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.

 

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

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

59BOU Titles

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

59BOU Ident 59BOU Sponsor 59BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

59BOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

59BOU Subs 59BOU Bournemouth

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

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

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

 

THE COVERAGE & PRESENTATION TEAM

59BOU Thomas 59BOU Anderton

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

59BOU Pitchside 59BOU Hughton split screen

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

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

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

59BOU Carayol 59BOU Studio

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

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

59BOU Match Stats 59BOU Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

59BOU Kick Off 59BOU Comms

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

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

59BOU Kermorgant goal 59BOU Wilson goal

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

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

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

59BOU Top 59BOU Bottom

BRIGHTON 0 BOURNEMOUTH 2
Kermorgant, Wilson

59BOU Replay

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

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

#57: Brighton 0-1 Millwall 12/12/2014

#57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL Championship
Friday 12th December 2014 Image result for

57MIL Titles

PRESENTER Natalie Sawyer GUESTS David Prutton & Keith Andrews
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Garry Birtles REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

57MIL Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

It was proving to be a very difficult introduction to Sami Hyypia’s managerial career in England. Back-to-back Championship defeat sent the Seagulls into the drop zone in the opening weeks but had plateaued to just above there after that. However, defeat at home to Fulham at the end of November saw the team sink back into the red again where they sat ahead of tonight’s crunch clash with fellow strugglers Millwall. Time and patience were wearing incredibly thin, with supporters already calling for the manager’s head. Hyypia had just three League victories in the campaign to his name; away at Leeds and home to Bolton back in August was followed by an eleven-match winless streak.

A one-nil defeat of Wigan Athletic in the first midweek of November, thanks to a first-minute Gary Gardner strike, provided three absolutely vital points but five weeks later and it hadn’t been matched. Two draws and two abject defeats followed to place Brighton in twenty-second. The problem wasn’t necessarily losing matches, it was the sheer number of draws which hampered progress. Nine of the last sixteen fixtures ended all square, with a real lack of potency in the final third clear to see. The club didn’t replace Leonardo Ulloa when he was sold up to Leicester in pre-season, instead investing the £8million fee somewhat cheaply on unproven Championship strikers Sam Baldock, Adrian Colunga and Chris O’Grady. Between them the trio had scored just three goals, whilst centre back Lewis Dunk led the way on five in all competitions.

A whole host of loan players were brought in as a bid to improve performances, but the rules stated a maximum of five were allowed in the matchday squad at any one time, forcing certain players to miss out. The combination of not owning much of your squad with a huge number of injuries spelt trouble for a club that went so close to the Premier League in each of the previous two campaigns. Not many had anticipated such a drop in results.

Tonight’s opposition Millwall however, were far more used to this. They only narrowly survived the drop last time, changing managers half way through in the process. The 2014/15 season began far brighter with three wins in the opening five games, and progression to the Second Round of the League Cup. Form dropped off completely in September, losing four out of five. Going into the clash at The Amex, Millwall were in a dreadful run of form having won just once in fifteen. Sky Sports, perhaps in gallows humour, selected this fixture for Live broadcast on a cold, Friday night in December.

 

THE TEAMS

57MIL Brighton

Goalkeeper David Stockdale transferred from Fulham over the summer to come straight in as first choice following the release of Tomasz Kuszczak. However, he was forced to miss much of last month through injury. Spanish right-back Bruno missed even longer, as injury set him back six weeks but was fighting fit again. Today’s captain Lewis Dunk was partnered by former Colchester and Portsmouth centre-half Greg Halford. He was drafted in on loan from Nottingham Forest and made his Albion starting debut tonight covering in Gordon Greer’s absence. Left-back Adam Chicksen made the move from MK Dons eighteen months ago but struggled to maintain a first team place; behind Stephen Ward last season and Joe Bennett this. Chicksen went out on loan to Gillingham to gain playing minutes but was recalled prematurely just the day before tonight’s clash. With the maximum of five loan players in the starting line-up, Joe Bennett had to be left out.

Jake Forster-Caskey only missed one League match thus far in the middle of the park, whilst Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira hadn’t started since the last win; against Wigan in the first week of November. Elliott Bennett won the League One title with the Albion back in 2011, earning himself a place in the Divisional Team of the Season en route, but then left Sussex for Premier League Norwich. After initial success there, injuries impacted his place; starting just twice during the Canaries relegation season in 2014. With spots limited, he re-joined Brighton on loan after the televised Bournemouth defeat. Winger Solly March started half of last season’s League games but didn’t feature in the side this campaign until last time out in the defeat to Derby due to a back injury.

The man charged with stopping the Seagulls rot in front of goal was the experienced Darren Bent. The Villa forward came in on a month’s loan and scored on debut in the defeat at Fulham two weeks ago. His top flight experience with the likes of Ipswich, Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland, as well as thirteen senior England caps, provided contrast to a fairly youthful side. The bench included Adrian Colunga, who had just two goals to his name to date, and Paddy McCourt, a summer transfer from relegated Barnsley.

57MIL Millwall 57MIL Subs

Ian Holloway returned to The Amex for the first time as a manager since that disastrous Play Off Semi Final in 2013, having taken over at Millwall in January. He guided the Lions to Championship safety in nineteenth, four points above the drop. He brought in striker Lee Gregory from Halifax and Everton midfielder Magaye Gueye over the break. Goalkeeper David Forde became the Republic of Ireland’s oldest ever debutant when he started in a goalless draw at Sweden in 2013, aged thirty-three.

Defender Danny Shittu won promotion to this Division under Ian Holloway in 2004, the year when Albion joined them via the Play Offs. Centre back partner Mark Beevers was targeted by Rotherham over the summer but their bid was rejected. Martyn Woolford was a regular in the middle having joined eighteen months ago from Bristol City. Spanish midfielder Angel Martinez was at Blackpool with Holloway and the pair were reunited at Millwall for his debut tonight. Substitute options included former Yeovil midfielder Ed Upson and Jamaican international striker Ricardo Fuller. Refereeing the contest was James Linington.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

57MIL Sawyer 57MIL Studio

Natalie Sawyer was once again at the helm for Brighton’s Live Championship match, following her first Seagulls game last month. Having begun hosting Leagues 1 and 2 and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy coverage last season, her role expanded to include some Championship games this season as number two behind Simon Thomas. This was previously the job of George Gavin, who very occasionally still covered Live matches, but was more regularly used to voice round-ups and present FL72 Preview and Review programming.

Joining Sawyer in the studio at The Amex was David Prutton and Keith Andrews. Prutton was Sky’s new signing this season, having retired from playing following a short spell with Coventry. The midfielder began at Nottingham Forest, coming through the youth system, spending five years in the East Midlands before moving up to the Premier League at Southampton. He spent three years at both Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, amongst other Football League teams, before bringing his career to a close over the summer. As well as punditing on Sky’s FL72 Live and magazine programming, he was an in-vision reporter on Gillette Soccer Saturday travelling around the country covering the lower Leagues.

Keith Andrews spent the whole of last season on loan with Brighton under Oscar Garcia, making thirty-five appearances. His solitary Albion goal came against Sheffield Wednesday in October 2013. He returned to parent club Bolton following our Play Offs defeat to Derby, but with first team opportunities looking unlikely, Andrews joined Championship side Watford on loan towards the end of July. The Republic of Ireland midfielder earned thirty-five caps for his country, including all three matches at Euro 2012 before being sent off in the defeat to Italy. Despite this, he was named Ireland’s Player of the Year for 2012. The 2014/15 campaign would be his final one before retirement.

57MIL Andrews 57MIL Prutton

In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Garry Birtles. Mann was firmly second choice in the Football League behind Bill Leslie, but with Leslie also covering some top flight Live action, Mann’s opportunities increased each season. He was Sky’s voice of 3D commentaries for the previous four years, but the project was quietly dropped by Sky now due to a lack of uptake. Garry Birtles had been involved in Sky’s League commentaries for over a decade, dating back to the opening day of the 2003/04 season. Whilst he had been overtaken by the likes of Don Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe in recent seasons, Birtles still did a wide range of football including Premier League 3pm world feed matches, La Liga and international matches. He also was a regular in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and Leagues 1 & 2.

The final member of the on-air team for tonight’s clash was reporter David Craig. He was a long-standing part of Sky’s reporting roster, primarily for Sky Sports News. This expanded to Live match interviewing as of last season, reporting on Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and under-16 international Victory Shield games, as well as the second choice on the Football League.

 

THE COVERAGE

57MIL Ident 57MIL Sponsor

Friday nights were a regular slot for Live FL72 action, as well as Saturday 12.15pm to go head-to-head with BT Sport’s top flight lunchtime games. The programme began fifteen minutes prior to the 7.45pm kick-off, hosted from the stadium studio at The Amex towards the corner of the North Stand. Throughout the month of December, Sky Sports used special Christmas themed idents, as was now tradition for them. The famous animated snowmen of yesteryear were a distant memory, instead focussing now on snow-topped streets with the logo prominently place and commentary from a classic match over the top. Lights displayed the message “Merry Christmas”. After the Screwfix sponsor bumpers and the “Run Boy Run” title sequence, new for this season, the programme was underway.

Host Natalie Sawyer emphasised the contrast in fortunes for supporters of the Seagulls who, for the past two seasons, were more used to the battle at the top than avoiding the drop. Millwall, on the other hand, had appointed a manager more used to getting teams out of this Division but were desperately fighting just to stay in it this time. A glance at the League table showed the precarious positions for both, with Albion in the drop zone in twenty-second place and two points from safety. Millwall had twenty points from twenty games, sitting prettier in twentieth spot. “This time last season, Brighton were thirteen points better off and just outside of the top six,” Sawyer compared.

She was joined in the box by guests Keith Andrews and David Prutton. Andrews experienced the Albion during the previous campaign, reaching the Championship Play Offs. The current Watford man was asked what the downturn in form could be attributed to; “You can bring it back to a few seasons of turbulence off the pitch – managerial changes for the last three summers. There’s huge ambition at this football club and it is set up for success and long-term sustainability, but I just think it’s caught up with them a little bit.”

57MIL Bent 57MIL Split screen interview

The studio team picked out a couple of key players to watch out for, including Brighton’s newest striking option Darren Bent. Keith Andrews was expecting Bent to do well at the club, citing “wherever he’s been he has got goals”. David Prutton believed the Albion were “in essence a great team”, with decent possession stats and passing football. Due to the amount of loan signings, they were needing players who could gel quickly. As for Millwall, their key man was signed out of non-League; Lee Gregory from Halifax. The question of if he could make it in the Football League out of the National League was answered using examples that had gone on to better things; Andre Gray at Brentford and Jamie Vardy at Leicester, who also came from Halifax to move up. The pundits both expected the home side to be a threat and have enough to defeat Millwall tonight. With the previewing done, it was time for a quick ad break before the teams were in the tunnel and raring to go.

Just before kick-off, both managers were interviewed by reporter David Craig. Sami Hyypia was asked about the expectation of the job after such a poor start to his reign; “In my playing career, you play under pressure. I think pressure is good to be there.” Ian Holloway explained he made five changes to freshen the squad up after a humiliating defeat the previous week; one which Holloway described as his “worst day in football”. Then it was over the commentary team of Daniel Mann and Garry Birtles to talk us through the first half action, with ‘Sussex By the Sea’ ringing round as the teams walked onto the pitch.

57MIL Coming Up 57MIL Proposal

The half time analysis centred around the goal from Lee Gregory. Pundit David Prutton pointed out the number of players Millwall were getting forward was much greater than when Brighton attacked. When Gregory struck for the goal, there were an additional five yellow shirts in the penalty area. There was praise for Lewis Dunk from Keith Andrews, blocking shots and being “a real leader at the back”. The only success for Brighton probably came away from the game, as a half time proposal from one of the fans made it onto the Sky coverage. Natalie Sawyer name checked them as Kristina Sinclair and Jamie Howell, so congratulations to them. She did say “yes”, by the way.

Straight after the final whistle, reporter David Craig was on the pitch speaking with Man of the Match and Millwall captain, Danny Shittu, alongside goalscorer Lee Gregory. “That’s what this League’s all about. You’ve gotta fight!” said Shittu. After the adverts, around eight minutes or so of the programme were left to wrap things up. The stats presented a slightly different picture than what the scoreline did, with Brighton having more possession, attempts and shots on target. But the lack of bodies in the box and clear-cut chances cost the Albion. The studio team spoke over a montage of half-chances created, with Keith Andrews adding “they lack real clinicalness and ruthlessness. They did create some decent chances, but the confidence is clearly low.”

During his interview with David Craig, Millwall boss Ian Holloway echoed the point about confidence; “It’s all about believing and your performances are what you work for. The last one was awful but we’ve got massive character at this football club, let’s keep going.” Once again, there wasn’t time during the Live broadcast to hear from Sami Hyypia, with Natalie Sawyer directing us towards Sky Sports News for that later on. That is where the broadcast concluded, on a very bleak evening for the Albion. Change was needed. Change would arrive very shortly.

57MIL Stats

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

57MIL Kick Off 57MIL Comms

The visitors, in their change kit of all yellow, kicked off playing from right to left in the first half. Darren Bent was quickly showing what a good player he was, better than this level of football, with intelligent flick ons and lay offs. Unfortunately, a nice move down the left grounded to a halt when it was played back inside to Solly March, who opted for the wrong man in trying to loop it over the defence for Teixeira. Millwall enjoyed a couple of good moves of their own early on too, forcing the defence to work hard to clear the danger. Just before the quarter-hour mark, the Lions broke the deadlock to take a deserved lead through Lee Gregory. Brighton struggled to properly clear from Malone’s cross on the left. It eventually went to Gueye who shaped to shoot on the edge of the box. He got into a tangle and dragged it but it fell kindly into the path of Gregory. With his marker Dunk on his backside, space opened up for Gregory on the right of the six-yard line to just lift it over David Stockdale charging out and nestle into the corner (below left image). Millwall had their opener as the boos began to creep in at The Amex.

The atmosphere worsened as the game went on. Misplaced passes were booed, groans were very audible and patience was wearing thin. Brighton were shading the possession but there was nothing to show for it. Ten minutes after the goal, the Albion tested Millwall ‘keeper David Forde twice in quick succession. Jake Forster-Caskey hit a low drive from almost thirty yards to force Forde into palming away down to his left. The rebound saw Bruno’s cross along the ground couldn’t quite reach Darren Bent, as Forde again got there to deny Brighton. It was the first sign of any intent. Much of the Albion joy was coming from the left, with Teixeira key and Adam Chicksen supporting well. But finding Bent was proving difficult. Indeed, it was the Portuguese winger who made Forde produce another save, stopping his shot from the right this time. Real clear-cut chances were few and far between and at the break, it remained one-nil Millwall.

57MIL Goal 57MIL Sub

A chorus of booing greeted the half-time whistle, whilst a banner was unfurled suggesting Hyypia’s time was up. It also criticised the role of David Burke, the ‘head of football operations, who had been at the club for three years. He had been tasked with recruiting players and his results were, at best, mixed. Under both Hyypia and previous coach Oscar Garcia, high profile stars had been sold on but these were not adequately replaced, consequently making the squad worse. If Brighton had overachieved last season, the reality under Burke was hitting hard this time. Burke was dismissed from his role less than two weeks after this match. The booing continued into the second half, whenever the ball went out of play and Sami Hyypia touched it. Certain sections of the home support wanted their dissatisfaction to be heard. Loudly.

Having been warned about taking his time very early on, Millwall goalie David Forde was booked for timewasting ten minutes after the restart. But it was he who was keeping the Lions in the lead. Brighton’s best chance so far though, a couple of minutes later, required no action from Forde as Solly March blazed a brilliant opportunity high and wide. Adam Chicksen put in a terrific first time cross from the left. It found March unmarked twelve yards out, in line with the near post. He got his shot all wrong as he leant back and allowed it to cannon off his calf to sail over. The England under-21 international really should have done better with that. After sixty-five minutes, March was replaced by Adrian Colunga, back following suspension for his sending off in the defeat here to Fulham.

57MIL Banner

Millwall had very little by way of attack in the final third throughout the second half. They did muster a tame shot with twenty minutes remaining which should have been easy for Stockdale to gather. But, perhaps due to the lack of confidence around the team, he spilled it and had to be quick to gather the loose ball. Albion made a second change, bringing on, according to commentator Daniel Mann, “the maverick talents” of Paddy McCourt, replacing Elliott Bennett in midfield. Within minutes he almost assisted an equaliser. McCourt’s free kick was sent in dangerously towards the back stick. Gary Gardner got his head to it to float it towards the other post but Beevers was there for Millwall to clear in front of the goal line as Bent was waiting for the tap in. The possession was again edged by Brighton, much like in the first half, but that was not being converted to the scoreline. The chants of “We want Sami out!” were audible over the television pictures.

Five minutes were added on at the end of the ninety. A corner presented an opportunity for everyone, including goalie David Stockdale, to get in the box and apply the pressure. Teixeira’s kick woefully didn’t get above waste height and was cleared by the first man. A crossing chance for Adrian Colunga arrived a minute later, with five in blue and white waiting. The cross was too deep and alluded everyone. Frustrations were clear for all to see and hear. It petered out into a sorry, one-nil defeat. The final whistle blew, the boos rang louder than before. “More anguish at The Amex for Brighton”, said Daniel Mann.

57MIL Table

BRIGHTON 0 MILLWALL 1
Gregory

57MIL Replay.JPG

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

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

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

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

FOR Titles

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

FOR Ident FOR Sponsor FOR Intro

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

FOR Forest FOR Subs FOR Brighton

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

FOR Gavin FOR Forster FOR Split Coverage

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

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

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

FOR Goal Split Screen FOR Coming Up FOR Garcia FOR Analysis

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

FOR Kick Off FOR Comms FOR Ward FOR CMS Sub

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

FOR Ulloa Goal FOR Celebrations FOR As It Stands FOR MOTM

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

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

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

FOR Table Top FOR Table Bottom

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BRIGHTON 2
Derbyshire Ward, Ulloa

FOR Replay FOR Goal

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

PRE Studio PRE Permutations

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

PRE Kuszczak PRE Coming Up

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

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

#52: Brighton 2-0 Yeovil 25/04/2014

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

YEO Titles

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

YEO Ident YEO Sponsor YEO Intro

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

YEO Brighton YEO Yeovil YEO Subs

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

YEO Gavin YEO Virgo YEO Kick Off YEO Comms

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

YEO Delay YEO Baker YEO Team YEO Match Stats

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

YEO Mullery YEO Yellow YEO LuaLua YEO Lingard

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

YEO Garcia YEO Table YEO Race for the Play Offs

BRIGHTON 2 YEOVIL 0
LuaLua, Lingard

YEO Replay YEO Goal

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