Thomas began coverage at 7.30pm, initially fifteen minutes before kick-off but this was pushed back to an 8pm start due to travel problems delaying supporters getting to the ground on time. So we got an extended build up with Thomas and his guest, the former Brighton defender Adam Virgo. He announced his retirement from the game last week after failing to recover from a knee injury at the age of just thirty. Virgo enjoyed two spells as a player with the Seagulls, either side of a move to Scottish champions Celtic in 2005. During his time with us he was used as both a defender and an emergency striker. Now he was in the process of completing his coaching badges and hoping to forge a career in the media. Once this season’s titles played out and the new-for-this-season graphics introduced the fixture, Thomas and Virgo previewed the game starting with a focus on the home team. Virgo explained the differences the club have faced from a couple of years ago to now, unluckily missing out in the Play Offs back in May. He also talked about the challenge Oscar Garcia faced taking over the club that had been shaped by Poyet, with him having a say in the stadium, the pitch and the training facilities and now all of a sudden a new man had to carry that forward. Owing to the various injury problems to the squad as a whole, Ashley Barnes was highlighted as a key man having to step up and play front and centre. FL72’s regular reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with Garcia ahead of the delayed kick-off, who bigged up the opposition; “They are, for me, one of the three best squads in the Championship and all the players can be a threat for us.” An advert break was taken before attention switched to the away side, highlighting Troy Deeney’s return up front and speaking with manager Zola. The same fixture last season was recalled, as Watford’s devastating counter attack broke Brighton’s excellent home form that night. The scene was set on what the club designated as Halloween ‘Fright Night’, and after another break it was time to hand over to the gantry. Commentary was once again provided by Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe, who were both present on our previous Live match this campaign at Reading.

WAT Delay WAT Team   WAT Possession WAT Half Time Stats

The half time stats showed Brighton were dominant in terms of corners and edged the possession but the most important line showed Watford one-nil up. Pundit Adam Virgo commented that Stephen Ward lacked a bit of conviction in terms of fully closing down the shot, it was his deflection which broke the deadlock. He praised Will Buckley for getting in some good positions and delivering quality crosses, the finish just lacking from all in blue and white thus far. A clear direction Sky wanted to go in this season was hearing from one of the managers before the second half, we heard from Garcia in the last televised match at Reading and today Gianfranco Zola was interviewed briefly as the half got underway. This coincided with Watford almost doubling the lead so it was ill-advised to cross to him at that point but the goal wasn’t given. Goal line technology was introduced into the Premier League this season but not the Football League. This was discussed in the post-match analysis. Straight after full-time, Jonathan Oakes was on the pitch chatting to the Man of the Match Watford’s Manuel Almunia alongside our captain Gordon Greer. He was asked about the ghost-goal, describing it as “too close to tell. I just tried to get a touch on it and clear it. I knew it was close but I never knew how close it was!” Solid batting away of the question from the Scotsman. After the break, Thomas and Virgo rounded things up, with the show extended from 10pm until quarter-past owing to the delayed kick-off. Virgo believed Brighton would probably be the happier of the two, given their table positions, the threadbare squad and the current form. He agreed that the goal-that-wasn’t definitely should have been and could only suggest the referee just didn’t see it. Gianfranco Zola was interviewed in the tunnel and was shown the incident with Greer and the ball over the line. His reaction was to laugh, commenting “I think there’s no need to say anything… It was a goal, that’s for sure.” Whilst advocating goal line technology, he understood the costs involved which is why the Football League hasn’t gone the same way as the top flight yet. After a few more words from the studio, it was time to come off-air after another solid broadcast.

WAT No Goal WAT Greer

Story of the Match: When the kick off did arrive, fifteen minutes later than scheduled, it was the away side who began on the front foot with a goal inside four minutes. Sean Murray was given a lot of space to receive the ball around thirty yards out. He took just one touch before ambitiously striking for goal. His shot took a deflection off the head of Stephen Ward on the way through to deceive Kuszczak and put Watford one up. The touch didn’t really alter the direction of the ball too much, it appeared more to speed up the pace to take it into the corner of the net. Brighton were caught cold. They were caught in possession just minutes later, trying to be too clever near their own box. The ball found its way to Lewis McGugan whose shot curled just wide of the post. Brighton almost grabbed an equaliser after a quarter of an hour through the head of Ashley Barnes. He powered it towards Almunia’s goal from an inch perfect Will Buckley cross, the ‘keeper though managed to get a strong hand to palm it away. The rebound was volleyed into the side-netting. After Watford’s strong start, Brighton took the game to them after that. Another deep Buckley cross gave Craig Conway an opportunity, his header going wide despite timing the leap well. It was Buckley himself who had the next best chance a minute before the interval. Conway’s cross from the left alluded everyone to the back stick where Buckley met it on the half-volley. He put the ball back in the danger zone with a cross-come-shot which was begging to be tapped home, the Watford defence alive to it quicker. Oscar Garcia would go into the half time break disappointed to be behind having created a couple of good chances, work was required to improve the finishing. Watford began the second half lightning quick and actually should have been awarded a second goal within the first thirty seconds. Whilst Sky were chatting to Gianfranco Zola, we witnessed the Hornets get behind the Albion defence and Forestieri shoot for goal. He beat Kuszczak but not Gordon Greer who blocked the initial effort. Greer’s heavy touch though took the ball towards the line, and indeed about a yard over it, before booting it away. The refereeing team did not spot this and Brighton got away with one, it remained just a goal to nil. Replays confirmed it was a definite goal. Ten minutes into the second half Brighton found their equaliser. Craig Conway’s corner into the middle aimed for the head of Greer. The ball scrambled around before falling to Andrew Crofts side-on. It sat up nicely for him to improvise a fantastic half-volley on the turn which flew into the top corner. He used fantastic technique to adjust his position and execute a clean strike on goal which was never being saved, and Brighton were level. Bruno almost scuppered this five minutes later after a late lunge not only risked him a second yellow card but also a penalty, as the foul was right on the edge of the box on the far side. Fortunately neither occurred. The resulting free kick from McGugan needed to be tipped over the bar. Ashley Barnes led the Brighton attack gallantly but he was having to do everything himself, with little in the way of support. It was a thankless task, slightly alleviated by the introduction of recognised forward Leroy Lita, but chances were at a premium. Watford almost snatched a late winner after a terrific run from the halfway line from Faraoni to cross for Forestieri. His header back across goal bounced off the near post and cleared away by Upson. With less than five to play, Brighton forced Almunia into a save to prevent Crofts getting a brace. Lita crossed for Buckley to lay it off with a lovely cushioned touch. Crofts hit one on the half-volley which was always rising but remained on target. The defence had to be alert in the final few minutes but they held out for the draw which was a fair result overall and an improvement on the three-one defeat last time out at home to the Hornets. Onwards and upwards for Brighton.

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 1
Crofts Murray

WAT Replay WAT Goal

EXTRA; Sky Sports magazine programme FL72 Review was broadcast immediately prior to tonight’s Live show. Hosted from Sky Studios cafe, presenter George Gavin was joined by regular third choice co-commentator Garry Birtles to look back at all the weekend’s goals as well as a quick preview of the big match at The Amex. The cafe setting allowed for staff to mill around in the background as the hosts sat with a large coffee perched front and centre.

FL72 Titles FL72 Studio

George Gavin spoke with tonight’s co-commentator former England international Andy Hinchcliffe, who was standing by pitchside in Falmer. He mentioned Brighton’s injuries to five or six key players, giving hope to the side upon their eventual return; “Oscar Garcia will be desperate for those players to come back and come into the side, and when they do Brighton will be a very different team and I’m sure they’ll climb up the table very quickly.” We talked up Watford’s abilities, following on from going close last season they scored plenty of goals and played attractive, flowing football.

FL72 Split Screen FL72 Hinchcliffe

As there wasn’t time to hear from Oscar Garcia after the match, his interview was added to the highlights of the match shown throughout the night and on Sky Sports News. In his chat with Jonathan Oakes he said regarding his side’s reaction to the numerous injuries plaguing the team; “We had two options; to cry or to look forward. And we are looking forward, for this I am very proud of my players.” He also believed goal line technology would be a bonus, the more things to help improve the better.

WAT Garcia

PREVIOUS; #47 READING 0-0 BRIGHTON 15/09/2013

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

#47: Reading 0-0 Brighton 15/09/2013

#47 READING 0-0 BRIGHTON Championship
Sunday 15th September 2013 Image result for

REA Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Jason Roberts
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
1.15pm Kick Off; Madejski Stadium, Reading     1-3.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

REA Promo REA Sponsor REA Intro

Context of the Match: A lot happened at Brighton and Hove Albion over the summer of 2013. Two days after the Play Off Semi Final defeat by Crystal Palace, manager Gus Poyet and his coaching team of Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway were all suspended from their duties pending an internal investigation. The full details of exactly what happened may never emerge, however what is known is that Poyet was left fuming after an unsavoury incident occurred in the Palace dressing room that night. Poyet sent an email to the entire Albion staff furious at the incident and unhappy that clackers were handed out to supporters creating “an annoying noise”. Having been suspended, he was later sacked. The news unfortunately broke whilst Poyet was making a punditry appearance Live on the BBC, which only compounded the embarrassing time for the club. It was a very sad and bitter end to what had been a golden period of football for the Seagulls, flying up the Leagues and just forty-five minutes away from a Wembley Final for a place in the Premier League. Taricco and Oatway followed him out. Three days later former Barcelona midfielder Oscar Garcia was appointed as the new head coach, note the term rather than manager due to Poyet’s appeal to his dismissal. As a player, Garcia spent eight years growing up at his local team Barcelona progressing from the B team to carving a name out for himself in the full squad in the 90s winning four League titles. After the Catalan club he moved to Valencia for a season before spending four years with Espanyol. He also played for various age groups at international level for Spain, including an appearance at the 1996 Olympic Games. As a coach he was less experienced, having only been a head coach for one season before joining us. That was at Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv where he won the League. Prior to this he had worked as assistant at Catalonia and Barcelona youth. This was a very exciting appointment for the Albion. Quite frankly who did we think we were?! Gone were the days of choosing from within like Martin Hinshelwood and Dean Wilkins as managers, now the focus was on big international names who had the potential to attract better name players. Nathan Jones was brought in for the ‘Charlie Oatway’ role of bridging the gap between manager and players. A pre-season trip to Spain followed in July, taking on Getafe and Sporting Gijon before the re-named Sky Bet Championship season got underway. Defeat on the opening day at Leeds was followed up by a home loss to Derby before back to back wins against Birmingham and Burnley before a draw last time out with Millwall. Fair to say form had been mixed so far as Garcia learnt more about his squad. Today’s opponents Reading re-joined the Division following relegation from the Premier League last year in nineteenth place. Nigel Adkins took over in March but couldn’t do enough to keep them afloat. Sky Sports chose the clash for Live broadcast this Sunday afternoon, our first of the campaign. Reading had won the last six meetings with the Albion, would it be seventh heaven here?

REA Reading REA Subs REA Brighton

The Teams: Whilst the management all changed over the close season, the playing squad stayed much the same, with just a few key additions. Having spent the end of the last campaign on loan, Matthew Upson made the signing permanent. Irishman Stephen Ward was this year’s designated loan left-back, joining from Wolves. Defender Adam Chicksen and midfielder Kemy Agustien came in on free transfers. Saying goodbye to the club over the summer were Vicente, Ryan Harley, Toby Agdestein and Stephen Dobbie, who had a torrid time here never really getting going. Long-serving players from the League One title days Gary Dicker and Marcos Painter also left due to limited first-team opportunities. Today three changes were made for the Albion from the last match at home to Millwall. Kazenga LuaLua made his first start of the season. Irish midfielder Keith Andrews joined in August on a season-long loan from Bolton. Andrews had swathes of experience with the likes of Wolves, MK Dons and Blackburn as well as internationally with the Republic of Ireland where he featured in every minute of their Euro 2012 tournament. The final change saw Jake Forster-Caskey come in from the off for the first time in eighteen months in the Championship having spent much of last season on-loan at Oxford. His name comprises two former Reading greats in Nicky Forster and Darren Caskey. Leo Ulloa led the line with four goals in five matches so far. Player of the Season for the past two years Liam Bridcutt was missing through injury, as was Andrea Orlandi whilst Will Buckley wasn’t fit enough to start after a lay off. Craig Mackail-Smith was still on the sidelines having missed much of the end of last season too. Scottish winger Craig Conway joined on-loan from Cardiff but wasn’t registered in time for this clash. Former Albion players Dean Wilkins and Andy Crosby made up Nigel Adkins coaching staff, as they did at Southampton. Three of the Reading line up made their first starts of the season; defender Stephen Kelly, midfielder Danny Williams and up front Pavel Pogrebnyak. Former Everton, Feyenoord and Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe started after signing in the summer as a free agent. Familiar Football League name Adam Le Fondre, known for spells at Rochdale and Rotherham, was always a striker to watch. Last year’s Albion left-back Wayne Bridge was spending this campaign on-loan with the Royals. In charge of the contest was Graham Scott.

REA Thomas REA Roberts REA Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: Sky Sports rebranded their coverage of the League to be named as FL72; referencing the 72 clubs in the three Divisions of the Football League. Live broadcasts and magazine programmes would go under that brand name; FL72 Live and FL72 Review respectively. It didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. This coincided with Sky Bet taking over title sponsorship of the Football League from nPower. Sky’s coverage also had a new sponsor, Screwfix replaced long-standing bet365, who remained ubiquitous on other football programming. From the beginning of the season the graphics also had a refresh, expanding on the previous set in similar fashion. The scoreboard was made smaller than the last couple of sets. Red and white colours replaced red and black, but much of the principles from before remained similar. The theme tune of Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’ survived but the title sequence had a slight refresh, culminating in the familiar cloudy sky background with the new ‘FL72’ logo appearing out from the trophies. Speaking of which, the replay transition was a variation on the Championship prize, as the top half of the trophy with that intricate design and handles flew across the screen from left to right, replacing the whole trophy moving into the middle before exiting the same side. The magazine programmes were now broadcast from the cafe within Sky Studios, as staff milled around in the background and the coffee machine blasted out behind host George Gavin. The regular Football League kick-off time was moved from Saturday evenings to Saturday afternoons at 12.15pm in order to accommodate the Live Premier League acquisition at 5.30pm, known as Saturday Night Football. Hosted by David Jones and Jamie Redknapp from a giant new set in Sky Studios, the Live game coverage incorporated a studio audience for the first time since the old Monday Night Football days from 2003-2005 with Ian Payne. New broadcaster BT Sport launched in August replacing ESPN as the secondary Premier League channel and snapped up the Saturday 12.30pm package as well as midweeks and Bank Holidays, hence Sky’s decision to move the Football League to Saturday lunchtimes. Other kick-off times would be slotted around, including Friday nights, Monday nights and occasional Sunday lunchtimes. Our match at the Madejski Stadium today was one of the latter.

REA Pitchside REA Garcia Stats REA Half Time Stats REA Analysis

Coverage was presented from the stadium by number one FL72 host Simon Thomas. The programme came on-air fifteen minutes before the 1.15pm kick off. This allowed for build-up and reaction either side of the match before going off-air at 3.30pm to allow the Super Sunday fixture to commence in plenty of time. Alongside Thomas was guest Jason Roberts. The 35-year-old striker joined Reading in January 2012 but had been out injured for the past few months, eventually retiring later this season. As a current member of the squad, he referred to the Royals as ‘we’ and ‘us’ and therefore coverage was slightly skewed towards the home side. Roberts was no stranger to punditry though, having presented radio phone-in 6-0-6 on BBC 5 Live in 2011 and appeared on Match of the Day 2 and other magazine programmes on several occasions. The presentation team hosted the pre-match from pitchside, adjacent to where the Albion were warming up. On the touchline was Jonathan Oakes, in his second season as lead reporter on the League. He got the thoughts of Oscar Garcia. He spoke in a much calmer, measured manner than his predecessor, his English was good too. “It’s an amazing job, in an amazing League in an amazing country. I’m very happy to be here to improve my team, to improve myself.” After the break, we also heard from the Reading manager as the teams emerged from the tunnel ready for the big kick off.

REA Kick Off REA Comms REA Coming Up REA Garcia

Commentary came from Sky’s number one Football League commentator Bill Leslie alongside their second choice co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe. The pair had been involved in the coverage for several years now, with Leslie beginning in 2004 and Hinchcliffe five years later. At half-time the presentation moved up from pitchside to the studio in the stadium. The interval analysis was understandably dominated by the two red cards, one for either side. Jason Roberts believed Pogrebnyak’s first yellow card to be harsh as there appeared to be minimal contact with LuaLua. He conceded that for the second booking, there was no need to fling his arms about and make a meal of it, giving the referee – who was quite a way away from the incident – a decision to make. Roberts thought the red for Ulloa was the correct decision. Before the second half began, Jonathan Oakes managed to grab a quick word with Oscar Garcia who outlined the approach was for more of the same but to be more clinical. Immediately after the final whistle Oakes chatted on the pitch to Man of the Match Alex McCarthy in the Reading goal, as well as Brighton’s Keith Andrews, who thought a draw was overall probably a fair result. After the break around eight minutes remained of the programme to round it up. Jason Roberts believed both teams were positive and going out to win despite the red cards but a draw was the fair result. Oakes interviewed the Reading manager afterwards, with Adkins taking the positives. There wasn’t time to speak with Garcia in the Live broadcast unfortunately, as Simon Thomas said goodbye ready for Ed Chamberlin to host Southampton versus West Ham on Super Sunday next.

REA Referee REA Red Card

Story of the Match: The Albion, in their change kit of yellow, kicked off at the Madejski. It took until the fifteenth minute for the first real shot on target, as Royston Drenthe whipped in a free-kick for Reading which Kuszczak was able to deal with comfortably. Brighton’s first opportunity came through a David Lopez cross on the right-wing. It was met by a low header from Andrew Crofts unmarked some twelve yards out. He got the power but the direction wasn’t quite there as it went too high. Lopez enjoyed much passing and crossing success in attempts to get the away side going. An improvised header from Ulloa almost caught everybody out after half an hour. With Reading thinking the danger had been cleared, Inigo Calderon nodded the ball back into the danger zone which was flicked goalwards by the Argentinian, Reading caught ball-watching and hoping for a flag which never arrived. The effort went just wide. A minute later the home side were reduced to ten men after striker Pavel Pogrebnyak received his second yellow card. The first caution was for a very slight foul but this second booking was the result of a blatant, exaggerated dive after clashing with Keith Andrews. It was a stupid decision from the forward, both cards were avoidable. The game got a little feisty from then on, with the crowd on the referees back in an attempt to sway him and level things up. That’s exactly what happened in the thirty-ninth minute when Leo Ulloa was sent off for dangerous play. A loose ball was bouncing on the half-way line which Reading defender Alex Pearce was attempting to win with his head. Ulloa challenged with his foot up high and dangerous, connecting with Pearce who got the ball cleanly. Referee Graham Scott was right on the scene and had no hesitation sending the front man off. It was the correct decision, it was a silly challenge from Ulloa but immediately held his hands up and realised his mistake. There was no malice but suddenly both teams were playing with ten. With both teams now a target man light, it was no surprise that the goalscoring potential was thwarted, as they were restricted to pot-shots and no end product. In first-half stoppage time Gordon Greer had a terrific chance to take the lead with his head off another Lopez cross. Alex McCarthy in the Reading goal made a very good save to claw it out, luckily for him the shot was right where he was standing. Reading started the second half very well, flying out of the traps and peppering Kuszczak’s goal with shots. Wayne Bridge came on, to great applause from both sets of supporters after his fine season at The Amex. Once Brighton weathered that storm, an opening arrived at the other end through Lopez once again. This time the ball was delivered into the box towards him, his sublime first touch spun the defender but the finish with the outside of the boot just ran across goal instead of towards it. I was surprised to see Lopez come off after the hour mark to be replaced by Ashley Barnes in what appeared to be a more attacking move. Perhaps it was because Lopez wasn’t a finisher yet was getting into positions furthest forward, but I thought he was having an excellent game. Barnes though did provide a recognised centre forward and within seconds of his arrival tested McCarthy with a fine volley. Seconds later it was a shot from Calderon on the edge of the D which had the goalkeeper scrambling low to his left as the rain began to fall heavily. With thirteen minutes remaining Brighton worked a terrific overlap on the left-wing through Keith Andrews to Stephen Ward. His cross was low in to the feet of Barnes who got in ahead of the defender to poke it goalbound. The ball rebounded off the post and back onto McCarthy who was able to block and gather to keep things level. And that’s how it finished. The Albion philosophy and style of play under Garcia continued from where Poyet left off, gaining large spells in possession with passing accuracy key. Once the consistency was gained and the injuries eased off, this side had the potential to go far again.

REA Table

READING 0 BRIGHTON 0

REA Replay

PREVIOUS; #46 BRIGHTON 0-2 CRYSTAL PALACE 13/05/2013

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

#46: Brighton 0-2 Crystal Palace 13/05/2013

#46 BRIGHTON 0-2 CRYSTAL PALACE Championship Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Monday 13th May 2013 Image result for

PAL Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Play Offs 2013 Live on Sky Sports 1

PAL Promo PAL Sponsor PAL Intro

Context of the Match: It was now a one game shoot-out to decide who would go to Wembley in a fortnight to contest the Championship Play Off Final. After the most dramatic of last gaps finishes the previous day saw Watford prevail over Leicester. Anthony Knockaert missed a penalty, had the rebound saved and then Watford dashed up the other end to score and seal their place in the one-off match. Brighton and Crystal Palace knew who they’d be facing, it was now just a case of getting through to it. Following on from the nil-nil draw in the First Leg, Brighton would probably be the happier of the two sides with the decider tonight at The Amex. The Albion hadn’t lost here in 2013 so far, whilst Palace’s overall form was the worst of any side going into the Play Offs at this level for six years. They had just one win in eleven, just two away from home since November and yet the joint-most prolific strike force in the League. A curious stat surrounded the first goal; Brighton hadn’t lost when scoring first however they’d not won after conceding first all season. In a contest as tight and as closely fought as these Play Offs would be, the opening goal was even more crucial following Friday’s stalemate. The Albion would probably have been feeling the more disappointed of the two sides having created a couple of absolutely great chances in the first half; particularly Speroni’s save from Dean Hammond’s point-blank header. That was closely battled as had been the battles with the rivals so far this campaign. The head-to-head records didn’t separate the pair either, with both sides winning by three goals to nil at home on each of the two fixtures. The goalless First Leg was Albion’s seventh stalemate of the campaign, perhaps highlighting how good the defence was compared with a similarly goal-shy attack. Prior to last season, this fierce rivalry had gone six years since the previous meeting so there was understandable nervousness and animosity for this winner-takes-all bonanza. Whilst Gus Poyet had never experienced the Play Offs, Brighton had; most recently gaining promotion to the second tier by beating Bristol City in the Division Two Final. Mark McGhee was in charge then, how would the Gus bus cope with the high-stakes contest now? Brighton were aiming to return to the top flight for the first time in thirty years after relegation in 1983 the week before the FA Cup Final. This was our Cup Final now.

PAL Brighton PAL Palace PAL Subs

The Teams: After a decent trip to Selhurst Park on Friday, Brighton were unchanged from the draw. The defence conceded just forty-three times in the League all year making them the most frugal in the Division. Calderon, Greer, Upson and Bridge all started in front of goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak. The Pole only missed three of the forty-six regular season matches since arriving from West Brom last summer. Wayne Bridge was named in the PFA Team of the Season after a wonderful campaign including three goals. Player of the Year Liam Bridcutt was once again in fine form and picked up the Man of the Match award for Friday’s performance. David Lopez scored a terrific free-kick during the Albion’s three-nil rout last time Palace played at The Amex in March. Leonardo Ulloa netted the other two in that match and would be looking to add to his tally of nine League and one FA Cup goals since arriving in January. With top-scorer Craig Mackail-Smith not likely to return until 2014, Ashley Barnes was the back-up option on the substitutes bench. Ian Holloway named one enforced change to his Crystal Palace line-up with Aaron Wilbraham coming in after the horrific innocuous injury to top-scorer Glenn Murray sustained to his knee ligaments on Friday. His thirty-one goals fired him into the PFA Team of the Season for the Division, alongside his teammate Yannick Bolasie who only made the bench again tonight. Jonny Williams in midfield was a doubt as he came off in the First Leg but recovered well enough to begin here. Wilfried Zaha looked lively in the final half hour at Selhurst, having switched wings to get the better of Calderon because he had no luck against Bridge. Julian Speroni made one or two good saves in-goal. Owen Garvan hadn’t featured much during the calendar year, missing twenty matches, but continued in the middle for the third time in a row. A big game required a big name, Mark Clattenburg got the refereeing gig.

PAL Thomas PAL Beagrie PAL Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: The Play Offs continued to be hosted Live from the stadium with main host Simon Thomas at the helm. He was joined in the Amex studio by the number one pundit Peter Beagrie for the duration. Once the Play Off specific titles had played out fifteen minutes before kick off, clips from Sunday’s incredible other Semi Final rolled as Watford defeated Leicester in the most dramatic of fashions. Bill Leslie’s commentary would live long in the memory; “DEENEY! Do not scratch your eyes, you are really seeing the most extraordinary finish here with the very last kick of this Play Off Semi Final, Troy Deeney wins it for Watford.” The best bits from Friday’s First Leg followed, backed by dramatic music. The regular duo of Thomas and Beagrie were joined by Watford manager Gianfranco Zola in the studio for the first portion of the programme, before he headed to his seat in the stands to witness his Final opponents. The trio talked us through those incredible scenes from the previous day, as Anthony Knockaert missed his last-minute penalty for Leicester, as well as the rebound, before Deeney punished them in the most dramatic style. It was a moment that would live forever in Play Off history. Due to Zola’s presence, much of the first part of the show was devoted to Watford and his thoughts on tonight’s clash. Both Beagrie and Zola knew we would be in for a very close, tense match tonight. After the commercials, the teams waited in the tunnel whilst reporter Jonathan Oakes’ interviews with the two managers were shown on a split-screen. Gus Poyet hoped playing at home would be the advantage for Brighton, with the wide pitch and the victory over Palace just two months earlier all helping. “We are ready and we know how to deal with different situations,” he said. Everything was set, time to hand over to Sky’s premier commentary team of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman.

PAL Zola PAL Split Screen PAL Lynam PAL Analysis

The stats at half-time showed Brighton on top in terms of possession – 59% to 41% – and attempts on goal – five to Palace’s two, however only two on target. Peter Beagrie was surprised how the first half turned out to go the opposite way to what was predicted, as Palace took the game to Brighton rather than soak up the pressure to counter attack. After the final whistle, with Crystal Palace players jubilant on the pitch in front of their supporters, the pictures stayed with them for immediate reaction. Jonathan Oakes spoke with Man of the Match Wilfried Zaha, goalkeeper Julian Speroni and manager Ian Holloway all together. After the break, less than ten minutes remained before the scheduled finish so Thomas and Beagrie had to be succinct in their analysis. They had praise for Holloway’s superior tactics and clinical finishing. Gus Poyet’s post-match interview was understandably downbeat, but also interesting in terms of his future. “There’s plenty of things to check. Where is the roof? Did we hit the roof today and there is nothing above? What is gonna be the situation next season but we got time for that?” Asked on his immediate future he responded “Well I’m under contract.. I need to analyse as well my personal diary.” As a supporter there was no doubt Poyet would be here again next season, he’d done a terrific job and probably got us to this position quicker than we should have. But suddenly there was talk about his future and about our club’s ambitions. His comments about ‘hitting the roof’ were rather inflammatory. Did he believe he couldn’t take the club any further? Was the club not equipped to go beyond the Championship? There were many, many questions but so little time. The Sky Sports programme came off-air shortly after the interview but the questions continued for supporters for a long time to come. The main thing was it would be Crystal Palace, and not Brighton, who would be Live on Sky for the Play Off Final in two weeks time. The final, and most sensible words, went to Peter Beagrie who said of Brighton’s season; “You’ve got progression. They’ve done fantastically well, he’s a fantastic manager and it’s a bit raw to discuss his future at this stage.” With that, the team said their goodbyes for another broadcast.

PAL Kick Off PAL Comms PAL Referee PAL Stand or Fall

Story of the Match: Soprano singer Donna-Marie Hughes sang a Live version of ‘Sussex by the Sea’ to lead the teams out ahead of this monumental clash, the biggest game at The Amex so far. She previously performed at the Wolves game on the final day. The crowd was also provided with clackers – which weren’t so popular in hindsight- but did create a fantastic picture of blue and white stripes around the ground. Supporters were really up for this one, an electric atmosphere was created. Leo Ulloa clashed with Julian Speroni in the fifth minute chasing a loose ball, both requiring minor treatment. The full-blooded nature had spilled from the crowds onto the pitch. Zaha was caught in possession just outside his own box by Will Buckley who was able to get a shot away low to Speroni’s right, the ‘keeper equal to it. The Palace forward was not having a good time in his own half, giving fouls and the ball away, yet looked a danger in his more natural attacking role. Inigo Calderon was coping better than he did during the latter part of the First Leg. As on several occasions on Friday, Dean Hammond was a goal threat, shots from long-range falling just wide. Brighton saw more of the ball, it was a trademark under Poyet, but the final delivery was missing. There was panic at the back five minutes before half time when Zaha’s cross from the left was almost sliced into his own net by Hammond; his connection weak enough to slow the ball down for Upson to clear. It was every bit as nervy, every bit as tense as you’d expect. The deadlock continued.

PAL Policing PAL Poyet

The game’s first clear chance went the way of Palace and Jonny Williams. A classic counter attack was led by Zaha who thread through a pass on the half-way line for Williams to bring it forward one-on-one. He reached the edge of the box where he took his shot across the goalie, missing the target in the process. It was a let off for Brighton, who were really struggling to break down the Crystal Palace shape. The rain fell harder as the match went on. Gus Poyet decided to change things up with twenty-five remaining, Ashley Barnes replaced Andrea Orlandi. With his first touch Barnes hit the crossbar. A long ball forward was flicked into the area by Ulloa standing on the edge. Barnes was coming in behind and stabbed it forward as Speroni charged out, the ‘keeper got the faintest of touches to tip it onto the bar before the defence put it behind. The resulting corner also went Barnes’ way, his header then cleared off the line by Dean Moxey as the game really burst into life. Then in the 70th minute, disaster struck. Yannick Bolasie chased down an overhit crossfield pass. He delivered a ball into the box where Wilfried Zaha had run free of his marker Wayne Bridge. Zaha’s header was six yards out and centre of goal, he couldn’t miss and Crystal Palace took the lead. Aaron Wilbraham squandered a couple of decent chances before the final nail in the coffin came from Zaha again with two minutes to go. With his back to goal he rolled Gordon Greer with ease to absolutely thunder home a second goal with his left foot in off the woodwork from ten yards out. It was all over, the fans poured out as the rain poured down. Crystal Palace would go to Wembley to face Watford. They’d win promotion to the Premier League thanks to an Extra Time penalty from 39-year-old Kevin Phillips. Brighton would press the self-destruct button in the immediate aftermath of this result, as Gus Poyet, Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway would all lose their jobs following a suspension and an internal disciplinary investigation. The full details of this may never emerge from what happened that night but it was a terrible shame to end such an incredible reign in that way. The final match of the Gus Poyet era drew to a close, the hunt now began for a new manager to start again on the trail for that elusive Premier League place.

BRIGHTON 0 CRYSTAL PALACE 2
Zaha (2)

PAL Replay

PREVIOUS; #45 CRYSTAL PALACE 0-0 BRIGHTON 10/05/2013

NEXT; #47 READING 0-0 BRIGHTON 15/09/2013

#45: Crystal Palace 0-0 Brighton 10/05/2013

#45 CRYSTAL PALACE 0-0 BRIGHTON Championship Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg
Friday 10th May 2013 Image result for

CPA Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Matt Lawrence & Craig Mackail-Smith
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
7.45pm Kick Off; Selhurst Park, Croydon     7.30-10pm Play Offs 2013 Live on Sky Sports 1

CPA Ident CPA Sponsor CPA Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton had reached the Championship Play Offs in their second season back in the Division. The upwards trajectory under Gus Poyet continued, having raised the Seagulls away from the relegation zone in his first few months in charge, following that up with the League One title in his first full season, finishing a very respectable tenth in the second tier last season and now this, fourth place and into the Play Offs. The Albion had been in the top ten since August, briefly leading the way in September before a poor run of form drawing too many games saw them slide down the table. Form improved after Christmas and following a hard-fought win over eventual runners-up Hull City in our last televised match in February, Brighton found the consistency to catapult them into the top six. A Play Off place was confirmed in the final away match of the season with victory at Leeds and fourth was secured with a last day win at home to relegated Wolves. Just three League defeats in twenty-two matches this calendar year means Brighton are the form side of the four. Their opponents also happened to be their fiercest rivals Crystal Palace. They had hopes of an automatic spot in December but despite form slipping, they had been in the top six ever since October. They were in danger of dropping out of the Play Offs having not won in nine matches ahead of the final day of the season. A last-minute winner over Peterborough kept the Eagles in fifth place in dramatic style. Whilst Brighton had the best defence in the League, scoring goals wasn’t always straightforward with only Craig Mackail-Smith in double figures. Sky Sports televised every single Play Off game Live this season, meaning tonight’s clash took place under the lights on a warm Friday night in Croydon.

CPA Palace CPA Subs CPA Brighton

The Teams: Brighton were without top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith who was a long-term casualty due to an achilles injury. Having guaranteed a Play Off place with a game to spare, Poyet was able to rest key players for last week’s win over Wolves. Five changes were made to tonight’s line-up, bringing back core midfielders Dean Hammond, Will Buckley and Andrea Orlandi. Wayne Bridge returned after a slight injury and on the other flank Inigo Calderon came straight back in after a one-match suspension for a red card against Leeds. The best defence in the Championship was aided by former England defender Matt Upson, who slotted seamlessly into the side alongside captain Gordon Greer. Liam Bridcutt was named Albion Player of the Season for the second year running, crucial to why the club’s defence has been so well protected. Options on the bench included Ashley Barnes, Vicente and goalscorer last time out Kazenga LuaLua. Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace side were spearheaded by former Albion striker Glenn Murray. He was inexplicably let go at the end of his contract in 2011 and as a free agent joined our rivals up the road. He was the club’s, and indeed entire League’s, top scorer this season with a fantastic thirty-one goals. The Eagles had lost that winning feeling in the final quarter of the season and made one change from the last-gasp victory on the final day as Jonny Williams replaced Yannick Bolasie – he’s the cousin of LuaLua. Danger man Wilfried Zaha was featuring at this stadium for the final time having already agreed to join Manchester United as incoming manager David Moyes’ first signing. Veteran striker, and no stranger to Play Off heartbreak, Kevin Phillips was on the bench. Refereeing matters was the Premier League’s Michael Oliver.

CPA Thomas CPA Lawrence CPA Mackail-Smith CPA Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: Sky Sports coverage of this Play Off Semi Final First Leg clash came on-air fifteen minutes before the 7.45pm kick off. Main Football League host Simon Thomas presented from the studio in the corner at Selhurst Park. The graphics were mainly the same as the regular season, with the addition of the ‘Play Offs 2013’ logo added. Club crests would now rotate to have that on one side and the Play Offs badge on the reverse. A specific title sequence was given to all Play Off fixtures with clips of great moments from down the years including Paul Dickov’s equaliser for Manchester City in 1999, Sasa Ilic’s save for Charlton in 1998 and all three of last season’s winners lifting the trophy. The overall look of the sequence and the music remained the same; Candi Staton’s “You got the Love”. The replay transition was the Play Offs trophy, the same that the League One and Two Champions receive. Thomas introduced the show by looking over last night’s other Championship Semi Final between Leicester and Watford before clips of tonight’s two teams played. His guests each represented the sides; Matt Lawrence for Crystal Palace and Craig Mackail-Smith for Brighton. Lawrence played in Palace’s defence for four years from 2006, making over a hundred appearances. He had Play Off experience at this level with Millwall under Mark McGhee back in 2002 and then again with Palace in 2008. Craig Mackail-Smith had a new look for the occasion, having had his trademark long hair shaved off recently. He was out with a serious achilles injury sustained in March that would prevent him from featuring for a long time. He too had Play Off experience having scored for Peterborough during the League One Final in 2011, his last match before joining the Albion. Glenn Murray for the home side and Brighton’s Liam Bridcutt were picked out as key men ahead of the clash, big games expected for both. Football League reporter Jonathan Oakes heard from both managers before the advert break, Poyet keen to stress the approach would be as usual; “the idea is to make sure we are strong enough mentally to play the game the same way.” After the pause, Thomas handed over to the number one League commentary team of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman. Leslie would do all Championship Play Off games, with Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe accompanying him for each of the two pairs of fixtures.

CPA Play Offs CPA Schedule CPA Bridcutt CPA MOTM

At half-time Craig Mackail-Smith thought Poyet would actually be disappointed with the scoreline, Brighton had two great chances to take the lead but didn’t take them. Matt Lawrence saw Crystal Palace’s full-backs as the weakness that Brighton could exploit more in the second half. When the stalemate ended, reporter Jonathan Oakes got instant reaction from Man of the Match once again Liam Bridcutt, and Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha, who played his final game at Selhurst before joining Manchester United. Bridcutt thought it was “a massive result for us” looking forward to the Second Leg with “a bit of an advantage now.” That seemed to be the general consensus; home advantage on Monday could be the deciding factor. Around ten minutes was allowed for post match discussion. Oakes chatted with Poyet who described the second half as “a bit more crazy, a bit more open and those are the games that are difficult to defend”, having been frustrated that his side didn’t take the lead in the first half. The injury to Glenn Murray was one of the talking points in the studio, how much he would be missed for the Second Leg but oddly it sparked Zaha into life having been largely anonymous before. There were several incidents of shirt-pulling ahead of corners and free-kicks, with Matt Lawrence believing Palace should’ve had a penalty for one of them. A rather sombre Ian Holloway spoke before the programme came off-air, clearly disappointed with the two injuries and not taking an advantage but “it’s all set for Monday night.” And following that we were done, all eyes would be on the return fixture Live on Sky Sports.

CPA Kick Off CPA Comms CPA Hammond header CPA Sub

Story of the Match: Brighton wore their change kit of luminous green and black stripes. The atmosphere was terrific as both sets of supporters were in full voice, albeit nervously, for this huge Play Off clash. The first chance fell Leo Ulloa’s way with a header six yards out from a free kick. He mistimed it as the flag spared any potential blushes calling offside. Minutes later he saw another header fly wide following a cross on the left-wing from Wayne Bridge. It was an encouraging opening six minutes for the Albion, the striker just needed to work on his direction. Young midfielder Jonny Williams had the first goalward effort for Crystal Palace, his long-range shot going wide. In the twentieth minute a golden chance was carved out by the Albion. Buckley did really well up against Delaney on the right-wing, beating his man for pace and getting a great cross in. Waiting centre of goal was Dean Hammond unmarked six yards out. His header had power but lacking in placement as it went straight at Julian Speroni in-goal who reacted well to keep it out. What a chance to take the lead. Hammond then had a strike that he sliced wide of the goal and too high for any attacking head to deflect home. At the other end Palace had attempts blocked when Brighton threw bodies on the line. It was tight and tense out there. Inigo Calderon picked up a yellow card just before half time for a late trip on Williams, meaning he’d need to err on the side of caution for the rest of the contest. Consequently, for the second half Palace switched Zaha from the right to the left flank to go toe-to-toe, as Wayne Bridge gave him absolutely nothing in the first. The change immediately brought the home side into the game, Zaha fired a ball right across the face of goal which both Murray and Williams were close to making contact. Dean Hammond remained the Albion’s biggest goal threat. A David Lopez set piece was met by Hammond’s head but he was offside and it was kept out by Speroni. The second period was much more even, one side attacked then the other would in turn. Palace nearly got the opener from Danny Gabbidon’s header, however Kuszczak was alert to it and got it away with the help of Orlandi on the line. Set pieces were the only way of conjuring shots on target. With twenty-five minutes to go Glenn Murray seriously injured his knee twisting in the box, he fell down in agony under no challenge and had to be stretchered off. The incident kept him out for the rest of the calendar year and beyond. Several long stoppages for injuries resulted in six minutes of added on time. Alas, nothing could separate the Eagles and the Seagulls tonight, as the First Leg came to a goalless close. Brighton would be the happier side ahead of the Second Leg, aware of their excellent home record. There wasn’t long to wait for the rematch; just three nights until the conclusion at The Amex on Monday. If you can bear it.

CPA Coming Up

CRYSTAL PALACE 0 BRIGHTON 0

CPA Replay

PREVIOUS; #44 BRIGHTON 1-0 HULL 09/02/2013

NEXT; #46 BRIGHTON 0-2 CRYSTAL PALACE 13/05/2013

#42: Brighton 1-3 Watford 29/12/2012

#42 BRIGHTON 1-3 WATFORD Championship
Saturday 29th December 2012 Image result for

WAT Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Andy Hinchcliffe
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
5.20pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     5-8pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 2

WAT Ident WAT Sponsor #42 Watford 29/12/2012

Context of the Match: Since the last televised match at home to Leeds at the start of November, Brighton’s form had dipped somewhat. Just three wins followed; against Peterborough, Huddersfield and Bristol City all in the bottom half of the table. There were very few defeats – just one in eleven – but the draws stalled the upwards momentum, with seven in the same period. Goals were at a premium too. Top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith was the difference when Brighton beat Watford at Vicarage Road earlier in the season with a penalty kick. Tonight’s opponents were managed by former Chelsea striker, and one of Gus Poyet’s good friends, Gianfranco Zola. The Italian took charge in July following the club’s takeover by Giampaolo Pozzo, owner of both Granada in Spain and Udinese of Serie A. Consequently several players were brought in on loan from those clubs to Watford, part of an incredible fourteen loanees in total. Zola’s side sat in sixth place on thirty-seven points whilst the Albion were three points behind in tenth. The Championship earned itself a ruthless reputation with two managers leaving their jobs this week alone, and another one during this match as Keith Hill was sacked by Barnsley. That brought the total to more than a third of the Division to have changed boss this season. Just three days after Christmas, who would be getting some festive cheer come full-time tonight?

WAT Brighton WAT Watford WAT Subs

The Teams: Unusually for the Christmas period, Brighton had enjoyed an eleven day break before this match as the trip to Blackburn last week was called off just a few hours before kick off due to the weather. Three changes were made from the previous outing – a two-all draw with Millwall. Bruno returned at right-back and Andrea Orlandi came in to the attack. Kazenga LuaLua scored last time out and was rewarded with his first start today since October. Up top Craig Mackail-Smith was still being heavily relied on to produce the goods, he’s this season’s top scorer with ten. The back line of Kuszczak, El-Abd, Greer and Bridge were solid and settled all season. In front of them David Lopez started on the right-wing, another part of the Spanish revolution. Brighton signed Will Buckley from Watford but he was absent today, whilst Will Hoskins spent three years with the Hornets. He was named as substitute. Gianfranco Zola’s side largely comprised loan signings, with fourteen of the squad belonging to other clubs including six who started here. Vydra, Abdi and Ekstrand were all on loan from Udinese. Nathaniel Chalobah temporarily moved across London from Chelsea. Of the players they did own, Manuel Almunia in-goal had Champions League experience with Arsenal, ‘One Size’ Fitz Hall was in the defence, whilst Jonathan Hogg linked up again with his former Aston Villa youth teammate Troy Deeney. The latter had served almost three months in prison earlier this year for his part in a brawl, returning to professional football at the end of September. Enforcing the law today was Oliver Langford.

WAT Thomas WAT Hinchcliffe WAT Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: First choice presenter Simon Thomas hosted coverage from the studio within The Amex North Stand offices, alongside Sky Sports pundit and regular co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe. The former England, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City left-back was a familiar voice on Sky’s League coverage over the past three years, rising to second choice co-commentator behind Don Goodman in recent times. Saturday nights at 5.20pm was the regular kick-off time for the past six seasons in a bid to take viewers away from the 5.30pm Premier League game on firstly Setanta and then ESPN by starting those extra ten minutes earlier. Prior to 2007, Sky owned Live top-flight rights exclusively so, as much as possible, clashes between matches were avoided however a more aggressive tactic was adopted when competitors arrived. With today’s broadcast coming just four days after Christmas, Sky still had all their festive branding on the idents and ‘Coming Up’ graphics featuring those animated snowmen who were seen for many years. The programme came on-air at 5pm, just after the final whistles went around the country at the 3pm matches. This allowed for enough time to discuss the rest of the Division, look at the results as well as build-up to the main event kicking off twenty minutes later.

WAT Poyet v Zola WAT Duo WAT Coming Up WAT Stats

Increasingly, big name players in the 90s and early 21st Century retired and began managing in the lower Leagues. We witnessed that earlier this season when Paolo di Canio’s Swindon side knocked Brighton out of the League Cup. Today’s opposition Watford were managed by Gianfranco Zola, the former Italy and Chelsea hero. He played for the Blues when Gus Poyet was there so the pair knew each other very well. This formed the basis of the introduction, billed as Poyet v Zola. There was then a pre-recorded VT with the two managers reminiscing about their playing days before going head-to-head in a quiz about each other, in the style of ITV gameshow Mr and Mrs, with Gus the victor. Poyet’s incredible volley for Chelsea against Sunderland from the opening day of the 1999/00 season got an airing, perhaps his finest goal, aided by a wonderful flick over the defence from Zola. Poyet described him as the best player he’d ever played with.

WAT Split Screen WAT Analysis WAT Goals WAT Results

After the pre-match advert break, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with the two managers in the tunnel, with these being played in on a split-screen also showing the teams leaving the tunnel. The talking was done, time to hand over to the first choice commentary team of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, with Leslie talking us through the team line-ups. During the half time break Thomas and Hinchcliffe looked through the numerous half-chances both sides had, stating the ones Watford enjoyed were more clear-cut and created the better attacks. Eighteen-year-old Chalobah in particular was singled out. Straight after the match, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with Man of the Match from Watford Nathaniel Chalobah and goalscorer Troy Deeney in the centre circle. Around twenty-five minutes were afforded to the post-match show after the break. This incorporated a review of the match as well as a look at some of the Championship goals from earlier today. Andy Hinchcliffe’s an excellent analyst. He explains why rather than just how something happened and he has great tactical knowledge as well as being up to speed with the entire Division. The usual interviews with the managers followed. Gus Poyet thought his side were a bit too open in the first half, tried to change it in the second in an attempt to go and win but three mistakes led to goals, going on to say Watford deserved the win. Hinchcliffe spoke of Brighton’s need for a further centre-forward to bolster the attack but pointed out that’s exactly what six or seven other clubs will be desperate for too. Recruitment would not be easy. The final ten minutes of the programme were devoted to that goals round-up and a preview of what’s to come in 2013 on Sky Sports before another slick broadcast came to an end.

WAT Kick Off WAT Comms WAT Penalty WAT Interview

Story of the Match: The rain poured down over the Sussex Downs for this Saturday teatime clash. Brighton fans were just happy to see the game go ahead after last week’s late postponement in Blackburn and the Boxing Day fixture was brought forward to the week before. Their first real chance of this match was through Andrew Crofts. Bridge and LuaLua combined on the left, the winger played a ball into the centre where Orlandi was waiting to pull the trigger. He slipped on the wet surface but behind him was Crofts who blazed over. The early stages were played mostly in the middle, with neither side going all out on the attack. The Albion enjoyed a lot of the possession but Watford looked more dangerous on the counter. Some neat one-touch passes from Chalobah, Vydra and Deeney was rounded off by a shot from Hogg, forcing Kuszczak into a save in the twenty-fifth minute. There was praise for Liam Bridcutt, from both commentators and fans alike. He often went unsung during matches but always a vital part of protecting the back-line that was so key to the Albion’s success. Just before the break, Craig Mackail-Smith ran in behind the defence on the far side of the penalty area, played the ball right across the face of goal and it took a vital interception to prevent David Lopez tapping home. In stoppage time another neat passing move between Vydra and Chalobah resulted in Kuszczak having to dive down low to his left to tip Vydra’s shot behind. And the final action of the half saw Deeney head wide from a very good central position. The warning signs were there as Watford grew into the match. Eight minutes into the second half the away side got their breakthrough. Pudil picked up the ball near the half way line and charged down the centre. He had Troy Deeney for company, the ball through needed a touch to set himself before Deeney fired under the legs of the ‘keeper and in for the fiftieth League goal of his career. Brighton needed a lifeline. They were given it with twenty-five minutes remaining when Wayne Bridge played a ball through for LuaLua which goalkeeper Almunia appeared to come and claim. However he spilt it and in the ensuing scramble defender Hoban tripped LuaLua for a penalty. Up stepped David Lopez to score his second penalty in as many games to bring Brighton level. The power and placement gave his fellow Spaniard no chance and the crowd found their voice again. It lasted just over two minutes before Watford regained the lead. Matej Vydra had been dangerous all match and he was given space to shoot from around twenty-five yards. It took a huge looping deflection off El-Abd to lob Kuszczak. And it got even worse a minute later from another counter attack. Watford cleared the ball up to Deeney waiting twenty yards inside his own half. He swiveled and played the ball on for Vydra, whose lightning pace was not matched by any Brighton defender as he left them all in his wake. He was able to dribble the ball to the edge of the box before unleashing a lethal finish in the corner to seal the match. End-to-end football at its most clinical and that’s how the scoreline finished. The Albion shouldn’t have been too disheartened by the result, Watford were excellent and particularly deadly on the break. The biggest issue was up front, where if Mackail-Smith was creating the chance or putting in the cross, there wouldn’t be anybody to finish it off. And if he didn’t score, goals weren’t forthcoming. A new striker in the January transfer window was much-needed for the Seagulls to soar up the Championship table.

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 3
Lopez Deeney, Vydra (2)

WAT Replay WAT Goal

PREVIOUS; #41 BRIGHTON 2-2 LEEDS 02/11/2012

NEXT; #43 BRIGHTON 2-0 NEWCASTLE 05/01/2013

#40: Swindon 3-0 Brighton 14/08/2012

#40 SWINDON 3-0 BRIGHTON Capital One Cup Round One
Tuesday 14th August 2012 Image result for

SWI Titles

PRESENTER Ben Shephard GUEST Dennis Wise
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
7.45pm Kick Off; County Ground, Swindon     7.30-10pm Capital One Cup Live on Sky Sports 1

SWI Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton enjoyed a tremendously successful first season in the new stadium at Falmer last campaign. They knocked out Sunderland and narrowly lost to Liverpool in the League Cup, reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup for the second successive season, defeating Premier League Newcastle en route before again coming unstuck against Liverpool. And the bread and butter of the League almost resulted in a Play Off spot, instead finishing tenth just nine points shy of the top six. The aim this season would be to go one better, as signalled in pre-season when FA Cup and European Champions Chelsea were beaten in a friendly at The Amex. Not bad at all for a club that almost dropped into the basement Division just three years ago. Since Gus Poyet arrived in November 2009 he had transformed the team from relegation fodder to Champions and further promotion seekers, as well as installing a passing philosophy which on its day was an absolute joy to watch. The stadium was the next piece of the puzzle, with the superb training ground facilities to follow. The whole country was still on a high after the incredible London 2012 Olympic Games which finished two days before this match. The new football season was upon us and, unusually, it would be the League Cup tie – now rebranded from Carling to the Capital One Cup – to kick off the new year as the first League matches weren’t taking place until the following Saturday. Brighton conducted some strong summer transfer business, improving on a decent, settled squad all playing in the Poyet way. Their first opponents would come in the shape of Swindon Town, newly promoted as Champions of League Two. They too had a big former Premiership star as their manager, with the fiery Paolo di Canio in the hot seat. As well as the title in his first season, he took the team to Wembley for the Final of the Football League Trophy where they lost out to Chesterfield. The Robins and the Seagulls had recent history of course, with two nerve-shredding Division Two Play-Off Semi Final encounters back in 2004. Brighton edged it on penalties then on the way to promotion. Who would emerge victorious in the August sunshine tonight?

SWI Swindon SWI Subs SWI Brighton

The Teams: Gus Poyet handed competitive debuts to three new signings. Bruno Saltor joined after being released by La Liga side Valencia. The Spanish right-back brought a wealth of top flight experience with him. On the other flank, former England defender Wayne Bridge was recruited on a season-long loan deal from Premier League Champions Manchester City. Bridge had thirty-six international caps and began his career at Southampton when former Albion boss Micky Adams spotted and recommended him to the club. Behind them was a new goalkeeper, also with experience at the highest level. Tomasz Kuszczak was released by Manchester United in the summer after six years at Old Trafford, winning the Premier League, League Cup and Champions League amongst other things. These three signings were major statements from Brighton that they meant business this year and weren’t just going to settle for mid-table consolidation. The Premier League dream was real, with Kuszczak citing that as a reason for joining the club. Midfielder Andrew Crofts re-joined after two years at Norwich but didn’t make tonight’s squad as he was with Wales on international duty. Attacker Vicente felt like a new signing, having only appeared nineteen times last season through injury. The biggest challenge with him was remaining injury-free. Vicente started this one. The substitutes bench included the name Charlie Oatway. No, our former midfielder hadn’t joined assistant Mauricio Taricco in stepping out of retirement, this was actually the son of our beloved First Team Coach. Skipper Gordon Greer would play against the side he left to join Brighton in 2010. Paolo di Canio’s side included the League Two Player of the Year Matt Ritchie in midfield. The manager named Alan McCormack as the new club captain, having moved him last season from the middle to the back where he formed a decent understanding with highly-rated Aden Flint. Hoping he could get one over the team that released him in the close season was Alan Navarro making his Swindon debut. Taking charge of this evening’s clash was Andy D’Urso.

SWI Shephard SWI Wise SWI Studio

Presentation Team: Ben Shephard was at the helm for Sky’s coverage of the Capital One Cup. This was his second year hosting the competition and also did our last game; at home to Liverpool in Round Three. Shephard came from a light-entertainment background hosting the likes of The Bigger BreakfastGMTV, The Krypton Factor and Tipping Point. On Sky he worked alongside Chris Kamara on Goals on Sunday for two seasons and counting, as well as Live UEFA Champions League secondary matches. His guest tonight was Dennis Wise. During his playing career he was a big part of the ‘Crazy Gang’ that upset the odds to beat ‘Culture Club’ Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final before spending more than a decade at Chelsea. This coincided with Poyet’s time with the Blues where they both lifted the FA Cup in 2000. Later that year Wise played for England at the disastrous Euro 2000 tournament. Following retirement he moved into management at today’s hosts Swindon in 2006, with Gus Poyet his assistant. The pair started brilliantly, with Wise named August’s Manager of the Month. Shortly afterwards, Leeds United came calling and the pair left for Elland Road at the end of October after just fifteen matches. In the commentary box were Sky’s number one Football League pairing, as they had been for the past six years, of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman. Reporting on the touchline was a new name to Brighton’s Live television coverage; Jonathan Oakes. He joined the roster of reporters from this season, with former Football League interviewer Patrick Davison moving up to the Premier League to join Geoff Shreeves and Greg Whelan. Previously Oakes had reported for Sky Sports News.

SWI Managers Intro SWI Split Screen SWI Kick Off SWI Comms

The Coverage: Sky Sports opened its Live coverage of the domestic season the previous night, with Oldham versus Sheffield Wednesday from the newly-rebranded Capital One Cup. With the end of the London Olympics still fresh in the air, the football season delayed its start to the following week so all eyes were on that, meaning these midweek Cup games kick-started everybody’s 2012/13 campaign. Despite the rebrand of the competition, not a lot else changed from a broadcasting perspective. Sky’s graphics were as they were last season, with the red and black colours for the Football League and the blue and black for the Premier League. The title sequence was similar to before culminating at Wembley stadium and included a clip of Mackail-Smith’s header that beat Sunderland last season. And for the ninth year in a row, Texas classic “Inner Smile” was the League Cup theme tune. Pre-match build up began fifteen minutes before the 7.45pm kick off, with Ben Shephard hosting from pitchside throughout the entire broadcast. He was joined by Dennis Wise and the trophy itself as they made the most of the August weather. Much of the discussion focussed on the two former Premier League greats facing off in the dugouts. Reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke to the pair in the tunnel. Poyet wanted to stress the seriousness of his side’s attitude to the competition; “We don’t want anyone to think Brighton’s coming here and still in pre-season. Today’s the first official game and we need to play, compete.” This was backed up by naming his first-choice line-up.

SWI Classic Match SWI Goalflash

It was forty-three years since one of Swindon Town’s finest moments; defeating Arsenal in the Final of this competition after Extra Time. Scorer that day Don Rogers talked us through the black-and-white footage before the ad break, after which Shephard ran through tonight’s fixtures and handed over to commentator Bill Leslie for the line-ups; missing their pictures as they’re only done for Championship clubs and above. Throughout the match, goal flashes appeared in the bottom left of the screen updating us on the night’s other Capital One Cup games. The half-time analysis highlighted Brighton’s superior attack but praised the home side for still being very much in the contest yet were lacking that attacking threat. Having watched the match from the stands in front of the Swindon chairman, Shephard and Wise made their way back to the touchline for the ten or so minutes of the post-match show. Reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with Man of the Match Alan Navarro, who described getting revenge over his old side tonight as “a dream come true”. Winning boss di Canio joined the team pitchside, following in the style of ESPN’s FA Cup coverage. The trio became a foursome when Gus Poyet went over too for an extremely rare sight of opposing managers speaking on camera together. He said the positive to take away from tonight’s result would be “there are no more Cup games”, comparing it to when his side won League One in 2010 they exited both Cups in the First Round. It certainly was a good spin on things. The two managers remained with the presentation team until the programme came off-air just before 10pm having ran through some of the other results.

SWI Di Canio SWI Bridge SWI Goal SWI Interviews

Story of the Match: Standing in the sunshine behind the goal must have brought back fond memories for the Seagulls supporters who made the trip to Wiltshire for this Cup clash. It was Richard Carpenter’s deflected effort which won the Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg here eight years earlier on the way to the Millennium Stadium. The Albion came close to a goal when Ashley Barnes had one disallowed in the eighth minute for a shove on the defender. He hit the post minutes later after a long swinging corner from Vicente found the striker at the back post, the ball just a bit too long as it was almost out of play before the contact was made. Debutant Bruno was channelling his inner Terry Butcher, obtaining a cut on his head causing blood to pour out and a makeshift patch-up by the medics pitchside. Ten minutes before the break it was almost a debut goal from the Spaniard, finding himself forward on the far side of the box he unleashed a fierce first-time drive which the ‘keeper needed strong hands to palm away. Brighton looked quite comfortable and on the front foot. In stoppage time Vicente embarked on a terrific run, the ball seemingly stuck to his feet, as he weaved through the defence. Every time he had the ball he showed that little bit of class to separate him from the rest. His cut back gave Barnes another shooting opportunity but the ‘keeper was equal to it to maintain parity at the break. The breakthrough came eight minutes into the second period, however it was the home side who got it with their first meaningful chance. Alan Navarro started off a clever free-kick routine which involved three short passes to cut open the defence before Paul Benson finished from six yards. The quick first-time touches to move the ball on saw Brighton bodies standing still as the routine breezed around them. The goal was the catalyst for the classic ‘game of two halves’ as Brighton rarely posed a threat after this, other than Vicente. Swindon grew in confidence and belief. They doubled their lead with twenty-five left to play. A long ball forward from Foderingham in-goal was flicked on to Williams, he spun round Gordon Greer into the box before Navarro took over to finish the move with an instant finish from twelve yards. He wrapped the match up, if it hadn’t been already, when his deflected long-ranger made it three-nil ten minutes later. Navarro netted just once in eighty-five games for the Albion, but now had two in ten minutes for his new club. Before the League had even begun Brighton were dumped out of a Cup. There would be much bigger fish to fry this season however.

SWI Results

SWINDON 3 BRIGHTON 0
Benson, Navarro (2)

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