Small Screen Seagulls; The Rise and Fall of Gus Poyet

Small Screen Seagulls LogoGustavo Augusto Poyet Dominguez, or Gus Poyet to you and me, made a name for himself as a talented midfielder for Zaragoza, Chelsea and Tottenham. The Uruguayan spent seven years in the Premier League picking up the FA Cup, Charity Shield, UEFA Super Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup. At international level, although he didn’t earn too many caps, he did lift the Copa America in 1995. Affectionately nicknamed “the radio” due to his incessant talking, there was no doubting he would go into coaching. Not many would have earmarked League One Brighton and Hove Albion as the club to give him his first managerial break. In November 2009 that’s exactly what happened, as Poyet brought a South American touch to the South Coast. 


Gus Poyet Brighton Manager 10th Nov 2009-23rd Jun 2013

Poyet's first game interviews (1)Gus Poyet had been assistant manager at Tottenham, Leeds and Swindon but now was given the top job for the first time. It was undoubtedly a gamble from new chairman Tony Bloom, but he was no stranger to playing the odds. Having taken over from Dick Knight in May, Bloom arrived as Brighton had just saved their skin on the final day with victory over Stockport at Withdean meaning they would remain in League One for another season. But the following campaign saw more misery at the start and Russell Slade’s short tenure was over. After Slade’s dismissal, Bloom said he received lots of applicants for the vacancy but when Poyet’s name was thrown in, he became ‘very interested’ before adding, “His reputation as being a top quality coach shone through, as well as being a top man… I am certain he will be a big success at the Albion.” Poyet certainly agreed, stating in a BBC Sussex interview “This is another challenge for me to take the club where everybody in Brighton wants to be and that’s in the Championship… Being realistic I think eighteen months is possible. If that is the goal of the club, it’s no problem.” He signed an initial contract until the end of the following season, which would be Albion’s final one at their makeshift home of Withdean. There was an immediate interest in the club from the media and it just so happened that Poyet’s first match in charge would be televised Live five days after taking charge. As a well known player in the Premier League, he scored some fantastic goals and assisted many more. As assistant coach he worked alongside big names, the likes of Juande Ramos and Dennis Wise. He was well used to lots of attention, but Brighton were not. The main focus in the spotlight was usually about the club’s fight for a stadium, a battle which dragged on for over a decade. Now, with Gus at the helm, there was an increase in coverage purely to see how the Uruguayan would be getting on. It turned out to go rather well.

Poyet appointedClimbing the table and building his own style was the first aim for Poyet. Results started to arrive and the style of play was overhauled. It was about getting the ball on the floor, playing out from the back, enjoying possession and passing the ball as much as possible. It was his philosophy and he only wanted to play one way. The club finished thirteenth in League One in May 2010 and sights were set on the top six. Poyet’s free-flowing Brighton side went even better in the 2010/2011 season, Poyet’s first full campaign, as they stormed to the top of the table and ran away with the title at a canter, soaring to the top of the table in September and never letting up. The club played some of the best football the supporters had ever seen. It culminated with a whopping 95 points to be crowned Champions as they bid farewell to life at Withdean and welcomed in the new stadium in Falmer with Championship football after five years away. In the process, Poyet earned the PFA League One Manager of the Year award and went on to claim the Outstanding Managerial Achievement prize at the Football League Awards. Praise was flying in from everywhere and the momentum continued in the second tier. His Seagulls narrowly missed out on the Play Off places in the 2011/2012 season as they took naturally to the higher League. One big push the following year saw them finish fourth and reach that end of season showdown for the first time at this level since 1991. That time it was ended at Wembley by Notts County, but for Gus it was Crystal Palace who did for us in 2013. And everything immediately fell apart in the days and weeks that followed. It ended with a bitter public fallout in which Poyet lost his job and Brighton had to start again. Here, we take a look at some of the media appearances Gus Poyet made whilst in charge of Brighton. A natural in front of the camera, he interviewed with passion and honesty and was a favourite in the studio. It all began by taking his new side along the South Coast for a birthday to remember.

 

First Match in Charge; v Southampton (A), 15th November 2009

#28 Southampton 15/11/2009 Table on Poyet's arrival

Five days after signing on at Brighton, Gus Poyet took his new club along the Coast to Southampton for a big clash at the foot of the League One table. Sky Sports couldn’t believe their luck, having already chosen this match in advance for Live television coverage over the international break weekend. Having a high-profile new manager in charge, and on his birthday, was the icing on the cake. Brighton sat 20th and in need of a rethink having shipped four goals in the previous match at Wycombe. In contrast, Southampton were in great form yet propped up the table for most of the season so far due to a ten-point deduction owing to financial irregularities but a win would take them out of the drop zone and above Albion. Sky Sports reporter Greg Whelan spoke to Poyet before his debut in charge and began by asking how much he was looking forward to the challenge. “We’ve done everything possible, because it’s only three days normally you have normally have a month of pre-season but, like I always say, I don’t complain at the situation and we have to accept it.” He spoke of the “talent and quality” of the squad he inherited but emphasised the need to shore up the back line, which he immediately tried to address by dropping captain Adam Virgo from the starting XI. The match couldn’t have gone any better, a full report is available here, as Brighton surged to a terrific three-one away victory with goals from Andrew Crofts and a Glenn Murray brace. Afterwards, a slightly hoarse Poyet spoke again with Whelan. “The lads were superb. We had two or three days to train, they adapted themselves to the situation very well.” He was pleased with the effort from the defence and debated whether the Southampton goal from the penalty spot should have been given in the first place. His focus was now about taking it game by game whilst he worked out exactly what to do with this squad and where strength was needed. “We need to think about keep improving as a team, keep working hard, keep believing in the strength of the team and work hard on the weakness.” In the studio, host George Gavin and pundit Peter Beagrie predicted brighter things for the Albion. “It’s a big task for Gus but I think, because you’ve got somebody with such kudos attached to it, I think he’s gonna be given time to build something at Brighton,” Beagrie said. That time spent during the rest of the 2009/10 campaign was enough to lift the club up the table steadily and with an attractive, open style which was enough to secure thirteenth place the following May, well clear of the relegation zone this time. Times certainly were changing.

SOU Poyet SOU Studio


Football League Weekend studio appearance; Sky Sports 2, 21st October 2011

FLW Titles FLW Poyet

In Poyet’s first full season in charge, Brighton were unstoppable as they stormed their way to the League One title. He built an exciting, attacking team dominating possession with free-flowing, passing football. The 2010/2011 campaign would be remembered amongst the greatest in Albion’s history as they took on and defeated all comers. The championship was secured in the final season at Withdean with four games to spare and ensured the opening of The Amex in Falmer would be as a second tier club again. A massive ninety-five points were obtained along the way, with Poyet named LMA League One Manager of the Season earning him huge acclaim. He strengthened over the summer to twice break the club’s transfer record – first on Will Buckley and then Craig Mackail-Smith – and began life in the Championship in superbly dramatic style with a last-gasp two-one opening day win over Doncaster. However, form over the next couple of months had stalled after positive opening weeks. Sky Sports had selected the home match against West Ham for Live television coverage on the Monday night. To preview that and the rest of the weekend’s fixtures, Gus Poyet was invited into the Football League Weekend studio to accompany George Gavin on the Friday evening. He admitted that he found the step up in League “very hard, very competitive” citing more power, strength, quality and experience in the Championship. After a dozen matches the Seagulls sat in tenth place on nineteen points going into this weekend. Poyet’s achievements so far earned him a contract extension beyond the original eighteen months and boasted a terrific win ratio of more than 50% over a century of matches. The stats were looking fantastic.

FLW Studio FLW Record

Gavin and Poyet discussed the move from Withdean to The Amex and how that impacted the club. Gus made his feelings clear about the old athletics ground; “I know people love it but I don’t. I’m the only one at Brighton who said that it was one of the horrible places to play football!” Of course by contrast he loved life in Falmer; “It’s totally the opposite – it’s massive, it’s comfortable, even the seats now!” He made a number of improvements on the playing staff too, bringing in the likes of Mackail-Smith, Buckley and Vicente as well as younger talents like Will Hoskins and Romain Vincelot. Poyet singled out Scotland’s newest striker Mackail-Smith for his outstanding workrate; “He’s the type of player that, when you are a defender, you don’t want against you. He’s quicker than what people think, he’s always running, desperate to play”. The Tuesday before the show, Brighton drew one-all away at Millwall which featured one of the weakest penalties in club history from Ryan Harley. Poyet’s response; “I was not a penalty taker so I’m not gonna blame anyone who takes penalties.” Without a win in six, form had gone off the boil having not lost in the opening six matches. A tough period was ahead for Poyet as clashes with West Ham and Southampton were coming up but Poyet was in buoyant mood. “I look at that as a manager, as a player, the fixtures – where is West Ham? There. Where is Birmingham? There. That’s the games you want to play… I love it.” Poyet talked through his own methods of coaching. On his preparation, he said “I’ve done everything possible to win this football game… I’ve done my job, then it’s up to the players” He didn’t join in playing during training whereas assistant Mauricio Taricco did. And the programme drew to a close with a quick mention of the success in League One; “I think it’s incredible what we did last year… The way we played we surprised people early doors and got points ahead and it was difficult for them to get back.” His aim of a top ten finish was in sight. “We’ll see.”

FLW Signings FLW Fixtures


Football League Weekend interview; Sky Sports 1, 2nd March 2012

FLWI Forster Poyet's Office

After a bit of a blip, Brighton were firmly back on course in the Championship. By March the club were on the fringes of the Play Offs in their first season back. Sky Sports preview programme Football League Weekend sent their reporter and former Albion striker Nicky Forster to the manager’s office to catch up with the boss. This was a particularly enlightening interview, given what we know subsequently. It began by discussing the situation at the time; Brighton were in seventh place level on points with the final Play Off team and thirteen matches remaining. Poyet admitted that placing was “just a little bit better than expected” as he was “expecting to be in the middle really”. He continued to play things down, saying “I don’t think we should be real contenders but I think we’ve got a chance because we are a little bit different.” To give a real insight into the mind of Poyet, Forster questioned him on the inevitable links to bigger clubs that come when a manager does as well as Gus had done thus far. “It’s good because that means we’re doing something right. I try to wait for the time it happens, I try to live with it. Sometimes it’s a shock and it’s crazy for a few days but I’m lucky.” The attention feeds into a crucial part of the man; his ego. The success in League One earned Poyet a new long-term contract but, he said, “at the same time, like any other job, there is a time frame that you need to set up… depending on how we do, you can stay forever or not.” He then spoke of some of the positives of the future, with the academy on the horizon and a plan in mind but didn’t want to commit to too much detail for fear of everything changing and then “looking stupid”. Perhaps this attention from other clubs and talk about promotion was a bit much as things quickly began to go off the boil. After this interview, Brighton won just two of the thirteen matches to drop down to tenth. Was their eye taken off the ball and heads were allowed to turn, we’ll never probably know. But what was known amongst the footballing community was how good a job Poyet was doing. The studio team of host George Gavin with Simon Grayson and Phil Brown echoed that afterwards, demonstrating it with the excellent results since the New Year.

FLWI 2012 Results FLWI Presentation team


Football League Award Winner; BBC One South East, 12th March 2012

LKO Titles LKO Award

Gus Poyet’s great work at the Albion was recognised by the Football League at their annual awards dinner in March 2012. He was honoured with the Outstanding Managerial Performance across the three Divisions for transforming the Seagulls from relegation candidates to League One Champions within eighteen months of taking charge. BBC regional magazine show Late Kick Off reported on the event the following evening. The Brighton area was now served by the “London and South East” BBC region, meaning a new line up for the 2012 series of Late Kick Off, with Football Focus presenter Dan Walker at the helm as the Albion shared the spotlight with the clubs from the capital. Walker was joined in the studio by former Charlton and Wimbledon striker Jason Euell and ex-Crystal Palace front man Mark Bright. Poyet said of his award; “I’ve been lucky to be at the right club at the right time… The key is the players. If you make sure you get the right players, you convince them, you make sure they want to play for the football club and they believe in what we do… you got a chance.” By the time the gong was handed out to him, Brighton were sat fifth in the Championship table with ten matches of the season to go, such was the lateness of this award we had almost completed the following season. In fact, Poyet was doing such a great job to carry on the momentum of promotion into the higher tier and in the new stadium, he wouldn’t have looked out of place on the shortlist for the award for this 2011/2012 campaign either. In the studio, Mark Bright was full of praise for the job done by the former Chelsea midfielder. “The move into the new stadium was fantastic for the Brighton fans and for the team. But the style of football they play, they’re now looking at back to back promotions – and seriously as well – I think they are big contenders. There was a lot of respect in the room for Gus Poyet.” The final few matches of the season saw the Albion tail off and miss out on the Play Offs but over the course of Poyet’s first two seasons in charge he won plenty of plaudits for the open, attractive passing style of play and were candidates to go one step further into the top six the following season.

LKO Poyet LKO Studio


Last Match in Charge; v Crystal Palace (H), 13th May 2013

PAL Titles PAL Poyet

The club missed out on the Play Offs in 2012 having dropped too many points in the final third of the season and winning just one of the last ten. Poyet signalled to the board that, in order to go one step further, investment was much needed. Tony Bloom answered by providing funds to bring in top class players such as Tomasz Kuszczak, Bruno, Wayne Bridge, Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez over the summer. The squad was sharp and solid. The Albion even led the Championship briefly in September. Too many draws cost us in November and December as Brighton slipped down the top half. Leonardo Ulloa and Matthew Upson were brought in to add even more quality in January and result picked up again for Poyet. Just one defeat in the first eleven matches of 2013 saw the club back in the Play Off pack and an unbeaten last nine games cemented fourth place in the second tier, the highest finish for thirty years since relegation from the old Division One. It set up a crunch clash with Crystal Palace in the Play Off Semi Finals and, after drawing the away leg nil-nil on the Friday, it was all down to this Monday night in May at The Amex. Brighton were favourites and dispatched of their rivals three-nil as recently as March here. Gus Poyet was one match away from a Wembley Final. It turned out to be a dreadful night. Palace won the game two-nil and went on to gain promotion with a Final win over Watford. An incident in the away dressing room prior to kick off enraged their boss Ian Holloway and fired up the Palace players.

After the televised match, Poyet spoke to Sky Sports reporter Jonathan Oakes in a conversation which fuelled speculation about the Uruguayan’s future with the Albion and saw him lose the support of the chairman and board. It began with Poyet’s summation of the campaign; “You have a very, very good season, better than expected. You done something very good and then because of this Play Off you go home with a terrible feeling and I’m really sad.” Over the course of the two Legs, Poyet thought Brighton should have edged it. He praised the First Leg performance in particular, dominating that first half but not getting the reward. But complained of his side’s poor showing in this match; “We were not ourself, too much tension, too much responsibility… That is not us.” The damning moments came at the end of the interview when asked about recovering from this and his future with the club. “I don’t want to make any decisions or any comments right now because the feelings are not the best so I will sit down, check properly everything… Where is the roof? Did we hit the roof today and there is nothing above? What is going to be the situation next year? But we’ve got time.” Asked if he would be here next season he replied, “I need to analyse my personal diary.” Emotions played a big part of Poyet’s success, being fiery and passionate and feeling all the highs and lows. But when it came to interviews, particularly just after a defeat or if something hadn’t gone his way, Poyet showed his managerial immaturity too many times. It wasn’t his place to question the ambitions of the club in the minutes after a heart-breaking defeat in this manner. Blame was being placed at everyone else’s door instead of his own. Brighton’s squad was better than Crystal Palace’s but he couldn’t get past them. And for that he should have faced up to it. It was silly to talk about ‘hitting the roof’ and touting himself as available for other jobs in such a manner. This was noted immediately by the board, who acted to suspend him from his job pending an internal inquiry in the subsequent days. Poyet was in danger of undoing all the great work he put in to this club and it was his own fault for the bitter ending.


TV Pundit Poyet dismissed by Brighton; BBC Three, 23rd June 2013

TV Studio TV Poyet

Never one to go quietly, the manner of Gus Poyet’s eventual dismissal from Brighton following a period of suspension caused headline news. Not necessarily for the sacking itself though, more for the way the news reached the public domain. On Sunday 23rd June 2013, Poyet was working as a pundit on BBC Three’s Live coverage of the FIFA Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Spain. Sat in the warm Salford studio alongside fellow guest Efan Ekoku and host Mark Chapman, the news was delivered to the viewers at home during the half-time break that Gus Poyet’s contract with Brighton had been terminated with immediate effect. Chapman began the coverage by announcing, “We will look more at that first half during half-time, but we’re gonna start half-time by talking about Gus because it’s been a slightly odd first forty-five minutes for those of us in the studio and particularly for Gus because after three-and-a-half-years as Brighton manager, whilst we’ve been on-air this evening Gus has been told that his contract has been terminated.” The official statement, below, issued by the football club on the Seagulls website was read out. Poyet insisted that the first he heard of the decision was when a member of the BBC production staff printed out the statement and handed it to the studio team whilst the match they’re covering was in play. Brighton and Hove Albion refute these claims.

TV Statement

Poyet began by saying, “I think BBC have got a great story forever, really. Because a manager getting information that he’s been released from his employment by the BBC during the time of a programme is quite surprising.” He said he did not receive any form of communication from the club prior to this statement being released. He added a veiled barb towards the Albion hierarchy by saying, “I think everybody, the viewers and everyone, can take their own conclusion about the way that I’ve been informed.” He confirmed that he intended to appeal the decision and had already spoken with his lawyers around the next steps but was limited in what he could say right now. He was most sad with the fact that during the suspension period, lasting for over a month until this point, Poyet had not been allowed any form of communication with his players or staff for legal reasons. After the match, they returned to the subject of Poyet’s dismissal to delve a little further and reiterate the news to any latecomers. Chapman asked him if he was now on the job market again, to which he replied, whilst reaching for the piece of paper in front of him, “From what I read from the statement is that I am unemployed.” If he genuinely didn’t know about this before coming on-air then he handled it brilliantly. If he did know, it was a masterclass in hamming it up and feigning surprise. Given the nature of his fiery personality on the touchline, you tend to think that he would have been a bit more outspoken if this was genuine news to him. He did look rather emotional though as the questions wore on. Gus Poyet’s time in charge of the Albion concluded with the following message at the end of the programme; “First I would like to thank every single Brighton fan for being so patient with me, supportive. They’ve been outstanding. I know how difficult it was in the beginning to change a way of understanding football and they’ve been excellent with me all the time. They were patient, they believed, they got convinced and I’m sure they are proud of the football club and the team they’ve been watching over the last three-and-a-half-years.” Gus Poyet did not go through with his appeal and his tenure at Brighton came to a sad end after such highs.

TV Chapman TV Studio 2


The relationship between Brighton and Hove Albion, the supporters and Gus Poyet completely broke down after that terrible Play Off night in May 2013. Poyet was soon suspended by the club, along with coaches Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway, pending an inquiry after comments made after the Crystal Palace match. The full truth probably will never emerge about exactly what happened behind the scenes there but it was all rather unsavoury. When he was dismissed from the club in June, Poyet insisted the first he heard of it was when he was making a punditry appearance Live on the BBC, who broke the news to him on-air. The club statement said Poyet was already aware of their decision. Whatever happened, it was a very sad ending to what had been a fantastic period for both Poyet and the Albion. He oversaw the move into the new stadium with a seamless transition from Champions of League One at Withdean to promotion candidates in the Championship at the new home of The Amex. He transformed the playing style of the club, moving away from long-ball plodders struggling at the foot of the third tier to an attractive, flowing passing philosophy knocking on the door of the Premier League. He was at the helm for almost two-hundred matches emerging the victor in eighty-six, that’s a win ratio of 44.3%. Too many draws cost him a Play Off spot in the 2011/12 campaign but it still built up the points, losing just forty-nine matches in charge. As far as first managerial jobs go, Poyet had a stormer and was highly sought after and respected in the wider football community, both at home and abroad.

Poyet Manager

Defeat in the Play Offs to your biggest rival and then a bitter fallout with the club hierarchy did mean that Poyet was enemy number one amongst sections of the Seagulls support for a time after his sacking. But to gloss over the fantastic achievements he had with the club would be foolish. Without Poyet, Brighton could well have begun life at Falmer in the bottom Division of English football and going nowhere fast. It wasn’t just results he was able to get, but he improved players too. The best example was probably with local lad Adam El-Abd, who was transformed from a big bruising old-fashioned centre-half into a ball-playing modern defender. Poyet’s fiery style and passionate displays didn’t endear him to everyone and several high-profile names fell foul of him. Nicky Forster and Glenn Murray’s partnership didn’t last nearly long enough. But he was able to attract a whole new calibre of player, the likes never seen before in Sussex. Former Valencia playmaker Vicente was somehow convinced to join and, in the limited game time he got, showed glimpses of brilliance. Kazenga LuaLua flourished. A host of other top Division players dropped down to the Championship to earn their stripes with the blue and whites. Gus Poyet was a huge factor in that. He gave us a glimpse of the potential this football club had now the stadium and training facilities had started to take shape.

Poyet Memory Lane

In his final post-match interview, he questioned if we’d ‘hit the roof’. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The foundations were laid, they just needed someone to crank it up a notch. Should Poyet have been the man to have taken the club into the Premier League? Possibly. It may have been a case of trying to go too far too soon. Brighton were not a top level club in 2013 and had overachieved to get within 180 minutes of making it. Allowing Glenn Murray to slip away for nothing in 2011, and to end up at Palace, was a terrible error of judgement and his goals we struggled to replace for a long time. Poyet’s passion would sometimes boil over into petulance, he received his marching orders from the touchline and saw rage transfer to his players on the pitch too often. Establishing the club in the second tier soon attracted interest from bigger clubs and Poyet didn’t exactly hide his delight at that. For a while it seemed we were destined to lose him to the Premier League as former stomping grounds Chelsea and Tottenham sniffed around. As much as his philosophy brought huge success, it could sometimes be stifled in the Championship as clubs learned how to counter it and frustrate Brighton. Plan B was rarely in the offing and this harmed the promotion charge in both second tier seasons. His ego got the better of him and when the final, crucial battle was won by Ian Holloway’s Palace, blame lied everywhere except at the manager’s door. In the end it became a tussle between manager and board and there would only ever be one winner. Poyet paid the price.

He was responsible for the best of times as an Albion fan. We were making headlines for the attractive football and fantastic facilities, showcasing the club and the city to the world in the process. Players flocked to Falmer from far flung corners of which Poyet was usually a big factor. We came so close to achieving the dream of top flight football, but just fell short. Poyet questioned if that was as far as the club could go. But as far as he could go with the club, come June 2013 it was adios, Gus, and thanks for the memories.

Huddersfield Poyet

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

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

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

1

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

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

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

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

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

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

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

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


2

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

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

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

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

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

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

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

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


3

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

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

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

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

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

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

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

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

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

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

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

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

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

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

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

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

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

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

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

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

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

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

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

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

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

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

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

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


Huddersfield Goodbye

Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup Away at the Big Boys

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


 

2004/05 Round Three goals

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

2005 R3Tot Titles MOTD Studio 2005 2005 R3Tot Intro

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

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

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

2005 R3Tot Keane winner 2005 R3Tot Keane 2005 R3Tot Final score


2006/07 Round Three highlights

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

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

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

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

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

2007 R3WHam Final Score 2007 R3WHam Wilkins 2007 R3WHam Analysis

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


2009/10 Round Four highlights

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

2010 R4Vil Titles 2010 R4Vil Studio 2010 R4Vil Intro

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

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

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

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

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


2010/11 Round Five highlights

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

2011 R5Sto Titles 2011 R5Sto Smith 2011 R5Sto Teams

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

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

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

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

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


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

#20: Brighton 0-1 Reading 21/03/2005

#20 BRIGHTON 0-1 READING Championship
Monday 21st March 2005 Image result for

REA Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Micky Adams
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Garry Birtles REPORTER Greg Whelan
7.45pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

REA Promo REA Sponsor REA Intro

Context of the Match: With the Albion’s fight for Falmer dragging on and no fixed date in sight, budgetary constraints forced the chairman’s hand in selling the best assets. Impressive summer transfer Darren Currie didn’t hang around long on the South Coast, as promotion-chasing Ipswich snapped him up for a £250,000 December transfer whilst captain Danny Cullip also headed out of the club. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was due to make a decision on the planning permission for the site in October 2005. To ramp up the pressure on Prescott and keep the cause in the public conscience, the club released a version of 1950’s original song, but later made most famous by The Piranhas, Tom Hark. The 80s version gained notoriety amongst the football community by being used as goal music by a number of League clubs. Brighton fan John Baine, AKA Attila the Stockbroker, reworded the lyrics to fit with the Albion’s chant of “We Want Falmer”, and the song was a big success. It reached number seventeen in the UK charts outselling Robbie Williams and Elvis Presley. On the pitch goals were hard to come by. To counter the lack of end product, various strikers were tried. Veteran Football League journeyman Steve Claridge spent a month here but failed to find the back of the net before moving on to Brentford. Maheta Molango fell out with manager Mark McGhee and rarely featured before being shipped out on loan to Lincoln. Albert Jarrett was another who didn’t find his feet and was also sent on loan, to non-League Stevenage. The club were going through a difficult spell of results, with five defeats in seven. However, consecutive wins over table-topping Sunderland and top-half Millwall dragged Brighton to within reach of surviving the drop but it would be a close one. This was aided by a very promising Christmas, unbeaten in the Championship from Boxing Day through to the end of January. With a bit of a makeshift squad and disruption in goal due to injuries, the Albion had shipped nine goals in the past two matches including a humiliation at fellow strugglers Plymouth five-one in which Richard Carpenter saw red. Tonight’s match against Reading was the last before the Easter international break. Managed by our former gaffer Steve Coppell, the Royals had their eyes on a Play Off place. They defeated the Albion in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, with goals from Molango after just twelve seconds and academy star Jake Robinson not enough to prevent a three-two loss. Crunch time in the second tier required cool heads and hard work as the Sky Sports cameras came to town.

REA Brighton REA Reading REA Formation

The Teams: Brighton approached the final stages of the season with a much changed side from that which began life in the Championship. Battling midfielder Charlie Oatway was made captain following the sale of Danny Cullip for a quarter of a million back in December. Brighton’s cult hero joined the top end of the Division, moving to Sheffield United after rejecting a new deal at Withdean. His time with the Blades was unsuccessful after a promising start, as he joined Watford on loan earlier this month. Adam Hinshelwood filled Cullip’s place next to Guy Butters at the back. Right sided Paul Reid and midfielder John Piercy both came off the bench in last year’s Play Off Final victory but had suffered contrasting fortunes since. Piercy was forced in retirement at just twenty-five in November suffering from the illness colitis. He made just two appearances this season. Reid though flourished in the Championship after making his move permanent, becoming a regular figure in defence and midfield. Kerry Mayo continued on the opposite flank combining with Dan Harding playing further forward. The midfield area continued to be a work in progress, with Adam Virgo now filling in after a spell up front. Leon Knight continued to struggle for form in the higher League, with just four goals to his name. A good sign though was that when he did score this season, Brighton did not lose; three wins and a draw. McGhee turned to former club Millwall for an answer, with Mark McCammon coming on loan in December before making the switch permanent in February. The twenty-six-year-old was prevented from making a huge impact due to first a back injury then illness but netted thrice including a crucial winner against League leaders Sunderland. On the touchline, stalwarts of previous promotions, Paul Watson and Nathan Jones, made only a handful of starts between them this term as their time with club was coming towards the end. Former trainee Chris McPhee burst into the first team squad last season but starts were now rare, as he once again occupied the Seagulls bench. Keeping nets was Swedish goalie Rami Shaaban who signed in February until the end of the season following his release from Arsenal. He joined to alleviate the goalkeeping crisis which saw injuries to Ben Roberts and Michel Kuipers with only inexperienced teenager Chris May on the books. Tonight’s fixture saw former boss Steve Coppell return to Withdean with the Reading side he left us for in October 2003 following relegation from the second tier, citing the lack of finances at the club for his departure. Another who left Brighton for Reading was midfielder Steve Sidwell, who chose to leave Arsenal for the Royals in 2003 after an impressive loan spell with which we wanted to make permanent. Ivar Ingimarsson played for Brighton fifteen times in the League on loan from Wolves but found his way along the Meridian region at Reading shortly after. Two further Albion connections were on the bench with Paul Brooker and Martin Keown. The latter spent a few months on loan at the Goldstone in the beginning of his career and now sat on the bench to see it out. Midfielder Paul Brooker was at Withdean when the back to back titles saw the Seagulls fly up the Leagues but was poached by Micky Adams at Leicester before Reading. The experienced Nicky Forster was an option up front if Dave Kitson or Dean Morgan needed assistance. Refereeing was Kevin Friend.

REA Gavin REA Adams REA Studio REA Whelan

Presentation Team: Regular Football League presenter George Gavin was once again at the helm for this clash between two Meridian region teams. Joining him in the scaffolding-clad studio at Withdean was Micky Adams. He made a return to his former home on a scouting mission for current club Coventry City, with the Seagulls travelling to the Sky Blues in their next fixture in two weeks’ time. Adams was in charge of the Albion between April 1999 and October 2001, guiding us to the Division Three title in the process and laying the foundations for much of the side which continued in the Championship here. Having spent three years at Leicester he resigned in October of this season after a poor start to life back in the second tier following relegation. Brighton’s last Live television match was against Adams’ Foxes, where Adam Virgo’s strike stole the three points back in August. In January 2005 Coventry appointed Adams as manager following a short-lived Peter Reid reign and sat a couple of places and points below Brighton in the Championship table, battling to avoid the drop. In the commentary box in the open air of Withdean were Ian Crocker and Garry Birtles. The pair were in the same spot less than twelve months earlier to witness one of the most remarkable moments of Play Off drama there’s been, when Virgo again cropped up to net the equaliser against Swindon to take the match to a penalty shoot-out. The rest, of course, is history. This was Garry Birtles’ second season regularly commentating on the lower Leagues for Sky Sports, having made his name in local radio in the Midlands. Ian Crocker was a near ever-present again this season for all things Football League, combining that with Scotland internationals and Champions League ties. Completing Sky’s line up was number one reporter Greg Whelan, in his first season promoted to Football League duties from the Conference and Soccer Saturday. His distinctive Midlands accent and confident line of questioning saw him instantly take to his new role and covered the vast majority of League games on Sky’s nationwide roadshow. All this season he regularly appeared in-vision during the build up to relay the team news as viewers became very familiar with the newest member of the broadcast squad.

REA Build Up Transition REA Mobile Shop REA Ref REA Prescott

The Coverage: A brand new title sequence was also in use for the first time on an Albion match. Out went The Skids and in came The Farm with their classic track All Together Now. The song was re-released for England’s Euro 2004 campaign the previous summer and must have caught the eye of the bosses at Sky but presumably too late to get it up and running for the start of the campaign. The new titles came in after the Christmas period rather than the beginning of the season which I’d not seen happen before. The ribbons of the Coca Cola Leagues now flew into the screen as we saw the contrast between how the Football League used to be, with old black and white footage, being replaced with how it is now; advanced technology, current players, stadiums and goals. It’s a very nice intro and the music soundtracks it superbly. Similarly, Sky’s coverage was now sponsored by Powerade, part of Coca Cola, who replaced Sky Bet at the same time. This came with new sponsorship bumpers involving West Ham’s Nigel Reo-Coker and other young England prospects. The rest was pretty much as you were when we were Live previously in August, only with a slight tweak to animate some, but not all, of the graphics for the studio portions of the show mainly. Host George Gavin introduced the programme by stating the Albion’s clear aim; “After four seasons of ups and downs, Mark McGhee’s mission is simple: keep the Seagulls up at all costs.” He was exactly right, Brighton got themselves into a decent position which included an excellent win over title-chasing Sunderland recently and survival was in their grasp. The last man to manage the club in the same Division for two consecutive seasons was tonight’s studio guest; Micky Adams. The pair came on air from behind the goal, and indeed behind the track, in the South West corner of Withdean Stadium in their lofty gantry perch. The programme began fifteen minutes before the 7.45pm kick off, giving enough time to run through the Championship standings and preview both teams. Comment was made about the surroundings, with Adams saying “Withdean is an unusual stadium, as you rightly say. I think there’s a better atmosphere for night games but having said that it takes teams by surprise.” He went on to say he wasn’t expecting Reading to be too bewildered owing to some of the players links to Brighton and, of course, Steve Coppell returning as manager. Reporter Greg Whelan brought the all-important team news from the touchline.

REA Sidwell REA Virgo REA Coming Up 2 REA Coming Up 

Micky Adams discussed some of the key men involved for both sides, with Dave Kitson’s recent goalscoring form a key for the Royals. The wingers would look to cross the ball into the box for the target man at all opportunities. Midfielder Steve Sidwell was another star player, with Seagulls supporters remembering him well for his loan spell here and his goal for Brentford against us Live on the ITV Sport Channel three years earlier. For the home side, Adam Virgo was once again highlighted in the build-up as being crucial. Having played at the back and up front this season, he was starting in midfield tonight. We saw some of his goals so far and Adams praised his tenacity, putting defenders under pressure and ability to come up with goods at the right time. He admitted when he was in charge he never saw Virgo as being a free-scoring centre forward but has impressed in the role. Greg Whelan spoke with both Coppell and McGhee in the interview area. The Brighton boss said he thought probably two more wins from the eight games remaining would secure survival now; “Prior to the games on Saturday I was starting to think it might be three wins, but when you look at the fixtures – everyone’s playing each other – I think it’ll come to fifty, fifty-one points.” Steve Coppell called for his Reading side to get back on track after a patchy run, with poor goalscoring form since Christmas time and wanted players other than the strikers to start contributing on the scoresheet. With that, the fifteen minutes were up and George Gavin handed over to commentators Ian Crocker and Garry Birtles as the teams ran out of the tunnel, with no pre match advert break. At half time Micky Adams was critical of Brighton’s play, allowing Reading to dominate possession. He thought the penalty for the foul on Kitson early on should have been given but could see why the referee and his assistants did not give it. They reviewed what little chances there were in the first half, which didn’t really take long. After the post-match break, the studio team returned to close the show with around ten or so minutes of the programme left. Reporter Greg Whelan spoke with Powerade Man of the Match from Reading, Ibrahima Sonko, and goalscorer Nicky Forster. In studio, the result would have pleased Coventry manager Micky Adams to ease the pressure on his side despite his Albion connections. He disagreed that Reading were good for the three points, praising Brighton’s second half fight back. Of the goal he said it should have been ruled out for handball from Nicky Forster and thought the officials between them could have done more to have a clearer view. He and Gavin talked through the rest of the key chances in the game from both sides, interspersed by interviews with the managers. Mark McGhee said “We’re disappointed to have lost the game but, you know, we’re fighting. We’ve got seven more games to compete with these other teams around us and I think we’ve shown we can compete.” After hearing from Steve Coppell and taking another look at the Championship table, it was time to say bye for now as Brighton headed into the international break with four straight defeats. The survival battle would go down to the wire.

REA Kick Off REA Comms

Story of the Match: Steve Coppell was reunited with his former chairman Dick Knight as they sat alongside each other in the Withdean stands at the beginning of the match, Coppell choosing a higher vantage point for the first half. A lively start saw action at either end within seconds of each other. Mark McCammon’s drive forward gave Gary Hart a crossing opportunity which Reading were able to deal with. They broke on the counter right up the other end, with Glen Little setting Dave Kitson through. The striker sprung the offside trap but was thwarted by Rami Shaaban who appeared to bring Kitson down with his hands. The applause from the home crowd drowned out any, if at all, away appeals with the referee confidently pointing for a corner. On closer inspection it should have been a penalty after just four minutes but the Albion got away with one, finding a Friend in referee Kevin. Shortly after, the goalkeeper got into all sorts of trouble again when trying and failing to claim on the edge of his box. His defence came to the rescue on that occasion. Reading began to dominate and Steve Sidwell came close with a diving header from a Nicky Shorey cross, the effort going wide. The goalkeeping errors weren’t confined to the Albion box though, as McCammon was presented with a chance by Marcus Hahnemann out of nothing when he slid to keep a backpass in play only to give it straight to the Brighton forward, via a deflection off Sonko, on the edge of the area. The first time effort was poor and in fact going wide of the open goal by which time Hahnemann got back to it. There was a lack of composure from Brighton perhaps due to the recent bad spell. After a collision with Hughes by the far corner flag, Adam Hinshelwood’s match was over a quarter of the way into it thanks to a jarred knee. His replacement Dean Hammond forced a tactical re-jig in the midfield, where Sidwell was restricting Albion to scraps. Adam Virgo dropped back to his more regular defensive role to compensate. After the early exchanges there was nothing by way of goalmouth action until just before half time. Sonko’s glancing header narrowly went wide and the teams went in level.

REA Coppell REA Stretcher

At half time Mark McCammon was seen being stretchered off around the athletics track. He had been suffering from flu in previous days and was clearly struggling today, going down for rest a couple of times and signalled to the bench for assistance. He was replaced by youngster Chris McPhee. With half an hour to go Reading tried to force something to happen as Nicky Forster replaced Dean Morgan up top. He made an immediate impact as within three minutes of his arrival, Forster broke the deadlock. Little’s cross on the near side went over Kitson to the back post where Forster was waiting. His initial header was parried by Shaaban but, like all good strikers, he was in the right place at the right time as it rebounded off him to sneak home. It appeared to go off his head and onto his arm for the initial contact but there was no chance of the referee spotting that. Despite the Albion looking better in the second half, going forward more and enjoying spells with the ball, there was just no attacking threat there. An equaliser looked hard to come by until the game was raised in the closing stages. With ten minutes to go a fierce half-volley from Virgo on the edge of the box needed to be palmed away by the ‘keeper. Five minutes later Brighton’s fans felt aggrieved by the lack of a penalty from the officials after McPhee appeared to be shoved over by Sonko, alas nothing was given. With just two minutes of the ninety to go, a corner from Knight was headed forward by Hammond with Charlie Oatway getting the final contact. His hook a couple of yards from goal went wide when he perhaps should have done better. The last chance saloon gave Leon Knight a free kick opportunity on the edge of the area. His strike flew over the wall and into the side netting. The resulting goal kick was the final touch of the match as Reading secured the three points and Brighton’s survival story would need a couple more exciting chapters to be written.

REA Table

BRIGHTON 0 READING 1
Forster

REA Replay REA Replay 2

PREVIOUS; #19 LEICESTER 0-1 BRIGHTON 30/08/2004

NEXT; #21 BRIGHTON 1-1 IPSWICH 08/05/2005

#53: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Brighton 03/05/2014

#53 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-2 BRIGHTON Championship
Saturday 3rd May 2014 Image result for

FOR Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Nicky Forster
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER David Craig
12.15pm Kick Off; City Ground, Nottingham     12-2.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 2

FOR Ident FOR Sponsor FOR Intro

Context of the Match: The final match of the Championship season saw Brighton in with a shout of making the Play Offs for the second successive season. In Oscar Garcia’s first season in charge, taking over in acrimonious circumstances from Gus Poyet and having lost key players in the January transfer window, to reach the additional stages would be quite the achievement in his first managerial spell in England. The Albion sat outside the top six for the vast majority of the campaign, only moving close in recent weeks. Having overtaken their rivals to fill one of the cherished spots in April, a home draw with relegation candidates Blackpool on Easter Monday saw Brighton slip into seventh – the spot occupied going into this Final Day clash. If they were to stake a claim for promotion, Brighton would have to do it the hard way. Reading occupied sixth place, a point clear of Brighton and three clear of Blackburn in eighth. Any of the three could join Derby, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan if results went their way. Reading were in the driving seat as they hosted already-promoted Burnley at the Madejski Stadium. A win for the Royals would be enough regardless of what anyone else did. A draw would open the door for Brighton to steal, providing the Albion won away at mid-table Nottingham Forest. The Seagulls knew they had to better Reading’s result so realistically it was win or bust. Defeat for both Reading and Brighton would enable Blackburn to complete the most unlikely of turnarounds. Rovers simply had to beat Wigan, the Latics already guaranteed at least two further games as they had sealed fifth spot, and overturn a seven goal swing. Nevertheless, anything could happen in football and you’d have been foolish to rule them out. Elsewhere in the Championship with one game to go, Leicester had sealed the title and promotion above Burnley. Whilst at the bottom, Yeovil were relegated by the Albion last week, Barnsley followed. The final relegation spot was between Blackpool, Millwall, Birmingham and Doncaster. Donny needed to avoid defeat at the Champions in order to secure their status. Should Rovers lose, a point would be enough for Birmingham to survive on goal difference. An unlikely but still possible situation could see Blackpool sent down owing to their dreadful goal difference; but only if they lost, the other two won and Millwall didn’t lose. The South Londoners would be relegated if they lost, Doncaster didn’t and Birmingham won. There was so much to play for as the regular season came to a dramatic conclusion. Rights holder Sky Sports selected two matches to be broadcast Live, with all twelve fixtures being played simultaneously at 12.15pm on the Saturday lunchtime. Sky elected to focus on the race for the final Play Off place, meaning Reading versus Burnley and Nottingham Forest against Brighton would both be beamed to the viewing public Live. Hold onto your hats, it was sure to be a rollercoaster ride.

FOR Forest FOR Subs FOR Brighton

The Teams: Oscar Garcia changed three men from last week’s home victory that confirmed Yeovil’s relegation. Player of the Year Matt Upson recovered from an ankle injury to return at the heart of the back line. Inigo Calderon came in for Spanish counterpart Bruno at right back, part of the defence which conceded the second lowest number of goals in the Division, behind only promoted Burnley. The final change saw midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey selected ahead of Dale Stephens. Tomasz Kuszczak collected the highest number of clean sheets in the League but was pipped to the PFA Team of the Season by Kasper Schmeichel of the Champions. Stephen Ward’s season long loan deal could conclude here unless the Albion make the Play Offs, as could Manchester United’s young starlet Jesse Lingard. His Man of the Match performance against Yeovil was capped off with the second goal. Leo Ulloa would once again be relied upon to add to his fifteen goal tally so far this campaign, with support from Will Buckley and Andrea Orlandi. Craig Mackail-Smith hadn’t made a start all season through injury but was beginning to get back to match fitness with substitute appearances. He was on the bench today alongside the club’s Young Player of the Season in midfield Rohan Ince and goalscorer last week Kazenga LuaLua. Nottingham Forest were between managers, with Stuart Pearce set to come in for next season to replace Billy Davies who was sacked at the end of March. Gary Brazil was placed in caretaker charge concluding with this match. Forest were in the midst of a defensive crisis. Greg Halford was suspended after seeing red last week at Bournemouth, Jamie Mackie had to slot in as a makeshift right back. Highly rated centre back Jamaal Lascelles was absent through injury so Lee Peltier was in the middle with captain for the day Danny Collins. Viewers would know whenever left back Dan Harding was on the ball, the away supporters would boo every touch, still not forgiven for his departure to Leeds back in 2005. Up front Marcus Tudgay made his first start of the season. Partnering him was former Blackburn and Olympiakos forward Matt Derbyshire. Winger Andy Reid was named in the PFA Team of the Season but wasn’t fit enough to feature. On the bench was Darius Henderson, who had a loan spell with Brighton eleven years prior. The referee for this all important fixture was Keith Stroud.

FOR Gavin FOR Forster FOR Split Coverage

Presentation Team: With two Live matches on Sky taking place simultaneously, there was a requirement here for two separate broadcast teams. With Reading in the driving seat in the race for the Play Offs, Sky’s main team were based at the Madejski Stadium. Number one team Simon Thomas and pundit Peter Beagrie presented coverage of that match from pitchside before moving upstairs to the studio box. Commentary on Reading versus Burnley was provided by the main Football League pairing of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, with first choice reporter Jonathan Oakes doing the interviews. Meanwhile at the City Ground in Nottingham, magazine programme host George Gavin was at the helm for Nottingham Forest against Brighton. Having rarely done any Live matches this season, this was the second in just over a week for Gavin, having also covered our match against Yeovil last Friday. Today he was joined by occasional Sky pundit and former Albion striker Nicky Forster. After retiring from the professional game in 2011, Forster became a semi-regular on Sky’s Football League preview programmes reporting around the country and appearing in the studio on punditry duties. Forster spent three years with the Albion playing over one hundred games and scored his 250th career goal whilst Live on the TV in a JPT match at Luton. In the commentary box were Sky’s second choice duo of Daniel Mann and Andy Hinchcliffe. Both had covered Brighton matches this season and in previous years and were well established as broadcasters having been involved for a little while on the Football League now. Reporting pitchside was David Craig, appointed at the start of this season as the secondary reporter.

FOR 3 Key Games FOR Race for the Play Offs FOR Score Update FOR Next Season

The Coverage: With two matches shown Live simultaneously, Sky’s resources were split between both the Madejski Stadium and the City Ground. Both broadcasts began at midday, fifteen minutes before the kick off, and the build up was simulcast for the first part of the programme. This meant Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie in Reading were previewing both games from pitchside, indeed with so much going on at both ends of the Championship table they took a general overview of the Division. Pundit Peter Beagrie argued that Brighton may even be slight favourites, as Reading’s home form was patchy, Burnley under Sean Dyche would not let up and Nottingham Forest had nothing much to play for but pride today. Around four minutes into the show, Thomas crossed over to the City Ground where our host George Gavin was standing by pitchside with his guest Nicky Forster to preview their match coming up on Sky Sports 2. Forster emphasised the importance of Brighton’s ability to keep their heads; “They’ve got to approach it in the way they approach every game, they cannot let their concentration fail.” And back we went to the Madejski for Thomas and Beagrie to continue the build up looking at the rest of the fixtures. The Final Day programmes are usually full of excitement and chaos, with so much going on. Sky do a brilliant job of hyping it up and maintaining the intensity and energy, the Final Day always makes for great television. After the advert break it was decision time; Sky Sports 1 for Reading’s match where Simon Thomas was or Sky Sports 2 for the Brighton game. This is the point where George Gavin took over for the rest of the broadcast, with Forster’s assistance, voicing over the pictures of the players ready in the tunnel ahead of kick off. As they emerged, time to hand over to match commentators Daniel Mann and Andy Hinchcliffe who would be in for a busy afternoon talking us through this game as well as keeping us up to date with all the other goings on. With separate presentation teams at both matches it did put an end, for today at least, to the absolute joy of the commentary team presenting the half-time segment in-vision. A chance to put a face to the voice you so often hear but wouldn’t recognise if they walked past you in the street. During the match, scores would flash up in the bottom left hand corner of the screen whilst goals from Reading and Blackburn’s matches would be shown moments after they scored, using a split screen facility. It was a day where multiple devices would be utilised by all involved!

FOR Goal Split Screen FOR Coming Up FOR Garcia FOR Analysis

At half time George Gavin and Nicky Forster brought us up to date with the state of play in the Championship at both ends of the League. Birmingham were set to go down whilst Reading were in the driving seat for the Play Offs, meaning it was pretty much as you were at the start of the day. Concentrating on the match at the City Ground, Forster described the away side as being “as poor today as I’ve seen them, giving the possession away far too easily. You’d expect the senior pros, the experienced boys, to hold the team together but they haven’t.” He was critical of many involved in the goal, with Andrews giving the ball away cheaply, marking lapse and Kuszczak nervy. The goals from the Reading game were also shown during the break, as Burnley were keeping their part of the deal up. During the half time coverage on Sky Sports 1, Thomas and Beagrie did the same for their game, analysing Reading before viewing the goals from Nottingham. During the second half, goals from the games affecting the final relegation place were shown on the split-screen, with twists and turns as Birmingham seemed doomed before staging their own late, late rescue mission. Somewhat lost amongst the drama unfolding in our own game, the Blues came from two down at Bolton to equalise in the last-minute and keep themselves in the Division at the expense of Doncaster who lost at Leicester. Stoppage time jubilation for both Brighton and Birmingham as decision day came to an end. On Sky Sports 2, with the celebrations in full swing in the stands and on the pitch, reporter David Craig caught up with winning goalscorer Leo Ulloa and assister Craig Mackail-Smith in the centre circle. Ulloa was named Man of the Match and spoke of how happy he was for himself, the team and the supporters as they’ve worked hard for this all year. When asked if they could go all the way through the Play Offs this time, CMS responded; “Yeah, the confidence we’ve got from this is fantastic. We’re gonna work hard over the next few weeks and get ready for the game.” The League table made for excellent viewing for Albion fans, as they nicked sixth place and would go on to face Derby in the Play Offs next Thursday. After the break, both channels reverted back to their separate presentation teams for the final nine minutes or so of coverage, as Thomas and Beagrie wrapped up Reading’s story and the rest of the Division whilst Gavin and Forster revelled in Brighton’s joy. David Craig was with Oscar Garcia with the fans as the backdrop. He said he didn’t want to know what was going on at Reading during the game but had a feeling due to the crowd reactions, his main job was to win. He wasn’t looking too far ahead, preferring to savour the moment before turning attention to Derby; “At home and away we lost against them but we will be prepared. Now we are full of confidence and first of all we have to enjoy today.” Forster reviewed both the Albion goals, impressed by Ward’s finish with his weaker foot. He remarked that, although it hadn’t been his day for much of the match, “In Ulloa they have got a player with quality, real Premier League quality I think. And you give him a chance and he’ll score.” In his view it would be a tough ask for Brighton to prevail in the Play Offs. The pair whizzed through the goals from the key games at Reading and Bolton, where Birmingham survived in the final moments, before confirming once and for all everybody’s placings in the final Championship table for this season. “What a day!” exclaimed our host and you could not argue with that.

FOR Kick Off FOR Comms FOR Ward FOR CMS Sub

Story of the Match: The Seagulls got the game underway on a beautifully sunny day in the East Midlands, wearing the change kit of yellow defending the goal in front of the travelling supporters. The first opportunity went the way of the visitors, as Leo Ulloa was in behind the defence following a long pass forward from Greer. Ulloa’s shot trickled just wide of the post as the ball almost got stuck under his feet. As Nottingham Forest started to get back in the game, goals were going in elsewhere which did not make good reading for Brighton. Reading took the lead at Burnley through an own goal from Kieran Trippier and Blackburn twice took the lead at home to Wigan inside the first twenty minutes. How quickly games could turn though. Moments after Burnley got an equaliser at Reading, Nottingham Forest took the lead here through Matt Derbyshire. Tomasz Kuszczak in-goal made a mess of the header, allowing the ball to fumble into the net to break the deadlock. He appeared to move past the flight of the ball, causing it to bounce off his hip and in. After twenty-six minutes of the match Brighton thought they’d found the equaliser only for the linesman’s flag to deny. A quickly taken free kick allowed Calderon space on the far side of the penalty area. His cross over the face of goal was tapped home by Ulloa but he was in an offside position, called correctly by the official. At the same time, Burnley were doing their bit for the Albion cause; Danny Ings turned the game on its head to put the Clarets two-one up. An equaliser for Brighton now would see them overtake the Royals into sixth as things stood. As the goals were flying in around the country, there weren’t any further forthcoming in the first half in Nottingham. There was little in the way of chances created too. The facts remained that Brighton needed to do their job before even thinking about any of the other sides, and at the halfway point they hadn’t done so. A better second half was in dire need.

FOR Ulloa Goal FOR Celebrations FOR As It Stands FOR MOTM

Seven minutes into the second period the breakthrough occurred. Andrea Orlandi’s in-swinging corner was headed across the box by the defence. It fell to Ulloa who had a swing and a miss before it scrambled its way to Stephen Ward waiting in front of the penalty spot. He took a touch to control with his chest before striking with his unfavoured right. The connection was true, the ball was driven low into the goalkeeper’s left hand corner, through the legs of Derbyshire on the way in, and Brighton had the equaliser through a most unlikely source! Ward netting his fourth goal for the Albion, game on again. At this point in the day, Brighton were in the Play Off places. As we approached the hour mark, Garcia made his first substitution as LuaLua replaced Jesse Lingard. As that was happening, a goal in the other game changed the complexion once more. Reading equalised through a fantastic volley from Gareth McCleary, meaning they were back in pole position. Only an Albion win would do now. And Nottingham Forest were certainly going to make us work for that. A terrific strike on the edge of the box from McLaughlin kept Kuszczak alive and alert. Further fresh legs were applied for Brighton with twenty-five to go as Solly March replaced Andrea Orlandi. It was LuaLua who went extremely close to giving his side the lead with a wonderful fizzing effort with the outside of his right boot from some twenty-five yards. Time was ticking away rapidly. The final throw of the dice came with less than four minutes on the clock as Will Buckley made way for Craig Mackail-Smith for his fifth sub appearance since the achilles injury which blighted him for over a year. The pressure was being piled on the Forest back line, even Inigo Calderon was taking a shot. But in true, hardcore Albion style they made you wait. And sweat. And panic. Until deep into stoppage time, the moment came. LuaLua drove forward from ten yards inside his own half charging towards the Forest area. He played it wide on the left to Mackail-Smith, himself having come on just minutes earlier. He took two touches to settle himself before whipping a cross in to the box. It was inch-perfect for the darting run of Leonardo Ulloa, you couldn’t have asked for a better delivery. All the Argentinian needed to do was connect well and it was a goal. The scenes of absolute pandemonium in the away end behind that net told you everything you needed to know. Ulloa connected brilliantly, powering a header straight through de Vries in-goal to make it two-one Brighton. “In towards ULLOA! Incredible! In stoppage time, Brighton on the brink of the Play Offs. They prised open the door to the Premier League” was the call from commentator Daniel Mann as just about everybody in that away section leapt up and down like a madman. Co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe was quick to praise the ‘outstanding quality’ of the cross from Mackail-Smith. The celebrations from the usually calm and reserved Oscar Garcia were a joy to watch as he ran around unsure what to do with himself. LuaLua grabbed the camera and pressed his face towards it, audibly cheering. The delight was clear for all concerned with the club.

FOR Readings Premature Pitch Invasion FOR Upset Child FOR Play Off Race FOR Full Times

There was still two minutes or so for Brighton left to play, just needing to hold on to that lead. The match at the Madejski was due to finish a couple of minutes before ours and that caused complete confusion amongst the Reading fans. Some were aware of the situation, desperately trying to communicate the need for a late, late winner of their own. As the clock reached 92 minutes in Reading, the split screen on Sky Sports 1 showed Leo Ulloa heading Brighton in the lead, as commentator Bill Leslie reacted Live to what he was witnessing from afar; “We’ll bring you everything from up there. Brighton coming forward, that’s Ulloa, THAT’S TWO-ONE! Brighton look like they’ve snatched it in the final knockings of the season.” Not often you get to commentate on a goal from a game you’re not even watching but he called it well. At the same time Reading had a corner. Their manager Nigel Adkins perhaps had just heard the news and sent his goalkeeper up to force everybody into the penalty area. It almost worked as the delivery caused panic. The cross came off the head of Royals defender Morrison and but for the fantastic reactions of ‘keeper Tom Heaton, Reading would’ve regained that crucial lead. Instead Burnley cleared and there were less than sixty seconds to go there. And that did for them, as there were no further chances and it finished Reading 2-2 Burnley. With the match still going on for a couple of minutes longer at the City Ground, both Sky Sports channels were showing Live pictures until the conclusion. False word had clearly spread to Berkshire though as some Reading fans invaded the pitch in celebration, despite play ongoing in the East Midlands. They were both incorrect and short-lived, as when the final whistles blew all around the country it was Brighton’s day, climbing up to sixth at Reading’s expense. So it would be the Albion marching onwards, to face third placed Derby to kick off the Play Offs at The Amex in just five days time. Between this and then, a well deserved lie down was overdue.

FOR Table Top FOR Table Bottom

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BRIGHTON 2
Derbyshire Ward, Ulloa

FOR Replay FOR Goal

EXTRA; Sky’s Thursday evening magazine programme FL72 Preview did exactly that ahead of the Final Day of the Championship season. Host Simon Thomas alongside regular pundit Peter Beagrie discussed all the possible permutations of promotion and relegation with just one match remaining. Situated in the cafe of Sky Studios in Isleworth, the pair looked ahead to the two Live matches; Reading against Burnley and Nottingham Forest taking on Brighton. Brighton just had to better Reading’s result to give themselves a chance of reaching that dream. Beagrie believed the Seagulls had missed a little bit of an opportunity, given the fixtures and position the club was in around six weeks ago, but to reach the Play Offs this year given all that had happened since last May would arguably be a better achievement, in his view.

PRE Studio PRE Permutations

The usual mix of chat, goals and interviews were on the programme. Albion goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was our feature, as he spoke to the Sky cameras during a community event at The Amex. He was concentrating on the task ahead; “First of all we have to think of our game, our football and do our job on the pitch.” He spoke highly of the facilities at the club, which surprised him when he first joined; “Definitely this club is preparing to be one of the Premier League teams in the future. When? We will see!” And Kuszczak’s dad would be pleased that the match in Nottingham would be Live; “I want my father to see me every week on Sky Sports. Because, obviously, not many games in the Championship are on TV.” Luckily for him then, this one would be.

PRE Kuszczak PRE Coming Up

PREVIOUS; #52 BRIGHTON 2-0 YEOVIL 25/04/2014

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

#41: Brighton 2-2 Leeds 02/11/2012

#41 BRIGHTON 2-2 LEEDS Championship
Friday 2nd November 2012 Image result for

LEE Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Nicky Forster
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Paul Gilmour
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

LEE Ident LEE Bet365 LEE Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton began their second season back in the Championship well, topping the table in September. However, form of late had slumped to the third worst in the Division with no wins in the last six matches. Worryingly, the goals were drying up to; the club not scoring in four matches. Goals were guaranteed though whenever Leeds United were in town; the Yorkshiremen had scored and conceded in every match on the road thus far. The stadium’s biggest crowd to date was expected for their visit this Friday night, Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Over the summer building work was completed to add a second tier to the East Stand bringing the capacity up past 26,500. Further increases were in the pipelines, with all four corners set to be filled in to allow more than 30,000 supporters in. Exciting times were ahead. Despite the recent blip, the Seagulls were only a couple of points off a Play Off place. Tonight’s clash saw tenth versus eleventh, both on nineteen points. Last season’s fixture was also televised on a Friday night, ending in a thrilling three-three draw. What would the rematch have in store?

LEE Brighton LEE Leeds LEE Subs

The Teams: Brighton’s recent goal-shy attack meant last season’s top scorer Ashley Barnes had only scored four this term and record signing Craig Mackail-Smith had six. One thing going in his favour though was that Mackail-Smith had scored on all four occasions he had faced Leeds in his career. The energetic Will Buckley would hope to be crafting the assists tonight. Former captain Dean Hammond re-joined the club on a season-long loan at the end of August from Southampton. He cited the Albion’s ambitions as a reason for leaving first time round in 2008, there was no doubting that now. Also joining at the end of the transfer window were Spanish midfield duo Andrea Orlandi, moving from Swansea, and David Lopez, signed on a free from Athletic Bilbao. In a bid to bolster the attack, Scottish striker Stephen Dobbie also left the Swans and began on the bench here. Whilst the goals were lacking up front, they were also being kept out at the back with Brighton boasting the best defence in the entire Football League this season; conceding just nine goals in fourteen League matches. Former Manchester United ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, centre-half Adam El-Abd, captain Gordon Greer and ex-England international Wayne Bridge were all ever presents. As was holding midfielder Liam Bridcutt but he was on four cautions, one more and he’d be forced to miss the next game. For Neil Warnock’s Leeds, Luke Varney was Man of the Match during their midweek Capital One Cup victory against Southampton. One change was made from that win as Paddy Kenny returned in-goal. The striker all opposing fans love to hate, summer signing El Hadji Diouf was in the starting XI, whilst on the bench sat Luciano Becchio & Danny Pugh. Refereeing was Lee Mason.

LEE Thomas LEE Forster LEE Studio

Presentation Team: Simon Thomas was lead Football League presenter for the second season running. Having worked his way up from hosting youth matches and pretty much any low-key football they could throw at him, he progressed onto secondary Football League broadcasts before landing the main gig when David Jones was promoted to Sky’s Premier League coverage hosting the Saturday games. This all followed the reshuffle at the start of 2011 when Richard Keys resigned. Alongside Thomas at The Amex was former Brighton striker Nicky Forster. He spent three seasons at Withdean, making over a century of appearances. He scored his 200th career goal during a televised Football League Trophy match as the Albion lost out on a place at Wembley to Luton. Since retiring from the professional game in 2011 he joined Sky Sports as part of the Football League coverage. He filed regular reports for the preview programme last season, including ahead of the opening Amex match, and has appeared as a pundit across the Leagues. He returned to playing, albeit on a semi-professional basis, for first Lingfield then Dover when he took over as player-manager last year in the Conference South. He combined this with his media role. In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Don Goodman, neither were strangers to this stadium. They both covered this fixture last season although not together; Mann did the 3D commentary whilst Goodman was heard by everybody else. With tonight’s match not broadcast in 3D, and Sky seeming to scale back the amount of games covered after not enjoying too much uptake, Daniel Mann was free to cover the game for the wider audience. He’s behind Bill Leslie in the Football League pecking order but with an increased broadcast rights deal with the League from this season, more matches were available to cover. Don Goodman was also behind the mic when the Seagulls crashed out of the Capital One Cup in August at Swindon, before a League football had even been kicked. Reporting at The Amex was Paul Gilmour, covering his first Live Albion match. He joined Sky Sports in April of this year, working predominantly for Sky Sports News during the week as well as reporting on the handful of Live Northern Ireland internationals and Irish League football. He was formerly a commentator for BBC Northern Ireland.

LEE Opener LEE Action Areas LEE Coming Up LEE Gilmour

The Coverage: Sky came on-air at the usual Friday night time of 7.30pm for kick-off fifteen minutes later. A new broadcasting rights deal kicked from this season, increasing the amount of Football League games Sky could show seventy-five regular season matches, all fifteen Play Off games and fifteen Capital One Cup ties exclusively Live. This brought an end to the BBC’s ten Championship Live games after three seasons but they still held the highlights rights. The graphics and titles remained as they were last season – Candi Staton’s ‘You Got The Love’ the soundtrack – with bet365 still sponsoring the programming. The idents in 2011 were all about twenty years of Sky Sports, from 2012 onwards they had a “Home of Sport” theme, adapted to ‘Your home of Football / Cricket / Goals’ etc when appropriate. Simon Thomas hosted the match from the glass box studio located permanently within the North Stand. Development work had been going on over the summer to increase the capacity of The Amex with the corners beginning to be filled in. The space where the studio position was last season – between the South and East stands – was being rebuilt to house fans below so television hosts were shifted to the opposite side this year. He previewed the big match with studio guest Nicky Forster. The introduction VT showed clips of Brighton’s past superimposed onto the Amex Stadium, in an attempt to show how far we’ve come, as Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” played. It is such a great tune and so appropriate for this club. In his pre-match interview with Paul Gilmour, Gus Poyet spoke of his frustration at the lack of goals recently despite creating good chances; “We’ve been performing, not scoring.” The programme format now took the pre-match advert break before the teams emerged from the tunnel, thus not giving the pundits too much time to chat uninterrupted. A slight tweak to the scoreboard was made this season, as it moved outside 4×3 safe zone to sit in the corner of the screen and looked better for it. At half time Nicky Forster was adamant that Brighton should’ve been ahead and the Leeds penalty was very soft; “For me, anywhere else that’s not a foul.” Straight after the final whistle, Gilmour spoke with Man of the Match Will Buckley, who ran the show in the first half, alongside Leeds midfielder Michael Brown in the centre circle. Opposition manager Neil Warnock gave a rare bit of praise to referee Lee Mason for his handling, allowing play to continue and not issue unnecessary cards. In the studio Nicky Forster thought Warnock would be the happier of the two managers given Brighton’s dominance in periods throughout. Poyet’s assessment was “one team playing football, one team going forward and another team getting lucky.” He said Varney dived for the Leeds penalty and Michael Brown should have been sent off for an accumulation of yellow cards, so understandably Poyet was frustrated with the result. Forster and Simon Thomas wrapped up the story of the rest of the game in the ten minutes of time given to analysis before signing off from The Amex.

LEE Kick Off LEE Comms LEE Celebration LEE Penalty

Story of the Match: Led out by Pudsey the Bear to publicise the upcoming BBC Children in Need fundraiser in two weeks time, the teams left the tunnel to a rapturous reception in anticipation of another Friday night thriller with Leeds. Referee Lee Mason set his stall out early on with Buckley booked inside the first ninety seconds for a late lunge, whilst Michael Brown did the same in the tenth for the away side. The game flew out the traps with end-to-end football early on. Buckley burst through the Leeds defenders and his cross/shot was deflected to bounce just wide of the post. Wayne Bridge used his energy to run half the length of the pitch to cross to Barnes who couldn’t quite wrap his foot round the shot to get it on target. The home side were rampant. They were rewarded after a quarter of an hour via a penalty kick. The lively Will Buckley nipped in ahead of captain Peltier who could only stick a leg out to trip him up. Up stepped Craig Mackail-Smith to blast it down the middle for one-nil Brighton. The man can’t stop scoring against Leeds! He almost got a second after another Buckley surge, chipping the ball over his marker before outpacing him to reach the loose ball. He found Mackail-Smith who smacked the post with his effort. Andrea Orlandi then had a fantastic opportunity off a Bruno cross. Orlandi was unmarked six yards out but miss hit it down into the ground instead of hitting the back of the net. Leeds could’ve been out of sight within the first half an hour. However out of nowhere Leeds won themselves a penalty ten minutes before the break after Varney clashed with Bruno, appearing to push the attacker who went down very dramatically. It seemed a harsh penalty to give. Pantomime villain El Hadji Diouf squeezed the spot kick past Kuszczak’s diving hand to level it up. Just before the break Mackail-Smith went close again, his half-volley from the edge of the box only centimetres wide. How Brighton went into the dressing room level was a mystery.

LEE Yellow LEE MOTM

The lead was restored just three minutes into the second half, following a nice reverse pass from Orlandi to set Buckley racing to the byline. He cut it back to Mackail-Smith ten yards in front of goal whose shot took a nick off the defender on its way past Paddy Kenny. The movement and awareness from all three Albion players was excellent. Much like the first half, this was all Brighton until Leeds got their equaliser. The defence limited Leeds to long-range efforts only but Michael Brown’s shot from just outside the D got the better of Kuszczak this time. It came from a simple ball rolled across from the edge of the area for Brown to hit it first time, it took a slight touch from sub striker Becchio on the way through but it would still be claimed as the midfielder’s goal. Twenty-five minutes were left to find a winner. Not long after drawing level, a cross to Becchio’s head almost turned the match around. His glancing header fell just inches wide. Brighton were then handed a golden chance to re-take the lead when Mackail-Smith was bundled over by Byram waiting for Bruno’s deep cross in. The striker got up to take it for his hat-trick but Kenny ruined that with a good save to his right. Leeds were not made to pay the penalty on a night of kicks from twelve yards; two converted, one missed. The final quarter of an hour went by without incident, with substitute Andrew Crofts having the only good chance with almost the last kick of the match, his shot though well kept out by Kenny once more. It ended in an entertaining two-two draw. Brighton could take many positives from the match, most prominently that they created more than enough to win comfortably and goals did start to come after a drought. The point kept the Albion in the chasing pack just outside the Play Off places.

LEE Table

BRIGHTON 2 LEEDS 2
Mackail-Smith (2) Diouf, Brown

LEE Replay LEE Goal

PREVIOUS; #40 SWINDON 3-0 BRIGHTON 14/08/2012

NEXT; #42 BRIGHTON 1-3 WATFORD 29/12/2012

Small Screen Seagulls; Doncaster (H) 06/08/2011

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe 2011/2012 season was a landmark year for Brighton and Hove Albion. Fourteen years after beating Doncaster in the final match at the Goldstone Ground back in April 1997, Brighton were about to embark on a watershed moment for the Football Club. Saturday 6th August 2011 would welcome League football to Sussex in a permanent stadium the club could call their own; the magnificent American Express Community Stadium in Falmer. The opponents on that momentous day; of course, it had to be Doncaster Rovers. The fixture computer had thrown up a really pertinent tie to open life in the new ground. After a couple of test events over the summer, including hosting Premier League Spurs, the scene at long last was set.


Brighton 2-1 Doncaster, Championship; 3pm, Sat 6th Aug 2011

imageThe view from my seat ahead of kick-off

The first ever League match at The Amex opened Brighton’s 2011/2012 campaign in the Championship. The Albion won League One at a canter the previous season, spending over thirty weeks at the top of the table and amassing 95 points. Gus Poyet only arrived at the club in November 2009 yet secured promotion in his first full season as a manager. Doncaster Rovers would provide the opposition for this Saturday 3pm kick-off in the August sunshine. Tickets were like gold dust, it was surely going to be one of those “I was there” moments. We also had a brand new club crest to herald the new era. Here we take a look at the coverage of the match from Football League rights holders Sky Sports and the BBC.

Football League Weekend, Sky Sports 1 (5th August 2011)

FLW Titles FLW Gavin

Sky Sports previewed the return of the new season in their regular Friday evening magazine programme Football League Weekend hosted by George Gavin. Having began at Sky as a touchline reporter on the Football League and Premier League in the mid-90s, Gavin hosted their Live coverage of the three Divisions from 2002. As younger hosts started to emerge over the previous couple of seasons, his main role now was to host the preview and review programming in the studio. Alongside him for this edition was former Southampton, Wolves and Cardiff manager Dave Jones. He covered our Live broadcast of the Ipswich game on the final day of the season in 2005 when a draw secured survival in the Championship for another year. FLW used the same titles and graphics as the Live matches, with “You’ve Got the Love” as the theme tune and new-for-this-season sleek 3D red and black name straps. “Welcome to the start of the race for football’s richest prize and some clubs are better placed than others to hit the ground running”, said George Gavin as he introduced the programme.

FLW Studio FLW Jones

Gavin introduced the report on the new stadium by saying “After fourteen years of nomadic existence, the tune ‘Sussex by the Sea’ will ring out on Saturday at Brighton’s new stadium to welcome them into the Championship. These are sunshine days for the Seagulls, and one of their former stars Nicky Forster has been back to take the temperature.” Forster started working for Sky as an occasional Live match pundit and regular feature reporter for Football League Weekend following his retirement up the road at Brentford over the summer. Ahead of the Doncaster match he was sent to look around The Amex and chat with a few of the current crop. His report began by interviewing Albion coach and former midfield battler Charlie Oatway. “We’re still looking in certain areas just to give us that little bit of difference because every other side’s got it. We’re looking for that someone who can just turn a back four, or have that killer pass, we’re looking at that sort of thing. And you’re always looking for a man who’s gonna score more goals.”

FLW Stadium FLW Oatway

Forster then spoke with Brighton’s new record-signing Craig Mackail-Smith. The former Peterborough striker scored 35 goals on his way to being named in the PFA Team of the Year last season and inspired the Seagulls to splash out £2.5 million to bring him to the club. “It’s such a big game Saturday. I think it’s a full house, everyone’s gonna be right behind the team and hopefully if we can get that first goal quite early then that will take the roof off the stadium and get the fans rocking.” Mackail-Smith turned down bids from Premier League QPR amongst others, citing the ambitions from the chairman with the stadium being a high factor in deciding to join Brighton.

FLW Forster & CMS FLW CMS

Local born defender Tommy Elphick caught up with his former roommate in The Amex dressing room. He spoke highly of the new surroundings; “The club is being revolutionised by the gaffer and the chairman. I think you can see by this fantastic stadium that the club’s definitely going forward now.” After the report concluded, Dave Jones in the studio continued, “Moving into a new stadium is going to be absolutely fantastic for them. Good players, they’re playing some good football as well. They’ll be there or thereabouts, whether they do it this year or next year, that’s what they’re aiming for. You look at the facilities, they’re absolutely magnificent.” The team talked up Brighton’s chances of doing well this season and showed the goals from July’s friendly with Tottenham. The bookies had odds of 9/2 for the Seagulls to gain back to back promotions.

FLW Elphick FLW Odds


Football Focus, BBC One (6th August 2011)

Long-running BBC Saturday lunchtime preview programme Football Focus marked our momentous day by broadcasting the entire show Live from The Amex. There were reports that they wanted to show the Doncaster match Live as one of ten Championship broadcasts this season but the club turned the TV requests down, wanting it preserved as Saturday at 3pm. So the Beeb opted for the next best option to kick off a new season of football. They were into their third and final season covering the Football League Live. They also held highlights rights which would continue for a further three-year contract after this season. Football Focus had been running since 1974, with current host Dan Walker taking over the reigns in 2009. Walker was born not far away in Crawley and had been part of various big sporting events on the BBC since around 2008 before landing the Focus gig.

FF Titles FF Field

After Dan Walker had done his introductions from the fields outside the ground, and the car park by the stadium, broadcasting great and famous Seagulls supporter Des Lynam narrated a potted history of the club to provide context as to what we’ve achieved just to get to this point today. He talked about the foundation, the Goldstone, Brian Clough, the Cup Final, that match with Hereford before going up to the present day with Gus Poyet’s Champions, via Gillingham and Withdean Stadium. Walker had made his way round to the legends banners outside of the West Stand and hospitality entrances, where he was joined by BBC Sport pundit and former Albion defender Mark Lawrenson. Lawro spent four years at the Goldstone, making 152 appearances before going on to join Liverpool in 1981 where he enjoyed the most success of his career. Since retirement he’s been a pundit primarily for the BBC and Match of the Day forging a long-standing partnership with ex-teammate Alan Hansen. He combined studio work with a place on the gantry as their lead co-commentator, most recently covering the 2010 World Cup.

FF VT FF Lawrenson

Today’s edition was pleasingly very Brighton centric, with multiple features from around the stadium and about the club. Even both pundits had connections to the Albion. The host was making good use of his access all areas pass, as he visited the home dressing room, where the Albion players were already sitting around reading the matchday programme ahead of kick off less than three hours later. Waiting for us there was Robbie Savage, newly-retired from the game and hoping to forge a career as a pundit with the BBC. Savage played six times on-loan at Brighton where, by his own admission, he was not very good back in October 2008 under Micky Adams. Alan Navarro in the changing room shouted across to make sure he hadn’t forgotten; “He had a stinker in every game!”

FF Dressing Room FF Savage

After a quick summer Championship round-up VT from reporter Mark Clemmit, Dan Walker went out the tunnel and to the side of the pitch where Lawrenson and Savage were standing alongside Chairman Tony Bloom; without whom this stadium would not have been possible. “It’s a hugely emotional time for all of our fans, they’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. Over fourteen years since the last game at the Goldstone ground against Doncaster, funnily enough, in April ’97 and that was a massive game for us which we needed to win to give ourselves a chance of staying in the Football League. Which goes to show how far we’ve gone in that time” he began. Bloom pointed out that the expectations of other teams will be higher than his but to see where we are after a few games and assess the situation from there. The pundits believed one of the biggest tasks would be to keep hold of manager Gus Poyet after such a successful first couple of years in management.

FF Tony Bloom FF Bloom

First team coach Charlie Oatway is never one to shy away from the cameras, as he sat in the car-seat style chairs in the dugout for a chat alongside Walker and his two pundits. The full eleven name introduction was given, with Oatway famously being named after the entire 1973 Queens Park Rangers team, the year he was born. Oatway played 224 matches for the Albion during those successful Withdean years, leaving in 2007 but returning as coach when Poyet arrived two seasons after. Walker asked Oatway about Poyet’s request to have the pitch as wide as possible to encourage the team’s passing philosophy; “We’ve got the best intentions of the way we wanna play football and the stature of this football club and what we wanna achieve and have our own identity. He’s adamant about that and that shows with the way that we try to play.” Their chat closed with a little plug for Oatway’s autobiography “Tackling Life”, charting his story out of trouble to captain the Albion as well as having to learn to read and write as an adult.

FF Oatway FF Dugout

The away end was Walker’s next port of call as he walked through the concourse highlighting some of the little touches the club would be putting on for visiting fans. We saw the television screens informing of next train times, the barrels of beer brought in locally from the visiting area and he spoke of how the lighting would be adapted to that club’s colours each match too. We saw the view from the away end, hoping “in the not too distant future there’ll be Premier League fans watching their team here at this great new stadium.” He also brought up the slight change from an earlier design of the seat colours which did have a couple of white seats ‘deposited’ underneath the giant seagull in the West Stand. That idea was poo-pooed.

FF Concourse FF Clipping

Superstar DJ Fatboy Slim, AKA Norman Cook, gave his considerable support to the campaign to bring home the Albion down the years and deserves credit for the publicity that brought, as well as the Skint shirt sponsorship which served the kits at Withdean so well for nine years. He joined the team pitchside for a natter and perhaps putting it best when he said, “We’ve lived through a difficult fourteen years and now we have our field of dreams. If you build it they will come.” It’s difficult for Mark Lawrenson to get through any broadcast without some attempt at a joke so when the good ones land you can’t help but admire his efforts; “They were sponsored by Skint, now they should be sponsored by Loaded! He’s got loads of money, the chairman.” And that was just about all we had time for this afternoon. This programme was a wonderful build up to one of the most anticipated days the Brighton supporters had seen for a generation. It was great seeing our stadium on television, exploring all the different areas and having nothing but praise for it. It set the scene perfectly for the match to come later that afternoon.

FF Goal FF Fatboy Slim


The Football League Show, BBC One (6th August 2011)

FLS Titles FLS Bhasin

BBC Saturday night highlights have been a staple of the British football diet going back to the times before England had even won the World Cup. Match of the Day launched on Saturday evening in 1964 and has continued on-air in some form on the weekends every season ever since. From 2009 this was supplemented by more action in the post-MOTD slot; The Football League Show. Not the most imaginatively titled programme, with largely forgettable (and barely audible) theme music, but it gave fans of lower league clubs the chance to see their team’s goals on a Saturday night after the Premier League games had been wrapped up. It was hosted from their London studio by Manish Bhasin, formerly of Football Focus. Bhasin would be joined by a guest pundit each week – the likes of Steve Claridge, Leroy Rosenior, Dave Kitson as well as current players and managers. Genial reporter Mark Clemmit – or Clem – would visit a match each Saturday to file an extended report from, interviewing players and managers and giving a bit of context to one of the 72 clubs in the Leagues. A club history section would often also be hosted by him to break up the flow of goals, goals, goals. For the first couple of seasons there would also be a chance for viewers to interact with the show sending comments and questions to be read out by reporters such as Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Jacqui Oatley. There would be longer highlights of one or two featured games from the Championship, with voiceover reports in the round-ups for the rest of the matches across the Three Divisions. On this opening day, Brighton’s debut home fixture was the chosen star match here.

FLS Brighton FLS Doncaster

Brighton’s side included Craig Mackail-Smith, the club’s new record-signing from Peterborough, up front. He partnered Ashley Barnes. Glenn Murray rejected the club’s offers of a new contract and left as a free agent in the summer, only to join bitter rivals Crystal Palace. Winger Kazenga LuaLua had repeatedly been on loan with us over the previous season and a half and signed another six-month loan deal for the start of this campaign, with a view to a permanent deal. The solid back-line of Casper Ankergren in-goal, full-backs Inigo Calderon and Marcos Painter, and captain Gordon Greer kept twenty clean-sheets in the League last season and continued as starters here. Tommy Elphick was stretchered off injured in the final day draw at Notts County and would be a long-term casualty this time round. This gave another local youngster a start in his place; Lewis Dunk, who had made a handful of appearances for the Albion prior to today. The midfield core of Irishman Gary Dicker, Matt Sparrow and former Chelsea youth captain Liam Bridcutt all started. Winger Craig Noone had impressed since joining the side for the second half of last season but began on the bench. He was accompanied by unfamiliar Albion faces in new signings Will Buckley, temporarily our record signing at £1 million when the winger joined from Watford, and Romain Vincelot, a utility player brought in from Dagenham & Redbridge. Doncaster had a tough pre-season and were without seven of their squad due to injury. Billy Sharp and James Hayter were the target men, James Coppinger a potential danger in the middle with Ryan Mason, and at the back was captain George Friend. The referee was Eddie Ilderton.

FLS Commentator FLS Yellow Card

Commentary on the ten-minute highlight edit came from Martin Fisher. He joined the BBC when Match of the Day regained highlights to Premier League matches and began deploying commentators to every single game in 2004. Since then he’s regularly covered top-flight action and, from 2009, dipped down into the Football Leagues for this programme. Prior to that he was a reporter for Sky Sports News based in the midlands. The opening chance of the highlights fell to Billy Sharp whose curled effort inside the area narrowly missed the post. Kazenga LuaLua was causing all sorts of problems for the Donny defence, with Tommy Spurr getting booked for a foul. LuaLua himself was then booked for a dive when it seemed like he had surely been fouled for a penalty. Manager Poyet was incensed on the touchline, living up to his fiery nature, and received his invitation to sit in the stands courtesy of the referee. Ashley Barnes had the Albion’s first good chance after a flick on saw him one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Woods stood his ground and blocked Barnes’ effort with the defence helping out to clear a yard off the line. It all wasn’t quite going to plan for Brighton and it was made worse five minutes before half-time. Dicker was dispossessed on the half-way line by Ryan Mason, who continued his run to the edge of the box. His shot deflected off Dunk into the path of Billy Sharp to steer goalwards a first-time shot through Ankergren, already scrambling around way off his goalline, who managed to deflect the effort onto the post but to no avail. It trickled in to give Rovers the lead.

FLS Poyet Sent Off FLS Doncaster Goal

In the second half a wild lunge from Lewis Dunk earned himself a yellow card and brought an end to Sharp’s afternoon, having to be stretchered off to add to the away side’s injury woes. Substitute Craig Noone was in behind the Doncaster defence after Barnes flicked on Sparrow’s nice through ball. Noone opened his body up but saw the effort fly past the wrong side of the post, the shot lacking the required curl on it. The highlights were now all Brighton’s; with Craig Mackail-Smith forcing Woods into action again. The Albion breakthrough finally came through another sub, Will Buckley, who thundered in a goal from the corner of the area. Bridcutt’s floated free-kick was headed out by the defence who twice couldn’t clear sufficiently. The ball eventually fell to Buckley who smashed it on the half-volley twenty yards out low and hard past the ‘keeper to level with seven minutes remaining. Both sides had chances to win it, with Mackail-Smith going close for us, whilst Hayter had a volley blocked for Rovers. He got injured in the process, leaving Sean O’Driscoll with no option but to play the final few minutes with just ten men having already made three substitutions. A lot of stoppage time was going to be played here, Brighton had a man advantage now, could they get the goal advantage?

FLS Equaliser FLS One all

Into the 98th minute of the match, Craig Noone showed off some lovely footwork on half-way to spin one defender and skip past a second. With the outside of the left boot he stabbed a defence-splitting ball forward for Will Buckley to run through on goal. The pass was perfect, Buckley didn’t even need to take a touch he just ran wide to give himself the best possible angle to shoot and then bam! He curled it into the bottom-right corner of the goal to seal his place in Albion folklore forever. “It’s Buckley in againnn, TWO-ONE BRIGHTON!” cried commentator Martin Fisher. A fantastically cool finish from the debutant to complete the comeback and secure a very special victory on a very special day. Brighton had won it with virtually the last kick of the match. I hope you were expecting drama, it’s never plain sailing being a football fan!

FLS Winner FLS Celebration

In his post-match interview Gus Poyet was still fathomed by the referees decision to book LuaLua instead of award a penalty. Acknowledging his fiery temper he said “It’s me, you like me or you don’t. You take me how I am or I go home and I play golf.” We also heard from double-goalscoring hero Will Buckley. Questioned about how pleasing it was to go down in the record books he answered “I think everyone was trying to get that but it’s more importantly about the team win today and that’s what we needed, a good start, and we got it.” The standard footballer answer given, playing down his own achievements to focus on the three points and the team aspect. I could watch those two goals over and over again. I was so fortunate to have been there for this match and to enjoy the incredible surroundings our new abode had to offer.

FLS Full Time FLS Poyet

Manish Bhasin was joined by Steve Claridge in the studio to review the action. The retired striker had a short six game loan spell with Brighton under Mark McGhee in 2004. Upon analysing today’s match Claridge loved the atmosphere the fans created with the flags waving pre-match creating a sea of blue and white. He agreed with Poyet that the penalty should have been given for the foul on Kazenga LuaLua and praised the manager for making game-changing substitutions, with Noone and Buckley coming on. On the first goal, Claridge believed it to be “a fantastic strike, that’s a difficult skill and a great technique” before remarking about the winner “This is a fantastic run, teams can’t defend against this because it’s players running from deep, no-one can run with him.” No-one did run with him and consequently Brighton ran out winners by two goals to one completing the fairytale story in this brand new place we are very lucky to call home. This day will be forever remembered as the day the fans brought their football club back.

FLS Claridge FLS Studio

 

#27: Luton 1-1 Brighton 17/02/2009

#27 LUTON 1-1 BRIGHTON (LUT win 4-3 on pens) Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Area Final 2nd Leg
Tuesday 17th February 2009 Sky 2007

SHR Titles

PRESENTER David Jones GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Garry Birtles REPORTER Patrick Davison
7.45pm Kick Off; Kenilworth Road, Luton     7.30-10pm Live on Sky Sports 2 (Extended to 10.15pm)

SS2 Ident Titles start LUT Intro

Context of the Match: Luton and Brighton were now one match away from a trip to Wembley Stadium. It would’ve been Brighton’s first trip to the stadium since a Play Off Final defeat to Notts County in 1991. Both teams went into this match in the relegation zone in their respective Leagues; Brighton 21st in League One whilst Luton were cut adrift at the bottom of the entire Football League. The Albion were looking ahead to better times with the initial stages finally underway just before Christmas for the new stadium site in Falmer, expected in a couple of seasons time. Off the pitch things were finally looking up but on the pitch was a real struggle. Since Micky Adams returned to the club last summer the fortunes have been mixed; excelling in Cup competitions but not able to replicate that in the League with 28 points from 29 games. As we approached the final third of the season there was still a lot of work to be done to avoid relegation down to the fourth tier for the first time since 2001. Luton by contrast were already there and already pretty doomed. They suffered two successive relegations from the Championship down to here and began this season with a massive record 30 point deduction due to financial irregularities; 10 points deducted by the FA and 20 by the Football League for breaking the rules on exiting administration. Money problems had been going on for a couple of years, culminating with this. So the JPT was somewhat of a leveller, a chance to rectify a terrible season. The first leg at Withdean ended goalless, there would be no away goals rule or extra time. If it finished level on the night tonight then penalties would be required again. Brighton had been involved in three shootouts this season, winning all three and scoring fifteen out of fifteen taken. Like in the previous round, the club arranged for free coach travel to the match, ensuring around 1,500 Seagulls supporters were present.

LUT Luton LUT Subs LUT Brighton

The Teams: After the disappointing start to the season, Micky Adams tried to overhaul the side in the January transfer window. Brighton’s squad included a number of new faces including on-loan Calvin Andrew from Crystal Palace up top. Six changes were made from the previous match at the weekend, as out went penalty save hero John Sullivan for Michel Kuipers. Andy Whing and Dean Cox also returned due to a combination of tactical and enforced tinkering. Chris Birchall joined in January on a six-month contract and is perhaps most famous for somehow managing to sneak into the Trinidad and Tobago World Cup 2006 squad where he faced England in the group stages. Another on a six-month contract was Jason Jarrett, described by Adams as “an energetic box-to-box midfielder who can operate in either an attacking or defensive role anywhere across the middle.” Big things were hoped of him. 17 year-old Steve Cook was on the bench. Luton manager Mick Harford needed to practically rebuild his squad in the summer following another relegation but were faced with a transfer embargo until just 48 hours before the first match of the season, this on top of their points deduction. Their mix of youth and experience meant the likes of top-scorer Chris Martin, not his Coldplay frontman namesake, former Ipswich and Swindon striker Sam Parkin and player of the year Keith Keane all returned. Many January signings for both clubs were ineligible; Seb Carole, Jim McNulty and Craig Davies for the Albion, hence the high number of changes. Refereeing was former top flight official the dreadful Andy D’Urso.

LUT Jones LUT Beagrie LUT Studio

Presentation Team: As with the previous round of the JPT, Sky’s duo of David Jones and Peter Beagrie presented coverage from the corner of the stadium adjacent to the away fans. David Jones was fast rising up the pecking order in favour of established main Football League anchor George Gavin, picking up the Saturday Night 5.20pm slot and all the extras such as this competition. Peter Beagrie was his regular pundit and Sky’s firm number one on the League. In the commentary box were Garry Birtles and Ian Darke. Birtles had been on the coverage since 2003 and firmly second choice behind initially Chris Kamara, and now Don Goodman. With two Live Football League matches on most weekends, Birtles would usually pick up one of them. When it came to League One he was the voice, covering Play Offs and Finals as well as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Ian Darke was in the near unique position of being a semi-regular voice on both Sky’s Premier League and Football League coverage. He was behind Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne and Alan Parry in the top flight, meaning sometimes there weren’t enough Live games to go round Sky’s big four commentators. As a result he would pick up Football League matches behind their number one Bill Leslie (who was on Scottish Cup duty this midweek), particularly around international break weekends as we saw last season with our Live Leyton Orient match. His enthusiasm and engaging style made it a pleasure to listen to and livened up even the poorest of matches. He perhaps deserved a bigger gig and in 2010 joined ESPN in America after a hugely successful World Cup, covering the top Premier League games for the US audience. The partnership with Darke and Birtles was amongst Sky’s most enjoyable. Reporting pitchside today was Patrick Davison, a new name to Brighton’s Live television coverage. Davison had begun reporting for preview programme Big League Weekend since the beginning of last season and was slowly gaining experience on Live matches of relatively low profile, such as in this competition and Leagues One and Two. He started off at Sky working behind the scenes on Sky Sports News.

LUT Table LUT Adams LUT Kick Off LUT Comms

The Coverage: Jones and Beagrie came on-air fifteen minutes before the kick-off at Kenilworth Road. This was just enough time to discuss the struggles of both clubs, look at their dismal League standings (Brighton 21st and Luton 24th in Leagues One and Two respectively). The second leg of both the Northern and Southern Area Finals were being played tonight and the goals from the first legs were shown pre-match. As Brighton v Luton was goalless that meant we just saw Scunthorpe’s two against Rotherham from January. Patrick Davison interviewed both managers in the tunnel, asking Harford and Adams about their preparation for penalties. It seemed many were expecting this to be a tight match. Commentator Ian Darke talked us through the starting line-ups before heading for a quick break before the kick-off. The title sequence and graphics remained as they were for the previous match in this competition, with the replay transition for everything including goals being the nice flying trophy from the top left into the middle of the screen and out again. The aggregate scoreline was added between the team names and the clock for clarification. One addition this season was the total number of cards earned that year when given a yellow or red, which helped highlight when a suspension would be due. Half time analysis centred on the two goals and of course the red card for David Livermore. When the second half concluded there was just a little bit of time to grab some reaction from Peter Beagrie before straight onto the penalties without a break, capturing the atmosphere and the nerves well. The programme was extended by fifteen minutes to account for the pens, and after the break Patrick Davison conducted interviews with the man of the match and the winning goalkeeper, as well as the victorious manager. Jones and Beagrie reviewed the goals again, rounded up the result from the other Area Final and analysed the penalties before closing the show and Brighton’s JPT campaign for another season.

LUT Goal LUT Red Card LUT Analysis LUT Coming Up 

Story of the Match: What is it they say ahead of a big match? Keep it tight early on, start brightly, be nice and sharp and switched on. Brighton certainly heard that. And proceeded to do the complete opposite as Luton took the lead within 60 seconds. A long ball forward from defence was headed on by Craddock to a seemingly innocuous enough position. Michel Kuipers came racing out of his goal to the edge of the area to clear but got in a complete tangle with Adam Virgo as both players had embarrassing air-shots. This left Tom Craddock to pick up the loose ball and calmly slot it into the empty net well to leave Micky Adams shaking his head in disbelief on the sidelines. The surface was rather bobbly but that was no excuse for the shambolic way the goal came about. Brighton didn’t let it affect them too much in a very open first quarter. In the fifth minute Nicky Forster burst down the right but his cross-shot narrowly alluded everyone. A quarter of an hour later he was in behind again with his shot rolling agonisingly just inches wide of the post. Forster wasn’t to be denied though as the skipper got the equaliser less than a minute later, deservedly so as he was everywhere early on. The resulting goal-kick went straight to Chris Burchill in the centre circle, he brought the ball forward ten yards before setting Forster through centrally behind the Luton defence. He took one touch to steady himself, with the ball hardly moving due to the poor pitch, before unleashing his fierce shot early from the edge of the box and low past the outstretched Price’s hand. The fact it was taken early was key, not giving the goalie or defender enough time to react. Forster’s celebration unveiled a t-shirt stating “Sorry but that’s 200” referring to his career goals tally, however commentator Ian Darke had been stating all evening that he was on 198 prior to tonight. The discrepancy arose because he was indeed on 198 club goals but had also scored once for the England under-21s. So technically both were correct and it wasn’t a case of the Ian Wrights about him by celebrating too early like Wright did wrongly when he thought he broke the Arsenal record. Michel Kuipers in the Brighton goal was having a nightmare return to the side and nearly made another fatal error 33 minutes in when a backpass to him was bizarrely underhit straight back into play as Kuipers was leaning back off-balance and narrowly missed Sam Parkin as the defence were able to pick up the pieces. All of Brighton’s hard work was undone a minute before the break with a red card for David Livermore. His interception sent the ball away from his control and he lunged in for a 50:50 challenge. He was too late and over the top as Spillane got the loose ball first, even though there didn’t seem a huge amount of actual contact it was still a dangerous tackle. After consulting with his linesman, referee Andy D’Urso sent the defender off and we went into the break level on goals but a man down. This forced Dean Cox to be sacrificed for Tommy Elphick to shore up the back line. The second half was equally as tense and as close with only half-chances being permitted for both sides. Brighton were happy to sit back and force Luton into bringing the game to them, the ten man having to concentrate for every moment. As an attacking force, the red card killed them off, with Nicky Forster having to feed off scraps all by himself. Brighton survived a last-minute scare when Kuipers was called into action to parry a shot and pounce on the rebound but that was about it. And so, inevitably, it went to penalties again, to be taken in front of the home end.

LUT Penalties LUT Pen Save

Forster was first up, scoring and sending the ‘keeper the wrong way. Chris Martin levelled it identically. Virgo was next, going the other way and still sending the ‘keeper the wrong way. Craddock made it two-two straight down the middle. Tommy Elphick just squeezed his penalty in despite a big hand from Price. Asa Hall equalised again. But the incredible run was to come to an end, Jason Jarrett the first man to miss a spot kick for Brighton in a shootout this year as his effort was saved onto the post. Ryan Charles put Luton ahead and it was all over when Birchall’s was saved brilliantly by Price as the Hatters fans poured onto the pitch to celebrate their 4-3 penalty win. Luton went on to face Scunthorpe in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final and lifted the trophy. They won a pulsating contest at Wembley by three goals to two in April in front of 55,000 people. The cup success wasn’t quite enough to save their League season. Despite a fantastic effort, they were relegated with several games to go and ended up fifteen points off safety. Had they not had the 30 points deducted their final League position would’ve been 15th. Brighton’s season would continue to be a struggle after this. Micky Adams lost his job and Russell Slade was appointed at the start of March until the end of the season. His task was simple – keep the club up. He managed to achieve the great escape thanks to a final day home win against Stockport. That win flew the Seagulls up the table, finishing 16th but would have been relegated on goal difference had they lost that match. Crazy, tense and all-too-close but Slade rescued a pretty dismal season after last year’s hope. A huge improvement was required if Brighton were to achieve their aim of being a Championship club when the move to Falmer commenced.

LUTON 1 BRIGHTON 1
Craddock. Luton win 4-3 on penalties Forster

LUT Replay

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

NEXT; #28 SOUTHAMPTON 1-3 BRIGHTON 15/11/2009

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

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

LEY Titles

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

Ident LEY Sponsors LEY Intro

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

LEY Leyton Orient LEY Subs LEY Brighton

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

LEY Wotton  LEY Beagrie  LEY Martinez  LEY Studio

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

LEY Kick Off LEY Comms LEY Sub LEY Coming Up

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

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

LEY Forster LEY Table

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

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Gray, Demetriou Forster, Cox

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

BLW1 Titles BLW Wotton

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

BLW Studio BLW1 Interview

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

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

Soccer AM preview Titles Soccer AM preview studio

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

Soccer AM preview Beagrie Soccer AM preview Table

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

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