Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 2

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

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


Tour of new Training Ground in Lancing

SportsHub, BT Sport 1 (14th February 2014)

HUB Titles HUB Presenters

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

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

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

HUB Entrance HUB Perry

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

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

HUB Forster-Caskey HUB Orlandi

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

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

HUB Corridor HUB Replica pitch

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

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

HUB Building site HUB Studio

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

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


2

Craig Mackail-Smith’s injury rehab

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

FL1 Titles FL1 Studio

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

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

FL1 CMS

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

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

FL1 Rehab FL1 Family

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

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

FL1 Training FL1 Barker

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

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

FL1 Leeds win FL1 Fixtures

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

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


3

Brighton 1-2 Wigan Report

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

WIGH Titles WIGH Clemmit

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

WIGH Clem WIGH Garcia

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

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

WIGH Barber WIGH Reporter

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

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

WIGH McArthur goal WIGH McCann goal

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

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

WIGH Ulloa goal WIGH Studio

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

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

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


4

Brighton 1-1 Reading Highlights

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

READ Titles READ Studio

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

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

READ Teams.JPG

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

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

READ Comm READ Own Goal

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

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

READ Greer red card READ Drenthe goal

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

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

READ Corner Post READ Full Time

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

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

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


5

Push for the Play Offs

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

FL2 Titles FL2 Studio

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

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

FL2 Garcia

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

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

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

FL2 Blackpool FL2 Ulloa

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

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


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

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

 

#50: Brighton 1-1 Hull 17/02/2014

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

HUL Titles

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

HUL Promo HUL In Play Bet HUL Intro

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

HUL Brighton HUL Hull HUL Formations

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

HUL Currie HUL James HUL Bullard HUL Pitchside

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

HUL Dugout HUL On Pitch

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

HUL Tunnel HUL VT StatsHUL Naylor HUL Back of the tunnel

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

HUL Ulloa pre match HUL View from the tunnel

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

HUL BT Box HUL Possession HUL Upson HUL Lifes A Pitch

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

HUL Kick Off HUL Comms  HUL Sub HUL Goal

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

HUL Yellow Card HUL Equaliser

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

HUL Quarter Finals

BRIGHTON 1 HULL 1
Ulloa Sagbo

HUL Replay HUL Replay Outro

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