#61: Brighton 1-0 Nottingham Forest 07/08/2015

#61 BRIGHTON 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST Championship
Friday 7th August 2015 Image result for

61FOR Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Ian Holloway & David Prutton
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

2015 Ident 2015 Sponsor

61FOR Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

Brighton began life in the Championship for a fifth consecutive season, having narrowly avoided relegation to League One towards the end of the last campaign. A goalless draw at Middlesbrough on the final day saw Albion claim twentieth spot, six points above the drop zone. Huge improvements were required over the summer if Chris Hughton was to succeed in his first full season in charge.

The Seagulls recruited smartly during the break, bringing in the experience of full back Liam Rosenior from Hull, Cameroon left back Gaetan Bong from Wigan, both for free, and Israel striker Tomer Hemed from Almeria for £1million. Goals were extremely hard to come by last year for Brighton. In forty-six League games, just forty-four goals were netted; only one team that survived managed fewer. In addition to Hemed, an Albion legend returned after a long time away.

Bobby Zamora saw out the final season of his career by re-joining the club where he made his name back at the turn of the century. In the twelve years away, Zamora played for Tottenham, West Ham, Fulham and QPR. He won the Championship Play Offs with the Hammers in 2005 then scored the last-minute winner for QPR in the same match nine years later. At Fulham, he helped the club incredibly make it all the way to the Final of the Europa League, knocking out Italian giants Juventus en route, before they eventually succumbed to Atletico Madrid. Zamora represented England twice under Fabio Capello.

With key signings assembled, Brighton were ambitious ahead of the new campaign. They had the opportunity to open the entire Football League programme at The Amex when Sky Sports selected the game with Nottingham Forest for Live television coverage on the Friday night. The football was well and truly back again.

 

THE TEAMS

61FOR Brighton

Just five of the players who started the final game at Middlesbrough also started tonight. Goalkeeper David Stockdale missed just four League games of the disappointing 2014/15 season, the most appearances of any Albion player. Lewis Dunk’s seven goals in all competitions remarkably made him the club’s top scorer from centre back. Gordon Greer continued to skipper the side for another year. New signing Gaetan Bong slotted in to the left back position for his debut.

Beram Kayal joined in the January transfer window and showed signs of quality in the short time he had. Injury kept Dale Stephens away from the first team last year, making just ten League starts. Also curtailing most of Solly March’s time were two injuries but he was back to fill a place in the middle for this new season. Kazenga LuaLua featured in thirty-four of the forty-six Championship ties but nineteen of those were from the subs bench.

Sam Baldock would be looking for a better tally than just three League goals. Hoping to form a formidable strike partnership was new man up top, Tomer Hemed, with Bobby Zamora still a few weeks away from being match fit. Option from the sidelines included new Cup ‘keeper Niki Maenpaa, signed from Dutch side VVV-Venlo, as well as young Englishmen Rohan Ince and Jake Forster-Caskey. The latter pair had enjoyed decent spells in the side under first Sami Hyypia, then Chris Hughton.

61FOR Nottingham Forest

Former Palace and Bolton manager Dougie Freedman’s first win in charge of Forest was a three-two scoreline here at The Amex back in February. His current side included Dutch goalkeeper Dorus de Vries, replacing former number one Karl Darlow who moved to Newcastle. Defender Matt Mills had bags of experience at this level with the likes of Reading and Leicester before switching to Forest in the summer. Midfielder Henri Lansbury started out at Arsenal and won Premier League promotion with Norwich and West Ham in consecutive seasons at the start of the decade.

Striker Dexter Blackstock started out at Southampton before moving to QPR. He joined Forest move came back in March 2009. Winger Michail Antonio was an ever-present last year for the Reds, netting fourteen goals in his first season after moving from Sheffield Wednesday. He began in non-League with Tooting and Mitcham. Options on the bench included Welsh international David Vaughan and Scottish midfielder Chris Burke. Also present was eighteen-year-old striker Tyler Walker, son of former England rock Des. Refereeing the contest was little Keith Stroud.

61FOR Subs

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

61FOR Thomas

Sky Sports kicked off another new Football League season with many of their number one team in situ at The Amex. Simon Thomas was the League’s main presenter, hosting even more Live games as a new five-year broadcasting contract began this season, which also saw highlights move from the BBC to Channel 5. A total of 148 matches per season were now permitted, an increase of 37 from before, breaking down as 112 regular League games, all 15 Play Off matches, 15 from the Capital One Cup and a handful of Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clashes all exclusively Live. Former Chelsea man turned broadcaster Scott Minto transferred from Sky’s La Liga coverage to provide presenting back up for Thomas and replace Sky Sports News host Natalie Sawyer.

61FOR Holloway 61FOR Prutton

A new signing was also made in the studio as Ian Holloway joined Sky Sports, committing for the season. The former Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool manager was out of work after leaving relegation threatened Millwall back in March. He joined Sky’s regular FL72 pundits roster with long-serving Peter Beagrie. Alongside Holloway in Sussex was former Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder David Prutton. He joined Sky out of retirement for last season and would be a more prominent fixture in the studio this time round.

61FOR Hinchcliffe 61FOR Craig

In the commentary box to open the coverage were Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe. Leslie once again combined Premier League commentaries with the best of the Football League action on a weekly basis, still Sky’s main voice for FL72 coverage. Andy Hinchcliffe voiced regular Football League co-commentaries behind Don Goodman in the pecking order. The increase in Live matches enabled the pair to be heard on the vast majority of weeks, with Hinchcliffe also being heard on Sky’s top flight coverage. Completing tonight’s broadcast personnel was reporter David Craig, Sky’s second choice man on the touchline after Jonathan Oakes.

 

THE COVERAGE

61FOR Coverage 1 61FOR Pitchside

Sky’s Friday night programme began at 7pm, an extended pre-match to preview the new season. The Friday night matches would regularly begin at 7pm this season in the absence of a studio based preview or review programme as FL72 Preview and Review from the Studio Cafe were axed. Instead, all the goals were shown in a voiceover quick wrap up called FL72 Goals each weekend. Coverage was again sponsored by Screwfix. The SkyBet Championship trophy was in town, as fans could pose for a photo with it outside the stadium before it was moved pitchside to be with the presentation team. Sky continued to broadcast under the FL72 banner for Football League programming. Graphics saw a couple of tweaks for the new campaign. Caps lock was taken off, meaning words appeared on the sleek astons in both upper and lower case, and a modified font was used. The red and white backgrounds remained in place from before. The titles and theme tune were as they were when introduced last year, using Woodkid’s Run Boy Run whilst blocks flew around showing goals and players before forming the FL72 logo.

Host Simon Thomas introduced proceedings from a spot overlooking Brighton Pier and the seafront on a glorious August day in the sunshine as the football returned. Following the pulsating introductory VT to kick things off, Thomas was next seen Live at pitchside in front of the West Stand near to the South West corner of the stadium, accompanied by the Championship trophy. Standing by to be introduced were pundits David Prutton and new Sky signing Ian Holloway, who was very excited to be part of it. Co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe joined the trio pitchside towards the start of the programme to give his take on the teams and the season ahead.

61FOR Greer 61FOR Craig with Tempest 61FOR Odds

Reporter David Craig gathered the pre-match thoughts of some of the key personnel, including Albion skipper Gordon Greer. Speaking in the comfy seats of the dugout, Greer spoke of the new season confidence. “We’ve signed a good few players so we’re hopeful that we can kick on again this year and have a good season.” Addressing the issue of a lack of goals, Greer highlighted the recruitment. “We’ve got Tomer Hemed, Sam Baldock, Bobby [Zamora], Chris O’Grady. So we’ve got plenty of options for the manager to choose from so hopefully they can all score a few goals this year.”

As part of previewing the new season as a whole, David Craig was joined in the tunnel area by SkyBet’s Dale Tempest to offer some odds. Brighton were quoted at 7/1 for promotion, whilst the threat of relegation was 10/1; a clear indication last year was just a blip and things were expected to improve again this time.

After the break, the pundits reflected on Albion’s poor campaign last time, trying to give explanation to the drop in quality. David Prutton believed that the positive press had caught up with the club somewhat and they needed to adapt or leave yourself open to be exposed. “What we’ve become to imagine a Brighton football team to be over the last few years is very much a passing team, playing out from the back, and when things aren’t going so well that seems to be what attracts the most attention and the most offensive pressure against you.” He thought Hughton’s tactics would be to build solidly first, get a foot in the game before then unleashing the quality passing style of play the club would like.

61FOR Hemed 61FOR Zamora

The spotlight was shone on new Seagulls signing Tomer Hemed, showing goals and clips from his pre-season appearances. The pundits acknowledged the strength and knowledge Hemed will bring to goalscoring situations and expected him to do very well. Manager Chris Hughton then gave his thoughts ahead of the game to David Craig. On Bobby Zamora, he commented; “A wonderful signing for us to bring him back here, but we brought him back here for the quality he can give us. He wouldn’t be up to speed where the other players are… He’s in good shape but probably not enough to risk him tonight.” Zamora was presented to the crowd on the pitch just before the teams emerged, to a lovely reception. Hughton also confirmed a change of shape for this match, moving to a 4-4-2 formation.

The pitchside team switched their attention to Nottingham Forest to complete the build-up. New signing Jamie Ward from Derby was expected to slot straight into the side well, with the wingers swapping flanks throughout. Ian Holloway warned of the Forest threat on the counter attack, having worked with Dougie Freedman previously. The opposition boss was then interviewed by David Craig. A cagey, tight affair was expected from tonight’s match. With the talking done, after the break it was up to the gantry where commentators Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe were waiting to call the opening match of the new season.

61FOR Studio

The presentation team made their way up to the television studio box located in the North Stand for the half time analysis. The focus of the chat during the break was on Dorus de Vries’ fantastic save right at the end to deny Tomer Hemed the opening goal. David Prutton said, “The header, the timing of the run’s fantastic. The save is just absolutely out of this world. He’s had to see it, maybe at the last minute.”

Ian Holloway was buoyed by Brighton’s improvements going forward, getting more bodies in the box and attacking in numbers with purpose. Just before the teams kicked off the second period, reporter David Craig grabbed a quick word with Bobby Zamora to get a very brief take on the first half. Zamora saw Brighton as ‘dominating’ Forest and unlucky not to have the lead.

After full time was called, David Craig interviewed the goalscorer and the Man of the Match on the pitch; Kazenga LuaLua and Lewis Dunk. “We had to start on the right foot and we showed we can do it this year. We’ve just got to kick on from now. We knew we were expecting a tough game, so we dealt with it well”, said Dunk. LuaLua described his match winner as “a special feeling”.

61FOR Analysis 61FOR Hughton

After the adverts, the studio team relocated back to the pitchside position for the final ten minutes or so of post-match analysis. Ian Holloway thought the scoreline was the correct one and put the goal down to a lack of urgency in Forest moving up the pitch. “Brighton got the result they deserved just on the shade of it, you know. The goal came from the Notts Forest midfield not pushing out and pressing the ball as they were. And I’m sure Chris [Hughton] will look at the other chances they created and thought they were comfortable winners in the end.”

Analysing the goal, David Prutton saw exactly what LuaLua was looking for and executed so well. “It’s that turn of pace, that wonderful first step that he’s got which creates the opportunity. He does the right thing, goes back across goal but it’s in such a great area that nobody can cut it out.”

Chris Hughton joined the team pitchside for the final few minutes of the show to give his thoughts on the performance and the all-important three points. He was quick to point out the good things Forest did and how tough it was for his side, particularly the full backs against the pace and power of Antonio. He explained his thinking behind adapting the formation. “The fact that we went two up top, it’s about making sure that we get good movement. We knew that with the two wide players we could create something in the wide areas but it’s about the quality that they were able to get in.” And with that, there was just a few seconds to glance over the weekend to come before it was time to say goodbye on a good night for the Seagulls.

61FOR Coming Up

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

61FOR Kick Off 61FOR Comms

Brighton kicked the campaign off, shooting towards the South stand in the first half. In the fifth minute, Albion’s two wide players – Solly March and Kazenga LuaLua – combined for the first shot on goal. March came inside from the right and squared a pass for LuaLua. He waited for the defender to get near before trying to sidestep him and unleashing a low diagonal effort on goal which de Vries got down to keep out and keep hold of. Shortly after, Henri Lansbury, so often the scourge of Brighton, curled a free kick onto the outside of the post from just under thirty yards out.

It was the home side that was leading the stats in the first period. Dominating the ball, creating more chances and having more efforts on goal than their visitors. Beram Kayal was next to hit the woodwork when his strike from outside the area cannoned off the post. Approaching the half-hour mark, a neat run down the right from March deserved more, as the Forest defence was cut apart. Six minutes later, LuaLua almost turned provider for Sam Baldock after some outstanding work on the far side. His cutback found Baldock central, outside the penalty area. An excellent first touch got the ball out of his feet, the second touch to curl it missed the goal by centimetres.

Brighton were knocking on the door louder and louder. Right at the end of the half, Dorus de Vries somehow clawed away Tomer Hemed’s powerful six-yard header to keep it goalless. It was a magnificent reaction save.

61FOR LuaLua goal 61FOR Defending

It took just four minutes of the second half for Brighton to conjure up a lead. It arrived through Kazenga LuaLua, largely via his own creativity. The winger received the ball five yards from the penalty area on the left. He drove into the box towards his opponent. A touch took him just a yard to his left before deciding to shoot with the left foot. It was only twelve yards out, but the angle was very wide. The thing he did right was to send it low and hard into the opposite corner, across the goal. Cue the head over heels gymnastic celebration we’re accustomed to from the former Newcastle winger. One-nil.

Following the goal, Nottingham Forest enjoyed a decent spell of possession but created very little by way of key chances from it. Their efforts were restricted to free kicks from range. Said kicks were then executed poorly, flying high and wide into the visiting supporters behind the goal. Some heroic defending from Lewis Dunk on a couple of occasions kept the Albion clean sheet intact. A bizarre moment with ten minutes remaining saw the home side almost caught out from a long throw as it was headed on for substitute Tyler Walker. Dunk used his body to shield off Walker just yards away from the goalline before his teammates could scramble clear. The defender’s performance earned him Sky’s Man of the Match award.

Albion too offered rather little after the goal went in. Whilst not being threatened too much, they also didn’t look like adding more to the tally as the game fizzled out towards the end. It finished one-nil, Brighton’s first home win since March, their first home goal in over seven hours of football. After a poor start last time, it was all the more important this campaign to get off to a good one. Even if it was just to boost the confidence and belief of the fans, as they sang “We’re top of the League!” upon the final whistle.

61FOR Man of the Match

BRIGHTON 1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0
LuaLua

61FOR Replay 61FOR Goal

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

NEXT; #62 BURNLEY 1-1 BRIGHTON 22/11/2015

Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe opening months of Brighton’s 2013/14 campaign had mixed results. After spending much of the early stages around the middle of the table, a key victory over high-flying Leicester City at The Amex seemed to kick start Albion’s push up towards the coveted Play Off places. January saw Brighton make the top six for the first time in the season, albeit briefly. Consistency would be the key, converting losses to draws and draws to wins. Away from the pitch, the much-anticipated training ground neared completion. Just when things seemed to be coming together again, the transfer window robbed the squad of a number of key players as they were sold on to higher placed clubs. The season’s dramatic climax would go right down to the wire.

Here are some of the features and clips during the sole season under the reign of Oscar Garcia. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC, BT Sport and Sky Sports. This is part two, the first part is HERE.


Tour of new Training Ground in Lancing

SportsHub, BT Sport 1 (14th February 2014)

HUB Titles HUB Presenters

BT Sport launched on our televisions as the new rival to Sky on 1st August 2013. They wrestled Live Premier League rights away from ESPN and incorporated their FA Cup, Europa League and Rugby Premiership contracts to form a decent portfolio. To bulk up the daily schedules, BT had a plethora of magazine and news programmes coming Live from their Stratford home on the site of the London 2012 Olympic Broadcasting Centre during their first season on air. One of the regular shows was a daily news bulletin around 7pm weeknights, which began life simply as “BT Sport Live” before being rebranded as a more authoritatively named “SportsHub” after Christmas. The show was similar in remit to the “Sky Sports Centre” from the mid-1990s, the pre-cursor to Sky Sports News.

SportsHub aimed to bring us the day’s sporting news, supported with interviews and studio guests. The show uses a variety of hosts, from freelancers to their own talent, to front it. On this Friday 14th February edition, Helen Skelton and Chris Hollins were in the chair. Skelton rose to fame as the thirty-third presenter of flagship children’s show Blue Peter on the BBC for five years from 2008. Whilst there, she dabbled with primetime presenting on Countryfile and competing in the 2012 Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing. After leaving Blue Peter, she moved into sport with BT this season co-hosting coverage of the National League with Mark Clemmit as well as fronting their Women’s Super League matches.

Chris Hollins was also a familiar BBC name, having presented the sport on Breakfast for seven years from 2005. Joining BBC News in 1999, he reported at various major tournaments including the 2002 and 2010 World Cups and the Masters golf. His father, John, was He became a household name in 2009 winning Strictly and went on to front consumer shows Watchdog and Food Inspectors, and became a small part of BT’s output upon launch.

HUB Entrance HUB Perry

SportsHub went to visit the site of Brighton’s new training ground in Lancing, ahead of the Albion’s Live FA Cup appearance on BT against Hull the following Monday. The training ground wasn’t due to be completed until the summer so was still a work in progress, but the crux of the structure was in place. It promised to be a state-of-the-art world-class facility, with ‘Category One’ status – the highest that can be had – using the Elite Player Performance Plan mostly achieved by Premier League clubs. Around £32million was being invested by the club as they moved away from using the University to train in and had a base of their own.

First-team players Andrea Orlandi and Jake Forster-Caskey were shown around the site by Executive Director Martin Perry. All donning hi-vis jackets and hard hats, they made their way around the bricks and mortar to see just what the players would be getting, from first team all the way through the youth ranks and children’s levels. Martin Perry led the way for the Albion during the most difficult of times in the 1990s. He was part of the original consortium to buy the club in 1997 and became Chief Executive with the move to Withdean in 1999 – a position he held until 2012 when Paul Barber was appointed. Perry – along with former chairman Dick Knight – was at the forefront of all the public battles over planning permission for The Amex and did so again to bring this new training ground to fruition.

HUB Forster-Caskey HUB Orlandi

Jake Forster-Caskey rose up through the youth academy at the Seagulls, joining in 2007 at the age of fourteen. He gained a first team contract in April 2010 and immediately was named on the bench the following day. In the final match of that League One title winning campaign, he came on to make his debut. In doing so, he became the youngest Albion player ever. He featured with regularity during the 2013/14 campaign under Oscar Garcia having only made a handful of starts in previous years. He was always going to be a footballer as his father is former Reading midfielder Darren Caskey and is the stepson of ex-Albion striker Nicky Forster.

Andrea Orlandi joined the Seagulls from Swansea in August 2012. The winger spent five years in South Wales, signed by fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez, helping them to Premier League promotion. Orlandi began his career with Alaves of Spain but enjoyed more regular action with the Barcelona B team prior to his move to Britain. Orlandi compared this set up with the one he had at the Catalan giants; “Barcelona, when I was there, kind of built a new training ground and honestly it is similar to this one. I wouldn’t say that one is worse than the Barcelona one, which is incredible for Brighton.” After appearing regularly in his first season at the Albion, game time this campaign was much more limited.

HUB Corridor HUB Replica pitch

Martin Perry acted as tour guide for the two midfielders and us. He explained the Y shaped building, as seen upon entry, would split the facilities essentially into two halves; one half for the first team and the other half for the academy. Above left we see the trio standing in the corridor. Perry talked through the proposals; “You’ve got each age group working down the corridor.” The aim was to give a visual progression of literally working your way up the ages. Forster-Caskey pointed out the under-14 changing room where he would’ve started his journey had this been around then.

Perry pointed out the numerous surrounding pitches outdoors. One was specifically a soil-based pitch, whilst there was also space reserved for a synthetic pitch, a dreaded running hill and a specific surface for futsal. Orlandi was less than impressed by the running hill! The manager’s office had a wonderful windowed view overlooking a pitch that was an exact replica of the surface at The Amex, with the same dimensions and even undersoil heating (above right). This was all a million miles away from plodding around Hove Park and Waterhall.

HUB Building site HUB Studio

Most of the interior was still a way off completion so a lot was left to the imagination in terms of what Martin Perry was trying to have us visualise. For the players, luxuries such as a pool table, soft-seating areas and games consoles would all be included. Upstairs, a huge dining room and eating area was located opposite a gym, as they made their way around the builders working hard to ensure delivery on time and on budget. The whole place sounded incredible, especially given how far the club had come in a short space of time.

Back in the studio, guest Clarke Carlisle gave his take on the facilities. “If they can ally those facilities with a level of coaching you get at, say, the likes of Southampton, two or three players through the system and it’ll pay for itself.” The former Blackpool and Burnley centre half continued, “It will enable them to get the quality of player that’s usually monopolised by the Premier League clubs.” That being the Division Brighton were now aiming to be in, sooner rather than later.


2

Craig Mackail-Smith’s injury rehab

FL72 Preview, Sky Sports 1 (20th February 2014)

FL1 Titles FL1 Studio

Brighton featured on Sky Sports Thursday evening lookahead FL72 Preview on 20th February, as they went to the home of Craig Mackail-Smith as the striker was slowly on his way back and off the treatment table. Having missed almost a year through an injured achilles, there was finally some light in the darkness for the Seagulls one-time record signing.

Long-serving host, and ultimate professional, George Gavin was joined in the cafe setting of Sky Studios for this edition by the Portsmouth manager Richie Barker. The Sheffield-born striker spent eighteen months with the Albion in the late 1990s during the club’s spell ground sharing with Gillingham. More recently, as a manager he was up the road with Crawley Town before moving to Pompey.

FL1 CMS

Craig Mackail-Smith talked us through his spell on the sidelines and how important it was for him to return at the right time. “I don’t wanna come back and I’m struggling, and people start saying ‘Oh, he’s not the same as he was before the injury.’ I wanna come back and I wanna hit the ground and I wanna be flying.” The hardest part for him was the mental strain, not being able to play and do something he loved but seeing the rest of the squad doing so on a daily basis. “Now it’s getting closer and it’s weeks and weeks, I’m kind of getting more and more excited because I know it’s not too far away. But at the beginning it was like, flipping hell, this is gonna be a drag.”

Mackail-Smith earned much attention the season before joining the Albion, scoring an incredible thirty-five goals for Peterborough as they achieved promotion to the Championship via the Play Offs. In the first of his four seasons with the Posh, he helped the club move from League Two up to League One. Prior to joining, he spent three years at Dagenham in the Conference. He made seven international appearances for Scotland, scoring one goal in 2011.

FL1 Rehab FL1 Family

We were shown footage of some of the recovery he was going through to rehabilitate his injured ankle. A lot of fitness work, building up strength and small steps progressing as the weeks and months went by.

During his time on the sidelines, Mackail-Smith’s first child was born; daughter Isla. His wife Amber is the daughter of former Peterborough manager, chairman, owner and all-round character Barry Fry, who even assisted with the delivery of the baby! Mackail-Smith believed his daughter had helped him through the pain of being on the sidelines and something he focus on.

FL1 Training FL1 Barker

The thing strikers miss most is scoring goals. He recalled a nice story from a recent training session, where he was allowed to join in with the squad at The Amex. “I scored a goal against Casper [Ankergren] and all of them started cheering, making loads of noise and it was just such a great feeling.” Such a huge part of Mackail-Smith’s game, particularly for Brighton where he was often isolated up top, was about running here, there and everywhere. It was important that he could still bring this to the team despite such a long time out. He paid special tribute to his physio, Steve McAleer, and would be the first person he’d celebrate with upon his comeback. His focus now was to be back fit in time to elevate Brighton into those Play Off spots.

Back in the studio, guest Richie Barker could empathise with Craig’s situation. His own career was ended earlier than he’d have liked through a knee injury, and stressed the importance of making a full recovery, not returning too early but would be very welcome when fit. “They’ve done OK over the last couple of weeks but he’d be a timely boost, I’m sure, for everybody at Brighton to have him back for the last ten games or so.” The club sat four points off sixth place and with a game in hand.

FL1 Leeds win FL1 Fixtures

George Gavin and Richie Barker discussed Brighton’s prospects. They talked through the only goal of the game as Brighton defeated Leeds one-nil last time out in the League. A burst from the halfway line to the penalty box down the left flank from Kazenga LuaLua created the chance for Leonardo Ulloa. He took one touch to set it up before flicking the ball with the outside of his foot, whilst in mid-air, into the net past the Leeds goalkeeper.

Barker was positive about Albion’s Play Off chances when asked if he thought they could make it again. “I do, yeah, just because I think The Amex is such a tough place to go and the way that they play with the possession that I can’t see many teams coming away with anything.” Crucial games were upcoming, with fellow hopefuls Wigan up next followed by key clashes with Reading and QPR to follow.


3

Brighton 1-2 Wigan Report

The Football League Show, BBC One (22nd February 2014); Championship

WIGH Titles WIGH Clemmit

The Football League Show brought highlights and round ups of all the action from the three Divisions on Saturday 22nd February. Presented by the usual pairing of Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge, the show had extended highlights of Charlton against Queens Park Rangers as well as the Sky Live lunchtime clash between Middlesbrough and Leeds. But our focus was on The Amex as the race for the Play Off places intensified. Roving reporter Mark Clemmit watched on as Brighton hosted Wigan.

WIGH Clem WIGH Garcia

Clemmit introduced his report in the North Stand by recapping on the end of Albion’s last season, and that dreadful defeat to Crystal Palace. “Last season’s Play Off’s ended messily for Brighton, in more ways than one!” he joked. Before bringing us up to date with the current situation, managed by former Barcelona midfielder Oscar Garcia who, Clem explained, “lists Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Sir Bobby Robson and Johan Cruyff amongst his mentors”.

Clemmit caught up with the coach in the dressing room warm up area. He asked him about the so-called ‘Barcelona way’ of playing and if it remains with you throughout your career. “Yeah”, Garcia replied, “I grow with this philosophy, I grow as a person as well and, yes, it’s in my blood.” Fellow Spaniard Inigo Calderon said of his coach, “When you have a lot of managers you just take the best things of everyone. That’s the way you have to improve, we are lucky with that.”

WIGH Barber WIGH Reporter

Chief Executive Paul Barber explained the reasons for appointing Garcia to the Albion from Israel side Maccabi Tel Aviv. “The style of play was the most important factor and I think our fans have become accustomed to a style of play. We had the players to play our sort of way, pass and move, attacking football. Oscar plays that style.” The final word went back to Garcia himself, before we saw action from the clash with Wigan. He said, “What I want is to keep going, to keep improving, to keep being better every day and this is our philosophy.”

As with all Mark Clemmit reports on The Football League Show, he focussed on the before and after of a match whilst one of the voiceover reports described the match clips. Today it fell to Tom Skippings, a veteran of the art of football narration. He was a mainstay of ITV’s Football League Extra and The Championship during the 2000s as well as doing the same for Sky Sports in the late 1990s. As a freelance, he added his talents to the BBC’s version in the 2010s to maintain a long working relationship with England’s lower Leagues.

WIGH McArthur goal WIGH McCann goal

This was a busy period for the Seagulls, with an FA Cup Replay scheduled for Monday night against Hull Live on ITV4 following the previous Monday’s one-all draw. With games coming thick and fast, tiredness crept in and Wigan were gifted their opening goal. Matthew Upson’s attempt at a pass on the centre spot was charged down by James McArthur who then ran all the way to the edge of the penalty area. Still with much to do, he curled a left footed shot round Upson, past Tomasz Kuszczak and into the bottom corner of the net for one-nil.

Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens signed from Charlton in the January transfer window after an impressive spell with the Addicks. He went close twice in this match, first with a header just wide whilst the game was goalless, and second with a shot that crashed down off the crossbar. Into the second half, those misses proved crucial as Wigan doubled their lead through Chris McCann. He headed in from a corner on the far side after winning the tussle with David Lopez.

WIGH Ulloa goal WIGH Studio

With twelve minutes remaining, Leonardo Ulloa scored his fourth goal in four matches to halve the deficit. Matthew Upson headed down an Andrea Orlandi corner, it ricocheted off a Wigan body into the path of the Argentine finisher to strike from six yards out, hitting through the bodies on the line. It wasn’t enough to rescue a point, even with a late long-range effort from Rohan Ince going close. Wigan took maximum points and an advantage into the hunt for a top six position.

Afterwards, Garcia spoke with Clemmit to explain how undeserving his side were not to get anything from that performance. “We played, in the first half, their best game of the season. We had more than twenty chances to score and we only took one.” Wigan boss Uwe Rosler called the Albion “a fantastic footballing side” with a good squad, delighted to come away with a victory.

Pundit Steve Claridge in the studio gave his thoughts on Oscar Garcia’s season so far. “He’s got a wonderful squad, they have lost one or two important players, but when you take over a football club, normally it’s under circumstances where the manager hasn’t done very well and he’s had to move on.” He then questioned what Brighton’s ambitions were; having made the Play Offs last season would it be a failure if they weren’t to do the same this year? He summed up by saying, “I think he’s done OK; I still think there’s a little room for improvement.”


4

Brighton 1-1 Reading Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (8th March 2014); Championship

READ Titles READ Studio

After the Wigan defeat, Brighton lost to Hull in the FA Cup Fifth Round Replay, leaving the Seagulls free to concentrate fully on the League campaign as we entered the final third. A David Lopez penalty was the decider in a close fought tie at Millwall last time out, keeping Albion in eighth place on the fringes of the top six. Next up they hosted a Reading side also hoping to extend their season beyond the regular forty-six League matches.

The Football League Show afforded the clash extended highlights, presented by Manish Bhasin with Steve Claridge. Seventh placed Reading had a disappointing draw with struggling Yeovil, who finished with eight men, last week and had lost their last two at home. They were hoping life on the road would continue to bring more joy. After a televised goalless draw at the Madejski back in September in the League, the Albion knocked out Reading at The Amex in the FA Cup Third Round back in January thanks to an Andrew Crofts winner. Another similar result would be even better today.

READ Teams.JPG

Brighton changed two of the line-up that defeated Millwall. Rohan Ince and Jake Forster-Caskey came into the midfield, replacing Dale Stephens and Andrea Orlandi. Exciting attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard joined on loan from Manchester United at the end of February until the end of the season. The twenty-one-year-old made his Albion debut at Millwall and previously had a loan spell with Birmingham in this Division, where he hit four goals in his first match. Brighton were the lowest scorers amongst any of the top eighteen in the Championship, Leonardo Ulloa’s nine League goals were carrying a lot of the weight following Ashley Barnes departure to Burnley in January. He remained the second top scorer with five.

For Nigel Adkins’ Reading, four changes were made from the Yeovil performance. They had to rely on a John Lundstram own goal to cancel out Shane Duffy’s opener that day. Royston Drenthe made his first start of 2014. The Dutch winger spent four years at Real Madrid before a season-long loan deal saw him move to Everton. Captain Danny Guthrie spent time in the youth ranks of both Liverpool and Manchester United. Striker Adam Le Fondre was leading the club’s goalscoring charts, just as he had done for each of the previous two seasons in Berkshire. He was partnered up top by Welshman Hal Robson-Kanu. The referee was Fred Graham.

READ Comm READ Own Goal

Commentary was provided by Paul Walker. He had done voiceover reporting for The Football League Show in previous seasons but was now getting a run out as a commentator. He was a more familiar voice to listeners of local BBC radio in Sheffield, hosting their Saturday sports programme and phone-in show, as well as covering a variety of events right across the station.

Brighton began well, knocking the ball around with confidence and style. A nicely worked move caused confusion in the Royals backline and Chris Gunter nodded into his own net to give Albion the lead just after the quarter-hour mark. Ulloa, Lingard and Keith Andrews formed a neat triangle of passing before finding David Lopez. His ball over the top aimed to match Lingard’s run. As Alex McCarthy recklessly abandoned his goal line to claim the cross, an unaware Gunter tried to calmly head back to his goalkeeper. But with the net empty, he only succeeded in nodding the ball home.

READ Greer red card READ Drenthe goal

Six minutes into the second half, Brighton were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of captain Gordon Greer. He was shown receiving a yellow card for pulling down Adam Le Fondre in the first half action and received a second caution for a late challenge on the same man despite the protestations from the men in stripes. It seemed a rather petty yellow card to award from the referee for just a block.

Reading punished Brighton with their man advantage, as Royston Drenthe cut inside from the right of the area to equalise. He took a touch to move the ball onto his left foot before unleashing a fierce drive low to Tomasz Kuszczak’s left, catching the ‘keeper cold and squeezing the ball into the corner of the net inside the near post. It was the power in the shot that defeated him more than anything, and Reading were level just after the hour point. He made a point of running straight to the touchline where former Albion player, coach and manager Dean Wilkins stood. Wilkins had fallen out somewhat with the club since his surprise dismissal back in 2008. He went on to link up with Nigel Adkins first at Southampton before again with the Royals.

READ Corner Post READ Full Time

Chances fell to both sides to win it in the closing stages. Nick Blackman had an effort comfortably kept out by Kuszczak whilst the Albion had a rare venture forward when substitute Will Buckley was put through by Leonardo Ulloa. Buckley’s left footed shot just inside the box was dragged a foot or so wide of the far post. The best opportunity, though, was from Reading’s Jobi McAnuff after just coming on. He latched onto the ball before Bruno could attempt a backpass, racing clear on goal. Kuszczak stood tall and firm to deny him brilliantly. A bizarre moment at the other end saw another sub, Solly March, hit the post direct from his corner, almost catching McCarthy unawares. But it wasn’t to be and it ended all square.

In his post-match interview, Oscar Garcia spoke of the character of his players to hold out despite the dismissal of the skipper. “I’m very proud of all my players and the performance. Even though we had ten men, we created some good chances and we could have won.” A frustrated Nigel Adkins thought his side should have come away with all three points.

Steve Claridge told Manish Bhasin in the studio how the red card altered the game completely. “They [Reading] needed something like that to happen in this game and when it did, it changed the whole complexion because it was almost like a free-for-all but for both sides cos there were plenty of chances after that.” The draw kept both teams just outside the Play Offs but still in with a big shout come the final reckonings.


5

Push for the Play Offs

FL72 Preview, Sky Sports 1 (24th April 2014)

FL2 Titles FL2 Studio

Sky Sports looked ahead to the penultimate weekend of action across the Sky Bet Football League with magazine show FL72 Preview on Thursday 24th April, presented from the cafe in Sky Studios by main Live presenter Simon Thomas alongside Charlton midfielder Andy Hughes. The Sky Sports cameras were travelling down to The Amex to broadcast the following evening’s match between Albion and Yeovil Live. Ahead of that, reporter David Craig caught up with Oscar Garcia as his side sat seventh in the table and a point behind Reading in the final Play Off spot. They’d have to overtake the Royals across the final two matches to make the end of season showdown for a second successive season.

Brighton came unstuck in March, suffering three successive defeats to Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough. But since then they picked up form and started winning again to put them within touching distance of the Play Offs. Whilst it was still just out of their hands at this late stage, they’d be buoyed by excellent wins over Charlton and a four-win demolition of Champions Leicester on their own patch. Two more wins and they might be having to push back those summer holidays.

FL2 Garcia

Garcia set his mind firmly on securing a Play Off spot, he knew how much promotion would mean to the Albion. “You are playing and you are fighting for something special because this club hasn’t been in the Premier League and it will be a big achievement for us.” He wasn’t concerning himself about other teams and results, he knew he needed to do his job first and foremost and that was to win the remaining matches. Touching on the match against Yeovil in which the Glovers could be relegated, Garcia knew there were no easy games in the Division. “With the teams at the bottom, it’s hard to play well, to play comfortably. We always want to win; we are always positive with our substitutions.”

The Spaniard emphasised the dependency, if somewhat over-reliance, on Argentine front man Leonardo Ulloa. “When he scores, normally we win the game. Then it’s so important when he is fit and he can score goals.” The goalscoring struggles would be eased somewhat with the return to first team action of Craig Mackail-Smith now. “We wanted to have him back before, but it wasn’t possible.”

The old adage of experience being pivotal in high pressure games was not something Garcia wanted to focus on, with Albion only appearing in the Play Offs at this level once in the previous twenty years. Instead, he hoped the Seagulls desire would make the difference. Personally speaking, Garcia featured in a lot of big games as a player and could bring other experiences to the situation. “What I learned from my best coaches is this; that you have to be calm because you reached this stage because you were calm and you know how to play.”

FL2 Blackpool FL2 Ulloa

In the cafe, Simon Thomas and Andy Hughes discussed Garcia as well as Brighton’s form of late. The one-all draw with Blackpool on Easter Monday was a disappointing result given the two teams were at opposite ends of the table but it’s about picking up these points and not losing too much ground. Dale Stephens scored Brighton’s goal with a terrific strike from twenty-five yards out into the top corner of the net. An equally terrific equaliser was hit from outside the box former Seagull Stephen Dobbie.

They finished by turning their attention to two key men in the hunt for goals; Craig Mackail-Smith and Leonardo Ulloa. Hughes gave particular praise to the latter, putting him in the same bracket as the Championships leading marksmen Jamie Vardy, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes. Hughes pointed out that whilst the other names had been doing so in partnerships for promoted clubs, Ulloa tended to have to work on his own. “He’s pivotal, they play the ball into him, he holds the ball up, he gave the run-around to us the other week… He was the most impressive player on the pitch, for me.”


The season ended with two victories out of two as Brighton leapfrogged Reading into the final Play Off place. The last-gasp victory at Nottingham Forest, with Leonardo Ulloa’s headed goal in the final moments, provided Albion fans with one of their greatest away days in a decade. The journey of getting into the top six was, sadly, far greater than being in those Play Offs. An aggregate defeat to Derby by six goals to two showed the gulf in class, and the following day Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation as he felt he couldn’t do much more with what was available. But the job he did in somewhat difficult circumstances – taking over from a terrific job done by the previous manager, fans expectations on the up, yet key players sold off in January – Garcia’s reign has to be remembered as being a success. He was responsible for some great days which I’ll always look back fondly at. Brighton needed to rebuild over the following season if they were to mount a serious bid for top flight promotion.

This is the second part looking back at Season 2013/2014. The first part is available HERE.

 

#60: Brighton 0-2 Watford 25/04/2015

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

60WAT Titles.JPG

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

60WAT Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

60WAT Brighton

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

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

60WAT Subs 60WAT Watford

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

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

 

PRESENTATION TEAM & COVERAGE

60WAT Ident 60WAT Thomas

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

60WAT Pitchside 60WAT Beagrie

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

60WAT Race for Promotion 60WAT Split screen interview

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

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

60WAT Studio 60WAT Interviews

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

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

60WAT Fixtures 60WAT Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

60WAT Kick Off 60WAT Comms

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

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

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

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

60WAT Deeney goal 60WAT Analysis

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

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

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

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

60WAT Table top 60WAT Table bottom

BRIGHTON 0 WATFORD 2
Deeney, Vydra

60WAT Replay.JPG

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

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

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

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

59BOU Titles

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

59BOU Ident 59BOU Sponsor 59BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE TEAMS

59BOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

59BOU Subs 59BOU Bournemouth

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

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

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

 

THE COVERAGE & PRESENTATION TEAM

59BOU Thomas 59BOU Anderton

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

59BOU Pitchside 59BOU Hughton split screen

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

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

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

59BOU Carayol 59BOU Studio

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

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

59BOU Match Stats 59BOU Coming Up

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

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

59BOU Kick Off 59BOU Comms

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

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

59BOU Kermorgant goal 59BOU Wilson goal

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

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

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

59BOU Top 59BOU Bottom

BRIGHTON 0 BOURNEMOUTH 2
Kermorgant, Wilson

59BOU Replay

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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

#55: Derby 4-1 Brighton 11/05/2014

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

DERA Titles

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

DERA Ident DERA Sponsor DERA Intro

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

DERA Derby DERA Subs DERA Brighton

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

DERA Thomas DERA Rosler DERA Studio

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

DERA Garcia DERA Analysis

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

DERA Kick Off DERA Comms

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

DERA LuaLua DERA Pitch Invasion

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

DERA Schedule

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

DERA Replay

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

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

#54: Brighton 1-2 Derby 08/05/2014

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

DER Titles

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

DER Ident DER Sponsor DER Intro

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

DER BrightonDER Derby DER Subs

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

DER Thomas DER Beagrie DER Pitchside DER Studio

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

DER Form DER Garcia pre match DER MOTM Award DER Analysis

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

DER Kick Off DER Comms DER Lingard goal DER McGhee

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

DER Own Goal DER Action Areas

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

DER Coming Up

BRIGHTON 1 DERBY 2
Lingard Martin, Kuszczak own goal

DER Replay DER Goal

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

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

#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

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

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

BOU Titles

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

BOU Ident BOU Sponsor BOU Intro

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

BOU Bournemouth BOU Subs BOU Brighton

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

BOU Thomas BOU Beagrie BOU Studio BOU Pitchside 

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

BOU Form BOU Split Screen BOU Sub BOU Coming Up

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

BOU Kick Off BOU Comms BOU Crofts BOU Barnes

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

BOU Table

BOURNEMOUTH 1 BRIGHTON 1
Ritchie Barnes

BOU Replay BOU Goal

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

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

#48: Brighton 1-1 Watford 28/10/2013

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

WAT Titles

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

WAT Ident WAT Sponsor WAT Intro

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

WAT Brighton WAT Subs WAT Watford

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

WAT Thomas WAT Virgo WAT Studio

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

WAT Delay WAT Team   WAT Possession WAT Half Time Stats

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

WAT No Goal WAT Greer

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

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 1
Crofts Murray

WAT Replay WAT Goal

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

FL72 Titles FL72 Studio

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

FL72 Split Screen FL72 Hinchcliffe

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

WAT Garcia

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

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