Small Screen Seagulls; FC United of Manchester (H) 27/11/2010

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sGus Poyet’s first full season in charge of Brighton had begun magnificently. The Uruguayan arrived in November 2009 with the club sat 20th in the third tier. His first task was to keep the club up and build from there. He achieved that and then some! Having lost just twice in the opening four months of the 2010/11 season, the Seagulls were flying high at the top of League One. In the final season at Withdean before moving at long, long last into a home they could call their own, promotion was in sight. As the highest ranked team currently in the FA Cup, the spotlight fell on Brighton when they were drawn with seventh tier breakaway club FC United of Manchester in Round Two. It took the Albion a penalty shoot-out replay to dispatch of non-League Woking in the First Round. With FC United defeating League opposition in the shape of Rochdale, they travelled to Withdean in buoyant mood. Waiting in the wings were the ITV cameras filming extended highlights.


Brighton 1-1 FC United, FA Cup R2; 3pm, Sat 27th Nov ’10

FCU Titles.JPG

ITV Sport regained terrestrial FA Cup broadcast rights from the BBC in 2008 after an absence of seven years. The entitled them to show Live matches from every round of the competition from the First to the Final, as well as comprehensive highlights programme. The traditional Saturday night slot was where the channel would schedule the main highlights action each round, with Sunday afternoons favoured for the Live match. Their satellite partners from this season were ESPN, who stepped in to replace Setanta when they went bust in 2009. That meant ITV had a season covering the whole thing on their own last year. With no Premier or Football League rights, ITV could devote their Saturday night schedule to the Cup. Ninety minutes of Second Round football came on-air just before eleven o’clock, hosted by Matt Smith in the South Bank Studio. Albion’s tie with non-League FC United of Manchester at Withdean was chosen to lead the programme, with Brighton firm favourites to progress to Round Three.


FA Cup Highlights, ITV1, 10.55pm (Saturday 27th November 2010)

FCU Ident FCU Sport Ident

The highlights show was the first chance to see any of the day’s FA Cup goals, with ITV1 making viewers wait until 10.55pm before coming on-air. As an ITV Sport production, their ident followed the main ITV1 sunflowers. Car company KIA sponsored the coverage, both Live and in highlight form, with three peculiar characters named Keith, Ian and Andy travelling across the country to get to their match. The title sequence was in the style of a comic book and really focussed on the famous giant-killing aspect of the old Cup. The music for the second season running was provided by Coventry band The Enemy and their hit single “Be Somebody”, whilst new graphics this season were similar in principle to their World Cup 2010 coverage. Freezing temperatures across the land put pay to two of Saturday’s Cup ties, but not at Withdean where extended highlights were on the way. Following our match, the best of the ties between AFC Wimbledon and Stevenage, Dover versus Aldershot, Crawley taking on Swindon Town whilst Swindon Supermarine went to Colchester, as well as every goal from every game. Matt Smith anchored proceedings from the ITV studio alongside his pundits John Scales and Gareth Southgate. Smith had been at ITV since 2001 and presented hundreds of hours of football, Live and highlights, for the broadcaster. He was behind Adrian Chiles in the pecking order and hosted secondary Live matches as well as the bulk of the Cup highlights.

FCU Sponsor FCU Smith FCU Studio

Gareth Southgate was one of ITV’s regulars having concentrated more on media work since leaving his role at manager of Middlesbrough in October 2009. He went to the 2010 World Cup as a star analyst and previously covered Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006 for them both in studio and latterly as England co-commentator. As a defender, he played for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. He won the second tier with Palace and the League Cup with both other clubs. He was part of the Boro side which incredibly made it all the way through to the Final of the UEFA Cup in 2006 with some remarkable comebacks on the way, only to lose heavily to Sevilla at the last hurdle. He won 57 caps for England but probably is most famously remembered for missing the crucial penalty in the Semi Final shoot-out against Germany at Euro ’96. John Scales was less familiar with studio punditry, having only appeared a handful of times since ending his playing career in 2001. He played three times for his country in 1995 when at Liverpool. He also enjoyed spells at Tottenham, where he won the League Cup for a second time, Bristol Rovers and Ipswich. The defender is most remembered for his time at Wimbledon from 1987 to 1994, where he was part of one of the biggest Cup Final upsets of all time when his ‘Crazy Gang’ beat Liverpool’s ‘Culture Club’ one-nil in ’88. Commentating on the big match at Withdean was Jon Champion. He joined ITV in 2001 for the launch of their Premiership highlights as well as the ITV Sport Channel, having previously worked for BBC Match of the Day for six seasons. He combined his ITV work with leading Setanta’s Live Premier League commentaries for the two seasons they had English football rights from 2007 before doing the same role for ESPN from the start of last season. He has covered four World Cups and three European Championships for television to date and is one of the most recognisable voices in the country.


FCU Teams

Gus Poyet made seven changes to the Albion side that drew nil-nil at Southampton in midweek. In came Peter Brezovan in goal to replace Casper Ankergren, just as he had done in both previous FA Cup matches. Three of the back four were changed, with only Marcos Painter surviving. Out went Gordon Greer, Adam El-Abd and Inigo Calderon with Tommy Elphick, Lewis Dunk and 37-year-old assistant manager Mauricio Taricco in their places. Liam Bridcutt returned to the holding midfield role after three games out, no room for Gary Dicker. Elliott Bennett and Radostin Kishishev both missed the First Round home tie with Woking three weeks ago but began here. Cristian Baz came in for his third start of the season, all in Cup competitions, as Agustin Battipiedi dropped down. Loan striker Chris Wood was ineligible so Glenn Murray was in the starting XI to partner Ashley Barnes.

The visitors from the seventh tier of English football were set up in protest at the Glazer’s ownership of Manchester United in 2005. They plied their trade in the Evo Stik Northern Premier Division and were managed by Karl Marginson since formation. Jake Cottrell scored in the First Round against Rochdale to have reached this point, receiving the Player of the Round award in the process. Chris Ovington was the only player not to start that memorable night. Striker Michael Norton got the last-gasp winner. Nicky Platt was formerly on the books of Liverpool and Burnley. Goalkeeper Sam Ashton played for Sam Allardyce’s Bolton in an FA Cup tie as an emergency striker in the Third Round back in 2006 before joining United of Manchester later that summer. Refereeing was Chris Sarginson.

FCU Comm FCU Barnes header FCU Goal

Brighton dominated possession and chances early on. Ashley Barnes almost capitalised from weak defending after a long ball from Elphick over the top. Ashton saved low to his left. Cristian Baz then had an opportunity but headed down instead of goalwards. The best chance though went Barnes’ way but again the Albion couldn’t get their headers right (above, top right). He met Painter’s excellent cross from the left but Ashton again denied the number nine. Elliott Bennett got in on the act with a long-range shot moving on its way through, Ashton again called into action. So it came as quite the shock when the visitors took the lead seven minutes before the break with their only shot on goal. Some nice footwork on the near touchline from Carlos Roca enabled him to get a cross into the box. Michael Norton held up before laying it off to Nicky Platt around fifteen yards out. Platt ran onto it to strike first time low and hard into the far corner past Brezovan and FC United had the lead. “It couldn’t happen again, could it?” asked commentator Jon Champion.

FCU Second Half FCU Sub FCU Red Card

That’s the way it stayed at the break. Poyet changed things around at the start of the second half, with Spanish former Valencia B and Dundee United forward Fran Sandaza entering the fray. He joined on a free back in September. He made an immediate impact, finding two chances falling to him but unable to keep either of them below the bar. The equaliser seemed inevitable, with United unable to deal with Albion’s crossing. That was made even more likely when an off the ball incident, missed by the cameras, saw the away side reduced to ten men. Defender Scott McManus was shown a straight red card, seemingly caught out by the linesman, for a push on Gary Hart. They had twenty minutes in order to hang on to a famous victory and a place in Round Three. A chance to double the lead went to Munroe when his head met the corner from Roca. Thankfully for the Seagulls, it was straight down the throat of Brezovan.

FCU Equaliser FCU One all FCU Penalty saved

Seven minutes remained on the clock when, at last, Brighton bundled home an equaliser to the relief of a frustrated Withdean crowd. Mauricio Taricco was heavily involved but substitute Fran Sandaza got the decisive touch. Taricco initially crossed for Sandaza, who couldn’t quite steer it towards goal with his head. The ball went to the far side where Marcos Painter kept it alive by lobbing the ball back into the penalty area. Taricco headed it into the danger area and Sandaza stuck a leg out on the way to guide it home from just a few yards out (above, top left). One-one and Brighton sensed blood. Taricco nearly assisted again moments later when his shot was turned goalwards by the outstretched foot of Ashley Barnes. Munroe’s head on the goal line saved United. Then deep, deep into stoppage time Munroe turned from hero to villain when he bundled over Sandaza to concede a ninety-sixth minute penalty. He could have no qualms about the decision. Elliott Bennett stepped up to take the all-important spot kick to seal a place in Round Three and join the big boys of the Premier League. To his amazement, and the delight of the travelling support up the other end behind the running track, Bennett’s penalty was saved terrifically by Sam Ashton flying to his right (above central). And in doing so earned his side a replay at Gigg Lane as it finished Brighton one, FC United of Manchester one.


FCU Final Score FCU Marginson FCU Poyet

FC United’s only-ever manager Karl Marginson was honest in his post-match assessment, saying “I wouldn’t say we were unlucky because Brighton controlled long parts of the game. I think we only had one shot in the first half and got a goal from it.” Goalkeeping hero Sam Ashton told of the research they, and specifically assistant manager Roy Soule, put in regarding penalties. “Every penalty that they took, they hit down the right apart from one lad who’s hit ’em down the left.” Albion boss Gus Poyet was disappointed to have to play a replay, giving credit to his opponent, and admitted he would be looking to play a second string team for that match. “We respect the opposition, we respect the fans, we try to put a team in there to go and win the game it was superior to the opposition. We didn’t win it. I don’t want the second game to affect the position that we are in the League.”

FCU Southgate FCU Scales

Back in the studio, a few minutes were devoted to analysing the key moments of the match with pundits Gareth Southgate and John Scales. Southgate believed United “rode their luck at times today and they nearly cost themselves with some ill-discipline at the end. But a fantastic performance from the League they’re in to be in the Third Round draw.” Scales was quick to praise the performances of the United players and particularly goalkeeper Sam Ashton. He mentioned the unrest amongst the Seagulls supporters upon the final whistle, with boos and groans, noting Brighton had enough chances to have won the game. The pair then analysed the goals with Matt Smith. For the FC United goal, striker Norton was singled out for his tireless efforts and good hold up play to lay it off for Platt to strike. The arrival of Fran Sandaza (“playing more like a San-dancer than a Sandaza” quipped Southgate) swung the game in Albion’s favour and Southgate liked what he saw of the home side. “Brighton play some fabulous football, they really do. Gus Poyet’s got them playing it out from the back, they’re well ahead in their League at the moment and you thought it was just gonna be one of those days when it wouldn’t happen for them.” The pundits agreed it was a definite penalty at the end and gave full credit to Ashton for saving and the backroom team for their meticulous research in predicting he’d go that way. It was all set up for a cracking replay; one which would be televised by ESPN eleven days later.

Small Screen Seagulls; Swindon (H) 13/04/2002

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sBrighton’s first season back in the third tier of English football after five away was going extremely well. The momentum gained from last year’s Division Three title success under Micky Adams was maintained into the 2001/2002 campaign. This despite losing Adams to Leicester in the opening weeks. Former Gillingham boss Peter Taylor arrived in October to steady the ship. He kept Albion in the top six throughout, despite stiff competition from the likes of Reading, Brentford and Stoke City. By the time the final home League game came round in mid-April, the Seagulls had already secured another promotion and were aiming for back-to-back titles. The ITV Sport Channel’s dedicated Division Two highlights programme, Football 2nd, came to Withdean for the visit of Swindon, where top spot could be secured and the title party got underway.


Brighton 0-0 Swindon, Division Two; 3pm, Sat 13th Apr ’02

F2 Titles

The ITV Sport Channel boldly burst onto the televised football scene after securing an audacious coup for exclusively Live coverage of all three Divisions of the Nationwide League from the start of the 2001/2002 season. This was a huge period for ITV, having secured top flight Premiership highlights from the same time away from the BBC and Match of the Day. This was on top of their long-running exclusive continental football in the form of the UEFA Champions League since its inception in 1992. A core team was established fronted by Des Lynam and Gabby Logan, supported by pundits Terry Venables, Ally McCoist, commentators Clive Tyldesley, Peter Drury, summarisers Ron Atkinson and David Pleat and reporters Gary Newbon and Gabriel Clarke. New faces were needed for this new venture. Fresh, up and coming talent such as hosts Matt Smith and Simon Hill, pundits Robbie Earle, Andy Townsend, Tony Dorigo and John Hendrie, commentators Jon Champion, Guy Mowbray and Guy Havord, co-commentators David Fairclough and Jim Beglin and an army of reporters such as Dave Beckett, Ned Boulting, Issy Clarke and Carrie Frais all joined the team to provide the lower Leagues with the most comprehensive television coverage ever seen. The ITV Sport Channel launched to much fanfare on 11th August 2001 with Manchester City taking on Watford in a Saturday teatime clash. But it wasn’t just the Live action which would be at the heart of the channel. There were also dedicated weekly highlights programmes for each of the three Divisions. Plus the regional magazine shows on ITV, you were well and truly covered if you were in the Nationwide League this season. Here I take a look at Football 2nd as the third tier highlights show came to Withdean to see if the Albion could clinch the title in the final home match.


Football 2nd, ITV Sport Channel, 11am (Sunday 14th April 2002)

F2 Ident F2 Sponsor

Division One highlights got their own primetime ninety-minute show on the ITV Sport Channel, Football 1st every Saturday night at 8.30pm, whilst Divisions Two and Three were the focus on Sunday mornings. With Football 3rd following right on the back of it, Football 2nd rounded up the action from Division Two every Sunday at 11am for forty-five minutes. With the Saturday show studio based, Sunday mornings were about exploring. Each edition of Football 2nd was presented on location at the ground of the week’s featured match. The host was from a rotating pool of the ITV Sport Channel reporters, most frequently Issy Clarke, Peter Stevenson or Ned Boulting. For this potential title party at Withdean it was the latter. The programme was sponsored, like the League and Live match coverage, by Nationwide and began with some jaunty electronic library music soundtracking the titles. The show was about much more than just a goals round-up, it was a showcase of the League and its members. There would be features, news and interviews alongside the goals, culminating in extended highlights of the main match which for this edition saw Albion host Swindon.

F2 Boulting

Hosting from all around Withdean Stadium was Ned Boulting. He joined the ITV Sport Channel for the launch this season and presented and reported across Football 2nd and Football 3rd. This took him around the country at various Football League grounds, including this very one back in September for the Albion’s centenary celebration match against Bournemouth. He was also involved in ITV’s other football output including the UEFA Champions League and Worthington Cup. Prior to this he spent four years at Sky Sports working on the flagship results service Gillette Soccer Saturday. He reported for the programme doing interviews and features in the build-up as well as being out and about bringing viewers updates from a selected lower League match. He was also involved in Sky’s Live FA Cup Final coverage in 1999 when he reported from the Newcastle team hotel ahead of their Wembley showdown with treble-chasing Manchester United. Boulting would be one of the few to be retained by ITV Sport after the channel closed down a few weeks after today’s match.

F2 Coming Up 1 F2 Coming Up 2

After Boulting’s introduction up in the stands, he set the menu for what was to come for the rest of the programme prior to our main match highlights. Peter Taylor was interviewed about all things Albion, with question marks over the future of himself, star striker Zamora and, of course, the stadium saga. The other key fixtures this weekend involved the teams chasing Brighton for a promotion spot; Reading and Brentford. The Royals hosted Peterborough whilst the Bees journeyed across West London to QPR. Whilst at the bottom, struggling Bury needed to up their game against Colchester. Action from all three matches and the goals from the rest of the Division were to come.

F2 Permutations F2 Zamora celebration F2 Reading Brentford F2 Round Up

Before all that though, our host outlined the story of the weekend for Division Two and the various permutations that come this late in the campaign; with two more matches in the regular season. Bobby Zamora’s winner at Peterborough last week ensured promotion for the Seagulls, another win today would see the title in the bag too. That was because of Reading’s draw at Tranmere, their seventh stalemate in eight matches, sent Brighton up on Sunday without kicking a ball. Cambridge’s fate at the bottom was already secured and they were joined on the way to Division Three by Wrexham last weekend despite winning five-nil! Bournemouth had all but joined them due to their dreadful goal difference. It was one from four for the final relegation spot as Bury, Northampton, Chesterfield and Notts County tussled. The real story to watch was the quest to join the Albion in Division One as Reading and Brentford were separated by just a point and, crucially, would go head-to-head in a final day showdown. Oh, the drama of the Nationwide League! With the scene set, the first batch of goals were shown from the teams hopeful for a Play Off spot beginning with Bristol City’s trip to Blackpool. Mark Tompkins, Nick London and Tom Skippings voiced the round-ups.

F2 Take 2 F2 Lee Sharpe

The show took a more in-depth look at the Division as a whole so a regular news wrap followed, titled Take 2. Amongst the headlines in this edition were Wrexham, with the Welsh outfit hoping to change ownership in the coming weeks. Elsewhere, Oldham’s chairman was looking to buy Boundary Park and increased his stake in the club to do so. Ex-England and Manchester United midfielder Lee Sharpe was linked with a move to Blackpool and Ipswich defender Mark Venus was a target for Colchester if he was willing to drop two Divisions. And finally, Paul Dalglish – son of Kenny – was released by Wigan in order to go for a trial in America’s MLS. With the news covered, it was time for an advert break.

F2 Withdean hill F2 Taylor

Attention turned to the Seagulls next, where both chairman and manager would be interviewed. Ned Boulting introduced this part by saying; “It’s not often that you visit a club where the chairman, the leading striker and the manager are all heroes but here at Brighton, in Dick Knight, Bobby Zamora and Peter Taylor, they’ve got three of the highest order.” Taylor had enjoyed success in the lower Leagues with Gillingham and even took caretaker management of England where he handed David Beckham the captaincy before things started to go wrong for him during his second season at Leicester. That led to his departure and swift return to management with the Albion, where continued the good form for the club that has secured a second successive promotion. “I had no doubts of walking into a changing room and talking to twenty players because I was up for the job. To me, it didn’t take them long. There were a few slight adjustments that were made but things have gone really well”, Taylor said.

F2 Reading score F2 Zamora goal

When Reading could only draw last week, enabling Brighton’s promotion, he said he couldn’t listen to it and was made aware by the physio. The squad were perhaps quicker to realise the news, with Taylor admitting “Looking at them on Monday morning, they definitely went out on Sunday night, without a doubt!” Attention inevitably turned to the future and, in particular, of both himself and Zamora at the club despite the limited resources and facilities. On his star striker, Taylor told; “I think Bobby is a very sensible lad that probably does realise that another twelve months in Division One would be very good for his education.” Taylor’s contract was only until the end of the season and had stalled on extending that. Rumours surfaced linking him with higher Division clubs but he insisted that it was only down to budgetary constraints and he hasn’t been in touch with anybody else. “I couldn’t believe things weren’t getting prepared for us for training etc. What we basically need is probably half a dozen groundsman around Sussex University who are season ticket holders and football fanatics of Brighton because then they would work day and night to get things the way we want it.”

F2 Knight and Boulting F2 Knight

Ned Boulting then spoke with Dick Knight just outside the gates of the stadium and the chairman began in typically quotable mood; “It just shows that even in modern football, miracles can happen! Remember five years ago we were bottom of the pile on the last day of the season needing to get a point to save ourselves and we did. Here we are now going for the Second Division Championship.” He confidently dodged the question about Taylor’s future and requests for improvement on the training facilities, instead wanting to focus on the celebratory aspect of the day and “we’ll address the issues in the near future”. The last time the Football 2nd team were down on the South Coast was the club’s centenary celebrations in the home match against Bournemouth back in September 2001 where there was a big party with dancers and even the cutting of a big birthday cake at half time. Knight was hoping for further celebrations in front of the cameras today, as he paid tribute to the managers and players over the past two years who dragged the club from the foot of the basement Division right up to the second tier.

F2 Tunnel

On the back of that, the next goals round-up featured those scrapping at the bottom, starting with Bury hosting Colchester. The wrap included Cambridge ‘keeper Lionel Perez marking his last ever appearance for United by taking a penalty. No prizes for guessing how that one went! After the final advert break, it was crunch time in Division Two with highlights of the Albion against Swindon. Commentary was provided by Dave Farrar. He was more familiar to viewers of British Eurosport, whom he joined in 1999 when their former number one Guy Mowbray made the move to ITV. Mowbray was by now an established voice on the network, covering Football League and Champions League matches for the ITV Sport Channel. Farrar voiced commentaries and round-ups for the various ITV highlights shows this season, combining it with his Eurosport commitments. His highest profile commentary to date was probably the Euro 2000 Final as Eurosport’s first choice. His familiar voice and excitable style served well on continental highlights show Eurogoals as well as a variety of Leagues and Cups for both broadcasters this year. His first task of the afternoon at Withdean was to talk us through the line-ups.

F2 Brighton

Peter Taylor was forced into two changes from the side that beat Peterborough one-nil the previous week. A broken leg forced Gary Hart out, replaced by Nathan Jones, whilst Lee Steele’s suspension saw Daniel Webb start up top for the ninth time in an Albion shirt. Full back Paul Watson had missed just one League match all season, whilst Danny Cullip was absent for two. The experience of Simon Morgan slotted in alongside for the final season of his playing career. Kerry Mayo was the only survivor from the starting eleven of five years ago at Hereford which kept Brighton’s Football League status. Paul Brooker and Richard Carpenter were on the books of Fulham back then. Junior Lewis joined on loan from Leicester for this season, linking up with Taylor for the fourth time having previously been together at the Foxes, Dover and Gillingham. Bobby Zamora’s thirty-two goals this term was enough to make him the first ever Albion man to win back-to-back Fans Player of the Season awards, narrowly pipping ‘keeper Michel Kuipers. Options on the bench included Charlie Oatway, Robbie Pethick and loan striker Wayne Gray.

F2 Swindon

Andy King was without striker Danny Invincible, not living up to his name as he was out with a groin injury. Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock was on the Swindon books but not selected for this one, he was linked to the Albion a year ago before choosing Town. There were Dutch goalkeepers at both ends of the field, with Bart Griemink between the sticks for the away side. Andy Gurney moved along the M4 from Reading to Swindon in the summer. Centre half Matthew Heywood cemented his place in the side having joined from Burnley. Paul Edwards had spells in non-League with Altrincham and Curzon Ashton. Bobby Howe joined from Nottingham Forest commanding a transfer fee of thirty grand in 1998. The main man is forward Eric Sabin. He scored in the reverse fixture at the County Ground when the sides drew one-all and netted five times for the club. Taking charge of this match was referee Tony Bates.


F2 Kick Off F2 Commentator

Story of the Match: Typically on a day where there was much expectation and excitement, the game fell flat. Paul Brooker had the first real opportunity when he latched onto a good ball from Kerry Mayo on the left. Brooker’s excellent touch to bring the ball down took it past Reeves and presented a shooting chance on the far side of the area. His looping effort dropped just short and wide of the goal. Daniel Webb had a half-chance with a header from a Paul Watson corner, but the youngster on loan from Southend couldn’t direct it low enough to trouble the goal. The Withdean crowd were behind the Albion all the way but chances weren’t presenting themselves. Perhaps frustrated with the lack of opportunities, Zamora took it upon himself to unleash a fierce drive with his right foot more than thirty yards out to sting the palms of Griemink in the Swindon goal.

F2 Second Half F2 Lewis skied it

Into the second half, once more it was top-scorer Zamora causing defences problems. His spin and turn on the left gave him a chance to cross. His fizzed ball into the danger zone was sliced goalbound by Reeves. To Griemink’s relief it hit his legs before gathering safely. The breakthrough wasn’t coming. Wayne Gray came off the substitutes bench in a bid to force it. He reacted quickest to a loose ball and hit a first-time shot on the turn only to see the ball bounce towards the back of the athletics track. Chances for the away side were few and far between. Hewlett drove one from a long way out straight down the throat of Michel Kuipers for a rare touch from the Dutchman. Another Brighton sub, Phil Hadland, arrived to try to change the picture. He picked up a long ball from Junior Lewis to strike from the far corner of the penalty area. Griemink denied the former Leyton Orient striker. A late Lewis strike flew high into the air to confirm that it really wasn’t the Albion’s day in front of goal. The final whistle brought to an end the contest without either side getting on the scoresheet. Brighton nil, Swindon nil.

F2 Final Score


F2 Withdean celebrations F2 Hugs F2 Trophy lift

Before the day’s play, a win was required to guarantee the title. With the goalless draw at Withdean the door was ajar for either Reading or Brentford to make the Seagulls wait for the trophy. In the end neither side could claim a win and it handed the title to Peter Taylor’s men as the four point gap could no longer be overturned. Brighton were Champions and the presentation was next. Cue a mini pitch invasion from the home faithful whilst the rest gathered on the running track behind the dugouts. Once the scenes had settled down the presentation could begin with hugs all round from the chairman. Now everybody was in place on the podium, club captain Paul Rogers lifted the Nationwide Division Two trophy aloft to signal that Brighton were back. Brighton were heading to Division One.

F2 Champagne celebration F2 Taylor interview F2 Zamora interview

As assistant manager Bob Booker and Bobby Zamora led the champagne spraying jubilations, commentator Dave Farrar provided the line; “A Formula One celebration for the side that has motored through the Divisions. Congratulations to Brighton and Hove Albion.” Wearing the Champions medal around his neck, boss Taylor spoke on the pitch with Ned Boulting. “It’s a great feeling for the players. We’re not always the best team but we’re always the best fighters… They’re very honest workers that keep improving every day,” he told. Bobby Zamora wrapped the Nationwide banner around his shoulders whilst his medal was on full display as he spoke with Boulting during the lap of honour. Zamora was quick to praise the team efforts; “It’s been an amazing year for me and all the lads. Two [promotions] on the bounce now, it’s something special.” After a few more words he was left to soak up the adulation of the watching crowd. Those supporters realised there and then that these really were halcyon days for a club that had been through so much in recent times. And the player at the front of it all was destined for even bigger things.

F2 Reading Peterborough F2 QPR Brentford F2 Results

After the celebrations, the final five minutes of the show were used to wrap up Brighton’s closest challengers and explain exactly why the Seagulls were able to be crowned Champions despite only drawing. Two goals from Nicky Forster weren’t enough for Reading as Peterborough thwarted them to draw two-two. Whilst over in West London, the combined efforts of Lloyd Owusu and Mark McCammon couldn’t force a Brentford winner. Instead they mustered a goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers for the second time in the season. Elsewhere the standout result was at the Seaside as Blackpool bagged five against Play Off hunting Bristol City. The table confirmed, with one match still to play, that it was Brighton who would be marching up to Division One with the silverware in hand. Reading led Brentford by a single point ahead of their final day clash at Griffin Park the following Saturday. One of them would go up, the other joined Cardiff, Stoke and Huddersfield in the Play Offs. At the other end, we already knew Wrexham and Cambridge were gone. Bury too, barring a final day overhaul of some eighteen goals! Bournemouth’s win put them within three points of Notts County but a slightly worse goal difference. Everybody else was safe in mid table. And as Ned signed off, he confirmed the programme’s destination for the following week; Brentford for that massive promotion match. But this edition was all about the Albion. Brighton were going up as Champions. Again!

F2 Table top F2 Table bottom

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

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

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

1

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

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

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

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

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

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

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

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


2

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

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

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

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

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

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

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

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


3

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

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

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

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

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

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

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

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

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

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

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

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

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

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

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

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

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

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

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

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

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

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

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

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

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

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

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

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


Huddersfield Goodbye

#13: Grimsby 2-2 Brighton 04/05/2003

#13 GRIMSBY 2-2 BRIGHTON Division One
Sunday 4th May 2003 Image result for

GRI Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Brian Little
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Alvin Martin REPORTER Fraser Robertson
1.30pm Kick Off; Blundell Park, Grimsby     1-3.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports Extra

GRI Promo GRI SponsorGRI Intro

Context of the Match: And so it all came down to this. A season’s work would be defined by one Sunday afternoon in May as Brighton’s position in Division One hung in the balance. Nothing but a win would do for the Seagulls if they were to avoid the drop away at already-relegated Grimsby. Even then, that may not be enough as a win or draw for Stoke City at home to Reading would send the Albion down and keep them up regardless of the scoreline here at Blundell Park. Brighton of course were no stranger to final day drama, in even more apocalyptic circumstances. In 1997, a last gasp showdown away at Hereford United decided which of the two teams would drop out of the League altogether. Robbie Reinelt’s equaliser at Edgar Street ensured Brighton’s Football League status on goals scored! At the time goal difference was not the primary decider, had it been then Brighton would have gone instead having picked up just six points on the road all season before that match. Nothing perhaps would ever beat that day for a sheer rollercoaster of emotions for the Albion faithful but this match would be sure to put them through the ringer once more. It was some achievement from Steve Coppell’s men to have even taken their fate to the final day, given the appalling start. Twelve defeats on the bounce left Brighton floundering at the foot of the table by the time Coppell had replaced Martin Hinshelwood in the dugout back in October. Form picked up ahead of our first Live television appearance of the season, a very creditable one-one draw away at Wolverhampton Wanderers, who would be taking part (and winning) in the Play Offs once today was done and dusted. Form was inconsistent and we could never really get a sustained unbeaten period, not managing more than four in a row. But three wins in February and two more in March gave Brighton real hope by the time our next Live appearance came round, away at Reading in early April. A quick-thinking free-kick and an extremely rare Paul Kitson goal gave the away side all three points and suddenly the great escape was on. Defeats to mid-table Preston and promoted Leicester put the brakes on the mini temporarily. The final two home games produced four further points as fellow relegation candidates Sheffield Wednesday were held whilst Watford, clearly already on the beach with nothing to play for, were blown away by a four-nil demolition; the biggest win of the season in more ways than one. Which took things to today, the final Sunday of the season. All matches would kick off at 1.30pm, with two Live on Sky. The title was already decided, that went to Harry Redknapp’s runaway Portsmouth side, with Leicester joining. The four Play Off teams were also known; Sheffield United, Reading, Nottingham Forest and Wolves. Grimsby would finish bottom and Sheffield Wednesday were confirmed as down too. So it was between Stoke and Brighton to determine which of the two would go straight back down having moved up from the third tier together. Sky’s main focus on Sky Sports 1 was at the Britannia Stadium as Stoke, three points and one place ahead of Brighton but with a worse goal difference, took on Reading, already assured of a top six finish. Whilst over on Sky Sports Extra, Blundell Park was in the spotlight. With only a win and a prayer to hope for, let the games begin!

GRI Grimsby GRI Brighton

The Teams: Veteran goalkeeper Dave Beasant, an FA Cup winner fifteen years earlier, continued to be between the sticks for Steve Coppell’s Seagulls. This was his sixteenth start since coming in during a ‘keeper crisis in February. In front of him were the experience of Dean Blackwell and captain Danny Cullip. Blackwell missed much of the first half of the season through injury and only began to get a consistent run in the side from February. Having missed the previous televised match at Reading and the following game against Preston, the former Wimbledon defender was back for the final weeks of the season. Paul Watson missed just one League match all season, back in December due to suspension. Left back Kerry Mayo started each and every game since the end of September and even managed a goal in November’s one-nil victory over Derby. Another February recruit, Ivar Ingimarsson, played in every match since signing. Shoreham born Simon Rodger scored on his debut in the first Division One win at Withdean, versus Bradford. Nathan Jones had almost as many appearances off the bench as he did starts on the wing this term, he hadn’t started since February. Gary Hart was the second longest serving player after Kerry Mayo, the pair were the only ones to have played over 200 times for the Albion. Bobby Zamora looked to add to his vital thirteen goals and he was supported by Paul Kitson, the man who got the decisive touch in April’s televised victory at the Madejski for his only Brighton goal. Arsenal and Ireland forward Graham Barrett and tricky winger Paul Brooker were amongst the attacking options on the bench, whilst if anything happened to Beasant it would be Will Packham’s job to keep goal. The twenty-two-year-old made just two League starts for the club, the last of which was on the final day this time last year with the title and promotion already in the bag. Grimsby’s player-manager – thirty-seven-year-old Paul Groves – picked himself in their starting eleven, having been in charge since December 2001. Their first win of an unsuccessful campaign came, of course, at Withdean when goals from Darren Barnard and Alan Poulton but neither were available this afternoon. Goalkeeper Danny Coyne was the only Mariner to play every match across all three competitions. Defender John McDermott had been on the books here since 1985. George Santos was one of three Sheffield United men to be sent off in an infamous match with Burnley last year when, coupled with injuries, an abandonment was enforced. His red card for a two-footed lunge came just seconds after joining as a substitute and boss Neil Warnock never selected him again. Stuart Campbell was the club’s joint top-scorer with six goals, sharing the spoils with loaness Steve Kabba from Crystal Palace and Sunderland’s John Oster. Kabba’s form was enough to earn him a move to Sheffield United in November but nobody was able to outscore him in the remaining months. Young Irishman Michael Keane wasn’t enough to save Grimsby from relegation when he moved temporarily from Preston on the March transfer deadline day. The referee for one last match this season was Clive Wilkes.

GRI Gavin GRI Little GRI Studio GRI Reporters

Presentation Team: Sky’s number one Football League presenter George Gavin chaired coverage of this final day special, with Gavin having presented virtually every Live broadcast from the three Divisions this season. In addition to that he also hosted the weekly Football League Review and early rounds of the FA Cup. The majority of Live League games were hosted from pitchside or in the stands at the stadium this year but as two matches were being covered simultaneously here, the studio was Sky’s base this afternoon. Joining Gavin was Brian Little. Born in Newcastle with a gentle North-East accent, the former striker spent his entire professional playing career with Aston Villa as well as a solitary appearance for the national team. After retiring he stayed with Villa as a youth team coach before moving into management with a brief caretaker spell at Wolves. He spent a couple of years at Darlington before enjoying his first success in charge of Leicester whilst still in his late-30s. After successive defeats in Play Off Finals, he finally gained the Foxes promotion to the Premiership in 1994. This led to him moving back to Aston Villa where he kept them up in the top flight and later went on to win the League Cup and qualify for Europe. After nearly three-and-a-half years in the Midlands he resigned. In recent seasons he spent around a year at Stoke and West Brom before dropping down to Division Three with Hull City where he came unstuck in the Play Offs once more but resigned last February with the Tigers well placed for promotion. Since then the media was where Little spent much of his time and forged a good partnership with George Gavin on the Review show. Despite Stoke being the main match today, Sky’s number one Football League commentator, Ian Crocker, was at the Albion’s match. This allowed former lead voice Rob Hawthorne an opportunity to cover the League again, as he and Ray Houghton were on the gantry for Stoke versus Reading. Hawthorne had recently helped share the load in a couple of Live Football League double-headers over Easter and would feature in the upcoming Play Offs too, with he and Houghton covering the Division Three Final and Reading’s Division One Semis. Ian Crocker was joined at Blundell Park by Alvin Martin. The former defender made his name playing for West Ham where he spent all but one of his twenty-one professional seasons, the other being at Leyton Orient. Martin also won seventeen caps for England in the eighties. After retirement he was Southend’s boss for two seasons at the end of the nineties. Since then he has been a regular commentator on Talksport and this season on Sky’s Football League broadcasts, behind Chris Kamara in the pecking order. Crocker and Martin would reunite for the Division Two Play Off Final later in May. Completing the line-ups were todays pitchside reporters Fraser Robertson and Guy Havord. Robertson became the main League reporter back in November and also covers the Republic of Ireland internationals for Sky. He was at Stoke today with Havord in Grimsby. Today was Guy Havord’s first appearance on a Live match back on Sky, having spent last season on the ITV Sport Channel as their lead voice of the Football League. He’s more familiar as a commentator there and prior to that for Sky on their Live Spanish football and non-Live 3pm Premiership highlights. He voiced a couple of clashing group matches for ITV at the 2002 World Cup before becoming a victim of the ITV Digital closure. Havord featured reporting on Sky Sports News on occasions before joining Sky here and becoming a part of their touchline reporting roster.

GRI Great Escape GRI Great Escape Brighton GRI Who Will Escape GRI Stoke intro

The Coverage: For the first time in the First Division, two matches on the final day were shown Live simultaneously. This allowed Sky to cover every eventuality from this relegation showdown, whichever team survived. The main focus on Sky Sports 1 was Stoke City’s match as the Potters had their destiny in their own hands. Should they slip up and lose then Brighton could take advantage with a win at Grimsby, and that was shown in full over on Sky Sports Extra. This channel was only available to Sky Digital viewers, meaning cable customers (such as I) were left viewing the encounter at the Britannia. Pre-match build up was hosted from Sky’s Isleworth studio and covered both matches, before splitting off and handing over to the two commentary teams five minutes before this 1.30pm kick off. Host George Gavin was joined by Brian Little, a regular in recent months on the Football League coverage having been out of management since leaving Hull in February of last year. The pair came on air thirty minutes ahead of the match, giving plenty of time to summarise the situation for both teams as well as a quick general overview of the Division as the regular season came to a close this afternoon. As soon as the titles were over, the introductory VT, which you can view at the foot of the page, paid homage to 1963 film The Great Escape, with either Stoke or Brighton completing that very thing by the end of the broadcast. The familiar soundtrack blared out over action shots of the two teams, culminating with the two managers and a caption of “Who will escape?”

GRI Fans GRI Final Day Fixtures GRI Havord GRI Robertson

The Albion fans shown queuing to get into Blundell Park were in confident mood, chanting “We are staying up!” but, as George Gavin pointed out, it was a tough ask; “They’ve got to win and then to hope.” Guest Brian Little explained how relegation on the final day was the hardest to take of all; “It really is a heartbreak day. Teams have known for a week or two, or more in some cases, that they’ve gone down and you learn to live with that towards the end of the season. But this today is a real tearjerker.” He believed how much more remarkable it would be if Brighton pulled off the ‘Great Escape’ given the positions they’re both in before this match, plus the awful start Coppell inherited from Hinshelwood. The League table outlined how tough it would be. The rest of the Division’s fixtures saw Champions Portsmouth travel to Bradford, Play Off candidate Wolves host Leicester and Sheffield United travel to Watford. With the scene set, it was time to head to the two grounds for some team news. Sky Sports reporters were present at both, with Guy Havord at the Britannia and Fraser Robertson in Grimsby. We headed to the Potteries first where it was blowing a gale, Havord’s hair flapping in the wind whilst delivering Brighton fans the good news that Nicky Forster had shrugged off injury to start for Reading. It was a much warmer day for Fraser Robertson as he delivered the Seagulls team sheets. Brighton were unchanged from the biggest win of the season the previous week whilst the Mariners made five changes to bring themselves back to full strength. Robertson said he spoke to some of the 2,500 travelling fans as they were arriving, many in confident mood but acknowledged that it was out of Brighton hands. He also spoke of how the Brighton fans associations were unhappy that additional tickets weren’t passed over with Grimsby failing to sell out the home ends. An extra three or four thousand Seagulls supporters were expected to make the journey without tickets, so it really could have been a full house on the coast.

GRI Manager records GRI Coppell GRI VT GRI Split Screen

Both Stoke and Brighton had employed a new manager partway through the season after struggling at the beginning, with the Potters bringing in Tony Pulis for Steve Cotterill. The two were brought in as rescue merchants to salvage the campaign and got similar results, winning just under a third of the League matches in charge. Little spoke of how good a job Coppell had done to drag Brighton off the bottom and within ninety minutes of survival; “After twelve games everybody thought they were well and truly in the Second Division so to have a chance today shows the sort of job that he’s done. Both lads have done terrific and unfortunately one of them’s going to be very sad by the end of the evening.” The centrepiece of the pre match build up was a VT featuring both managers discussing their chances. On survival, Coppell said “A few weeks back, and at various stages this season, we’d have given anything to be in this position,” whilst Pulis was confident that it was in his team’s hands. In terms of the overall season, if planning permission for the new stadium didn’t get the green light and relegation happened, Coppell saw it as a failure and a major issue but predicted brighter things if Falmer gets a ‘Yes’; “If they get the planning permission for the new stadium, this club will become a yo-yo club between the Premiership and the First Division.” He also stressed he was not interested in following the Stoke scoreline on Sunday “because all we’ve got to do is look after our own part of the equation”. Well that and a bit of hope, Steve! After a little more studio chat and an advert break it was time to make your choice; stay on Sky Sports 1 for the Stoke v Reading game in the company of Rob Hawthorne and Ray Houghton, or switch to Sky Sports Extra for Grimsby against Brighton with match commentators Ian Crocker and Alvin Martin. The Stoke match would have updates at the bottom of the screen with scores from the non-televised matches, whilst both games would show the goals of the other one shortly after they went in. Whatever happened, viewers would be kept fully up to speed with this final day decider. After the game there was only time for a very brief round up of the scorelines and the final table before switching to coverage of the day’s Premiership match between Arsenal and Leeds from 3.30pm. A one hour highlights show was broadcast after that, showing the best of both Stoke and Brighton’s matches as well as a couple of interviews with the key men involved as the regular Football League season came to a close.

GRI Kick Off GRI Comms GRI Harsh penalty GRI Zamora goal

Story of the Match: Albion wore their change kit of all red on the day they aimed to get out of the red zone and up to safety. They kicked off the first half shooting from left to right, attacking the goal in which the travelling support were situated behind and who made all the early noise. Gary Hart showed real pace in the opening exchanges to drive forward in search of the Brighton goal to calm the nerves. For Grimsby, striker Darren Mansaram was causing problems for the back line, needing a combination of Nathan Jones – sporting a bright blonde mohawk – and Kerry Mayo to wrestle the ball away from him in a dangerous position. The first chance fell the way of the black and white stripes, as Dave Beasant was forced into a smart low stop to keep Tony Gallimore’s deflected free kick out, whilst the rebound was blazed high over the top. In the twenty-second minute, the worst happened for Brighton as referee Clive Wilkes awarded Grimsby a penalty. Kerry Mayo, no stranger to final day relegation drama as his own goal at Hereford six years earlier showed, failed to control the dropping ball over his head which allowed Chris Thompson the opportunity to nick it past him. Mayo’s outstretched leg was a desperate attempt to salvage the situation but it was mistimed and a foul. However, the replay showed the contact was outside the box and should have actually been a free kick rather than a spot kick, to add to the Albion’s woes. Michael Keane, on loan from Preston, stepped up after a delay due to encroachment to send Beasant the wrong way and see the ball slide into the bottom left hand corner of the net for one-nil. As Alvin Martin pointed out on co-commentary, the positive was it was still early enough in the game to turn things around, with no news of a breakthrough in the other match either. As the end of the first period approached, Brighton gave themselves a lifeline through another penalty. No doubt about this one, as Gary Hart’s positive turn and push forward brought a rash challenge from Steve Chettle near the edge of the box (but definitely inside the area!). Hart was just able to get a touch on the ball to take it past Chettle who was committed and running at the Albion man with pace. The referee had no hesitation. Up stepped Bobby Zamora to coolly stroke the penalty low to his right, sending the ‘keeper in the other direction. One-one the scoreline at the break in Grimsby. At half time at the Britannia, Stoke were doing their job as they and Reading were playing out a goalless draw. The best of the action was in the Royals goalmouth but Stoke only enjoyed half chances, if that. They looked the more positive and from their point of view it was so far, so good.

GRI Cullip Goal GRI Radios GRI Stoke goal GRI Grimsby equaliser

With more work to do in the second half, Brighton began it as they ended the first – on top. Simon Rodger took a pop from long range which deflected behind for a corner early on. Rodger took the resulting set piece which found its way through a sea of bodies to bounce off Ingimarsson for Zamora to shape up on his favoured left foot. That hit a defender but fell kindly for Danny Cullip to swivel and shoot on the turn unmarked six yards out. His effort went through the defender’s legs on the line and in for a remarkable Albion turnaround two minutes after the interval. It was a really nice finish from the centre half, a captain’s goal on a day of huge importance for the club. Brighton were doing their job, they just needed Reading to do theirs down in the Potteries. The joy, and probably the hope, was short-lived though as news soon filtered through of the unthinkable. Final day wouldn’t be final day without fans glued to their phones and radios getting updates about another match. And sure enough, a difficult task just became nigh-on impossible for Brighton. Stoke had taken the lead against Reading ten minutes after the break. A free kick on the half way line from James O’Connor sent Lewis Neal to the byline. He crossed into the area first time where Ade Akinbiyi met it with a bullet header to fly past Marcus Hahnemann in goal. Stoke got their breakthrough, Brighton now needed a miracle. The atmosphere in Cleethorpes soon died down as Albion fans resigned themselves to the inevitable. The misery was compounded with just over half an hour to go when Grimsby got a slightly fortuitous equaliser. Stuart Campbell’s deep cross was hit back towards goal on the volley by Keane. Beasant palmed away but straight onto Richard Hughes who was lurking just a couple of feet away. He was in the right place at the right time as the ball ricocheted off his thigh and in for two-two.

GRI Final Whistle GRI Cullip

The final thirty minutes of the season was played in a flat atmosphere, as both teams knew they’d be meeting again next year in a lower Division. It almost got worse for Brighton when Chris Thompson crashed one against the crossbar after neat work from Campbell. If there was a moment to sum up how things went it came when Dean Blackwell’s attempted left footed cross was sliced horribly wide and into the Grimsby fans behind the goal, to huge ironic cheers all round. It just wasn’t to be today. In the end it finished at the Britannia with Akinbiyi’s strike the difference, ending one-nil. Congratulations to Tony Pulis and Stoke City, who survived their first year back in Division One. Full time then came at Blundell Park to close the Seagulls campaign with a two-two away draw and relegation at the first time of asking after fast tracking their way up the Leagues with two successive titles. A mini pitch invasion from the Brighton fans ensued, all good natured with promises to the cameras that we’d be back. Captain Cullip was mobbed as he went over to thank the supporters. Reporter Fraser Robertson spoke with him afterwards, broadcast on Sky’s highlights show after the Live Super Sunday match. He confirmed the disappointment; “To take it down to the last day, when a lot of people wrote us off in November, was testament to the players and staff at the football club.” Cullip relayed manager Steve Coppell’s words in the dressing room; “Get your heads up, he said ‘you’ve given it a good go’, go and relax over the summer and come back firing for next season.” Cullip believed there was enough there to bounce back next season but wasn’t going to be drawn about the futures of either Coppell or leading scorer Bobby Zamora – linked with a move to the Premiership for a long time – passing Robertson away saying he’d have to ask them that question. A quick look at the other scores on the final day saw Sheffield Wednesday beat Walsall to leapfrog Brighton into twenty-second in the table, as confirmation of Stoke’s win saw them secure safety. Champions Portsmouth signed off in style with a five-nil away win whilst Ipswich hit Derby for four. None of the four Play Off teams picked up a victory, with Wolves and Nottingham Forest drawing and Reading and Sheffield United losing. The final Division One table didn’t make for great reading for Brighton fans but there was enough on display from November onwards to give the supporters that little bit of hope again that next year maybe our year once again.

GRI Final Scores GRI Table top GRI Table bottom

GRIMSBY 2 BRIGHTON 2
Keane, Hughes Zamora, Cullip

GRI Replay GRI Goal

 

EXTRA; ITV held terrestrial rights to highlights from the three Divisions after securing a deal back in October of this season. This mean the return, after a few months off air, of their much loved round up show Football League Extra. This originally ran from 1994 until May 2002 when ITV Digital had to hand back Live rights as they went into liquidation. Whilst the dust settled on that and Sky Sports swooped to pick up the Live games at a knockdown price, there were no terrestrial television highlights of any Football League match for the first dozen or so matchweeks. Football League Extra was originally presented by Gabriel Clarke from the featured match that week, whilst voiceovers reported on the rest of the games. In the latter years of the nineties that role was filled by Dave Beckett and Angus Scott before Matt Smith took over for the 2001/2002 campaign. When it was recommissioned this season, the show featured three regular voices out-of-vision to link together the show; namely Tom Skippings, Trevor Harris and Tony Jones. However, for the final day of the season here, we got a rare treat; in-vision presenting from Skippings. The show’s usual slot was late Monday night slash very early Tuesday morning, once top flight and European highlights had been shown in the forms of The Premiership on Monday with Matt Smith and UEFA Champions League Weekly. For this edition, Tom Skippings hosted from Exeter City ahead of their fight to retain League status. The programme first focussed on the fight to avoid relegation in Division One, where Trevor Harris talked us through the key moments of the afternoon from both Stoke and Grimsby.

FLE Titles FLE Skippings FLE Harris FLE Zamora goal

The goals from the two crucial games were shown chronologically, intercut and with the minute of the match. Grimsby struck first with the penalty that shouldn’t have been. “It looked outside, referee Clive Wilkes thought differently” Harris said diplomatically. As the Seagulls were worrying, it cut to the jubilant Stoke fans celebrating that twenty-third minute opener from some 115 miles South-West. Next; “a pressure penalty for Bobby Zamora. No problem! Utter delirium on the terraces.” Danny Cullip’s strike to turn the match on its head shortly after half time gets better with each viewing. For those eight minutes, Brighton were just a Reading goal away from safety. But the killer came in the fifty-fifth at the Britannia; “Lewis Neal’s cross bulleted in by Ade Akinbiyi. The same Akinbiyi laughed out of Leicester, the same Akinbiyi vilified by the fans at Palace. But now an all-conquering hero to the vast majority of a twenty-thousand crowd.” The Seagulls fans had their heads in their hands and when Grimsby got a scrappy equaliser, the game was up. Harris summed it up when he said “They’d come in hope and they sung their hearts out but the damage was done early in the season. Four points from twelve games before Coppell arrived.” A couple of quick interviews aired with the key men, Tony Pulis at Stoke whilst we heard from both captain and goalscorer for the Albion; Cullip and Zamora. Steve Coppell was apparently too upset to speak so we didn’t get his thoughts on either the Live broadcast on Sky or any highlights shows. Bobby Zamora answered the question that had long been asked about his Brighton future; “I’ve got three years on my contract and if Brighton find it right to sell me and the right situation comes along then maybe things might be different.” Sure enough the great man was sold to Premiership Tottenham for £1.5million in July. The Albion would have to start again in August in Division Two.

FLE Stoke winner FLE Heartbreak FLE Cullip FLE Zamora

PREVIOUS; #12 READING 1-2 BRIGHTON 04/04/2003

NEXT; #14 BRIGHTON 2-1 QPR 18/08/2003

#11: Wolves 1-1 Brighton 11/11/2002

#11 WOLVES 1-1 BRIGHTON Division One
Monday 11th November 2002 Image result for

WOL Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Peter Taylor
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Bryn Law
7.45pm Kick Off; Molineux, Wolverhampton     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

WOL Promo WOL Sponsor WOL Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton competed in the second tier of English football for the first time since the 1991/92 season, following back to back title successes under first Micky Adams and then Peter Taylor last year. The recent promotions came after a decade of decline which stemmed from the Play Off Final defeat at Wembley to Notts County in ’91. Subsequent seasons saw the Albion sink down the Divisions and almost out of the Football League in 1997, finishing 91st out of the 92 teams then and again in 1998 amidst huge upheaval and uncertainty. The move to Withdean for some temporary respite coincided with a massive upturn in form which brought us to this point; going toe-to-toe with the big clubs of Nationwide Division One. Teams such as Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Leicester were all now in the same League as the Albion, as were recent top flight clubs like Ipswich, Coventry and Derby. If the Brighton supporters were excited about trips to Portman Road, The City Ground and Brammall Lane ahead of the new campaign, they were certainly brought crashing back down to Earth within a few weeks. Twelve League defeats in a row saw Brighton’s make a disastrous start to the campaign, including a humiliating five-nil scoreline at Selhurst Park. It had started so brightly with a terrific three-one win away at Burnley on the opening day, followed by a goalless draw at home to Coventry the following Tuesday. But the rest of August and the whole of September and October brought about no further points. The run came to an end with a hard fought three-two victory over Bradford in the rain at Withdean to avoid a club record thirteenth consecutive loss last week but the Albion remained rock-bottom and several points from safety. Seven points from fifteen games was dreadful and the manager paid the price. Peter Taylor left the club in the summer shortly after guiding us to the Division Two title, citing a lack of a clear future as the final straw. The issue of a permanent home, poor facilities and minimal finances forced his hand just when things were looking up. Chairman Dick Knight decided to promote Martin Hinshelwood from youth team coach to the main gig. He previously took caretaker charge when Micky Adams walked out a year earlier but now he had the job full time for the first time. Hinshelwood’s playing career was cut short by injury at a time when he was starring in Crystal Palace’s midfield during their FA Cup Semi Final run in 1976. He struggled to get fit again and had to call it a day the following year, where he moved into coaching roles at the club and in the non-Leagues. But his inexperience showed and Brighton’s dismal run saw Hinshelwood moved upstairs to a Director of Football role during the October international break. In a surprise move, the man that came in to replace him was another man very closely associated with arch-rivals Crystal Palace; Steve Coppell. The former Manchester United and England winger, another forced into early retirement due to injury in his late twenties, had four different spells in charge of Palace over a period of sixteen years. He was the subject of a derogatory chant still used by Albion supporters right up to the time he was appointed and was in charge of the club’s heaviest defeat of last season when his Brentford side thrashed Brighton four-nil Live on the ITV Sport Channel. It was a shock for the fans that he was brought in and even reportedly fell asleep during his job interview. His first two matches in charge here couldn’t stop the rot, losing to Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, before the vital win over Bradford finally brought a bit of cheer. Tonight’s fixture was a different test altogether though, as a trip to Molineux to face Play Off chasing Wolves was selected for Live television coverage by Sky Sports. On the 11th November, would it be a Monday night to remember?

WOL Wolves WOL Formation WOL Brighton

The Teams: New manager Steve Coppell’s reign at the Albion hadn’t got off to the best of starts. During his first and so far, only win, against Bradford last time out, goalkeeper Michel Kuipers received his marching orders for a professional foul. However, he was available for tonight, with suspension not due to begin until after this match. In any case, that card was overturned and reduced to a yellow on appeal meaning Australian back-up Andy Petterson would not add to his eight Albion starts. Having joined in the summer he replaced Kuipers briefly during the terrible run, before the Dutch stopper returned at the end of September. Right-back Paul Watson and midfield general Richard Carpenter started every match thus far. Coppell brought about a change in formation in an attempt to shore up the backline, switching to a three-five-two and bringing in Robbie Pethick after almost two months out. Dean Blackwell joined on an initial month contract in October to slot in alongside captain Danny Cullip. Long-serving left-back Kerry Mayo and Paul Watson were deployed in wing-back roles supporting the midfield. Striker Gary Hart dropped back to the middle whilst new signing Simon Rodger played on the left of Carpenter. Rodger spent almost twelve years at Crystal Palace and was reunited with former boss Coppell a couple of weeks back. Winger Paul Brooker was suspended after a red card during the Palace defeat, whilst Charlie Oatway found himself relegated to the bench under the new manager whilst former skipper Paul Rogers struggled to force his way off the bench this term. Star striker Bobby Zamora scored in the opening day win but was out for six weeks with injury. He scored a brace last time out and provides Albion with that much needed star quality, having caught the eye of many scouts during the two title winning seasons. He was supported by young Irish international forward Graham Barrett, on a season-long loan from Arsenal. He got off to the worst possible start, sent off on his debut away at Portsmouth for an off the ball scuffle and only returned to the starting XI in recent weeks. He scored his first goal for the club in the defeat at home to Sheffield United. Options on the subs bench included former manager Martin Hinshelwood’s nephew Adam, highly-rated midfielder Steve Sidwell – another loanee from Arsenal – and forward Daniel Webb, son of ex-Chelsea defender David, back on loan for a second spell after some success last year. Dave Jones’ Wolverhampton Wanderers really should have been promoted last season, after throwing away a spot in the top two very late on. They occupied the automatic promotion places along with Manchester City from the start for much of the campaign, but the wheels came off completely during the final two months, with just two wins from the final nine games dropping them agonisingly to third as fierce rivals West Brom took advantage. They then lost to sixth placed Norwich over two-legs in the Play Offs. Their summer spending was huge ahead of that year but brought in very little this summer, with the marquee signings being free transfers Paul Ince from Middlesbrough and his former Manchester United teammate Denis Irwin. This sort of experience perhaps was required last time to get them over the line, with the club strongly tipped to achieve it this term. Irwin started tonight alongside Young Player of the Year Joleon Lescott and ahead of young local lad Matt Murray in goal. Ivar Ingimarsson played and scored against the Albion for Steve Coppell’s Brentford in January’s thrashing and joined after being released in July. Player of the Year Alex Rae was a battling Scotsman in the middle of the park. Irishman Mark Kennedy could strike a ball so hard with his ferocious left foot and started for the first time since April. Up top Kenny Miller and Dean Sturridge were a deadly combination, with the latter netting twenty-one times last year. Sturridge enjoyed a cameo appearance in Sky One drama Dream Team back in 1998 as himself. Taking charge of the match was footballer-turned-referee Steve Baines.

WOL StudioWOL Kick Off WOL Comms

Presentation Team: The previous broadcast team Sky assembled had all moved on since they last held the rights so a hastily arranged squad was ushered in to launch the season in August after securing the contract on the back of the ITV Digital debacle. Previous host Marcus Buckland had moved across to front the new pay-per-view matches on PremiershipPlus alongside George Graham last year, so former touchline reporter George Gavin stepped in front of the cameras to lead the new era. Gavin joined Sky in the mid-90s working as a reporter on the Premiership and FA Cup matches taking over from Nick Collins. Gavin had previously presented and commentated on BRMB in the Midlands on some hugely famous nights for Birmingham and Aston Villa, he also chaired a famously feisty phone-in show which is still looked back on fondly by listeners. He has also turned his hand to hosting tennis and fishing, amongst other sports, for Sky during his career and is the consummate professional. His Football League role this season was expanded in October to include a new Football League Review programme on Thursday nights, rounding up the action and previewing the upcoming fixtures from Sky’s chairless studio in Isleworth. Gavin was joined on the Molineux gantry by last season’s Albion gaffer Peter Taylor for tonight’s broadcast. Taylor had years of television experience, regularly being called upon to provide punditry and sometimes co-commentate for Sky on League, Cup and England matches. With his various roles across football – managing in the Premiership with Leicester, internationally with the England under-21s right down to the lower Leagues with us and Gillingham – he’s often in a good position to cover a wide range of matches. Taylor was back in management when he took charge of Hull earlier this month. In the commentary box, Rob Hawthorne had also gained a promotion since he was last the voice of the Football League between 1996 and 2001. Last season he took over Alan Parry’s role on the Premiership’s Monday Night Football coverage alongside new signing Alan Smith, with Parry and former League co-commentator Brian Marwood joining Buckland on the PPV channel. After four seasons of Scottish Premier League games, the SFA bungled the contract by snubbing Sky’s renewal bid in the doomed hope of setting up their own channel (which never came to fruition and they had to go to BBC Scotland with their tail between their legs). This left Sky’s English voice of Scottish football, Ian Crocker, free to step across to the Football League main commentator role. He would be joined in the box by a rotating group of co-commentators including Chris Kamara, Alvin Martin, Ray Houghton and Bryan Hamilton this season. Chris Kamara was in the commentary box tonight and previously covered the competition back in the 2000/01 season. From 2001/02 he also co-presented magazine highlights programme Goals on Sunday alongside Rob McCaffrey, ruling him out of Sunday games. Kamara’s Saturdays were taken up by reporting for results service Soccer Saturday, where he pioneered the in-vision updates from the stadium to complement host Jeff Stelling’s studio pundits. The touchline role went to Sky Sports News reporter Bryn Law for the first four months of the campaign, as Sky’s core team were assembled. Law was positioned in the North West for the News channel, particularly focussing on Leeds and his native Wales.

WOL Sky Sports WOL Coming Up

The Coverage: The broadcast rights to the Football League should have remained on the ITV Sport Channel, as they were last season, for at least two further years but that all went horribly wrong. The £315 million three-year contract, which was a huge increase on the previous one Sky Sports agreed, unfortunately proved too costly to sustain a subscription channel with the lower Leagues as the main attraction and potential customer uptake was vastly overestimated. Rumours began circling less than halfway through the debut season that the channel was in trouble, with parent companies Carlton and Granada placing it into administration at the end of March 2002. This was as a result of a failure to renegotiate the Football League deal to reduce the costs, rejected by the League, and the channel shut down and handed back the rights in May. In July Sky Sports stepped in to pick up the broadcast rights for the three Divisions at a bargain price of £95 million for four seasons; that’s £10 million less than what one season on ITV was worth. It highlighted how desperate the League was, with almost half of their clubs facing a real prospect of bankruptcy having gambled on ITV’s money. It was dire times for football in this country. Sky’s new deal unexpectedly brought the League back to their screens after a season away, having previously covered it for five years in the late 1990s. The new deal permitted seventy-five Live matches per season, which broke down as fifty regular season fixtures from Division One, ten from Divisions Two and Three plus Play Off matches including all three Finals. Following ITV’s lead, Sky would present the vast majority of Football League matches from the ground instead of their Isleworth studios like before. George Gavin would be joined by a whole host of guests standing pitchside or up on the gantry initially in a single-camera setup. The regular kick-off time was 5.35pm on Saturday evenings, allowing them to come on-air with a five minute build up and longer time post-match to round up the entire day’s action. As well as the new Saturday evening slot, the more familiar Friday and Monday nights would also be utilised. The pre-match build up was often short, understandably so given the late addition of the contract to Sky’s schedules in these early stages of the season. For Saturday evenings you had five minutes before the kick-off, whilst night matches were afforded fifteen minutes to preview. Tonight’s broadcast began at 7.30pm ahead of the 7.45 KO.

WOL Live fixture WOL Zamora aston

The coverage was sponsored by Sky Bet, featuring a group of fans watching the TV in their living room and cutting to dream sequences of what they would do with the money they’d make from winning bets. The new broadcast contract gave Sky a chance to bring in a new title sequence and theme tune. They opted for an instrumental version of the Skids’ 1979 punk hit Into the Valley. Probably their best known track, it had football connotations as both Dunfermline (the Skids local team) and Charlton (appropriately named home ground, The Valley) played it in their stadium. The titles began with black and white shots of Nottingham Forest’s wonderful City Ground and featured goals and match action from previous games interspersed with flashes of a bright red and white scoreboard. The scoreboard showed the trophy and League logos as well as key introductory text such as ‘Three Divisions’ and the name of the programme; ‘Football League Live’. The scoreboard flashed red and white to black and red to end with the programme name again. It was short and sweet and the track was an unusual but iconic choice. Sky’s graphics for the Football League were very similar in style to the Premiership ones introduced this season, but with a subtly more basic animation. Whilst their main ones had blue and white astons flying in from the left and right, the lines of text also flew in from the opposite side to give it a sleek animation, before exiting in the same manner. The League graphics didn’t have the text fly in separately and either just faded out of flew back out with the text and aston grouped. There were also entry and exit swoosh noises to accompany both sets. It was Brighton fan and TV critic Mike Ward who described them as having “those Dolby Surroundsound whoosing noises that frighten the dog!” Since the turn of the century, Sky’s graphics had evolved to be more complex, more stylish and incorporated greater use of computer imagery. This extended to the replay transitions, which now had the competition trophy crash into the middle of the screen whilst rotating. When goals were scored, the 3D club crest would do the same and they both looked excellent; a class apart from anything rival broadcasters were doing at this time.

WOL Zamora stats WOL Head to Head

With the single-camera setup, host George Gavin and pundit Peter Taylor were in-vision together for the majority of the time so whilst one was speaking, the other could still be seen when normally there would be a cutaway to focus solely on the person talking. This meant that invariably both would look directly at, and address, the camera like they do on American sportscasts, something which pundits rarely did in this country outside of Andy Gray. This was fine when the likes of experienced TV pundits Tony Cottee, Brian Little, Chris Kamara and Taylor himself were used but for newer performers it looked a little awkward and Sky would eventually get a multi-camera setup on the gantry as their coverage got more refined towards the end of the campaign. They began by highlighting Brighton’s terrific record against tonight’s hosts, having won ten of the fourteen previous League meetings. Though tonight was their first clash since 1991. Attention then turned to some of the key prospects; Dean Sturridge and Mark Kennedy for the home side and, of course, Bobby Zamora for the Seagulls. Taylor commented; “Bobby Zamora is an outstanding talent. He’s a tremendous finisher, he’s a lovely lad, he’s a great professional that’s gonna get even better. I’m very confident he will score at whatever level he plays at.” High praise indeed from his former boss. The stats proved just how good his goalscoring record was with Brighton, averaging two goals every three matches. An array of Zamora’s goals were shown to highlight Taylor’s points, including his finish in our last Live Sky match; the FA Cup victory over Rushden and Diamonds last season. Reporter Bryn Law spoke with both managers in the tunnel for their pre-match thoughts. Steve Coppell spoke of how he wanted his team to thrive against the big boys with expectation levels at a low; “It’s one thing that I’ve stressed to the players over the last couple of games – nobody’s expecting anything from Brighton in the position we’re in. So in a way, that takes the pressure off.” He also praised the workrate and commitment of the players on a day to day basis despite the awful run of form. George Gavin’s final words before the advert break were to remind us that Brighton have never won a Live televised League game. Thanks George! When they came back, the teams were waiting to emerge from the tunnel so it was time to hand over to commentators Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara. At half time Peter Taylor thought the Seagulls were good value for their lead; stating they “thoroughly deserve it, I think Brighton have been absolutely outstanding and been very, very hard to play against.”

WOL Coppell WOL Man of the Match

That lead was not to last though and after the final whistle ad break, Gavin and Taylor analysed the match for the final ten minutes or so of the broadcast. The full time stats that flew in along the bottom of the screen highlighted how the home side had more chances – twenty-three attempts with fifteen on target to Brighton’s ten shots and five goal bound – but the most important piece showed one-one. There was high praise for Bobby Zamora’s excellent chip over the ‘keeper, which was shown from every angle at every opportunity. They explained how important he was to Brighton’s survival bid, with the lack of goals when he was out of the side and the extra quality he brings when he’s in the team. On Wolves, they admitted it was close but they did up their game in the second half to fight back well for the draw. Taylor believed one or two Albion defenders were “a touch too deep” for the equaliser with a stroke of fortune coming via Miller’s deflection onto Rae deceiving the outstanding Kuipers. Reporter Bryn Law spoke with Steve Coppell to gain his understanding of the play, with the Brighton manager calling it a “hard earned” point. “I thought in the first half we were excellent. We played some terrific football, we laid out our stall to play a certain way but we still showed an awful lot of composure when we had possession.” He was proud of the effort of his players, particularly in the second half when they knew they’d be under increased pressure. The studio team also poured plaudits on Michel Kuipers for his Man of the Match performance, especially his incredible double save in the second half to deny two Wolves efforts. The former Dutch marine was then interviewed by Bryn Law where he was presented with his bottle of celebratory Champagne. Wolves boss Dave Jones kept his players in the dressing room for a bit longer than usual so there was no time in the Live broadcast to get his thoughts. The round up was completed by taking a look at the table, with Brighton still rock bottom and eight points off safety but slowly closing that gap. Wanderers remained in ninth, three points off the Play Offs. With everything said and done, George Gavin signed off with his traditional catchphrase, “from all of us, bye for now”, before the credits rolled.

WOL Fireworks WOL Minute Silence WOL Zamora goal WOL Bored Coppell

Story of the Match: The two sides ran out of the tunnel to a firework display on this November night. And with tonight being the eleventh of said month, a minute’s silence preceded the action to remember the fallen heroes of war. Wolves also took this opportunity to pay tribute to two former players who recently passed away; Cliff Durandt and Ron Hindmarch. Wolves, in their famous old gold shirts, got the game underway kicking from left to right in the first half. “Many do see this as a home banker,” began commentator Ian Crocker, “but football is rarely so straightforward.” So it proved as it was Brighton who made the better start taking the game to their hosts. Graham Barrett had the first sight of goal after eleven minutes. The striker, called up to the Republic of Ireland squad earlier in the day, held off Joleon Lescott in the area and swivelled with his back to goal. He kept the ball close to his feet to ward off two further defenders before unleashing a left footed strike early which almost caught Matt Murray out. The ball brushed the side netting. But Brighton weren’t to be denied and struck a breakthrough three minutes later. A loose ball just inside his own half was gathered by Danny Cullip to launch it long and forward. Lescott headed it back whence it came from where Richard Carpenter was waiting inside the centre circle. His first time cushioned pass caught the Wolves defence out, namely Mark Clyde, which gave Bobby Zamora something to chase. The seemingly harmless ball completely deceived the defence, and the viewers, as suddenly Zamora was clean through on goal with only Murray to beat. As the ‘keeper rushed out of his goal, Zamora calmly and expertly chipped it over his diving body on the edge of the box and into the back of the net. It was a fantastic finish from the star man for his fifth of the season. And he almost grabbed a second not long after. A bodged attempt at a clearance saw the ball cannon off Lescott’s face into Zamora’s path. Thirty-seven-year-old Denis Irwin came to Wanderers rescue though as he just about got in quick enough on the edge of the box to prod it behind for a corner, just as the striker was shaping up to strike. It was a vital interception as Zamora ended up striking Irwin’s boot rather than a ball, which actually caused a bit of pain on and off for the rest of the half. Barrett couldn’t quite get to the loose ball quick enough for a tap in to an empty net as it trickled behind. The first proper goalmouth action for the home team came from a Mark Kennedy corner over on the far side. Icelandic midfielder Ivar Ingimarsson met it with a good header from eight yards, fortunately it hit his own player, Dean Sturridge, standing in the centre of the goal. The rebound fell to the feet of Ingimarsson this time but his shot was smothered by the alert Michel Kuipers, ably protected by Robbie Pethick. Brighton’s formation change seemed to be doing the job, as players were defending well but also getting forward in their numbers. Nevertheless, Steve Coppell looked considerably bored when the camera cut to him sitting in the stands midway through the first period, head slumped against his hand! He wouldn’t be taking anything for granted. Gary Hart had a header saved by Murray as Brighton continued to create chances and restricted Wolves to long-rangers.

WOL Kuipers first save WOL Kuipers double save WOL Double Sub WOL Added Time

It was a credit to the Albion’s first half performance that the Wolves fans grew evermore impatient as that period went on. They began the second half a goal down but determined to put that right. Kevin Cooper fired a warning shot after four minutes when he dispossessed Dean Blackwell ten yards inside the Brighton half and burst forward. His shot on the edge of the box went just shy of the near post. That’s not to say the Seagulls spent the rest of the time on the back foot. An opportunity went the unlikely way of a Kerry Mayo burst when the back line opened up for the local lad to run through. His shot took a big deflection outside the area off Lescott which wrongfooted Murray and could have spun in any direction. As it was, it clipped the outside of the netting as it went inches wide. The resulting corner kick eventually found its way to the head of Danny Cullip, whose brave header was creeping in and had to be helped over the crossbar, which was missed by the officials. At the other end, Kuipers had to be on red alert as he could be called into action at any point; such was the open, end-to-end nature of this match. Just before the hour mark he pulled off a remarkable double save to deny first Alex Rae then Kenny Miller in a frantic few seconds. Marc Edworthy’s ball in from the right alluded everyone until Rae struck in the area with a nice curler. That forced Kuipers to get down low to his left to parry away. The quickest to react to the loose ball was Miller who pinged an effort towards the upper reaches of the goal that surely couldn’t be saved. Yet up came the outstretched, upright arm of Kuipers to deny him with the save of the match. To top it all off the ball fell straight into his grateful arms, what a moment! And the big Dutchman had to stand firm again just a minute later when Sturridge showed great pace and strength to run the ball in from the left touchline. He made the chance all by himself, bringing it forward from near the halfway line and not letting Mayo get near the ball. It left him one on one with Kuipers but the goalie didn’t commit himself and blocked off the effort to keep it one-nil to the stripes. With twenty left on the clock Wolves made a double change, bringing on Shaun Newton and Keith Andrews in the middle. It took just five minutes for the goal to arrive, in scrappy circumstances as Wolves pressure finally paid dividends. Another good ball in from the right from Edworthy found an unmarked Kenny Miller on the penalty spot. His volley took a big deflection off Rae standing just a yard or two in front. The touch was enough to take it past a despairing Kuipers and into the corner of the net for one-one, as Miller wheeled away and sighs of relief were breathed around Molineux. Brighton immediately responded with a double substitution of their own in an attempt to consolidate the level scoreline as midfielders Sidwell and Oatway came on for the final quarter of an hour. Adam Hinshelwood came on for the closing minutes as the packed Albion defence stood firm and resolute for an excellent away point. Brighton looked a whole lot more confident under Coppell and gave glimmers of hope that all wasn’t lost in this campaign despite the start. Onwards and upwards for the Seagulls, we hoped!

WOL Table

WOLVES 1 BRIGHTON 1
Miller Zamora

WOL Replay WOL Goal

PREVIOUS; #10 STOKE CITY 3-1 BRIGHTON 01/03/2002

NEXT; #12 READING 1-2 BRIGHTON 04/04/2003

#50: Brighton 1-1 Hull 17/02/2014

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

HUL Titles

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

HUL Promo HUL In Play Bet HUL Intro

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

HUL Brighton HUL Hull HUL Formations

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

HUL Currie HUL James HUL Bullard HUL Pitchside

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

HUL Dugout HUL On Pitch

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

HUL Tunnel HUL VT StatsHUL Naylor HUL Back of the tunnel

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

HUL Ulloa pre match HUL View from the tunnel

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

HUL BT Box HUL Possession HUL Upson HUL Lifes A Pitch

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

HUL Kick Off HUL Comms  HUL Sub HUL Goal

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

HUL Yellow Card HUL Equaliser

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

HUL Quarter Finals

BRIGHTON 1 HULL 1
Ulloa Sagbo

HUL Replay HUL Replay Outro

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

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

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

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

BOU Titles

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

BOU Ident BOU Sponsor BOU Intro

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

BOU Bournemouth BOU Subs BOU Brighton

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

BOU Thomas BOU Beagrie BOU Studio BOU Pitchside 

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

BOU Form BOU Split Screen BOU Sub BOU Coming Up

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

BOU Kick Off BOU Comms BOU Crofts BOU Barnes

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

BOU Table

BOURNEMOUTH 1 BRIGHTON 1
Ritchie Barnes

BOU Replay BOU Goal

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

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

#48: Brighton 1-1 Watford 28/10/2013

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

WAT Titles

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

WAT Ident WAT Sponsor WAT Intro

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

WAT Brighton WAT Subs WAT Watford

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

WAT Thomas WAT Virgo WAT Studio

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

WAT Delay WAT Team   WAT Possession WAT Half Time Stats

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

WAT No Goal WAT Greer

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

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 1
Crofts Murray

WAT Replay WAT Goal

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

FL72 Titles FL72 Studio

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

FL72 Split Screen FL72 Hinchcliffe

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

WAT Garcia

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

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

#47: Reading 0-0 Brighton 15/09/2013

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

REA Titles

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

REA Promo REA Sponsor REA Intro

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

REA Reading REA Subs REA Brighton

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

REA Thomas REA Roberts REA Studio

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

REA Pitchside REA Garcia Stats REA Half Time Stats REA Analysis

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

REA Kick Off REA Comms REA Coming Up REA Garcia

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

REA Referee REA Red Card

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

REA Table

READING 0 BRIGHTON 0

REA Replay

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

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

#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