#60: Brighton 0-2 Watford 25/04/2015

#60 BRIGHTON 0-2 WATFORD Championship
Saturday 25th April 2015 Image result for

60WAT Titles.JPG

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
12.15pm Kick Off; The Amex     12-2.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

60WAT Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

The Albion were back Live on television two weeks after their last appearance. Similar to that night, Brighton took on one of the promotion candidates in a crucial end of season match. This was the last game at The Amex in what had been a season to forget. Having had so much success over the past four years since leaving Withdean with the League One title, it was probably inevitable that at some point things would catch up with the club.

Three different manages had taken permanent charge of the club since this time last year; Oscar Garcia, Sami Hyypia and now Chris Hughton. A lack of quality investment meant a whole host of loan players were brought in and a clear imbalance was on display. Chris Hughton’s stock was extremely high in the Championship, having gained promotion with Newcastle and Norwich before. His task was to stabilise a side that weren’t keeping clean sheets and lacked potency up top. He managed the first part, but goals were proving much harder to come by.

As we headed into this final home game of a miserable campaign, Brighton were six points above the bottom three with two matches remaining. It would take a miracle for Millwall or Wigan to overtake the Seagulls at this late stage, which was handy as the final two opponents were Middlesbrough next week after Watford today. Both of those were still fighting for the title and expecting wins. Safety could have been mathematically secured earlier and looked likely after a crucial victory at Blackburn back in March. But Brighton’s Easter period was dreadful, defeat at home to Norwich was followed on Monday by a desperate loss at fellow strugglers Rotherham. Suddenly, sixteenth place became nineteenth and Hughton’s men were looking over their shoulders again. Further defeat at Wigan last time out kept alive the Latics hopes of staying up and made sure it wouldn’t be a comfortable end of season on the South Coast.

Today’s visitors Watford were at the tail end of a magnificent run which saw them top the table in the race for promotion, destiny was in their own hands. Since December, the Hornets had played twenty-five, won eighteen, drawn just two and lost five. They picked up fifty-six points from a possible seventy-five. This was serious promotion form and probably would have run away with the title had it not been for a turbulent opening couple of months off the field. Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic was appointed in early October and guided the club to top spot with win in his opening League game. They remained in the top seven for the rest of the season and were now guaranteed top four at worst.

But Jokanovic was their fourth head coach of the season! Beppe Sannino took over in January 2014 and won four of the opening five matches of this campaign but shocked everyone by resigning at the end of August, citing he had taken the club ‘as far as he could’. Former Albion boss Oscar Garcia then made a surprise return to English football just weeks after exiting Sussex. But he stepped down from Watford after less than four weeks, taking charge of the solitary match – a defeat to Charlton. He quit for health reasons, having been hospitalised for a week owing to chest pains. It was a worrying time for the Spaniard, but when he left there were apparently no further fears for his health. Billy McKinlay took over for a week before Deportivo and Chelsea midfielder Slovisa Jokanovic was brought in and McKinlay reverted to assistant. What an achievement it would be to gain promotion in his first months in charge and it could be secured if results went their way today. The Sky Sports cameras were back in town to witness it Live.

 

THE TEAMS

60WAT Brighton

Chris Hughton was looking ahead to next season and the changes he’d be making and needing for his first full campaign with the blue and white stripes. Amongst those he wouldn’t be needing were Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron Hughes, whose contracts were expiring and would not be offered a new one. Both were on the bench today for a farewell to The Amex. Also probably making his last bow was Mustapha Carayol. He moved on loan from next week’s opponents Middlesbrough at the end of March, the deadline for loan deals. He was moved up top alongside Chris O’Grady to provide more of an attacking threat. The lack of goals was probably the biggest weakness of the season; the tally of just forty-four was the fourth worst in the Division, only better than the bottom three. Of the strikers, Sam Baldock netted just four in all competitions whilst Chris O’Grady had three and Leon Best none. Departed pair Adrian Colunga had three and Darren Bent two. It was a huge let down in that department.

The club’s top scorer was centre back Lewis Dunk with seven in League and Cup. Going into this season he had never scored unless it was an own goal! He was part of a trial back three here, alongside captain Gordon Greer and Nottingham Forest’s Greg Halford. Regular full backs Bruno on the right and Joe Bennett on the left were pushed further forward to become wing backs in a three-five-two formation. Albion’s Young Player of the Year, Joao Teixeira, was missing from the middle after breaking his leg in the goalless draw with Huddersfield. The teenager impressed greatly, and it didn’t go unnoticed by parent club Liverpool, as he picked up their Academy Player of the Season for his performances on loan. The Seagulls Supporters Player of the Year was Inigo Calderon, who had enjoyed a new lease of life as a makeshift right midfielder. He was named on the bench today, as was Kazenga LuaLua and Rohan Ince. LuaLua missed two months of the season through injury, since returning to the squad in February he had only started three times was frequently utilised as a substitute.

60WAT Subs 60WAT Watford

Original Watford head coach for this season, Beppe Sannino, brought Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in from Tottenham on a free over the summer following the retirement of ex-Arsenal stopper Manuel Almunia. Craig Cathcart transferred from Blackpool. Watford were owned by Giampaolo Pozzo, who was also involved with Italian club Udinese and Spanish side Granada. As a result, several of their players spent time switching between the clubs. Strikers Matej Vydra and Odion Ighalo joined on loan from the Italian club, with Ighalo making it permanent back in October. Winger Juan Carlos Paredes came in from Granada over the summer whilst Ikechi Anya moved from Spain to Hertfordshire back in 2012. Closer to home, midfielder Adlene Guedioura was on loan from Crystal Palace.

Ben Watson, the man who scored Wigan’s winner in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City two years ago, joined from the Latics in January. Defender Matthew Connolly left Cardiff for a loan spell at Vicarage Road from mid-March until the end of the season. Captain Troy Deeney began his professional career with four seasons at Walsall before moving down to London in 2010. In June 2012 he was sentenced to ten months in prison for affray when he and a friend attacked a group of students. He was released after serving three months inside and went straight back into the Watford squad for the rest of the 2012/13 season. Since then he was most famously involved in the incredible dramatics which saw Anthony Knockaert miss a penalty for Leicester in the Play Off Semi Final Second Leg, where Watford then broke up the other end for Deeney to score with the last kick off the game to secure their place in the Final. It’s one of the most incredible Play Off moments of all time. Refereeing this afternoon’s clash was boyhood Luton fan – Watford’s famous rivals – little Keith Stroud.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM & COVERAGE

60WAT Ident 60WAT Thomas

Sky’s main Football League Live match each weekend was scheduled in the 12.15pm Saturday lunchtime slot. This was in a bid to deter viewers away from BT Sport’s Live top flight offering, which was regularly Saturdays at 12.45pm. This was not something new for the Football League. Ever since Sky encountered a rival in the Premier League market with Setanta in 2007, the lower League broadcasts were positioned directly against them on Sky, often pettily kicking off just minutes before in order to gain that little edge. As of last season, Sky branded their coverage of the Championship, Leagues One and Two as FL72; using that across the seventy-five Live games per season and the regular Thursday and Monday afternoon magazine programmes. Graphics and music for today remained as it had been all season.

60WAT Pitchside 60WAT Beagrie

FL72’s number one host Simon Thomas presented this afternoon’s coverage from The Amex, opening up the show with build-up done pitchside in front of the West Stand. Thomas was joined by his regular first choice pundit Peter Beagrie. Since hanging up his boots in 2006, the former Scunthorpe, Bradford, Manchester City and Middlesbrough winger forged a successful career in the media. He was paired with host David Jones for the 2007/08 season as Sky went for a new look, younger Football League presentation team and remained a constant ever since. As a player, he appeared in all four Divisions of English football and was still lacing up his boots at the age of forty. As a pundit, Beagrie read the game well and was a natural communicator. His North East accent was a mainstay of Sky’s FL72 coverage in the studio.

60WAT Race for Promotion 60WAT Split screen interview

Today’s broadcast began at midday, fifteen minutes prior to kick-off. On the penultimate round of Championship fixtures, the main focus for Sky was on who would make it up to the Premier League with still so much to be decided; what Sky were labelling the ‘Race for Promotion’. With previous leaders Bournemouth not playing until Monday, also Live on Sky, this was a chance for Watford to widen the gap to four points over the Cherries with a win, and if results went their way in the 3pm games, promotion could be secured on this day. Naturally then, Sky’s coverage reflected this battle, with little mention pre-match of Brighton. The Albion weren’t mathematically secure of their place in the Division again for next season, but a six point gap with two to play made life more comfortable; a point today or next week on the final day at Middlesbrough would be enough. After Thomas and Beagrie had briefly set the scene, we heard from Watford’s fourth manager of the season; Slavisa Jokanovic, in conversation with the main Football League reporter Jonathan Oakes.

Following the advert break and with the teams about to run out onto the turf, Oakes spoke with the Albion’s Chris Hughton for his pre-match thoughts. With not much left to play for other than pride, Brighton would have a greater say in how things panned out at the top in these last two matches and Hughton knew the importance of putting in a professional performance. “We want to finish this season as strong as we can. We also have a responsibility to this club and, of course, to the League to field as strong a side as we can in both games and to get as good a result as we can in both games.” The teams then left the tunnel to a live performance of Sussex By the Sea from soprano singer Donna-Marie Hughes to mark the final home game of the season. And it was up to the commentary box where Daniel Mann and Don Goodman were waiting, just as they were two weeks earlier. A new addition to the FL72 coverage today was a quick thirty second commercial immediately before the kick-off, known as a ‘turbo break’. It was more familiar to the Premier League coverage, where typically a betting ad with live odds was shown.

60WAT Studio 60WAT Interviews

Sky were increasingly presenting the Football League build up from the touchline, soaking in that atmosphere ahead of kick off, before moving up to the studio box for the rest of the show. That’s exactly what happened here, as the usual presentation area up in the back of the North Stand was utilised by Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie from half time onwards. They reviewed the first period, in which Brighton found themselves unlucky to be behind. The stats backed this up, with the Albion enjoying nearly two-thirds of the possession and the greater number of corners and attempts on goal. The early pressure from the home side was highlighted, passing the ball quicker and getting more numbers in the box when attacking.

When the final whistle sounded, the Watford players and fans were full of celebration. In the middle of the pitch was reporter Jonathan Oakes who grabbed a quick word with the captain, goal scorer and Man of the Match, Troy Deeney, alongside defender Matthew Connolly. Watford did their part of the bargain. If results for the two teams outside the automatic places went the Hornets way, they would be promoted come five o’clock. We wouldn’t see that on this Live broadcast of course, but results did go their way! Middlesbrough lost to Fulham whilst Norwich could only draw at Rotherham. Supporters of both Brighton and Watford stayed behind in the various bars at The Amex to watch Gillette Soccer Saturday as the scores came in, which then led to a big party after full time to share in the achievement of a place up to the top flight. Congratulations to Watford Football Club.

60WAT Fixtures 60WAT Coming Up

Rewinding back a couple of hours and to the end of today’s Live match broadcast; after the break Thomas and Beagrie had only six minutes or so left to wrap everything up before coming off-air at half two. Oakes spoke with victorious manager Jokanovic, treating today as the ‘semi-final’ and next week the ‘final’ in his quest for promotion. The studio team gave an overview of the situation, with Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Norwich all with two games remaining to chase Watford down. Sky were probably hoping things weren’t quite settled over this weekend, as the following Saturday they’d be showing two Live matches from the final day of the campaign, usually one of the highlights of the season. For Brighton, it was all pretty much done and dusted with six points clear of the drop zone and a superior goal difference. The team below, Rotherham, had been deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player, whilst the team in twenty-second, Millwall, had to work miracles. The bottom two – already relegated Blackpool and 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan – were too far away to catch the Albion. There was no time in the programme to hear the thoughts of Chris Hughton today but he knew that the primary task this season was to maintain Brighton’s Championship status, Big improvements were required next year to get the club back to where it ought to belong; competing for a place amongst England’s elite.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

60WAT Kick Off 60WAT Comms

Prior to kick off, a minute’s silence was observed for the thirtieth anniversary of the tragic fire at Bradford’s Valley Parade, which killed fifty-six and injured many, many more. Football paid its respects to the victims of that dreadful incident on the 11th May 1985. The penultimate weekend of the Championship season then got underway at The Amex, with Watford shooting towards the North Stand in the first half.

Inside the opening minute Brighton twice went close to getting on the scoresheet, both times just unable to pull the trigger. Firstly, Chris O’Grady caught the Watford defence napping. Joe Bennett found the target man in space but his touch took him to the left where the covering defender was. That opportunity went begging but in the away team’s panic to clear, the ball broke for Dale Stephens on the edge of the penalty area. He dribbled past one then tried to take it beyond a second, the men in yellow were not having that and they kicked to safety. A frantic start to the match, backed by a vocal Seagulls support. Brighton had the lion’s share of the possession and enjoyed success with long, diagonal passes from the back to the wing, enabling the wide players to drive forward in this 3-5-2 formation. As a consequence, Watford brought off Ikechi Anya and replaced him with Daniel Tozser in a diamond midfield. That enabled others to realign to make a more solid back four shape, as opposed to the three, after twenty-five minutes.

Whether these adjustments had any bearing on the deadlock being broken just three minutes later, I don’t know. But that’s exactly what Watford did, as Troy Deeney pounced to make it one-nil. The ball came in from the left from Matthew Connolly, Greg Halford met with the header but mistimed it, sending the ball straight up in the air. Gordon Greer then tried to trap the dropping ball as it fell but only seemed to knock it into the path of his own goal. Ighalo picked it up with his back to goal six-yards out to flick it over to Deeney. His first touch took it past the despairing lunge of Greer before firing a shot past Stockdale and three Albion bodies into the back of the net from twelve yards. Of all the people for the ball to drop to in that position, Troy Deeney is amongst the last you’d want. It was a goal from almost nothing, Brighton had ample opportunity to clear their lines but failed to do so and fell behind in a match they had had the better of to that point.

Five minutes after the goal, Brighton had their first shot on target forcing Gomes into a good save. Chris O’Grady’s strength and power had caused Watford problems earlier in the half but here it was the strength of his shot that almost nabbed an equaliser. His effort from twenty-odd yards was bending and swerving but the Brazilian ‘keeper watched to slap behind. He almost went from hero to villain straight after when he flapped at a cross. but Brighton couldn’t quite force the ball home. The sides went into the break with Deeney’s strike separating them.

60WAT Deeney goal 60WAT Analysis

Watford began the second half well and almost doubled the lead within ten minutes. Again, Brighton failed to clear their lines, allowing Guedioura to try some trickery on the edge of the box. The ball found its way through to an unmarked Odion Ighalo six yards out. He tried to round Stockdale, in doing so Guedioura took over with the first time finish – the goalkeeper dived at his feet excellently to block for a corner. The Albion attempted to address this by bringing on a player for his Amex farewell, replacing one likely to be doing the same. Craig Mackail-Smith arrived with half an hour remaining to a fantastic reception, coming on for Middlesbrough loanee Mustapha Carayol. Watford, perhaps looking for a counter attacking opportunity, introduced the pace of striker Matej Vydra on for Ighalo with the result not yet secure.

The changes made some difference, with Brighton pushing for an equaliser. But they just weren’t getting enough bodies into the box. Substitute Inigo Calderon, on for the injured Bruno, produced a very good cross for Chris O’Grady. His powerful header landed just wide of the post. The replays showed it actually bobbled up off a bit of sand patching up the pitch in the goalmouth, causing the ball to head wide instead of in! One for the groundsman to reconsider. In previous games, the diagonal ball to switch play worked a treat for Brighton but was finding it harder to come by today. As the game approached the final few minutes, Lewis Dunk clipped a terrific pass out wide to Calderon. His cut back saw Dale Stephens free on the edge, but he didn’t quite catch the low shot right and Gomes was able to get down to collect the tame effort.

But Albion’s best chance fell to Mackail-Smith in stoppage time. With bodies in the box, Brighton’s cross was cleared out as far as sub LuaLua. He headed it up to Calderon on the edge, who cleverly chested the ball beyond the Hornets defence to find the striker. Mackail-Smith just waited that fraction too long as the ball wouldn’t settle, allowing Gomes to rush out of goal and bravely punch away as he was ready to pull the trigger, whilst the rebound came to nothing.

In the fifth of five minutes of injury time, Watford sealed the three points with a terrific counter attacking goal. With the Seagulls upfield chasing that equaliser, the visitors managed to clear the ball to the half way line. The pace and determination of Troy Deeney saw him gather the loose ball on the near touchline. Dribbling it forward, he looked up to see Matej Vydra the only person in the middle with no defender anywhere near him. Deeney found him with a good pass, Vydra controlled well with his chest as Gordon Greer sprinted back. It was to no avail though as Vydra’s second touch was a terrific finish into the bottom left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net. Co-commentator Don Goodman called it when Vydra was brought on, saying they’d be looking to counter with his pace. Watford secured all three points to put them within touching distance of the Premier League again.

60WAT Table top 60WAT Table bottom

BRIGHTON 0 WATFORD 2
Deeney, Vydra

60WAT Replay.JPG

PREVIOUS; #59 BRIGHTON 0-2 BOURNEMOUTH 10/04/2015

NEXT; #61 BRIGHTON 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 07/08/2015

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

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

59BOU Titles

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

59BOU Ident 59BOU Sponsor 59BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

59BOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

59BOU Subs 59BOU Bournemouth

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

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

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

 

THE COVERAGE & PRESENTATION TEAM

59BOU Thomas 59BOU Anderton

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

59BOU Pitchside 59BOU Hughton split screen

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

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

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

59BOU Carayol 59BOU Studio

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

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

59BOU Match Stats 59BOU Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

59BOU Kick Off 59BOU Comms

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

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

59BOU Kermorgant goal 59BOU Wilson goal

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

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

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

59BOU Top 59BOU Bottom

BRIGHTON 0 BOURNEMOUTH 2
Kermorgant, Wilson

59BOU Replay

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

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

#56: Bournemouth 3-2 Brighton 01/11/2014

#56 BOURNEMOUTH 3-2 BRIGHTON Championship
Saturday 1st November 2014 Image result for

56BOU Titles

PRESENTER Natalie Sawyer GUEST Darren Anderton
COMMENTATORS Gary Weaver & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
5.15pm Kick Off; Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth     5-7.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

56BOU Ident 56BOU Sponsor 56BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

It was all change at the Albion following the Play Off Semi Final defeat at Derby in May. Coach Oscar Garcia offered his resignation the same night, citing a lack of financial investment in both his transfer windows the key frustration, as well as offloading key started in Ashley Barnes and Liam Bridcutt in January. His dissatisfaction had been clear for a while. The club found itself in exactly the same situation for the second summer in a row.

On 6th June, former Liverpool and Finland defender Sami Hyypia was the surprise appointment as manager of the Albion on a three-year deal. He spent a decade in the Premier League at Anfield, where he made his name at the heart of the defence that won two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and, of course, the Champions League in 2005. After Liverpool, he spent the final two years of his playing career with Bayer Leverkusen before retiring in 2011. He immediately moved into coaching, first as Finland’s assistant before returning to Leverkusen initially as caretaker. By May 2012 he was in charge of the first team along with Sascha Lewandowski and finished their first full campaign third in the Bundesliga, qualifying for the Champions League. He took sole charge for the 2013/14 season but was sacked in April after a slightly less successful year.

Upon his appointment at Brighton, Hyypia was all set to bring in former Liverpool and England assistant Sammy Lee as his number two. But, after agreeing to join, Lee u-turned at the last minute to join Southampton instead. Former Albion winger Nathan Jones was promoted from within, rising to first team coach from assistant head coach. Hyypia’s appointment was initially met with optimism.  He followed in similar paths to Poyet and Garcia, whereby he was a terrific player who achieved a lot in his career but was young and new to management in this country.

However, initial results certainly did not go well both on and off the field. Star striker Leo Ulloa couldn’t resist the Premier League lure, joining Leicester for £8million, whilst Will Buckley linked up with former boss Poyet at Sunderland. Spanish contingent Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez were released and Matt Upson joined Leicester for one final go at the top flight. On the field, back-to-back defeats kicked off the new season, at home to Sheffield Wednesday and away to Birmingham, without scoring a goal. Some respite came next with two wins, away at Leeds and against Bolton at The Amex.

But ahead of today’s clash with Bournemouth, victories seemed a world away as the club were on a ten game winless streak stretching back to August. Seven draws suggested a lack of clinical edge in finishing teams off and the Seagulls were sat precariously in twenty-first, just a place above the drop zone almost a third of the way into the new season. What a contrast to the previous two years; where the Premier League was in sight, now all of a sudden League One was a more realistic prospect.

Bournemouth, by contrast, were enjoying a tremendous start to the season, building on an impressive tenth place finish back in the Championship last season. Boss Eddie Howe was named October’s Manager of the Month, whilst striker Callum Wilson won the Player’s award. A one-hundred-percent record last month included an eight-nil demolition of Birmingham at St Andrew’s to catapult them into the Play Off places. Sky Sports cameras were present to see the latest battle between two South Coast teams, Live on a Saturday teatime.

 

THE TEAMS

56BOU Brighton

Just two players who started the last televised match back in May also began here; Dunk and Greer in an otherwise new-look Brighton. After departing manager Oscar Garcia’s complaint of a lack of transfer funds, incoming boss Sami Hyypia didn’t enjoy much shrift from the board over the summer either. A plethora of players were brought in before the window shut, but six were free transfers with a further three on loan. Money was spent, although undisclosed amounts, on goalkeeper David Stockdale and striker Chris O’Grady but both were absent from the squad here due to injury. In fact, there was somewhat of a goalkeeping crisis.

Last season’s ‘keepers Tomasz Kuszczak and Peter Brezovan were released over the summer, and with Stockdale out, this left only teenage rookie Christian Walton. He made his debut during the midweek two-nil defeat in the League Cup Fourth Round at Tottenham, a game in which he performed well, but it would have been unfair to rely on him during a turbulent time in the League campaign. Former Bolton and Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi was signed yesterday on an emergency loan and went straight into the starting XI for his solitary appearance.

In front of him was a new look back line, as left-back Joe Bennett joined on a season-long loan from Aston Villa and experienced Northern Irishman Aaron Hughes came in from QPR. They slotted in alongside captain Gordon Greer whilst academy graduate Lewis Dunk became a regular starter after two seasons as a bit-part player. Another Villa loanee, Gary Gardner, sat in midfield next to summer freebie Danny Holla, transferred in from his native Netherlands.

Hyypia called in a favour from his old side, as Liverpool loaned Portuguese attacking midfielder Joao Teixeira to gain first team football for the year. Two summer signings started up top; Sam Baldock moving from Bristol City and Adrian Colunga flying in from Spain’s Getafe. The bench was probably more familiar to fans from last season than the starters, with Craig Mackail-Smith, Kazenga LuaLua and Inigo Calderon providing an option.

56BOU Bournemouth 56BOU Subs

Eddie Howe named Championship Player of the Month Callum Wilson up top. Wilson joined after five years at Coventry for around £3million in July. He netted twice on the opening day win at Huddersfield, with Marc Pugh and Yann Kermorgant also on the scoresheet. Pugh started for our match whilst Kermorgant sat on the bench. Midfielder Andrew Surman moved from Norwich ahead of the season, whilst goalkeeper Artur Boruc was on a season’s loan from Southampton.

There was a distinctly Brighton flavour in the centre of defence; Tommy Elphick spent seven seasons at the Albion after graduating from the youth setup and joined Bournemouth in 2012 following injury forcing him low down the pecking order. Steve Cook made his Seagulls debut in the League Cup penalty shoot-out defeat of Manchester City in 2008 as a seventeen-year-old but only made a handful of appearances in the subsequent three years. He joined Bournemouth initially on loan in October 2011 before making it permanent three months later. Elsewhere, Matt Ritchie was impressing for the Cherries on the wing whilst fellow Scotsman Ryan Fraser was part of the team that gained promotion from League One in 2013. Refereeing tonight’s big match was little Keith Stroud.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

56BOU Sawyer 56BOU Anderton

This evening’s coverage was hosted by Natalie Sawyer from the Goldsands Stadium, better known as Dean Court. Sawyer started out in production as Sky Sports in 2000, as a runner and graphics operator for Sky Sports News, before progressing on-screen to host on the channel. She became one of the faces of Sky’s coverage of Transfer Deadline Day alongside Jim White and all that yellow. As of the 2013/14 campaign, Sawyer began hosting Live League One and Two matches and became the secondary Football League presenter this season, behind Simon Thomas, combining this with her stints on Sky Sports News. Joining her in the studio was former England midfielder Darren Anderton. As well as thirty international caps and a World Cup finals goal, the majority of Anderton’s career was spent at Tottenham where he featured in the first dozen years of the Premiership. He started and ended his career playing for a team in the Meridian region, beginning at Portsmouth in 1990 before finishing at Bournemouth after three seasons in the Football League in 2008/09. He, perhaps unfairly, earned the nickname ‘sicknote’ for his apparent frequent injuries, though the records show he only ever made fewer than twenty appearances in a season on three occasions; coming in the mid-90s at Spurs. He represented England at both Euro ’96 and World Cup ’98 and since retirement worked as a studio pundit covering Euro 2012 for Canadian broadcaster TSN.

56BOU Studio

In the commentary box were Gary Weaver and Don Goodman. Weaver became more of a prominent voice on Sky’s Football League coverage from this season, having done just a handful of Live matches in the previous couple of years. One of these was Albion’s League One game during the promotion season away at Colchester, where a comical own goal took a little bit of gloss off the title. He was now essentially FL72 third choice, behind Bill Leslie and Daniel Mann. But with Leslie getting more Premier League opportunities, and 3D commentaries all but disappeared because Sky pulled the plug on this football project, the Football League provided Mann and Weaver increased Live match exposure. Co-commentator Don Goodman was one of Sky’s most experienced League analysts, having done the role since 2007. He tended to get the biggest Championship game of the weekend, with the likes of Andy Hinchcliffe and Garry Birtles picking up the rest. Completing the line-up was touchline reporter Jonathan Oakes. He was Sky’s main FL72 interviewer, having taken over from Patrick Davison two seasons ago. Oakes previously reported for Sky Sports News and the magazine programming.

 

THE COVERAGE

56BOU Hyypia arriving 56BOU Results

Sky Sports introduced a new set of idents for the 2014/15 season, with even more dramatic music than before! The theme was based around putting Sky Sports into the picture, as the logo was part masked by the slow-mo action. The Football League coverage was again sponsored by Screwfix for this season, and still going under the branding of ‘FL72’ for the seventy-two clubs in the three Divisions. We did get brand new titles for this year, soundtracked by Woodkid’s track Run Boy Run. The music had previously been used on Eurosport’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics and more recently for the excellent closing montage to the BBC’s World Cup 2014 Final. The new sequence featured red and white rectangular panels flying around from all over the country towards a generic stadium where they’d build the FL72 logo. These red panels had clips of goals and celebrations on, whilst some of the white panels had club badges. It reached a crescendo in the revealing of the FL72 logo next to a giant Championship trophy, with either the word ‘Live’ or ‘Review’ underneath depending on if it was a match or magazine show.

Host Natalie Sawyer’s introduction VT focussed around Bournemouth, unsurprising given their excellent start and record win the previous week, playing on the ‘Bourne’ trilogy of films to end with ‘The Bournemouth Supremacy/Identity/Legacy’. There was a mention of the Albion’s struggles this season despite a Play Off place six months earlier. Sami Hyypia’s reign hadn’t begun well and Brighton were without a League win since the first month.

56BOU Form guide 56BOU Baldock

Coverage began fifteen minutes before the 5.15pm kick off, hosted by Sawyer with her guest Darren Anderton from a box in the corner of the stadium. With this being the late game, a rarity for Sky’s Football League during the current rights cycle as the regular slot was 12.15pm on Saturdays, the rest of the day’s results were known before kick-off. Brighton hadn’t moved from their precarious twenty-first placed spot, whilst Bournemouth had been bumped down to seventh but a win would see them into the top two on goal difference. The graphics were as last season, with one tiny tweak being the introduction of a red card on the scoreboard if a player got sent off; as first used in this country by ESPN five years earlier.

In the limited amount of pre-match time before the adverts, the studio pairing picked out a couple of key players; Callum Wilson for the Cherries with his nine goals from fourteen League games, and summer transfer Sam Baldock, yet to get off the mark for the Albion. The form guide comparison showed the huge contrast in recent weeks between the two sides.

56BOU Hyypia split screen 56BOU Analysis

After the ad break and with the teams waiting in the tunnel, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with both managers. Eddie Howe was in confident mood but was “under no illusions, Brighton are a very good team so we have to be at our best.” Sami Hyypia acknowledged his Brighton side were lacking in the final third, not turning chances to goals and needed immediate improvement on that. With everyone set, it was time for our commentators, Gary Weaver and Don Goodman, to take over for the match.

At half time, pundit Darren Anderton had some encouraging words to say about the Albion’s performance despite being behind. “They’ve actually looked to play very well, Brighton, even from the first minute. They’ve made the pitch big, passed the ball around really well, if anything they’re just not ruthless enough.” Upon reviewing the first half goals, Anderton had sympathy for Greer’s own goal to give Bournemouth the lead; there wasn’t much he could do about that due to the fantastic ball in. For Colunga’s equaliser, he praised the Brighton play as being “absolutely fantastic”, and Pugh restoring the home lead with “great technique.” But for the second half, he implored the Seagulls to continue how they’d been playing.

56BOU Elphick 56BOU Coming Up

Just before the adverts after the final whistle, reporter Jonathan Oakes got immediate reaction from ex-Albion and current Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick, alongside the Man of the Match Simon Francis. Back in the studio, host Natalie Sawyer pointed out this was Bournemouth’s first win in front of the Sky cameras since 2003. And you thought our Live record wasn’t great! She and Anderton reviewed the five goals from the game during the closing seven or eight minutes of the programme. For the second Albion equaliser, Anderton gave Baldock credit for “a great first touch and then he just kept his head down, drilled it with his left foot, with the laces, giving the ‘keeper no chance. Great finish.”

For the winning goal, he agreed with the referee’s decision to award the penalty, whilst there was no chance of saving the spot kick when it was hit with such pace and accuracy. Jonathan Oakes spoke with the Bournemouth boss but no time to hear from Sami Hyypia before the programme came off-air at 7.30pm. Eddie Howe was disappointed with the performance and lack of control on the game but gave credit to Brighton for forcing that to be the case. Plaudits were all well and good, but it was wins that were needed if we were to avoid sleepwalking into League One.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

56BOU Kick Off 56BOU Comms

A minute’s silence preceded the match, as with all fixtures across the weekend, for Remembrance. The home team got the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half; both clubs wearing their traditional home kits. Brighton started on the front foot, dominating the ball and winning a dangerous free-kick position on the edge of the box. Gary Gardner’s low fizz took a touch of Elphick and nearly in the back of the net, flying just wide. Right-back Aaron Hughes dealt a blow to Brighton’s plans when he jumped, landed and twisted his ankle badly enough to force him off injured after just ten minutes and stretchered out of the ground; the current longest serving player, Inigo Calderon, took his place. It took Bournemouth a quarter of an hour to work a chance, with Ali Al-Habsi forced into a low save to keep Ritchie’s close range effort out well.

Bournemouth grew in confidence and nine minutes later had the lead. Co-commentator Don Goodman stated, “This is the first real concerted pressure that Brighton have come under here this evening. Got to stand firm.” As soon as he’d finished his sentence, Simon Francis delivered a fantastic cross from the right to bounce in between the Albion centre backs. Gordon Greer, six yards out aware of an attacker right behind him, couldn’t afford to allow the ball to go any further and tried to nod it behind for a corner. Unfortunately, it ended up flying into the corner of the net for an own goal.

56BOU Own Goal 56BOU Colunga goal

If things were looking down for Brighton, they didn’t show it as three minutes later they scored an equaliser. A defence-splitting through ball from the outside of Joao Teixeira’s right foot put Adrian Colunga in the clear. He latched onto the ball well, took a touch to the side of the onrushing Artur Boruc in goal and calmly slotted into the open goal to make it one-one. It was a terrific run from the striker and superb forward play to finish it off for his first Brighton League goal.

The game continued pretty evenly until the third goal eight minutes before the break. Marc Pugh would be credited with it, but they got a slice of luck through a deflection on the way in. A corner into a crowded box swirled up into the air. Brighton couldn’t clear the second ball either, with it bouncing to an unmarked Pugh fifteen yards out. He adjusted his body to side-volley the dropping ball very well. Lewis Dunk’s despairing lunge gave the ball further momentum as it slipped through the legs of Gary Gardner, past Al-Habsi and in.

56BOU Baldock goal 56BOU Penalty

Into the second half, Brighton again started well. Lewis Dunk went close to nabbing an equaliser when his header from a corner had to be saved very well down low to his right by Boruc. Dunk had four goals to his name this season already, proving what a threat he was from set pieces as Albion’s top scorer. At the hour mark, Brighton did score a second as Sam Baldock became the second player of the match to score his first League goal for the club. For a team that enjoyed playing the ball around, this was a much more direct approach. The ball was launched back in to the Bournemouth half by goalkeeper Al-Habsi. Gordon Greer flicked on and Baldock was all of a sudden bearing down on goal. The defensive offside trap did not work. Baldock’s first touch controlled a difficult, bobbling ball whilst his second with the left just drove it low and hard past Boruc for a terrific finish. A second leveller for the Seagulls sent the already buoyant travelling support, making terrific noise throughout, even more vocal as we entered the final third of the match.

A change saw LuaLua come on for Colunga, whilst Bournemouth brought on Yann Kermorgant and Ryan Fraser; both teams could smell a victory. LuaLua’s first action almost brought about a goal but certainly caused panic at the back. Having almost been clattered into through a clumsy fall from the defender, LuaLua fired the ball across the face of the goal which somehow managed to pass every player by. It ended up at the feet of Gary Gardner on the far side who blazed it high and wide. The arrival of Kermorgant improved Bournemouth’s attacking play, with everything going through the former Charlton and Leicester man. Hyypia’s attempt to wrestle back control saw Craig Mackail-Smith brought on for Sam Baldock.

But with a quarter of an hour left, Bournemouth were given the chance to take all three points when Lewis Dunk brought down Callum Wilson for a penalty kick. Dunk’s reaction showed he knew immediately that he did wrong, holding his head in his hands as Wilson went to ground. The tackle from behind got none of the ball and plenty of the man, unnecessarily sliding in when Wilson was only going towards the byline. Up stepped Yann Kermorgant who made no mistake to give Bournemouth the lead for a third time this evening, sending Al-Habsi the other way, finding the opposite corner for a great spot kick. No repeat of his dreadful chipped penalty miss for Leicester in the 2010 Play Offs to cost his side the shoot-out. Bournemouth stood firm in the closing stages and held on to the victory this time, the final score three-two. Albion’s winless run continued whilst the Cherries went from strength to strength.

56BOU Table top 56BOU Table bottom

BOURNEMOUTH 3 BRIGHTON 2
Greer (own goal), Pugh, Kermorgant Colunga, Baldock

56BOU Replay 56BOU Goal

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

NEXT; #57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL 12/12/2014

#55: Derby 4-1 Brighton 11/05/2014

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

DERA Titles

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

DERA Ident DERA Sponsor DERA Intro

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

DERA Derby DERA Subs DERA Brighton

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

DERA Thomas DERA Rosler DERA Studio

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

DERA Garcia DERA Analysis

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

DERA Kick Off DERA Comms

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

DERA LuaLua DERA Pitch Invasion

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

DERA Schedule

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

DERA Replay

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

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

#54: Brighton 1-2 Derby 08/05/2014

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

DER Titles

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

DER Ident DER Sponsor DER Intro

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

DER BrightonDER Derby DER Subs

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

DER Thomas DER Beagrie DER Pitchside DER Studio

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

DER Form DER Garcia pre match DER MOTM Award DER Analysis

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

DER Kick Off DER Comms DER Lingard goal DER McGhee

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

DER Own Goal DER Action Areas

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

DER Coming Up

BRIGHTON 1 DERBY 2
Lingard Martin, Kuszczak own goal

DER Replay DER Goal

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

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

#52: Brighton 2-0 Yeovil 25/04/2014

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

YEO Titles

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

YEO Ident YEO Sponsor YEO Intro

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

YEO Brighton YEO Yeovil YEO Subs

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

YEO Gavin YEO Virgo YEO Kick Off YEO Comms

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

YEO Delay YEO Baker YEO Team YEO Match Stats

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

YEO Mullery YEO Yellow YEO LuaLua YEO Lingard

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

YEO Garcia YEO Table YEO Race for the Play Offs

BRIGHTON 2 YEOVIL 0
LuaLua, Lingard

YEO Replay YEO Goal

PREVIOUS; #51 HULL 2-1 BRIGHTON 24/02/2014

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

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

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

BOU Titles

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

BOU Ident BOU Sponsor BOU Intro

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

BOU Bournemouth BOU Subs BOU Brighton

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

BOU Thomas BOU Beagrie BOU Studio BOU Pitchside 

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

BOU Form BOU Split Screen BOU Sub BOU Coming Up

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

BOU Kick Off BOU Comms BOU Crofts BOU Barnes

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

BOU Table

BOURNEMOUTH 1 BRIGHTON 1
Ritchie Barnes

BOU Replay BOU Goal

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

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

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

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

PAL Titles

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

PAL Promo PAL Sponsor PAL Intro

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

PAL Brighton PAL Palace PAL Subs

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

PAL Thomas PAL Beagrie PAL Studio

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

PAL Zola PAL Split Screen PAL Lynam PAL Analysis

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

PAL Kick Off PAL Comms PAL Referee PAL Stand or Fall

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

PAL Policing PAL Poyet

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

BRIGHTON 0 CRYSTAL PALACE 2
Zaha (2)

PAL Replay

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

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

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

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

CPA Titles

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

CPA Ident CPA Sponsor CPA Intro

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

CPA Palace CPA Subs CPA Brighton

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

CPA Thomas CPA Lawrence CPA Mackail-Smith CPA Studio

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

CPA Play Offs CPA Schedule CPA Bridcutt CPA MOTM

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

CPA Kick Off CPA Comms CPA Hammond header CPA Sub

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

CPA Coming Up

CRYSTAL PALACE 0 BRIGHTON 0

CPA Replay

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

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

#42: Brighton 1-3 Watford 29/12/2012

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

WAT Titles

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

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

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

WAT Brighton WAT Watford WAT Subs

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

WAT Thomas WAT Hinchcliffe WAT Studio

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

WAT Poyet v Zola WAT Duo WAT Coming Up WAT Stats

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

WAT Split Screen WAT Analysis WAT Goals WAT Results

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

WAT Kick Off WAT Comms WAT Penalty WAT Interview

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

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 3
Lopez Deeney, Vydra (2)

WAT Replay WAT Goal

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

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