#60: Brighton 0-2 Watford 25/04/2015

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

60WAT Titles.JPG

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

60WAT Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

60WAT Brighton

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

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

60WAT Subs 60WAT Watford

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

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

 

PRESENTATION TEAM & COVERAGE

60WAT Ident 60WAT Thomas

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

60WAT Pitchside 60WAT Beagrie

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

60WAT Race for Promotion 60WAT Split screen interview

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

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

60WAT Studio 60WAT Interviews

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

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

60WAT Fixtures 60WAT Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

60WAT Kick Off 60WAT Comms

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

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

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

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

60WAT Deeney goal 60WAT Analysis

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

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

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

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

60WAT Table top 60WAT Table bottom

BRIGHTON 0 WATFORD 2
Deeney, Vydra

60WAT Replay.JPG

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

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

#42: Brighton 1-3 Watford 29/12/2012

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

WAT Titles

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

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

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

WAT Brighton WAT Watford WAT Subs

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

WAT Thomas WAT Hinchcliffe WAT Studio

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

WAT Poyet v Zola WAT Duo WAT Coming Up WAT Stats

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

WAT Split Screen WAT Analysis WAT Goals WAT Results

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

WAT Kick Off WAT Comms WAT Penalty WAT Interview

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

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 3
Lopez Deeney, Vydra (2)

WAT Replay WAT Goal

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

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