Small Screen Seagulls; Play Off Final v Notts County, 02/06/1991

Brighton on TVEight years after slipping out of the top flight and reaching the Wembley Final of the FA Cup for the first time, Brighton were poised for a return to the big time. The club were ninety minutes away from getting back into Division One, all that stood in their way were Notts County in the Barclays League Division Two Play Off Final. This was the Albion’s first visit back to the National Stadium since the 1983 Cup Final Replay defeat to Manchester United. Since then, Barry Lloyd had rejuvenated the club and snuck into the Play Offs in sixth position in the Second Tier. Highly rated Neil Warnock was the County boss aiming to thwart Lloyd’s plan. A Sunday out in the Wembley sunshine in June determined the victors. Would the Seagulls fly high again or was it the turn of the Magpies to perch on the top branch? ITV’s South and Central regions were there to see.


Notts County 3-1 Brighton, Play Off Final; 3pm, Sun 2nd Jun ’91

91POF Titles

The Football League Play Offs were introduced in 1987 as a way of determining the final promotion place in Divisions Two, Three and Four. As of 1990, they were contested by the four teams finishing just outside the automatic spots and consisted of two two-legged Semi Finals and a one-off Final held at the National Stadium of Wembley. The Play Offs were credited as being a huge success in harbouring excitement for special occasion of a showpiece Final, as well as ensuring many more meaningful and competitive games towards the latter stages of the campaign as more teams had things to play for. ITV held exclusive television rights to the entire Football League from 1988 to 1992, with regular networked Live matches from Division One as part of The Match presented by Elton Welsby or Jim Rosenthal mostly on Sunday afternoons. The regions were sometimes utilised for highlights programming, showcasing the goals from the local games, but Live games took priority. With the Play Offs still in its infancy in 1991, this match between Notts County and Brighton was not broadcast Live. As a somewhat rare treat, thirty-minute highlights were shown later that Sunday night in both the Central region and TeleVision South.

91POF Table

The final Division Two table saw Oldham promoted as champions along with West Ham and Sheffield Wednesday. Missing out by just two points were Notts County who had to settle for fourth and a place in the Play Offs in their first season back at this level. They gained promotion via the Play Off Final in 1990, defeating Tranmere by two goals to nil to take the Third Division trophy. Manager Neil Warnock was being touted for the vacant Chelsea job ahead of this match but had a job to complete; back to back promotions. They dispatched of seventh-placed Middlesbrough to reach this stage, as a Paul Harding goal with twelve minutes to go in the Second Leg made the difference. They drew the First Leg at Ayresome Park one-all. Brighton meanwhile did the double over Millwall to book their spot at Wembley. A comprehensive four-one win at the Goldstone on the Sunday set them in great stead for the trip to The Den. Mark Barham’s equalising goal just before the break was followed by a quickfire three further in the space of seven second half minutes as Mike Small, Clive Walker and Robert Codner all added their names to the scoresheet. The rematch three days later saw Millwall take the lead early on, as they did in the First Leg. But goals from Codner and John Robinson in the second half ensured a fantastically comprehensive six-two aggregate win. This was in stark contrast to the regular League results, where there was a stalemate at the Goldstone and then a three-nil defeat in South London. It was a similar story against Notts County, again a goalless draw at home was paired with an away defeat. It would be a close Final to call.


Television South & Central Sport Special, ITV (Sunday 2nd June 1991)

91POF TVS ITV Central 91

The ITV region serving Brighton and the South Coast was TVS; TeleVision South. They took over the franchise from Southern on New Year’s Day in 1982. The flagship broadcast of the station was Coast to Coast, the daily regional bulletin which won the RTS award for Best News Programme in both 1989 and 1991. Faces of the South included Fred Dinenage and Fern Britton, whilst the famous logo on the ident featured a six-coloured symbol rotating. For the ITV network, it produced such hits as gameshow Catchphrase, classic kids favourites Art Attack and Finders Keepers, and part of long-running morning talk show The Time, The Place. TVS improved the regional sport programming launching with their own weekly football highlights show in ’82, Sunday Sportshow and latterly The Saturday Match, whereas Southern had often just simulcast LWT’s The Big Match. The likes of Dinenage, David Bobin and Gerald Sinstadt were involved over the years before the main highlights were networked across the country from LWT. Both TVS and Midlands region Central broadcast thirty-minute highlights of the showpiece Play Off Final here.

91POF Newbon

Commentary on Notts County versus Brighton was provided by ITV’s main voice, Brian Moore. Joining the broadcast in 1968 for the launch of LWT and The Big Match, he established himself as a personable frontman and outstanding commentator covering all the showpiece occasions at home and abroad. Interviewing the players and managers was reporter Gary Newbon. He had a long history with the midlands, working as a reporter for ATV in the 1970s (ITV’s first midlands region) before holding the position of their Controller of Sports for more than two decades as well as presenting the local Central sports news and shows. He worked on football, darts and boxing for ITV Sport and was the touchline reporter on Live football from the 1980s onwards. For today’s broadcast, he introduced the programme for Central viewers with a brief piece to camera pitchside before handing over to Brian Moore.

91POF Brighton

Moore talked us through the team news, starting with Brighton. Barry Lloyd joined the Albion as Alan Mullery’s assistant in 1986 and took over the main job the following January. He couldn’t do enough to prevent the second relegation in five seasons though. An immediate return to Division Two came about in his first full season in charge, finishing second behind Sunderland. Lower half finishes in 1989 and ’90 were forgotten about when he guided them to this Play Off spot and just one game away from the promised land of the top flight. He made just one change to the starting line-up that defeated Millwall in the Semi Finals, Clive Walker returned to the fold having had stitches in the First Leg when colliding with an advertising hoarding. Perry Digweed in goal joined a decade earlier from Fulham. Also joining the club in 1981 was defender Steve Gatting from Arsenal who, unlike Digweed, played in the ’83 Final the last time Albion were at Wembley. The club broke the record transfer fee for a non-League player when Nicky Bissett joined from Barnet for £20,000 in March ’88. Colin Pates concluded his loan spell from Arsenal. This was Dean Wilkins’ second spell at the Albion, having played a handful of times in the 83/84 season. Midfielder Mark Barham won two international caps with England in the eighties. Winger Clive Walker was most known for his eight-year spell with Chelsea, a club synonymous with defender Gary Chivers who spent his first five professional years there. Romanian Stefan Iovan recently joined from Steaua Bucharest where he played for more than a decade. Mike Small was the top scorer this campaign with twenty-one goals in his debut season at the Goldstone. He partnered Robert Codner up top. Options on the bench were defender Ian Chapman and Republic of Ireland international striker John Byrne.

91POF Notts County

Notts County managed by Neil Warnock were an industrious, hard-working side. The world’s oldest Football League club named talented young midfielder Mark Draper and twenty-year-old striker Tommy Johnson in the starting eleven. The pair graduated through County’s youth system. Goalkeeper Steve Cherry hadn’t missed a game in the previous two campaigns. An experienced defence included ex-Peterborough right back Alan Paris and former Hull man Charlie Palmer. Centre back Craig Short was a signing from Scarborough in 1989. Midfielder Don O’Riordan scored a cracker against Spurs in the FA Cup Quarter Final back in March, ultimately losing two-one. Dean Thomas spent five years in Germany with Fortuna Dusseldorf. Phil Turner established himself as a stalwart of the County side over the previous two years. Striker Dave Regis was the younger brother of Cyrille and cousin of sprinter John. On the bench was Paul Harding, whose winner was the decider against Middlesbrough in the Semis, and forward Kevin Bartlett, who scored when the two sides met on New Year’s Day. Refereeing was Harrow schoolmaster David Elleray.

91POF Tunnel 91POF Warnock tunnel 91POF Referee 91POF Kick Off

Brighton wore their change kit, the so-called ‘Chewit wrapper’, of red and white. Notts County kicked the match off in their familiar black and white stripes, shooting from right to left in the first half. Neil Warnock emerged from the tunnel in the suit before dashing off to change into the tracksuit just as the game got underway following referee Elleray’s signal. The Albion had the first real chance of the match, beginning brightly. Dean Wilkins corner from the right was swung towards the back stick. A flick on saw the ball fall at the feet of Clive Walker. His shot almost snuck through the legs of goalkeeper Steve Cherry and in, instead deflecting it narrowly wide. The resulting corner was cleared all the way up the other end and almost presented County with a great opportunity, but for the alertness of Digweed to smother. He was forced off his line when a proposed backpass from Barham didn’t quite have the legs after it deflected off Gatting, Tommy Johnson not quite able to nip in. Cries from the Seagulls supporters of “There’s only one Perry Digweed” rung round loudly.

91POF Corner. 91POF Opening goal

However the opening goal came shortly after, with Notts County the ones celebrating and cheering. It came about after a dubious corner was awarded the Magpies way. Albion defender Gary Chivers was adamant the final touch did not come off him but Elleray disagreed and awarded the corner. Replays suggested that Chivers played it onto the foot of Dean Thomas. That was played short before being whipped in by Phil Turner from the near side. Tommy Johnson ran across his marker and glanced the header home from the six-yard line. There was very little Digweed could do about that one from such close range. The delivery was excellent and Johnson just needed a slight touch to guide it in for one-nil just before the half hour mark.

91POF Small 91POF Brighton bench 91POF Post 91POF Half Time

As Barry Lloyd, Martin Hinshelwood and co watched on from the bench unlucky to see Brighton behind, Clive Walker almost came up with the goods to equalise. He was the width of the post away from doing so just a minute before the break. Barham crossed from the right and Walker flew across the box to meet the delivery with his head, very unlucky to see it crash against the post (above, bottom left). This encouraged the crowd once more. “Seagulls! Seagulls! Seagulls!” On the break, Notts County created a half chance for Johnson which was comfortable for Digweed and so it remained one-nil to the black and white stripes at half time.

91POF 2nd Half 91POF Crossbar

Brighton got the game back underway after the break, trailing by that Johnson goal. They began the second half much like the first; well. Having struck the post earlier, it was now the turn to strike the crossbar (above right). Dean Wilkins floated a lovely ball towards the net from a free kick some thirty yards out. It beat Cherry in goal but didn’t quite dip enough and bounced off the top of the bar right in front of many of the travelling Albion faithful. But County always posed a threat and went close again through an excellent chance for Johnson. A terrific through ball from Thomas sent Johnson clear goalside of his marker. He took the shot early on the edge of the area but dragged it wide of the post.

91POF Johnson 2nd 91POF Subs

A quarter of an hour into the second period brought about the second goal, also for Notts County. Strong work by Regis on the far side to hold off Bissett was supported by Johnson nearby, County’s biggest threat. He got his shot away low, hard and, crucially, early from the far corner of the box. It flew in, beating Digweed’s hand to nestle into the bottom of the net. As commentator Brian Moore pointed out, there looked to be no danger until it was too late; “Played in by Dave Regis, taken by Tommy Johnson, wallop! And that’s two-nil.” This brought about a Brighton double substitution almost immediately, with Byrne and Chapman coming on for Iovan and Gatting.

91POF THAT Kit 91POF 3rd goal

It’s worth taking a closer look at that kit! Above left, Gary Chivers is sporting the incredible ensemble sponsored by Nobo, the office supplies company. With just under twenty minutes remaining, sub Ian Chapman scythed down Turner just outside of the right-hand side of the penalty area. The resulting free kick was curled in to the far side of the box by Mark Draper. Up jumped Dave Regis who gently cushioned the ball into the goal off his chest from six yards. An unconventional finish but an effective one none the less and that put the game out of Brighton’s reach, if it wasn’t already.

91POF Replay 91POF Mid game interview

From a coverage viewpoint, even though the match was not televised it had the unusual distinction of replay transitions. These came in the form of a picture flying into the centre with a yellow border, then flying back out again when it’s finished. Another peculiar part was when reporter Gary Newbon interviewed County boss Neil Warnock on the bench just after the third goal went in! Warnock remarked “Brighton have never worked as hard all season and I think it’s been a cracking game.” That feature was probably not going to catch on, with Warnock surprisingly accommodating despite being in the midst of a Wembley Final.

91POF Wilkins goal 91POF Brighton fans

The match wasn’t quite over as there was still time for an Albion consolation. After some terrific work from John Byrne, jinking into the box from near the left touchline he squared it. Barham let it run through for Dean Wilkins to finish first time (above left). His left footer sent the ball through the legs of defender Craig Short and out of reach of Cherry. It was celebrated in true consolation style, with little more than a handshake and a trot back to the centre circle with the game already up. But at least it gave those travelling Seagulls supporters something to cheer about. Just shy of half the 59,940 in attendance at Wembley were pleased with that last-minute strike.

91POF Trophy

There it was, the final whistle blew and Notts County were promoted back up to the top Division. Two goals from Tommy Johnson and a third from Dave Regis were the difference, with Wilkins adding no more than a personal highlight at the end. It was the black and white stripes who climbed the Wembley stairs up to the Royal Box to receive their trophy. Commentator Brian Moore crowned the moment; “Out of the Second Division and into the First by way of a Play Off victory at Wembley this season. Phil Turner raises the trophy, Notts County are back in the First Division.” Congratulations to the club and Neil Warnock, who was interviewed more traditionally by Gary Newbon to close the programme in the dressing room, followed by goalscorer Tommy Johnson. Brighton were so close but fell at the final hurdle. The top Division suddenly seemed a long way away again now.

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

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

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

1

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

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

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

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

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

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

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

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


2

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

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

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

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

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

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

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

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


3

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

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

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

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

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

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

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

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

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

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

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

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

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

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

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

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

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

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

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

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

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

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

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

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

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

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

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

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


Huddersfield Goodbye

Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup Away at the Big Boys

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sWith the move to the Withdean Stadium in 1999, Brighton’s fortunes on the field began improving markedly. Whilst the 1990s was a decade of decline, slipping down the Leagues and almost into oblivion, the early part of the 21st Century was a complete reversal of this. The biggest of the FA Cup ties whilst at Withdean were actually played on the road, with four trips to Premier League sides during that period. As the Albion climbed up the Football League, the ultimate aim was to join these Big Boys in the top flight for the first time since 1983. That season, the one and only time Brighton had reached the FA Cup Final (well, technically two including the Replay) was combined with relegation from the elite League. With financial troubles and homelessness, we seemed a world away from the huge riches of the Premier League but the ambitions of the club laid there. Here, take a look at the four occasions where Brighton got that little taste of the top table as we travelled in the FA Cup away at the Big Boys. Relive the games through clips of extended highlights and round up from BBC and ITV.


 

2004/05 Round Three goals

Match of the Day, BBC One (8th January 2005); Tottenham 2-1 Brighton 

2005 R3Tot Titles MOTD Studio 2005 2005 R3Tot Intro

The 2004/05 season was Brighton’s first back in the second tier after a year away. Having won the Division Two Play Off Final in May 2004, the Seagulls were plying their trade in the newly named Championship and things had begun a lot better than the last time at this level. At the mid-way point of the season, an FA Cup trip to White Hart Lane presented Mark McGhee’s men with a chance to face Premiership opposition in the form of Tottenham Hotspur. BBC held terrestrial FA Cup rights and a report was shown on Match of the Day on Third Round Saturday, the first time teams from the top two tiers entered the fray. The show was presented by Mark Pougatch, normally a leading voice on Radio Five Live, in a busy day for him having presented the lunchtime Live match that day. He was joined in the studio in London for the highlights by Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock, two fringe BBC pundits. Reporter Rebecca Lowe voiced the goals round up.

2005 R3Tot Carpenter crossbar          2005 R3Tot King goal 2005 R3Tot Equaliser          2005 R3Tot Celebrations

Brighton, wearing the change kit of yellow, began well and hit the crossbar after a quarter of an hour when Richard Carpenter struck one from twenty-five yards out on the half-volley (above, top left). But it was the higher Division side who took the lead just before the break. A short corner on the far side was crossed into the box. England defender Ledley King met with a header on the edge of the six yard line which looped up and over goalkeeper Michel Kuipers to bounce in (above, top right). A couple of minutes after half time, Albion found the perfect response when Carpenter did get his goal this time. It came directly from a free kick from twenty-two yards which curled round the wall and beat Paul Robinson in goal to equalise brilliantly (above, bottom left). As the game was heading for a replay, Robbie Keane won it with an extraordinary goal from the edge of the area (below, top left). Seven minutes remained when the ball was chipped in to him from the left. With his back to goal and Guy Butters pressing high, he took one touch to control with his chest before swivelling and shooting on the volley. It flew into the top corner for one of the goals of the season. Afterwards, the Irishman presented his old Wolves manager McGhee with a signed shirt and had praise for the Albion in his interview; “They didn’t give us many chances, Brighton. They were so tight and congested in the midfield.” Spurs progressed to the Sixth Round where Newcastle eventually knocked them out, whilst Brighton survived relegation from the Championship thanks to a final day draw with Ipswich Live on Sky.

2005 R3Tot Keane winner 2005 R3Tot Keane 2005 R3Tot Final score


2006/07 Round Three highlights

Match of the Day, BBC One (6th January 2007); West Ham 3-0 Brighton 

2007 R3WHam Titles 2007 R3WHam Studio 2007 R3WHam Comm 2007 R3WHam Team News

Following relegation from the Championship in 2006 and a poor start to the League One campaign, Mark McGhee was sacked in September and replaced by youth team coach and former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins. Brighton’s FA Cup matches couldn’t have gone better this season, back having to begin at Round One again after a couple of years in at the Third. The first game saw a Withdean record; an eight-nil victory over non-League Northwich Victoria. This was followed up by a three-nil scoreline against another non-League outfit, Stafford Rangers. With the top teams entering at Round Three, last season’s losing finalists West Ham were drawn to play the Seagulls at their famous Upton Park stadium. Terrestrial Cup broadcaster BBC showed brief highlights of the clash with commentary during their Saturday night Match of the Day broadcast. This was hosted from Television Centre by Ray Stubbs alongside pundits Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock. When the Premiership highlights returned to the BBC after three years away in 2004, every match was covered with a commentary and these extra voices were utilised during the Cup shows. Commentating on our tie was MotD regular Alistair Mann. The edit was only short so the teams were not displayed in full, instead opting to use the scrolling info bar at the bottom of the screen, where Arsenal defender Joe O’Cearull made his Albion debut.

2007 R3WHam Opener 2007 R3WHam Cole goal 2007 R3WHam Zamora chance 2007 R3WHam Third goal

The Seagulls wore their change kit of white shirts with blue shorts and socks. The two debutants, O’Cearull for us and Luis Boa Morte for the home side, tangled legs in the first half and risked giving West Ham a penalty. Referee Mark Halsey deemed it accidental. Tommy Fraser had a good chance for Brighton when presented with a heading chance unmarked in the centre, the connection though lacked any pace and was easy for Roy Carroll in the sticks. Right at the start of the second half, the deadlock was broken by youth graduate Mark Noble – his first goal for the club. Boa Morte’s cross on the left was flicked over by Guy Butters, then headed down by Carlos Tevez into Noble’s path to run on to. As the defender rushed to block, Noble got his shot away (above, top left) on the half-volley which Wayne Henderson in goal wasn’t quite able to keep out. Alex Revell came close to an equaliser but couldn’t quite reach to nod home from Hart’s cross as the opportunity flashed across goal. Punishment came just before the hour mark when Carlton Cole made it two (above, top right), despite Albion protesting offside. Boa Morte’s cross found Cole unmarked to sidefoot volley into the top corner. Former Seagull Bobby Zamora, on the books of West Ham having moved from Spurs, came on and was inches from netting. Yossi Benayoun made contact with the ball to send it skidding to the back post where Zamora was. Zamora tried to get the definitive touch just as it was about to touch the post and it just ended up flying back off the woodwork (above, bottom left), the offside flag would have prevented him had he scored anyway. With virtually the final kick of the match, West Ham got their third through Hayden Mullins heading home Shaun Newton’s cross (above, bottom right). Three-nil the final scoreline.

2007 R3WHam Final Score 2007 R3WHam Wilkins 2007 R3WHam Analysis

In his post match interview, manager Dean Wilkins thought his young side showed their inexperience in attack; “I think if we’d have shown a bit more calmness, a bit more awareness, within the final third once we did break I think we could have scored the first goal.” Former Albion player Alan Curbishley had newly been appointed West Ham boss and called for his fans to get behind their midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker after being on the end of plenty of abuse all season. The stats showed equal possession but West Ham dominating the shots and corners. In the studio, Gavin Peacock analysed the Clarets new look, with particular focus on how well Carlos Tevez played; “He was bright and he was lively and aggressive in his running.” The Hammers exited at the hands of Watford in the next round. Brighton’s season saw them continue to struggle as costs were tightened and the playing squad increasingly dominated by unknown youngsters. The Albion finished in eighteenth in the League One table.


2009/10 Round Four highlights

FA Cup Highlights, ITV1 (23rd January 2010); Aston Villa 3-2 Brighton

2010 R4Vil Titles 2010 R4Vil Studio 2010 R4Vil Intro

Much had changed at Brighton since the FA Cup trip to West Ham in 2007. The biggest news was the stadium, as Falmer had finally been given the go-ahead and work had begun at the site with completion due for summer 2011. The man in the dugout at Withdean had changed twice since then too. After a makeshift first season, Dean Wilkins guided the Seagulls to an impressive seventh place in the 2007/08 campaign, narrowly missing out on the League One Play Offs. Yet that wasn’t enough to keep his job and former boss Micky Adams returned to the hot seat in May 2008. Having guided us to the, then, Division Three title in 2001 before the Premiership came calling, optimism was high upon his return. However that did not work out at all, with League form slipping finishing sixteenth in 2008/09 and not improving much in the opening months of the 2009/10 campaign. Chairman Dick Knight wielded the axe in November and brought in former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet for his first managerial role. With the club in the bottom six upon his arrival, he changed the philosophy of the team from long-ball to a skilful passing side. Some took to it better than others, whilst others such as Adam El-Abd were transformed under Poyet. He got off to a perfect start with a three-one away win at Southampton Live on Sky in his first match, and steadily lifted the club up the table. The FA Cup campaign began with a caretaker manager, Martin Hinshelwood took charge of the incredible four-four draw at Wycombe, before the two-nil victory at Withdean saw Poyet make it two wins out of two. In Round Two there was a closer-fought three-two win to knock Rushden and Diamonds out, whilst Torquay were dispatched in Round Three by a goal to nil at Plainmoor. The Fourth Round draw saw a trip to the Midlands to face Premier League Aston Villa, managed by Martin O’Neill. FA Cup rights had transferred from the BBC to ITV in 2008, and the commercial network broadcast their Fourth Round highlights show on the Saturday night which included a short commentary edit on our clash. Their theme tune brought in this season was by The Enemy, titled Be Somebody; rather apt for a competition known for smaller clubs making their name.

2010 R4Vil Comm 2010 R4Vil 1st goal 2010 R4Vil Elphick goal 2010 R4Vil Young goal 

Ned Boulting was in the presenter’s chair in the London Studio for this edition, joined by ITV pundit Robbie Earle and former Brighton manager, amongst many other clubs, Steve Coppell. In the commentary box was John Rawling. He was more familiar as their voice of boxing, having covered the sport previously for Radio Five Live and Setanta, but was used over the past couple of seasons infrequently on Football League and Champions League highlights shows. Gus Poyet was relying on his prolific strike force of Glenn Murray and Nicky Forster to continue to fire together, with support from the likes of Andrew Crofts and Elliott Bennett behind them. Adam Virgo had returned to the club after a couple of seasons away and joined a defence which included academy graduate Tommy Elphick. Villa’s side included former Albion loanee Steve Sidwell in midfield and had hit scored six past Blackburn whilst conceding four in the League Cup the previous midweek. Fifty-six League places separated the sides at the start of play, and it was Villa who got off to the better start with a goal after just five minutes. Captain Ashley Young sent Marc Albrighton running down the wing. He skipped past the lunge of Elphick before crossing low for Nathan Delfouneso to steer home from close range (above, top right). Brighton responded four minutes before the break through Elliott Bennett’s corner on the far side. A number of Albion players were waiting in space in the middle. It came off Adam El Abd and landed on the six yard line for fellow defender Tommy Elphick to swivel and finish expertly (above, bottom left) for the equaliser past several claret and blue bodies in the way. Rawling rightly described them as “the Villa defence all over the place!” It took just three second-half minutes for the home side to regain the lead thanks to Young’s header. Stewart Downing stood the ball up to the back post where Young jumped highest and saw his header fly past Kuipers and in off the post (above, bottom right).

2010 R4Vil Delph goal 2010 R4Vil Forster goal 2010 R4Vil Final Score 2010 R4Vil Poyet

James Milner provided Fabian Delph with an excellent chance to score a third but Kuipers was equal to it, using his body to block effectively before the defence helped him out. The two Villans combined with less than half an hour to play and this time they did make it three-one. Milner sent Delph clear, covering defender Inigo Calderon got back to force him to check his run. However, the opportunity still presented itself and his strike on the edge of the box went through Calderon’s legs and under the diving hand of Kuipers to score and put the game to bed (above, top left). Brighton did get a consolation in stoppage time thanks to Nicky Forster to make the scoreline more respectable. The ball across was dummied and found Forster in the centre with his back to goal. He held off the defender before arching his body to swivel and shoot, much like Elphick in the first half. The finish was clinical, as you’d expect from a man who scored goals wherever he went in his career, low and hard into the back of the net past Brad Guzan (above, top right). This was the striker’s fiftieth for Brighton. It was too little too late for the Seagulls, whose FA Cup adventure came to an end at the Fourth Round stage for the first time since a trip to Manchester United in 1993. Gus Poyet afterwards admitted he was aware of the size of the task against a Premier League club; “I knew it was difficult to cope for more than an hour with the same pace, the strength of the opposition… They are not only better technically, they are better physically.” Villa progressed all the way to Wembley and the Semi Finals. After seeing off Crystal Palace and Reading, it was eventual winners Chelsea who knocked them out. Brighton continued to flourish under Poyet, who steered them to a thirteenth placed finish in League One with the foundations laid for a good season to come.


2010/11 Round Five highlights

FA Cup Highlights, ITV1 (19th February 2011); Stoke City 3-0 Brighton 

2011 R5Sto Titles 2011 R5Sto Smith 2011 R5Sto Teams

The 2010/2011 campaign was Brighton’s final one at the eleven-year temporary home of Withdean Stadium. Gus Poyet and his entertaining football side were tearing League One apart, climbing to the summit early on and never looking back. They were on course to open the new home in Falmer with Championship football and a title to boot. The good form also transferred to the FA Cup, where Brighton reached the Fifth Round – the last sixteen of the competition – for the first time in twenty-five years. After a shaky start, drawing nil-nil at home to Woking and needing a penalty shoot-out in the replay to progress, round two saw a shock draw with non-League FC United of Manchester. A four-nil win in the replay was more like it. The third round saw an impressive three-one victory over Portsmouth, Cup finalists the year before and a Division above in the Championship before a further second tier side was sent packing in round four as Watford were beaten on their own patch. This set up a meeting with Tony Pulis’s Premier League Stoke City at the Britannia. It would be a clash of styles, with Pulis known for the long ball game and utilising throw-ins, up against Poyet’s more modern, passing game. The Cup schedule was a little all over the place, with Fourth Round matches taking place at the same time owing to postponements and replays congesting matters. So ITV’s Saturday night highlights show featured action from both stages, presented by Matt Smith. The theme tune was the same as the previous year; The Enemy with Be Somebody, but the graphics went through a transformation. Commentating on the action was freelancer Jim Proudfoot, formerly of Sky Sports and Setanta but here more frequently heard on ESPN’s European Leagues and talkSPORT radio. He is also remembered fondly by Albion fans for his excited scream of “STORERRRRR!” during his South Coast Radio days, commentating on Brighton’s final game at the Goldstone against Doncaster in 1997 alongside Tony Millard.

2011 R5Sto Comm 2011 R5Sto Carew goal 2011 R5Sto 2nd goal 2011 R5Sto Shawcross goal

Elite level referee Howard Webb was the man in charge of this tie. The team line ups saw almost a full strength Stoke, with last year’s top scorer in the Cup John Carew up front. Kenwynne Jones was missing but had regulars Jon Walters, Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap and Matthew Etherington all ready to create the danger. The back line of Shawcross and Huth took no prisoners in a physical set up. The Albion had Cup ‘keeper Peter Brezovan in goal, supported in front by Tommy Elphick, captain Gordon Greer and Marcos Painter. Elliott Bennett and Gary Dicker would look to provide Barnes and Murray with the opportunities, whilst Liam Bridcutt was the rock protecting the defence. Set pieces were Stoke’s main goal threat, be it free kicks, corners or the throw in. Rory Delap was renowned for the latter and it was exactly that which created the opening goal. Delap chucked it in to the mixer where Brezovan came to collect. He didn’t get there ahead of big John Carew who just flicked it on with the top of his head and into the net before the quarter of an hour mark. It soon became two-nil eight minutes later after Jermaine Pennant teed up Marc Wilson to cross on the overlap. His ball in was met by the head of Walters at the near post through the arms of Brezovan and gave the Albion a mountain to climb so early on. Brezovan wasn’t covering himself in glory and flapped at another punch later on, giving Walters another chance which had to be headed off the line by Greer. Barnes and Murray combined with an interchange to give Barnes a rare sight of goal but his effort was lifted high and over. The third Stoke goal came two minutes before the break and began, you guessed it, from another dangerous corner. Pennant’s ball in was flicked on at the near post to the far one where Ryan Shawcross was arriving. He lost his marker and bulleted the ball in with his head, nobody on the line and too much power for Brezovan to react in time. The Potters captain had sealed the result before we’d even reached half time, Brighton had no answer to the brute force of the red and white stripes. Substitute Cristian Baz went closest for the Seagulls in the second half but in truth it wasn’t troubling Sorensen whilst another sub – Jake Forster-Caskey – also tried his luck but it wasn’t to be and Brighton lost by three goals to nil.

2011 R5Sto Final score 2011 R5Sto Poyet 2011 R5Sto Studio 2011 R5Sto Allardyce

Gus Poyet said in his post match chat “We tried. I think the best part is we didn’t change our game.” This point was picked up on by the former Bolton and Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce in the London Studio for ITV; “If you go and watch Stoke City and do your scouting, your normal game you cannot play if it’s a passing game because Stoke don’t let you.” He said the application of constant pressure, corner after corner, broke down Brighton and the physical edge paid dividends once more for them at the Brit. It was a tactic that took Stoke City all the way to the FA Cup Final where they lost to a solitary Manchester City goal at Wembley in the process securing them a thirteenth place Premier League finish and a spot in the UEFA Europa League qualifying. The Seagulls soared to the League One title, beating Southampton by three points, to secure a dream start to life at Falmer with a promotion party. In doing so they were one step closer to that top flight dream. With the foundations in place for something special, the early years at the new ground would be about building on all these experiences gained during the Withdean years and push for that final hurdle up to the top. It was beginning to look very exciting again for Brighton and Hove Albion.


Although the Albion lost on all four of these occasions, they were reaching the stages of the FA Cup where they hadn’t been for a long time. Therefore the opposition were of increased quality. The trips to these fantastic Premier League stadiums were in stark contrast to the home ground where Brighton had played since 1999; Withdean. This spurred the players on to perform better, to show they are worthy of these fine venues and, most importantly, highlighted how much of a necessity it was that the Seagulls had one of these to call their own. The Amex opened its doors in the summer of 2011 with Brighton League One Champions and about to compete in the second tier again. Within weeks of the new campaign at the new home, Premier League teams were coming to our place and being impressed with the facilities. The next aim? To become one of those elite clubs ourselves. Withdean served us well but Falmer would catapult the club to new heights with the big boys, and the Cup would provide some great days.

#25: Leyton Orient 2-2 Brighton 17/11/2007

#25 LEYTON ORIENT 2-2 BRIGHTON League One
Saturday 17th November 2007 Sky 2007

LEY Titles

PRESENTER Rob Wotton GUESTS Peter Beagrie & Roberto Martinez
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Garry Birtles REPORTER Andy Burton
12.30pm Kick Off; Matchroom Stadium, Leyton Orient      12-2.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

Ident LEY Sponsors LEY Intro

Context of the Match: The Albion’s second season back in League One had started far better than the first. Ahead of today’s match Brighton were sitting in sixth place, in the play offs, with today’s hosts Leyton Orient in third. Dean Wilkins remained in charge hoping to improve on a disappointing yet transitional season last time. The aim is to be promoted to, or fighting for a place in, the Championship for when the new stadium in Falmer is due for completion in a couple of seasons time. Orient themselves haven’t moved stadium but the facilities were vastly improved since our last televised visit eleven years ago. Under the new name of the Matchroom Stadium, courtesy of chairman Barry Hearn’s sports company, the all-seater ground also had flats built into it as they too look to move into higher leagues. Brighton came into this game relieved to be playing someone other than Cheltenham! Having played them the previous weekend in the FA Cup 1st Round, there was a replay the midweek after this match and they also met in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy the midweek just gone. The squad has improved since we saw them Live last but the core team and the promotion of youth was still very much at the heart of it. This international break weekend for the top two tiers always puts the lower leagues in the spotlight, would we thrive or freeze under the microscope?

LEY Leyton Orient LEY Subs LEY Brighton

The Teams: Brighton added a couple of key players since last season, particularly up front where goals were a struggle. Moonwalking cult-hero Bas Savage came in on a free from Gillingham, gaining national attention for his Michael Jackson celebrations on Soccer AM. Experienced striker Nicky Forster was signed in the summer after an unsuccessful attempt to bring him in last January, costing £75,000 from Hull. Andrew Whing, signed permanently after loan spells last season, was missing today through suspension. George O’Callaghan and David Martot were loan transfers. The Dean Wilkins Youth influence is still going strong with thirteen players graduating involved in the first team this season. That includes Tommy Elphick at centre half, as well as substitutes John Sullivan and Tommy Fraser amongst others. Dean Hammond continued to skipper the side. Veteran defender Guy Butters is in his twentieth season as a professional. Matt Richards is on-loan from Championship Ipswich. Orient boss Martin Ling saw out his playing career at Brighton, whilst Dean Wilkins had a short spell at Leyton Orient during his pro days. Paul Terry is the brother of Chelsea and England captain John. Striker Wayne Gray had a loan spell with Brighton a few years ago. The impressive George Boyd was his partner up top. Tony Bates was the man in charge.

LEY Wotton  LEY Beagrie  LEY Martinez  LEY Studio

Presentation Team: This League One match was presented from a studio inside the Matchroom Stadium by Rob Wotton. We’d previously seen Wotton hosting the FA Cup Live match against Rushden and Diamonds six years earlier. In between that time he was a regular on Sky Sports News and had been promoted this season as cover for regular number one host George Gavin, who was undergoing several months recovery after a hip operation. Alongside him today were Peter Beagrie and Swansea manager Roberto Martinez. The Spaniard had been used for one-off appearances several times down the years on both ITV and Sky and is usually an interesting, thoughtful listen. Peter Beagrie had been appearing on phone-in You’re on Sky Sports alongside former Sky Football League pundit Steve Claridge but now he was their number one studio analyst, appearing most weekends from this season. Reporting pitchside for the majority of Saturday lunchtime matches this season was Andy Burton. He was better known as a Sky Sports News reporter, particularly around Transfer Deadline Day, as well as being a match commentator. He had been used on Football First 3pm broadcasts, Champions League red button on Sky as well as Football Italia on Bravo and the summer before last covered the World Cup Final Live for digital broadcaster UKTV G2 (latterly known as Dave). In the commentary box for his Brighton Live debut was Ian Darke. After launching his Sky career on Monday Night Football for the first three Premiership seasons, he became Sky’s chief big fight boxing commentator. He returned to football out of nowhere in January 2005 getting many of the big games as well as continuing with boxing, and is currently one of four commentators Sky use on their Premiership matches (with Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne and Alan Parry). He also provides back up to Bill Leslie on the Football League coverage, especially on international weekends when Leslie is with Scotland as Darke doesn’t cover a nation. Garry Birtles was alongside him today. Birtles remained one of three regulars used on the Leagues behind Don Goodman, who joined earlier this year as Chris Kamara moved away from co-commentary, and ahead of Tony Gale. Birtles commentary style is best described as critical.

LEY Kick Off LEY Comms LEY Sub LEY Coming Up

The Coverage: There were big changes to Sky’s Football League team this season. Saturday Night Football was re-introduced as a regular kick-off time as direct competition to newcomers to the English game – Setanta Sports – who had broken Sky’s Live monopoly on the top flight broadcasting 46 games a season with former Football League number one Ian Crocker among their regular voices. With their Saturday games kicking off at 5.30pm, Sky went all out to disrupt this by putting the main Football League Live game at 5.20pm, trying to gain that crucial head start. These games were hosted pitchside by newcomers to the coverage – David Jones and Peter Beagrie. George Gavin began the season by covering everything else from the preview and review shows to the non-Saturday Live games. However he’s a long-term absentee due to an operation and as mentioned before Rob Wotton took his place. Despite the personnel and graphics changes, the titles remained as ‘All Together Now’. The replay graphic was updated to the individual League trophies flying in from the top left towards the centre and out bottom left of the screen. This was used for all replays in the lower leagues including goals, sadly seeing the last of the 3D club crest crashing in which had survived the last four graphics sets. Other competitions did have a club badge appear for goals but this was a new design which was on a black disc, like shown in some of the screenshots above. Initially the score and clock were in the bottom left of the screen but that experiment was dropped after only a few weeks into the new season to sit in the more traditional top left. One new feature of this was the colour changing from black to white to indicate we were in additional time at the end of the half or match. Team graphics were also new and for Football League coverage only the formations were shown, with no analysis from the co-commentators anymore. This remained in the Premiership, where individual images were used for the main commentator’s intro before the co-commentator discussed the setup seeing a similar formation graphic to what we enjoyed here. In terms of the programme today, reporter Andy Burton was shown around the in-stadium flats by Barry Hearn as the key VT in the build-up, whilst the pundits picked out their key men and we heard from both managers. There were only a few seconds of post-match coverage, with Wotton talking through the updated League table without a word from his guests before handing over to a busy day of international football.

LEY Yellow LEY Stats

Story of the Match: The game began frantically with half-chances at either end of the field. Orient appeals for a penalty for shirtpulling were turned down. The game calmed down when interrupted by a streaker, or “exhibitionist” as Ian Darke described it in commentary. The first half continued to be very scrappy and tight, with neither team wanting to put a foot wrong. Consequently the teams seemed nervous and goalkeepers weren’t troubled much. The first shot on target resulted in the opening goal for Leyton Orient. Thornton and Boyd linked up nicely before setting up Wayne Gray on the edge of the area. He got the wrong side of the defence from Albion’s point of view and blasted the ball into the centre of the goal above Kuipers who had no chance against such power. Brighton started to come into the game more towards the end of the half, with danger from wide areas and corners. Irishman George O’Callaghan curled an effort towards the top right-hand corner, narrowly missing the target. On the stroke of half-time Brighton had an equaliser disallowed. Bas Savage did well on the left wing driving forward and pulling the ball back for Dean Cox to cross. It was met well by the head of Dean Hammond to direct goalwards and a bobble took it up over the ‘keeper and into the goal. Yet as he headed it, the whistle went. Quite why that was we’re still unsure. It wasn’t offside, it didn’t look like a foul so only the referee can be sure, as such it was still one-nil at the break.

LEY Forster LEY Table

The second half started livelier with Brighton looking more likely to trouble the goalkeeper and a defence having to throw bodies on the line. Then out of nowhere Nicky Forster levelled it up. He picked the ball up from a long pass, spun his defender and got a bit of a lucky break with a touch off another defender laying the ball back into Forster.s path. He just said ‘thankyou very much’, looked up and struck a fierce shot from more than twenty yards out at the far side of the area straight through Nelson’s outstretched arms and nestled into the inside of the net. A tremendous strike but the goalkeeper should be saving shots like that from that distance and angle. Take nothing away from Nicky Forster though, his goalscorer’s instinct and power behind the early shot foxed Stuart Nelson. Brighton were level for no more than about two minutes though. A run down the line from Melligan gave him a crossing opportunity which went all the way through in front of goal past the defence to the back post. Waiting there was Jason Demetriou unmarked and with lots of time and space. He was able to just pick the corner of the goal he wanted and expertly curled past Kuipers and two defenders on the line to restore the home side’s lead with twenty minutes remaining. A crazy seven minutes was completed when Brighton equalised for a second time. O’Callaghan and Savage combine nicely to get a crossing opportunity in towards Nicky Forster. His header hits the bar and bounces back out to Dean Cox waiting to calmly nod home from three yards out past the bodies on the line for a goal. The little man was in the right place at the right time to score his fourth this season. With ten minutes remaining Forster showed again how clever a footballer he is, manufacturing an instant chance from very little as he tried to lob the ‘keeper on the edge of the box which had Nelson scrambling across and relieved to see it land just wide. Seconds later substitute Jake Robinson shot from twenty-five yards just clipping the top of the bar. It seemed if anyone was going to win this late on it would be the away side. However with the last kick of the match Orient nearly stole it. A long ball in from Demetriou was flicked on by Terry to the back post where Gray was waiting unmarked. His half-volley was well saved with his body, legs and anything he could get to block it. Panic in the Brighton defence but the game ended all square.

LEYTON ORIENT 2 BRIGHTON 2
Gray, Demetriou Forster, Cox

LEY Replay

 

EXTRAS; This season Sky Sports Football League coverage included a regular Friday night preview programme and Monday night review programme; both named The Big League Weekend. Like with the Live coverage, Rob Wotton stepped into George Gavin’s shoes whilst he was recovering this year. His guests for this week’s preview show were Coventry manager Iain Dowie and ex-pro Scott Minto (who must’ve liked what he’d seen as he would later go on to host Sky’s Live Football League coverage). The show crammed lots into the hour, with interviews, midweek goals, analysis and reports from all three Divisions all hosted from Sky Studios, complete with the usual graphics and All Together Now title sequence.

BLW1 Titles BLW Wotton

The show crammed lots into the hour, with interviews, midweek goals, analysis and reports from all three Divisions all hosted from Sky Studios, complete with the usual graphics and All Together Now title sequence. Previewing the Leyton Orient versus Brighton match, O’s defender Tamika Mkandawire was interviewed by Guy Havord about his form so far this season and Orient’s flying start.

BLW Studio BLW1 Interview

On Big League Weekend 2 on Monday evening, Wotton was joined by Walsall striker Tommy Mooney to review the weekend’s matches. He’d faced both Orient and the Albion this season and praised Brighton’s footballing abilities and possession. Dean Wilkins singled out Nicky Forster post match and the studio team here focussed on the former Reading striker’s form this season. “He knows the right areas of the pitch to be in, and he can score goals from inside and outside of the box. Every team needs that one-off goalscorer, he can certainly be that man for Brighton” said Mooney.

BLW2 Studio BLW2 Result

 

Long-running Saturday morning football preview show Soccer AM crossed to the stadium ahead of the game to look ahead to the match with pundit Peter Beagrie. The Live broadcast was to follow Soccer AM at noon. Hosts Andy Goldstein and Helen Chamberlain, alongside today’s guests including Billy Sharp, Andy Keogh and Mark Watson, were in the studio whilst Beagrie was on the monitor and pitchside at the Matchroom Stadium.

Soccer AM preview Titles Soccer AM preview studio

Beagrie began by correctly predicting that there would be a few goals for both teams and the majority would come later on in the game. “You can nip out, make a cup of tea, have your dinner in the first half. The second half is gonna be an absolute glut of goals! 19 out of 23 for Leyton Orient have been scored in the second half and 12 out of 19 [for Brighton.]” He did go on to say Brighton would win 2-1 though so didn’t get it all spot on.

Soccer AM preview Beagrie Soccer AM preview Table

PREVIOUS; #24 BRIGHTON 0-3 BLACKPOOL 08/10/2006

NEXT; #26 SHREWSBURY 0-0 BRIGHTON 16/12/2008

#24: Brighton 0-3 Blackpool 08/10/2006

#24 BRIGHTON 0-3 BLACKPOOL League One
Sunday 8th October 2006 Image result for

BLA Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUESTS Steve Claridge & Ian Taylor
COMMENTATORS Rob Hawthorne & Tony Gale REPORTER Greg Whelan
1.30pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium      1-3.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

Ident BLA Sponsor BLA Intro

Context of the Match: After Brighton’s terrible season last time out with relegation from the Championship finishing bottom of the table, this season didn’t start any better for Mark McGhee and was sacked in early September with the club in 17th in League One. Youth manager and former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins took charge, initially temporarily but then was offered the job permanently later that month. His task has been about rebuilding and looking towards the future. Ten of last year’s Youth Cup Quarter Finalists managed by Wilkins have since signed professional contracts, the emphasis currently at Brighton being on bringing players through the academy. The form hadn’t improved since Wilkins took over a few weeks ago, losing the last four matches. This had seen Brighton sink to 19th in the table, while opponents Blackpool were even lower down in 22nd position. The Tangerines had visited Withdean three times before today, losing all of them and not scoring a single goal. This was our first Live match to be broadcast in High Definition.

BLA Brighton BLA Blackpool BLA Formation

The Teams: Goalkeeper Wayne Henderson had signed permanently after a loan spell last season but was missing today due to international duty with Ireland. He was also looking to leave the club after handing in a transfer request. Michel Kuipers returned to the side after missing much of the previous campaign through injuries. Sam Williams was on a short-term loan from Aston Villa up top alongside summer signing Alex Revell and academy graduate Dean Cox. Another promising product of the academy, Joel Lynch, started at the back. On the other side of defence, Andrew Whing was making his debut having just joined on loan from Coventry. Adam Hinshelwood was fit again after a long absence, returning on the bench. Seven of Brighton’s starting XI were aged 23 or under. Blackpool were managed by Simon Grayson. Ben Burgess up front could have easily been playing in this match for Brighton instead, as the club pursued him over the summer but chose to join the Tangerines from Hull. He has already caused us problems on TV before having scored for Brentford in their 4-0 win back in 2002. He was looking for his 50th career goal today. Irishman Wes Hoolahan would be one to watch. The entire squad was unchanged from their victory in the previous match against Leyton Orient. Paul Armstrong (not the former Albion midfielder) refereed.

BLA Gavin  BLA Claridge  BLA Taylor  BLA Whelan  BLA Studio

Presentation Team: George Gavin was once again host for this Football League Live broadcast. It was the international break for the Premiership and Championship so the spotlight fell onto Leagues One and Two this weekend. Sky Sports had a double-header of Live matches today; first up this Brighton v Blackpool game, followed by Grimsby v Hereford at 4pm. As usual with Sky’s doubles, the entire coverage was hosted from the stadium of the second match, so Blundell Park is where Gavin and his guests Ian Taylor and Steve Claridge watched from. Steve Claridge had become a regular pundit for Sky Sports this season on the Football League and also long-running phone-in show You’re on Sky Sports on Monday nights with host Gary Newbon and fellow guest Peter Beagrie. Claridge had loose Albion connections having made five appearances two years ago. He was still technically registered as a footballer but was currently without a club at the age of forty. Ian Taylor was also still a player but far more involved than Claridge. Taylor was at Northampton where he won promotion from League Two last season and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. Commentating on the match were Tony Gale, for his fourth consecutive Albion Live match, and Rob Hawthorne. International breaks provide no rest for Sky’s regular commentators, with four of their big five assigned to a country. Martin Tyler of course covered any England games Sky held, Alan Parry was the Wales commentator, Rob Hawthorne did the Republic of Ireland and current FL number one Bill Leslie covered Scotland. Leslie replaced Ian Crocker domestically and internationally, who left in the summer to join Setanta Sports to commentate on his original regular Live gig – the Scottish Premier League. Today gave Hawthorne a rare return to the lower leagues. Greg Whelan was reporting from Withdean as first choice reporter.

BLA Build up  BLA Build up2  BLA Build up3  BLA Build up4

The Coverage: Today’s Live broadcast began at 1pm as part of a Sky Sports double-header, seeing the studio team based in Grimsby for the 4pm kick off. Brighton versus Blackpool was given thirty minutes pre-match coverage which packed a lot of features about the game into a short space of time. The programme began by looking at the state of League One after Saturday’s action, including some of the key goals and a look at the table. Team news from Withdean was delivered by reporter Greg Whelan pitchside, as loanee Andrew Whing was confirmed as a starter. The main VT package was all about Brighton’s ongoing and much delayed quest for a new stadium site in Falmer, much as it had been on several occasions in previous seasons. Whelan voiced his report which started with an impassioned speech by Paul Samrah, Withdean PA announcer and one of the key men leading this charge. The report touched upon the two seasons at Gillingham after selling the Goldstone before glimpses of the current situation; an athletics stadium forming a temporary home, pop-up offices in the city centre and a small club shop on Queen’s Road. Samrah was also interviewed pitchside, followed by Dick Knight, both championing the necessity of a new stadium. Supporters including Tim Carder and Ed Bassford had set up The Seagulls Party in a bid to put pressure on current Lewes councillors of the Liberal Democrats and stand against them in 2007’s local elections. Footage from the rally on the Seafront was interspersed with reports from earlier this week with the news that Lewes District Council had pulled out of its legal battle and plans were now in the hands of the Secretary of State Ruth Kelly to decide over the next several months. Finally, Chief Executive Martin Perry highlighted the current state of affairs. After the studio team discussed the difficulties of Withdean for players and managers of both home and away teams, there was a live link-up with Chairman Dick Knight pitchside. “We’re being stopped from getting this stadium by a few Nimbys in an adjoining town council who are defending their case against the side that we want on the basis that it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty. It was fifty years ago, it no longer is.” Knight was confident Ruth Kelly would follow John Prescott’s decision in approving this, it’s just a question of when this would be.

BLA Blackpool owner  BLA Revell  BLA Kick Off  BLA Comms

After Knight did a fantastic job of explaining why the stadium is a must, spoke well of Dean Wilkins and the current playing staff as well as the difficulties this season with a transitioning side. Andrew Whing and Alex Revell were highlighted by the studio as potential key players for Brighton today. For Blackpool Andy Morrell, formerly of Wrexham and Coventry, was in the spotlight. The recent takeover of the club which resulted in Valery Belokon becoming their investor, hoping he’d become a ‘lower league Roman Abramovich’. He was interviewed, as were both managers, before handing over to the commentary team for kick off. The title sequence remained the same as last season, soundtracked by The Farm’s All Together Now, but for this League One match the action shots were of lower league matches rather than the usual Championship players. The graphics were tweaked slightly with full names appearing in the team line-ups rather than just surnames, and the replay graphic was not of the League One trophy unfortunately. Instead it was the Sky Sports logo crashing in from the right and out to the left of shot very quickly. Championship matches still had the same trophy replay as last season. For goals the 3D club crest was still going strong even if we weren’t able to see it in action for the Albion today. The scorebar was changed for this season again, morphing into a more appropriate shape and font more in line with the rest of the set. After the match around ten minutes were afforded to wrap up this game, including interviews with the man of the match, goalscorer and winning manager, before taking an advert break and moving onto their second Live match of the day at 3.30pm; Grimsby v Hereford. Fifteen Live matches throughout the season were broadcast from Leagues One and Two under the current contracts.

BLA Wilkins  BLA Corners  BLA Red card  BLA Table

Story of the Match: Brighton had an early shout for a penalty when Blackpool defender Michael Jackson (not that one) handled the ball in the box but the claims were ignored by the referee. After a fairly even and open first fifteen minutes, Blackpool took the lead. Shaun Barker improvised with the outside of his boot to get a cross in the from far side of the box which was met by Keith Southern’s head/shoulder six yards out giving Michel Kuipers no chance from close range. Brighton had a couple of chances with debutant Andrew Whing’s header early on and a dangerous cross from Kerry Mayo causing panic in the Blackpool defence. Not much goalmouth action either end for much of the first half, but Brighton showed some fight just before the break with winger Dean Cox linking up well with Kerry Mayo but not able to get a decent effort at goal. The second half started slowly, with the expected Brighton charge never materialising. Blackpool took the initiative themselves and doubled the lead after the hour mark. With their sixth corner of the game, the ball was drilled towards the penalty spot, headed back into the danger area where substitute Scott Vernon nipped in ahead of Kuipers to prod home from just a couple of yards out. A moment to sum up Brighton’s lacklustre approach at goal came after seventy minutes when goalkeeper Evans came to punch a cross clear, barely got anything on it as it fell to Guy Butters on the edge of the box to volley but Cox got in his way and it came to nothing. Things got even worse a minute later when Alex Frutos was given a straight red card for a flying elbow. It was the fifth Albion sending off this season already in thirteen matches. After impressing greatly last season, Frutos found it difficult to get into Wilkins’ plans this year. Vernon scored again with three minutes remaining. A long ball forward wasn’t dealt with well by Mayo who just lumped it up in the air. He then lost the resulting header which found Vernon in behind Adam El-Abd and through on goal. Kuipers goes down early and as Vernon goes to round him he misses the ball as it rolled past the helpless goalie and easy to tap in to the empty net. Three-nil down, three minutes to go, three sides of the stadium started emptying out. Blackpool deserved the win, perhaps not quite by such a margin, but Brighton really looked unsure in front of goal. It was to be a season of establishing themselves and settling back into the third tier after a yo-yo few years. Blackpool would go on to gain promotion to the Championship via the Play Offs whilst Brighton would stay in the bottom half all season, eventually finishing in 18th place, just six points above a second successive relegation. Things were going to need to get better quickly as the off-the-field battle for the ground showed little sign of easing up.

BRIGHTON 0 BLACKPOOL 3
Southern, Vernon (2)

BLA Replay

EXTRA; Post match interviews were broadcast on Sky Sports News due to the scheduling of the Live double-header meaning attention turned to the second match around ten minutes after ours was over. The below screenshots are taken from Through the Night, broadcast from 11pm until the following morning’s live programmes begin at 6am. Presenters David Bobin and Alex Payne were on shift that evening. The programme had its own theme tune at the time; Artisan – Deadly Avenger.

BLA SSN titles BLA SSN presenters

Manager Dean Wilkins commented afterwards “It’s very hard for me to hide the disappointment that I’m feeling at the moment to be honest with you. We’ve worked all week, we’ve worked on a plan to approach the game with and I think in the end the players have got to take a lot of responsibility for not putting that plan into practise.”

BLA SSN report BLA SSN Wilkins

PREVIOUS; #23 BRIGHTON 2-3 CRYSTAL PALACE 20/11/2005

NEXT; #25 LEYTON ORIENT 2-2 BRIGHTON 17/11/2007