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

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

56BOU Titles

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

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CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

56BOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

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

56BOU Studio

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

 

THE COVERAGE

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

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

56BOU Form guide 56BOU Baldock

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

56BOU Baldock goal 56BOU Penalty

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

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

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

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

56BOU Replay 56BOU Goal

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

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

#33: Colchester 1-1 Brighton 25/04/2011

#33 COLCHESTER 1-1 BRIGHTON League One
Monday 25th April 2011 Image result for

COLU Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Phil Parkinson & Mark McGhee
COMMENTATORS Gary Weaver & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER Patrick Davison
12.15pm Kick Off; Weston Homes Stadium, Colchester     12-2.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

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Context of the Match: Brighton and Hove Albion had done it. After narrowly avoiding relegation into League Two on the final day of the season under Russell Slade in 2009, climbing out of the relegation fight to finish 13th under Gus Poyet in 2010, the Seagulls secured promotion into the Championship in 2011 with a month of the campaign to spare. By the time this Easter Monday fixture arrived, we’d gone one better than promotion; we were the Champions! The Albion had achieved the fairytale story of arriving into our wonderful new home this summer in the best possible style. When today’s match away at Colchester was initially selected for Live coverage by Sky Sports, it was hoped that promotion could be secured in front of the television cameras, possibly even confirmation of the title. Poyet’s men were that good this season that we did it much earlier than that, so we could relax and enjoy a Bank Holiday stroll knowing the outcome really didn’t matter. Owing to the progress to Round Five of the FA Cup plus December postponements, the players had to get through eight games in twenty-nine days in March. The result; eight straight victories. Promotion was secured in early April at home to Dagenham before sealing the thoroughly deserved title away at Walsall. There was one little bit left to achieve, though. Including today’s fixture, three games remained of the season and Brighton were on an incredible 93 points. Could we reach that magical 100 point mark, becoming the first side since Wigan in 2003 to achieve it in this Division? The hosts Colchester had left it too late to have a serious crack at reaching the Play-Offs and for the second season running would have to sit a couple of places outside. The focus was all about the Albion today, enjoying somewhat of an early promotion party in the Easter sunshine.

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The Teams: Four changes were made to the Albion side which lost at home to Southampton on Saturday. Top scorer Glenn Murray injured himself so in came Chris Wood, who’d been on loan from West Brom since November. Local teenager Lewis Dunk started for only the second time in the League, with El-Abd dropping to the bench, as was Matt Sparrow. Liam Bridcutt scored a fabulous goal in the 4-3 win over Dagenham and Redbridge which secured promotion earlier in the month but he sat out this one with Alan Navarro coming in. Former roofer Craig Noone was signed from Plymouth in the January transfer window, having excelled during the first half of the season on the wing and returned to the line-up here. Left-back Marcos Painter was the only player to start every League match for the Albion this season, whilst midfielders Gary Dicker and Elliott Bennett also featured in all matches. PFA Team of the Season defender Inigo Calderon continued a fine run at right-back. John Ward’s Colchester were much changed from this fixture last season; with just four survivors from the starting XI thirteen months ago also starting today. They were Ben Williams in-goal, defender Matt Heath, and midfielders John-Joe O’Toole and Kemal Izzet. The U’s were without leading striker Steven Gillespie through injury. David Mooney scored thirteen goals for United, all of them coming at home. The man in black was little Keith Stroud.

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Presentation Team: Coverage was hosted by Simon Thomas, who had enjoyed a sharp rise into presenting Live football this season. Thomas was most associated with his six years and more than 550 episodes on iconic children’s BBC programme Blue Peter, where he completed London Marathons, climbed mountains, met the Queen, boxed with Amir Khan and all sorts of exciting adventures you associate with the long-running show. Upon leaving in 2005 he acknowledged that “whatever I go on to do now is not going to be a patch on what I’ve done. That’s one of the hardest things about leaving.” He outlined his intentions to go into sports reporting or presenting and that’s exactly what happened. Soon after leaving the BBC, and with their sports department not willing to take him on, Thomas joined Sky Sports News as a newsreader working regularly with Georgie Thompson in the afternoon slot. He hosted a number of Live shows for Sky Sports in the intervening years before getting the chance to host Live Football League broadcasts this season, deputising for number one host David Jones on lower League games. He benefitted greatly from the huge fallout in January 2011 when Sky’s Premier League faces, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, left after leaked sexist comments. This forced a major reshuffle of personnel for the rest of this season. Effectively four hosts auditioned to present their flagship Super Sunday and Monday Night Football programmes; Jeff Stelling, Ben Shephard, Ed Chamberlin and David Jones. With Jones stepping up to the top flight, Simon Thomas presented far more Championship matches, the vast majority in fact, with Jones returning for the bigger games. Thomas’ pundits for today’s game were Phil Parkinson and Mark McGhee. This very fixture was broadcast Live in March last season, with Parkinson a guest on that too, given his Colchester connections as manager between 2003 and 2006. Most recently, until January, he was the Charlton boss. Mark McGhee needs no introduction having achieved promotion with Brighton out of this League, the last Albion manager to do so, in 2004 via the Play Offs and then successfully keeping them in the Championship the following year. That survival was arguably a bigger achievement than the Play Offs owing to the vast differences in budget, stadium and players between McGhee’s Albion and the high-flyers like Sunderland, Leeds and West Ham. McGhee is remembered fondly by many Seagulls supporters for his part in bringing great success to the South Coast, and he still had a property locally long after he’d left the club. McGhee was in-between jobs after managing Motherwell and Aberdeen. In the commentary box were two newcomers to Brighton matches; Gary Weaver and Andy Hinchcliffe. Both men began appearing on Sky’s Live Football League matches this season in a big overhaul of the personnel. Bill Leslie and Don Goodman were the long-established number one pairing, with Weaver used when Leslie or Daniel Mann weren’t, and Hinchcliffe was third choice behind Goodman and Garry Birtles. Today was the perfect low-key opportunity to give the newbies some vital Live experience. On the touchline was Patrick Davison, now in his third season as number two reporter behind Greg Whelan. He also covered this fixture Live last year.

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The Coverage: All this year Sky Sports were celebrating 20 years of broadcasting, with special idents and anniversary programming such as the excellently nostalgic The Sky Sports Years, which looked back over Sky’s portfolio for each and every year since 1991. Coverage of the League remained sponsored by bet365, who had their animated logo splashed over so much football output across all the broadcasters around this time it seemed they sponsored everything outside the top flight. The title sequence continued to be soundtracked by Candi Staton’s “You Got the Love”. However the graphics had a slight tweak to them, with the ends effectively chopped off so they sat within the 4×3 aspect ratio ‘safe area’ rather than extended horizontally all the way across the screen. This was introduced around the turn of the year, in a slight effort to look more in-line with the new graphics the Premier League coverage had at the beginning of this season that the Football League wouldn’t adopt until next year. The replay transition was the beautiful trophy the Albion would get their hands on at the final home match of the season, and the last to be played at Withdean, against Huddersfield next Saturday. The show came on-air at noon, fifteen minutes before the early afternoon kick-off. Pre-match build up was presented from pitchside at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Sky taking advantage of the hot weather. The atmosphere came across well, with Albion fans in full voice and a party mood. For the half and full-time analysis, the team moved up to a more familiar studio position in the corner of the stadium. During Gus Poyet’s pre-match interview he spoke of when he saw this fixture was to be broadcast “how nice it would be to get promoted or to win the League Live on TV. We were so good we done it before coming here so now it’s time to enjoy and to plan next season.” The PFA Team of the Season was announced earlier in the month, with the Seagulls having three representatives; Inigo Calderon, captain Gordon Greer and Elliott Bennett. Whilst former Brighton defender Dan Harding was in there for Southampton, and future signing Craig Mackail-Smith up front for Peterborough.

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The coverage was all about the Champions, kicking off with a ‘Brighton’s Got Talent’ intro highlighting the individual stars the Seagulls had this season, taking inspiration from Britain’s Got Talent. Phil Parkinson noted of Brighton that “right from the word go they’ve been the best team in the Division. I think back in pre-season, no-one thought they’d have the season they’ve had but as soon as the season started they hit the ground running.” Mark McGhee spoke about the 2004 Play Off Final victory, saying the club had a better opportunity now than his side did what with the ground arriving, giving Albion “a new platform, a new revenue stream that we didn’t have then. A lot of what we earned then was sacrificed in the fight for the new stadium.” Whilst looking at the table it was noted how Brighton could reach the magical 100 points marker. In conversation with reporter Patrick Davison, Gus Poyet told what was left to achieve in the remaining three matches; “Keep the momentum, keep the identity, keep playing football. Keep enjoying, and making people enjoy watching us.” After previewing the game for around ten minutes or so it was time for commentator Gary Weaver to talk us through the team news before the pre-kick-off advert break. At half time the team analysed the first half chances from their studio position, looking at Ankergren’s injury and the Colchester goal as well as the half-chances the away side had mustered. They joked at one point Poyet shouted out to his players “You’re not in blue and white today, you’re in red!” Emphasising how un-Brighton like that first half was. Straight after the final whistle reporter Patrick Davison spoke to Man of the Match Craig Noone and Elliott Bennett. The latter was asked directly about his future, having previously handed a transfer request in. Brighton had rejected offers from a number of higher Division clubs. He responded to if he would be playing for the Albion in the Championship saying, “Yeah, definitely. What Gus Poyet’s created here is unbelievable and all the lads are pulling in the right direction. We play great football, a magnificent stadium to move into and Championship football so why would I want to move anywhere else?” Elliott Bennett joined Norwich in June. After the break the team had just under ten minutes to wrap the match up. Davison spoke with Poyet, who reminded us just what a slog it is in the Football League. “It’s difficult because it was a long season for us, very, very long. From September we were at the top under pressure, the effort and everything you have to do, you’ve done it for a long, long time,” he said before going on to bemoan the goal conceded as probably the worst of the season from a defensive point of view. Thomas, with Parkinson and McGhee, reviewed the goals and the key moments as well as highlighting a couple of players who might be making a case for the manager to include them more next season before it was time to sign off for the afternoon.

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Story of the Match: The glorious sunshine was beaming down in Essex as the Albion, in their change kit of red and black stripes, kicked off. Tactically both teams matched each other in a 4-3-3 formation, slightly different to how Sky had set the graphics up, as Craig Noone was playing much further forward with Bennett sitting in central midfield. Casper Ankergren broke his nose in the last televised League fixture, against Bournemouth back in October, and he was in the wars early on here. Whilst collecting a loose ball his left knee was caught by Henderson but hobbled on. Perhaps the niggle was playing on his mind as a couple of minutes later on the quarter-hour mark, Colchester took the lead after an almighty comedy of errors. John-Joe O’Toole’s effort was dragged somewhat but Ankergren was scrabbling around to get a hand to it, pushing the ball into the path of Tommy Elphick. He swiped at it, completely miscuing it back towards goal where Calderon was waiting. He then also miscued under pressure from the attack, with his attempted clearance across goal falling to the feet of Ian Henderson; presented with the easiest chance of his season to break the deadlock from six yards out. It was a terrible goal to concede and so unlike the solid Brighton defence which earned them twenty League clean sheets. The ‘keeper immediately signalled to the bench calling for a sub, as Peter Brezovan came on for his first League appearance this season. The Albion weren’t playing anywhere near as well as they had done this campaign, passes were sloppy and the defence was sitting deep allowing Colchester to control the ball and the midfield. The first chance came to Ashley Barnes six minutes before half-time with his header from a Calderon cross being simple for Williams in-goal. Bennett was booked a minute later for sarcastically applauding the referee, which for somebody as fussy as Keith Stroud was never a good idea. Colchester should have doubled their lead after James was allowed to run towards the Albion defence, his shot dragged towards the far post where an outstretched Henderson could only divert it over from six yards out.

COLU Barnes COLU Man of the Match

Ten minutes into the second half Peter Brezovan was called into action having to block with his chest and then leap to claw away a second effort. The half time break hadn’t done Brighton too much good as it was still Colchester who were enjoying the better of the play. The Albion’s best chance of the match thus far occurred in the 65th minute, following a quickly taken throw-in to set Marcos Painter free down the left. He pulled it back for Barnes to shoot with his left but inadvertently helped it on towards Chris Wood waiting at the back post. The goalkeeper palmed Barnes’ tame shot onto Wood as they both went for the ball, the ricochet taking it inches wide of the far post. The luck just not quite there for the Champions but the momentum began to swing their way. A couple of scrambles in the area followed in the next couple of minutes as Brighton really began to knock on the door for an equaliser. After a spell of domination, enjoying 74% of the possession, that goal finally arrived through Ashley Barnes. “A clinical finish. It’s the response of Champions!” cried commentator Gary Weaver as Barnes did the pregnant belly celebration. Elliott Bennett was found on the right-wing, turned back on his defender to swing in a cross on his weaker left-foot. It was a fantastic ball in to the right foot of Barnes to volley home on the edge of the six yard box, having ran in front of his marker to beat him to the ball for his eighteenth goal in all competitions this season. Brighton nearly completed the comeback with seven minutes to go when Elphick’s powerful header from an excellent Craig Noone cross was well tipped over by Williams. At the other end Brezovan had to remain alert with a couple of straightforward saves in the final few minutes. The last chance of the match was Chris Wood’s; his header from Bennett’s cross landed the wrong side of the post and the match ended all square at one-one. Brighton didn’t quite manage to reach the 100 point target, losing the final Withdean game against Huddersfield and drawing away at Notts County, but that barely mattered in the end. Promotion was achieved in the best way, as Champions, and second tier football would be played in Falmer come August. The football Brighton played this season was excellent, Poyet’s stock was extremely high and everybody couldn’t wait for the summer break to be over so we could take our seats in a place we could, finally, call home. What a time to be a Seagulls supporter.

COLU Table

COLCHESTER 1 BRIGHTON 1
Henderson Barnes

COLU Replay

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2011 Champions

Brighton & Hove Albion League One Champions 2010/2011