#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; Leicester (H) 07/12/2013

Small Screen Seagulls LogoPicking up the pieces after the fallout from the Play Off defeat and departure of manager Gus Poyet, the 2013/2014 campaign had a mixed start for the Seagulls under new head coach Oscar Garcia. Approaching the half way point of the season, Albion spent most of that first period hovering in mid-table. More draws than wins were costing the club in the race to make the top six for the second successive season. Just when form looked to be improving, the Championship would throw a surprise result curve ball. In the first week of December, table-topping Leicester City were next to visit The Amex. The BBC highlights show went on the road to present from Falmer with extended coverage of this memorable match.


Brighton 3-1 Leicester, Championship; 3pm, Sat 7th Dec ’13

The Albion didn’t get off to the best of starts in the League under new coach Oscar Garcia. The former Barcelona midfielder lost his opening two Championship matches – away at Leeds and home to Derby – despite an encouraging 100% record in pre-season. The season properly launched with back-to-back victories over Birmingham and Burnley before three successive draws cemented a mid-table spot early on.

Form dropped off in October with a complete lack of victories. A point was rescued with just a minute to play at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The following Saturday saw a disappointing blow dealt by Nottingham Forest as they came from behind to take all three points at The Amex. Draws at Yeovil and home to Watford closed a famished month which saw Brighton slip out of the top half.

A terrific November came next, with important wins at Doncaster and Blackburn, plus a crucial victory at fellow promotion hopefuls Wigan, saw the club begin to climb again. A one-all draw at fellow South Coast club Bournemouth Live on Sky Sports saw another point added to the tally. Just when things were going well, struggling Barnsley claimed a shock midweek victory in Falmer as Paddy McCourt helped the Tykes to all three points. Brighton went into this clash with Leicester in eleventh place.

The Foxes, by contrast, were enjoying a sensational season. Five wins from the opening seven matches saw them hit top spot in mid-September under Nigel Pearson’s leadership. Two losses and a draw from their next nine saw them bounce around the top three in subsequent weeks. A convincing three-nil win over Millwall sent Leicester back on top but, like the Albion, went into this clash with a surprising midweek defeat, losing two-one at Hillsborough. It was all set up for an entertaining match at The Amex. Sky Sports highlights come later, but first; the BBC’s Football League Show made the trip to Sussex for a rare opportunity to host the programme on location.

1

The Football League Show, BBC One, 11.50pm (Saturday 7th December 2013)

FLSL Titles

FLSL Ident FLSL Introduction

Clubs from Leagues One and Two had FA Cup duties to fulfil on the weekend of the 7th December, leaving the Championship to take centre stage. As a result, the BBC decided to present their highlights programme on location from Saturday’s biggest match. Thankfully for the Albion, this meant the spotlight on The Amex as the League leader Leicester paid a visit.

With just one of the three Divisions in action, the programme ran for a reduced forty-minute duration beginning just before midnight and following on from Match of the Day. The BBC were in festive mode, with special Christmas idents used throughout December across their output. After the ident, the show’s titles kicked in with classic Football League clips and memories soundtracked by Snow Patrol’s In the End.

FLSL Bhasin FLSL Comm

As usual, Manish Bhasin hosted the programme. Since The Football League Show launched in 2009, Bhasin rarely missed an episode. But even rarer was to present it from a Football League ground so The Amex was granted special treatment. The previous highlights incarnation, ITV’s The Championship, always presented from the stadium and today’s edition felt very much a throwback to that era. So much so that the BBC went without a pundit as Bhasin just linked things together on his own from various points around the ground.

In fact, Bhasin even kicked it off at one of Brighton’s most iconic landmarks, in front of the Palace Pier on the Seafront. He also walked past the Brighton Wheel. Similar in principle to the London Eye, Brighton’s version opened in October 2011 costing £6million to transport it from South Africa where it was used during the 2010 World Cup. After outlining what was to come during this edition of the popular highlights show, Bhasin handed to match commentator Laurence Herdman, who was incorrectly captioned as ‘Lawrence’.

Herdman began his broadcasting life relatively later than most, having had a career in the Royal Navy for seventeen years and served in the Gulf War. He joined BBC Radio Solent in 2002, specialising in football and sailing commentary. Herdman made his BBC Match of the Day commentary debut in November 2011 and followed it up with appearances on The Football League Show. He added television reporting to his repertoire early in 2012, covering news and sport for BBC South Today. He was also heard on ITV covering the FA Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.

FLSL Brighton

Oscar Garcia was having to make do without talisman Leonardo Ulloa. The Argentine striker missed large chunks of the campaign firstly through a red card against Reading Live on Sky in September, then injury forced him out since early October. Ashley Barnes’ four goals in all competitions helped counter the issue. Adding his name to the sidelines, first choice goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak got injured in the warm up, elevating Peter Brezovan to a starting spot for the first time this campaign. Youngster Christian Walton also was promoted to the bench.

Gordon Greer marshalled the back line, captaining the Albion for another year. He was partnered by vastly experienced former England centre half Matt Upson. The defender was on loan from Stoke for the second half of the last season before joining permanently in the summer on a one-year deal. Following Wolves relegation to the third tier, confirmed at The Amex in May, left-back Stephen Ward moved to Sussex on a season-long loan. Protecting the defence was Liam Bridcutt, winner of the Albion Player of the Season for each of the previous two years.

David Lopez was part of the Athletic Bilbao side that finished runner-up in the 2012 UEFA Europa League before moving to England later that year. Rohan Ince was initially signed for the development squad in February before Garcia promoted him to the first team at the start of this season. Andrew Crofts added goals to his game, netting the winner at Wigan a fortnight ago. Scottish winger Craig Conway joined on a three-month loan from Cardiff back in September. The last goal he scored secured the draw Cardiff needed to secure the Championship title on their way to Premier League promotion. A striking option on the bench sat Leroy Lita, leaving Swansea for a short-term loan in mid-October.

FLSL Leicester

Nigel Pearson’s starting line-up featured a man with big connections to the Albion. Midfielder Dean Hammond left Brighton for Colchester in 2008 after a decade with his home club man and boy. The following season he joined Southampton where he got his career back on track, overturned a financial points deduction, became captain and won back-to-back promotions from League One all the way up to the Premier League. After struggling to nail down a place in the top flight last year, he rejoined the Seagulls on loan for the campaign and made a permanent switch to Leicester this August.

Elsewhere, star names included Peter’s son and Danish international goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. Experienced centre back and former Nottingham Forest man Wes Morgan skippered the side. Impressive young midfielder Danny Drinkwater was a youth product at Manchester United before joining the East Midlanders in 2012. Winger Lloyd Dyer joined from Milton Keynes in 2008 and was signed by Pearson during his first spell in charge.

Striker Jamie Vardy spent the best part of a decade in non-League with Stocksbridge then Halifax Town before firing Fleetwood to the Conference title in 2012. That earned him a £1million transfer to Leicester, a record fee for a player outside the top four Divisions in this country. Chris Wood played more than thirty games for the Albion on loan in the League One title winning side, scoring nine goals. He took his place on the bench today alongside French winger Anthony Knockaert. In front of the highest Football League attendance of the weekend, referee Bobby Madley took charge at The Amex.

FLSL Barnes 1st FLSL Conway goal

The eight-minute highlights edit began with stand-in ‘keeper Brezovan forced into making a good, low save from Danny Drinkwater’s effort. The midfielder marauded through a couple of Albion defenders before getting his shot off from the edge of the box. But it was the home side who took the lead thanks to a terrific through ball from David Lopez for Ashley Barnes to finish. The midfielder, affectionately known as ‘Spanish Dave’, drove forward twenty yards to the edge of the box. His assist was inch-perfect to the back post where Barnes evaded his marker to tap home from close range. But it was all about that pass which cut out three Leicester defenders and the goalkeeper to give the Albion a ninth-minute lead.

Brighton were stroking the ball around with confidence. They were rewarded with a second goal just before the half hour mark when, again, David Lopez was central to all things good for the Seagulls. The Spaniard picked up the ball mid-way inside his own half and pushed forward with purpose. He delayed the pass over the top until the right moment. Craig Conway’s run was timed brilliantly, his pace and determination getting the better of the back four. The pass landed on Conway’s chest, who controlled outstandingly to drop it down to his feet, wait for it to settle and bury past Schmeichel into the bottom corner of the net for his first Albion goal. It was one of the best counter-attacking goals seen at The Amex, magic from start to finish, only needing a couple of touches in the process. The Seagulls were flying high against the leaders.

FLSL King goal FLSL Leicester go close

Into the second half, Leicester had to make a change if they were to force their way back into the contest. Anthony Knockaert replaced Dean Hammond to provide more flair and attack. Later, they added former Brighton loanee Chris Wood, along with Gary Taylor-Fletcher, to the mix. The extra threat up top seemed to work as, with twenty-six minutes to go, Leicester pulled a goal back through Andy King. Knockaert floated in a free kick from the far side which missed the large group of bodies in the centre. But unmarked at the back post was King who executed a lovely diving header to power the ball past Brezovan from close range. The delivery was good, but the marking was dreadful. Game on again at two-one Brighton.

The Foxes tails were up and pushing for an equaliser. Knockaert again was causing problems. His cross into the box from the right this time found its way to Taylor-Fletcher. Not learning from previous mistakes, he too was left unmarked. His header was just too high, with Brezovan needing to palm it behind above the crossbar just to make sure. Soon after, when Liam Bridcutt was dispossessed in his own half, Paul Konchesky bundled his way forward. His blocked shot squirmed out to Taylor-Fletcher in the area. Brighton bodies stood firm not once but twice. The ricochet found King but his instinctive shot wasn’t powerful enough, allowing Brighton’s Slovakian goalie to maintain concentration and gather the ball into grateful arms.

FLSL Penalty incident FLSL Barnes penalty

As commentator Laurence Herdman pointed out, “the more Leicester City commit players forward, the more open spaces there will be at the back”. Right on cue, Brighton broke forward down the right with Conway. His ball was centred towards Ashley Barnes but as he leaped, Leicester centre back and captain Wes Morgan clattered into him to send Barnes sprawling. Referee Bobby Madley pointed to the spot and Brighton had a chance to restore the two-goal advantage, perhaps somewhat innocuously, with thirteen to play.

The visiting ‘keeper tried to convince Barnes he was aware of where the spot kick was going, repeatedly nodding his head and shouting “I know, I know”. But Kasper Schmeichel didn’t know, and Barnes converted the penalty for his second goal of the game. He smashed it down the middle, just past the Danish stopper who dived to his right. Schmeichel close but not close enough and Barnes could repay the taunting by pointing to the name on the back of his shirt right in front of the beaten player.

FLSL Full Time

FLSL Garcia FLSL Pearson

The full-time whistle blew to signify a huge win for Brighton and Hove Albion, probably the biggest in Oscar Garcia’s short time at the club to date. Manish Bhasin spoke with the Spanish manager pitchside after the result. A positive Garcia said, “I think the first half was our best performance, for sure, here at home… We needed a reaction and we did it. The performance of the players was really good.”

Losing boss Nigel Pearson drew comparisons with his side’s disappointing defeat to Sheffield Wednesday four days earlier, in his interview with Bhasin. “We’ve had two particularly poor first halves, we’ve conceded some cheap goals and given ourselves an awful lot to do.” He was more pleased with how the second half went at The Amex though credited the Albion as “a decent side”.

FLSL Presenting 1 FLSL Reporter

The rest of the programme was devoted to rounding up all the Championship action. Manish Bhasin hung around to link the action together, presenting from various points around The Amex stadium. The first of the voiceover wraps began with Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers hosting Blackburn, as the programme worked its way down the League from top to bottom.

FLSL Presenting 2 FLSL Round Ups

Voiceover reporters Chris Maughan, Jonathan Legard and Tony Lockwood put the carefully crafted words to the pictures. A second Championship game was afforded a full highlights edit with commentary; the day’s eventful lunchtime match Live on Sky Sports as Blackpool hosted Derby. Dan O’Hagan voiced the best of that one on a miserable afternoon for ‘Pool gaffer Paul Ince. The round-ups then continued, wrapping up the rest of the games starting with Huddersfield’s trip to Portman Road featuring a bearded Mick McCarthy.

FLSL Table top FLSL Table bottom

The final few minutes were devoted to showing the goals from the only two matches played in the bottom two Divisions with the teams knocked out of the First Round of the Cup taking the stage. Eighteen-year-old Jack Grealish’s goal inspired Notts County to victory over Gillingham in League One, whilst in League Two a late goal for Cheltenham saw off Morecambe.

A look at the League table showed the importance of Brighton’s three-one scoreline for both teams. Leicester slipped from first to third as Sean Dyche’s Burnley marched to the summit. Brighton were now within three points and four places of the top six. At the bottom, it was already looking bleak for Yorkshire as Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday occupied the final two positions and Doncaster looking over their shoulders in twentieth. Orient and Wolves led the way in League One. And in League Two, Torquay’s Football League status looked insecure, rooted to the foot of the entire structure. After a quick look around the messy state of the home dressing room at The Amex, Manish Bhasin signed off on a memorable day for those in blue and white.


2

FL72 Review, Sky Sports 1, 6pm (Monday 9th December 2013)

FL72 Titles FL72 Studio

As the exclusive Live broadcaster partner for the Football League, Sky Sports made use of those rights by having regular magazine programmes throughout the season. This campaign, they broadcast from the cafe in Sky Studios for the Thursday preview and Monday review shows, going under the FL72 banner. The cafe setting gave the programming a more informal feel, with Sky staff wondering around in the background getting fancy coffees and light snacks.

The shows used the same graphics and titles as the Live coverage, with the red and white astons. The theme tune remained Candi Staton’s You Got The Love. Long-serving presenter George Gavin regularly hosted the magazine shows, with his opportunities for Live games decreasing as the seasons went on. He was joined for this Monday evening edition by Sky’s number one Football League pundit, Peter Beagrie. They reviewed the weekend’s Championship action, as well as the two games from the other Divisions. Like the BBC, Sky did not hold FA Cup rights so more was made of this League to fill time over the weekend.

FL72 Comm FL72 Final Score

With only around a third of the usual amount of games to review this week, Sky put together a couple of extra highlight edits with commentary than the show usually would fit into its one-hour duration. Normally only commentary was reserved for recapping Sky’s Live matches over the course of a weekend but exceptions were made here. The highlights edit was largely similar to the BBC’s one, albeit slightly more condensed. They showed all four goals as well as a couple of other key chances over the space of five minutes.

Mark Tompkins was the man behind the mic calling the action from Brighton versus Leicester. Tompkins was a familiar voice at this level, voicing reports for various highlights shows on Sky, ITV Sport Channel and BBC over the previous fifteen years or so. His commentary work was largely for the various world feeds and host broadcasters, particularly for FIFA and UEFA at tournaments – both major and minor.

FL72 Analysis FL72 Attendances

Back in the studio, George Gavin and Peter Beagrie dissected the game. Gavin in particular was full of praise for the David Lopez assist to open Austrian international Ashley Barnes’ account for the day; “Brilliant pass… I love the pass more than the goal!” Beagrie also singled out Albion midfielder Andrew Crofts as being pivotal in the centre. “He’s had a brilliant season. He’s added goals to his game but he’s also combative, he’s got a great range of passing.”

The studio team also mentioned the League attendances, with Brighton coming out on top as the best supported team in the Championship based on average number of fans buying tickets. Since moving from Withdean to The Amex, Albion’s attendances have gone through the roof. That was expected at the beginning, but stadium expansions happened within the first season as the demand for tickets quickly outgrew the capacity. Performances like this against top teams like Leicester would only increase the expectation and bring in even more people through those electronic barriers. Things were looking rosy for the Seagulls.

Small Screen Seagulls; Aldershot (A) 18/11/2000

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sBrighton negotiated a move back to Sussex to play at Withdean Stadium in 1999 and immediately took to the new, if unusual, surroundings. The first campaign there brought about the highest League finish for four seasons, ending the campaign in eleventh place in Division Three. Form towards the end was particularly impressive and had the season carried on for a few more games, the Albion might even had found themselves close to a Play Off spot. Things were on the up and, in Micky Adams, the club had a bright, young manager who resonated with players and fans alike. After starting the 2000/01 campaign brightly, a tricky trip to non-League Aldershot awaited in the First Round of the FA Cup. This garnered interest from BBC Match of the Day with the potential for a Cup upset on the cards. Could the Seagulls avoid national embarrassment and progress through?


Aldershot 2-6 Brighton, FA Cup Round 1; 3pm, Sat 18th Nov ’00

ALD Titles

Beginning in 1964 to help build the public interest in football ahead of the World Cup to be staged across the country two years later, Match of the Day went on to become one of the most iconic and recognised sporting television brands. The early years had highlights of one pre-selected game per week, hence the name, the show then expanded at the end of the decade to incorporate further matches on firstly a regional, then a national basis. By the 1980s there were three fixtures selected for extended action on MotD, before losing the top flight League action in 1988. For the following four years it was FA Cup all the way until the birth of the Premiership on Sky Sports in 1992. The BBC had the highlights of this exciting new Division and typically showcased the best of three games plus a goals round-up of the rest in both League and Cup. By the time tonight’s edition was on, in November 2000, Live FA Cup rights were with Sky and ITV but, curiously, highlights of the grand old competition remained with the BBC. Which brings us up to date ahead of this clash between Aldershot and Brighton. After seeing all the top flight goals, one match received the full MotD treatment from the First Round of the FA Cup and what better choice than the Albion? Gary Lineker presented from the studio at Television Centre in London, whilst Tony Gubba was dispatched to the corner of Hampshire to commentate on this potential Cup banana skin.


Match of the Day, BBC One, 10.30pm (Saturday 18th November 2000)

BBC One ident 2000 BBC Sport ident 2000

A mammoth one-hundred-minute Match of the Day was broadcast on BBC One in the regular 10.30pm slot on Saturday 18th November 2000. Earlier in the evening you could have seen Ant and Dec host Friends Like These after a bit of The Generation Game hosted by Jim Davidson. Classic Saturday night family entertainment, even with Davidson. The extended edition of the Beeb’s long-running highlights programme was to incorporate the best of the FA Cup action alongside the regular Premiership highlights, with a full round in swing. The famous globe idents were still being used and were followed by a quick BBC Sport sting before that unmistakable title music played. It was a big day of Premiership football, with both the Manchester and North East derbies taking place. Manchester United and Sunderland came out on top of those matches, respectively. Elsewhere Charlton defeated Chelsea, causing Alan Hansen bafflement at some of the Blues defending. And in the basement battle, Bradford remained rooted to the bottom after defeat at Derby. With the top flight action complete, attention could turn to the magic of the Cup. The first goals round-up came before the extended highlights of the Seagulls visit to this garrison town. Also making the trip would be commentator Tony Gubba, a regular across BBC’s sporting output since the 1970s. He covered every Olympics from 1972 and every World Cup from 1974. He also presented midweek highlights show Sportsnight for three years until 1975. Behind Motson and Davies in the football pecking order, Gubba would often cover more of the middle ranging matches but did voice a World Cup Semi Final in ’86 and the ’96 Charity Shield in amongst his wide range of other sports such as darts, ice skating and hockey. He was a true all-rounder.

ALD Lineker ALD Pundits ALD FA Cup graphic ALD Referee

Former Leicester, Tottenham, Everton and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker successfully made the transition from player to broadcaster after retirement in the early 1990s. He began as a pundit, making appearances on ITV during the World Cup whilst still a professional, before being given more regular work by the BBC when his playing career was drawing to a close. When he moved to Japan, he still cropped up on Match of the Day and BBC Radio 5 Live when available. He fully concentrated on his media aspirations after calling it a day in ’94 and wanted to go down the presenting route more so than sitting on the other side of the studio. He first big hosting role came in 1996 when he took over preview programme Football Focus from Steve Rider and went on to front Grandstand and Match of the Day as cover for the main hosts. His biggest gig came when Des Lynam transferred to ITV in August 1999 which enabled Lineker to step into the great man’s shoes and become the BBC’s face of football. He was joined in the MotD studio for this edition by regulars Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. The former Liverpool defenders were long-standing members of the BBC football team. Hansen joined in 1992 for the re-launch of the new Premiership-based programme, having tried his hand in the studio for Sky Sports on their Sunday afternoon Italian football matches the season before, straight out of retirement. With his distinctive Scottish accent and erudite analysis, Hansen quickly became one of the leading pundits on television and was the corporation’s first choice. Mark Lawrenson also began his punditry career elsewhere before becoming a mainstay of Match of the Day, with appearances on ITV’s Welsh and West Country region, HTV West, as well as Sky Sports Soccer Saturday and European matches. He had a brief spell coaching at Newcastle in the mid-90s before returning to the television studio and radio gantries with the BBC. The pairing was now their first choice studio pundits.


ALD Aldershot

The story of today’s hosts, Aldershot Town, is one of hope from despair. Their predecessors, Aldershot FC, racked up debts they just couldn’t afford to pay back and were wound up in March 1992. In doing so they became the first Football League club to go out of business during the season since Accrington thirty years earlier. Aldershot regrouped later in ’92, adopted the Town name and began life as a football club five Divisions lower than their March position; Isthmian League Division Three. Fans stuck with them with big attendances and success came quickly as they climbed back up the pyramid. Two promotions in the first two seasons saw them compete in the Isthmian League Division One by 1994, and the Premier Division by 1997, the level where they were at when Brighton came to town. This was one level below the Conference. Manager George Borg took over for the 97/98 campaign and gained promotion in his first year and local Cup joy in subsequent ones. The star name in his side was veteran striker Gary Abbott, a non-League legend showing no signs of slowing down at the age of thirty-six. He built a name for himself scoring goals for Welling in the 1980s, joined the Shots in 1998 and won last year’s Non-League Player of the Season. He’s partnered up top by Wayne Andrews, a pacy twenty-two-year-old signed from St Albans in February. Captain Mark Blake began at Southampton before spells at Fulham, Shrewsbury and Cannes in France. Winger Mark Graham enjoyed Football League experience, spending five years at QPR before moving on to Cambridge. Substitute Stafford Brown had a three-month spell with Brighton at the start of season 1998/99.

ALD Brighton

Micky Adams brought his side to Aldershot sitting second in the Division Three table and on course for promotion. He’d built a consistent core team with three starting all eighteen League matches thus far. Amongst those were top-scorer Bobby Zamora, with ten goals to his name, all coming at Withdean. His strike partner Gary Hart was also an ever-present, as was left-footed right-back Paul Watson. He was also a dead-ball specialist, adept at free-kicks and penalties. Combative midfielder Charlie Oatway returned to the starting line-up after suspension, receiving a red card in the top of the table defeat at Chesterfield. Alongside him was Richard Carpenter, who missed two matches in the early stages of the season but has been immovable since returning. The same goes for Danny Cullip, a rock at the back. Matthew Wicks was his centre-back partner, a former Arsenal and Manchester United youth prospect who joined initially on loan from Peterborough before making the switch permanent this year. The defence ably protected Dutch goalkeeper Michel Kuipers, signed on a free transfer from Bristol Rovers over the summer. Captain Paul Rogers had top flight experience with Sheffield United and even scored the winner for Wigan in the Auto Windscreens Shield Final at Wembley in 1998. Options from the bench included Scouse striker Lee Steele, tricky winger Paul Brooker and solid centre back Andy Crosby. Refereeing the contest was Paul Rejer.

ALD Carpenter 1-0 ALD 1st penalty challenge ALD 1st penalty ALD One One

The Albion got the game underway in the rain sodden pitch, kicking from right to left in the first half. It didn’t take them long at all to settle into the match, scoring the opener after just two minutes. Charlie Oatway was tripped by Ricard Gell around thirty yards from goal. Paul Watson with his left foot and Richard Carpenter with his right both stood over the set piece. It was the latter who struck it and struck it well (above, top left). It flew around the wall and into the back of the net, goalkeeper Pape was nowhere near it. The perfect start and what a fantastic goal from Carpenter. Commentator Tony Gubba drew comparisons with England’s own free kick specialist David Beckham, adding “he won’t have scored many better himself.” Aldershot got right back into the Cup tie around twenty-five minutes when Danny Cullip fouled Wayne Andrews in the box to concede a penalty. Kerry Mayo cut out Protheroe’s forward ball, diverting it into the area. Andrews got there quickest ahead of Cullip, whose outstretched leg brought the striker down (above, top right). The Shots talisman Gary Abbott stepped up and blasted his kick straight down the middle but, crucially, high enough for Kuipers not to get a meaningful hand to it, just fingertips on the way through (above, bottom left). One-one and it was game on at the Recreation Ground.

ALD Zamora challenge ALD Watson 1st pen

The pace of Andrews up top almost put the home side in the lead soon after the equaliser. He picked up a pass around the halfway line before going on a lightning run through to the area. Matthew Wicks did his best to stay with him all the way and just did enough, with Andrews forced slightly wide his shot smashed into the side netting. Brighton then began to take control of the match and should have taken the lead through Bobby Zamora. He latched onto a fantastic Watson cross, the header just not quite on target as it smacked against the crossbar and out to safety. Very unlucky. He was not to be deterred though as he raced onto a Kerry Mayo ball over the back line. Zamora’s first touch took him into the box out on the left whilst his second put the ball past the outrushing goalkeeper. Pape had already slid in and his arms caught Zamora to bring him down for a penalty, this time to the Albion (above left). It may have looked a little theatrical but the contact was there and enough to send Zamora flying and hand the ‘keeper a card. Paul Watson stepped up and converted the spot kick expertly (above right), tucked into the corner low and hard to his right to give Brighton a two-one lead right on half-time.

ALD Second Half ALD Oatway ALD Oatway goal 2 ALD One Three

Into the second period and it didn’t take Brighton long to extend their lead, beginning the second as brightly as they had the first half. A positive drive down the left flank from Welsh wizard Nathan Jones gained territory. His cut back found Charlie Oatway in space some twenty-two or so yards out. He took two touches to get the ball out of his feet before looking up and curling a shot magnificently into the top right-hand corner of the net (above, top right and bottom left). What a sensational goal! The rare sight of an Oatway goal must have caught everybody by surprise, particularly the extravagant manner of it. Commentator Tony Gubba called; “Good strike! Ohhhh well done Oatway. It’s three-one now, Brighton and that might well knock the stuffing out of Aldershot.” The replay from behind the goal showed just what a strike it was, no chance again for the goalie. Oatway notched his first of the campaign eight minutes into the second half and the travelling supporters began chanting and singing his name.

ALD 3rd penalty foul ALD Watson 2nd pen

There was no let up from Brighton, keen to get the game beyond the reach of the Reds. Zamora tried a long crossfield pass to Jones, which was just cut out by Protheroe. His header sent the ball bouncing around and into the penalty area. Pape came to claim but lost possession in a tussle with Jones. The ‘keeper then proceeded to drag the Welshman down in the resulting scramble (above left), with referee Rejer under no illusions and awarded the third penalty of the match. Paul Watson again took the kick and again sent it flying into the back of the net (above right). It was identical to his first in that it was struck low and hard into the bottom right-hand corner past the stretched arm of Pape, the only difference was it was now at the opposite end. It was another fantastic penalty and surely now the game was beyond the non-League outfit. Four-one the score at the hour mark as the rainfall got heavier in Hampshire.

ALD Subs ALD Zamora goal ALD Wicks goal ALD Wicks celebration

A triple substitution for Aldershot prompted a response, with one-time Albion man Stafford Brown bundling the ball into the goal. However it was deemed unfair by the referee who adjudged the number fifteen to have fouled Michel Kuipers. He pretty much jumped into him as Kuipers claimed a routine cross, with the result that both he and the ball ended over the line. A double sub of their own saw Lee Steele and Paul Brooker on for Albion. And a fifth came shortly after. Gary Hart’s cross from the right bounced up off a defender in the box and landed kindly at the back post for an unmarked Bobby Zamora to nod home from just a couple of yards out (above, top right) with a quarter of an hour to go. It was his first away goal of the season. And the rout was completed following an Oatway corner late on. Gary Hart hung out a leg to meet it fifteen yards from goal. His touch fell to Matthew Wicks on the edge of the six-yard box who instinctively prodded home (above, bottom left). It just needed a little touch as the combination of the slick surface and the close proximity to goal was too much to prevent it going in.

ALD Consolation ALD Goalscorers

A six-one scoreline perhaps flattered Brighton a little, who had been by far the better side but took their opportunities better and stood firmer. As commentator Gubba pointed out, “As the rain continues to fall, Aldershot’s defence proving as leaky as their guttering.” The giantkilling potential had long gone but there was still time for the home fans to cheer something as they scored a consolation second with a couple of minutes left. Some nice work from sub Brown presented Abbott with the ball near the eighteen-yard line. His fierce shot stung the palms of a diving Michel Kuipers to force a corner. The resulting set-piece was swung in to the near post and temporarily cleared after a scramble. Left-back Chewins crossed it back in high towards the back stick. Waiting there was, of course, Gary Abbott who arched his neck and powered a header across the face and into the corner of the net. It was a great header and no more than he deserved having worked tirelessly all game in difficult circumstances. And so they pulled one back to make the final scoreline Aldershot two, Brighton six. It was excellent reading for Seagulls supporters; the upset was avoided and then some! The ghosts of the previous non-League defeats to Kingstonian, Hereford and Sudbury were banished for now. National television highlights coverage was one to savour rather than peer behind the sofa at. Micky Adams and his men were through to Round Two.


ALD Scoreline ALD Borg ALD Adams

In the post-match interviews we heard from Shots boss George Borg as well as their scorer Gary Abbott. Borg was disappointed at half-time to have conceded so close to the break to go behind but remained gracious; “All credit to Brighton they played very well today, knocked it around and we’ve got no complaints really.” Abbott agreed that the first half penalty was the turning point after putting up a decent fight. Micky Adams returned the compliments to the hosts, saying “I thought they were terrific today. On their day I think they’ll cause teams a lot of problems.” The teams were friendly at full-time, applauding each other off the pitch after a crackingly entertaining and open Cup tie. However, it was not to last for Borg who left Aldershot later that month. Micky Adams meanwhile continued to lead Brighton on to greater things and sealed promotion from Division Three at the end of the season with the title trophy secured in the process.

ALD Studio ALD Lawrenson

With so many games and so many goals to cram in, there was no time for any analysis on Match of the Day back in the studio other than a brief word from former Albion defender Mark Lawrenson. He played over 150 times for the club in the late seventies and early eighties before securing his big move to Liverpool where he became a household name. After the ten minutes or so of match action, Lawrenson said “It’s always nice to see your old team do well. If you consider, what, two or three years ago could’ve gone out the League and could’ve actually been playing Aldershot in a League match. They’re doing very well in Division Three, right manager in Micky Adams and long may it continue.” Hear, hear, Lawro. And that was it as far as the Albion were concerned for this edition of the programme. Lineker introduced the rest of the round-ups before the long night was over. Brighton’s progress in the FA Cup came to an end in Round Two with a two-one defeat away at fellow Division Three side Scunthorpe. Better things were to come but for now, that six-two scoreline would do very nicely thank you very much. Six of the best.

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

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

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

1

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

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

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

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

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

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

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

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


2

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

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

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

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

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

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

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

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


3

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

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

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

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

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

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

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

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

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

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

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

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

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

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

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

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

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

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

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

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

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

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

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

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

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

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

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

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


Huddersfield Goodbye

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 1

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sThe media spotlight didn’t often shine on the Albion. Outside of the glorious run to the FA Cup Final, and Replay, in 1983, appearances on the television were rare. Goal clips were shown on the news and, if you were lucky, the Brighton game might have been selected for extended highlights on Match of the Day or The Big Match. Live games were even rarer, with the Seagulls on screen just three times in the 1980s and four in the 1990s. The satellite television boom didn’t really reach the South Coast until the 21st Century. The story of the club’s homelessness, two-year exile to Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium and twelve year stay at Withdean did garner some attention. Television helped play its part in this. This piece remembers some of the milestone matches Brighton played at their temporary abode. Our story begins on a sunny Saturday afternoon back in August 1999.

SUN Commentary Box

OPENING IN STYLE (7th August 1999) Division Three

Soccer Extra, Sky Sports 2; Brighton 6-0 Mansfield 

Mansfield Titles Mansfield Lorenzo

The long-awaited first League match back in Sussex could not have gone any better for Brighton and Hove Albion and their supporters. The two years sharing with Gillingham saw a continuation of the poor performances on the pitch, finishing 23rd and 17th at the foot of the English League structure. There was hope upon moving to Withdean that this would galvanise the fans and the team and finally start to turn the fortunes around. This six-nil thumping of Mansfield poured fuel to those fires. In the 1999/2000 season, lower League highlights were shown in the middle of Monday night on ITV’s Nationwide Football League Extra, regionally on the local ITV station on Sunday afternoons and on the Saturday evening news bulletins depending on how quick they could turn it around. Sky Sports held the exclusive Live rights, and with that they could show goals from all the other matches too. This took the shape of a weekly Football League Review studio show and Sunday morning goals round-up Soccer Extra, essentially the forerunner to what became the Chris Kamara-fronted Goals on Sunday. In this clip we have the goals from Soccer Extra presented by former ITV World Cup anchorman Matt Lorenzo, back on Sky fronting all sorts of magazine shows and the odd Live match, having rejoined in 1997. Nick London voiced the goals report.

Mansfield Intro Mansfield Lynam Mansfield Freeman first Mansfield Thomas

New ITV signing Des Lynam was in attendance (above, top right). His transfer away from Match of the Day meant he could now attend more Albion games with his Saturday afternoons freed up. The visiting team got off to a dreadful start when David Kerr was sent off after eleven minutes for use of the elbow in a challenge with Jamie Campbell. The rest of the day’s headlines were stolen by new boy Darren Freeman, who would forever be remembered for this debut hat-trick. His first came two minutes after the red, when the ball dropped nicely for him on the edge of the six-yard box following a free kick. He lashed it into the roof of the net from close range (above, bottom left). His second goal six minutes later came after a defensive mix up enabled him to nick the ball and get behind them. He rounded the goalkeeper for a cool finish. Into the second half, Rod Thomas made it three with a superb strike just inside the area (above, bottom right). The winger was signed ten months earlier from Chester after fans contributed money towards a ‘Buy a Player’ fundraiser.

Mansfield Freeman hat trick Mansfield Six

Freeman got his hat-trick after a neat through ball left him one-on-one with goalie Richardson. As he came rushing out, Freeman kept his nerve to slide it past him and hurdle the challenge. The covering defenders could only run back and watch as the ball rolled into the far corner for four-nil (above, left). The scoring didn’t end when Freeman was replaced, as substitute Aidan Newhouse bagged a brace in the final quarter of an hour. Newhouse joined from Swansea in the week of the game on a monthly rolling contract and wasted no time in opening his account. David Cameron battled on the far touchline to win the ball back and burst into the box. His cut back was hit first time into the roof of the goal for five. And the rout was complete when the same pair combined for Newhouse’s header to loop up over the goalkeeper and in. Six-nil! What an incredible result for Micky Adams and his men. They went on to finish eleventh in Division Three that season, the highest since relegation to this level in 1996. It was dubbed ‘the season that ended too soon’ though, as a push for the Play Offs was left just too late. As the profile grew, fans of many other clubs soon got to see for themselves the charms that Withdean had to offer during a march up the Divisions.


2

SECURING THE LEAGUE TITLE (1st May 2001) Division Three

Football League Review, Sky Sports 1; Brighton 1-0 Chesterfield

Chesterfield Intro Chesterfield aston

In Brighton’s second Withdean season, the club kicked on from the good end to the last campaign to surpass even the most optimistic of supporter’s expectations. After an indifferent opening month, a six-two victory over Torquay was the catalyst for a ten match unbeaten run. In fact, the only defeat in nineteen matches came at the hands of Chesterfield when a last minute goal sunk ten-man Albion. Form in the New Year continued well, with just one defeat in each of February and March, and the club found themselves in with a shout of one of three automatic promotion places available at the top of Division Three. Chesterfield and Cardiff were also going very well. Promotion was secured on Easter Saturday with a two-nil victory at Plymouth, now the Seagulls set their sights on the title. Brighton and Chesterfield had battled it out all season at the summit, forming a rivalry this campaign. However the Spireites were docked nine points and fined £20,000 for breaching financial regulations over the transfer of striker Luke Beckett from Chester. The deduction was applied in late April, taking them off the top of the table to be replaced by Brighton. On the Tuesday before the final weekend of fixtures, the top two met at Withdean in a match which would decide, once and for all, the destiny of this year’s Division Three championship. The Albion also wanted to prove a principle that they didn’t require the points removal in order to win the trophy, they wanted that gap to be more than nine points. Going into this clash, the final match of the year at Withdean, Brighton sat top on 88 points with three games left whilst Chesterfield were second on 86 and two to play, but that would go down to 77 points when the penalty’s taken into consideration.

Chesterfield Goal Chesterfield Scoreline Chesterfield trophy Chesterfield celebrations

Rights holder Sky Sports rounded up all the final midweek action with their Thursday night magazine programme Football League Review, which was voiced out-of-vision by number one Live match host Marcus Buckland. The reporter for Brighton versus Chesterfield was Nick London. Brighton were romping home, unbeaten in ten with seven of those as wins, and on course for more than ninety points. Stark contrast to just three years earlier when consecutive 23rd placed finishes made for drab viewing and on the verge of going out the League at the other end. They found things a little tougher up against Chesterfield in this match, with Bobby Zamora unable to take a couple of decent chances. Kerry Mayo also went close to a collector’s item goal after a mazy run from the halfway line. Step forward Danny Cullip to secure the win when his powerful header went in (above, top left), via a deflection off Chesterfield’s David Reeves, with twelve minutes left on the clock. They’d done it, Micky Adams and his men could celebrate promotion and the League title to boot. The trophy was presented there and then on the Withdean pitch, our first silverware since winning the equivalent Division in 1965! What a fantastic achievement for the Seagulls, flying high once again.

Chesterfield Adams Chesterfield Goalscorers chart Chesterfield final table

Micky Adams was full of praise for his squad afterwards, telling Football League Review; “Give them the credit they deserve because they’ve worked their socks off.” Bobby Zamora in particular did, ending up the Division’s top goal scorer with thirty-one in League and Cup. The final League table the following Saturday confirmed Albion’s place at the very top of the League for all the history books to show, and they did finish more than those nine deducted points ahead of Chesterfield, legitimising the win further. They ended up third some twelve points back, with Cardiff sandwiched in the middle. An average of exactly two points per game for the Albion is a phenomenal record and a real confidence booster for the players and supporters who were languishing around the mid-to-lower half of the table for the previous few years. Perhaps this temporary home was going to be alright. The momentum gained from this outstanding season was carried over to the 2001/2002 campaign where back to back championships were secured. Even a change of manager, with Micky Adams departing for Premiership Leicester early on to swap the South Coast with the departing Foxes boss Peter Taylor, couldn’t hamper the Albion’s rise up the Leagues. Extended highlights of the match with Swindon, and the subsequent title party, when the Division Two title was secured twelve months later is covered in a separate post. Within three Withdean years, Brighton had jumped from fourth tier to second and a place in Division One awaited in the 2002/03 season. The next aim was to stay up there.


3

AVOIDING AN UNWANTED CLUB RECORD (2nd November 2002) Division One

Football League Extra, ITV1; Brighton 3-2 Bradford City

Bradford Titles Bradford Division One

Following a season of exclusive Football League rights belonging to ITV Digital, it all ended rather sour. The company went into administration at the end of the first of a three-year deal, meaning emergency contingencies had to be put in place. This hugely impacted the finances of many lower League clubs who were banking on the vast amounts of money ITV had promised but would never materialise. Consequently on the broadcasting side, Live rights transferred back to Sky Sports and we were without a highlights deal for the first three months of the 2002/03 campaign. Brighton had won back to back League titles to rise from Division Three to Division One here but got off to a disastrous start. After a fantastic opening day win away at Burnley, things went from bad to worse to the verge of an unwanted milestone. A draw in the first home match of the season was followed by an incredible twelve League defeats in succession, culminating with the worst of the lot – a five-nil scoreline at arch rivals Crystal Palace in midweek, the first meeting for thirteen and a half years. Saturday 2nd November saw the visit of Bradford City to Withdean, where another defeat would be a club record. Manager Martin Hinshelwood paid the price for the poor form early on, with former Palace and Manchester United boss Steve Coppell now in charge at the Albion on a one-year contract. This was his third game at the helm.

Bradford Scoreline Bradford Penalty  Bradford Rodger Bradford Foul

This match marked the start of a new highlights deal which saw the welcome return of ITV’s middle-of-the-night goals programme Nationwide Football League Extra, which had covered the best of the action in a concise forty-minute slot since 1994. For this return, Tom Skippings led the voiceover round ups of our match and the rest of the second tier; assisted by Tony Jones and Trevor Harris each taking one of the other two Divisions. Brighton made a dream start when Bobby Zamora tucked away a penalty in the tenth minute. Gus Uhlenbeek tripped Paul Brooker in the box, allowing Zamora to convert low to the goalkeeper’s right (above, top right). Albion raced into a two-goal lead three minutes before the break. Zamora laid the ball off for midfielder Simon Rodger to hit a scorcher from twenty-five yards (above, bottom left) which flew into the top corner of the goal. Into the second half, the dream start got a bit nervier when Andy Gray halved the deficit with a stooping header from Paul Evans’ inswinger. Just six minutes later the two-goal cushion was restored, courtesy of Wayne Jacobs’ foul on Albion’s on-loan striker Graham Barrett (above, bottom right).

Bradford Kuipers Bradford table

Up stepped Zamora to convert another spot kick for three-one. This was the sixth penalty Bradford had conceded in their last six games, with ‘keeper Steve Banks saving one in each of the previous two games. He had no chance with this one, Zamora sent him the wrong way. In the final minute of the match, the man between the Albion posts rushed out of his goal all the way to the edge of the box and upended Stephen Warnock to give Bradford a penalty (above left). Kuipers received his marching orders from referee Brian Curson, with Andy Petterson coming on to keep goal. He couldn’t stop Andy Gray’s penalty to make it three-two. The Seagulls survived stoppage time to finally put that record behind them and begin to pick up Division One points again. Further joy came against Preston, Derby and Live on Sky against Wolves as the gap at the bottom started to close. However, by the end of the season it was just a little too much to do and the club were relegated back to Division Two on the final day following a draw at Grimsby, also Live on Sky. It was a topsy-turvy few years for the club as we yo-yoed around the Divisions but it was certainly never dull!


4

BEATING YOUR RELEGATION RIVALS (4th December 2004) Division One

The Championship, ITV1; Brighton 1-0 Rotherham

Rotherham titles Rotherham Intro

Mark McGhee took over as manager in October 2003 after Steve Coppell’s departure to Reading. In that season McGhee guided the club up via the Play Offs with a Final victory over Bristol City Live on Sky to gain entry to the newly rebranded Championship. The new name brought with it a new highlights programme to accompany Sky’s Live coverage, with ITV again the broadcaster. Their programme, imaginatively named The Championship, was broadcast at 10.30am on Sunday mornings and consisted of one featured match, usually two additional reports and a goals round up of the rest of the Leagues at the end. Brighton started life back in the second tier much better than when we were last at this stage in 2003, with four wins in the opening two months. Form in October and November had dipped and the club found themselves in the (realistic) position in the bottom third of the table. We would be in for another relegation battle this season but with that bit more experience, things were hopeful of turning out differently. And they didn’t come much more experienced than thirty-eight-year-old striker Steve Claridge, who joined the Albion on a month’s contract. Prior to this he had been player-manager at non-League Weymouth after a long playing career which dated all the way back to 1983 and Fareham Town. He enjoyed spells at Cambridge, Birmingham and Portsmouth as well as linking up with McGhee at Millwall where they missed out on Premiership promotion in the Play Off Semi Finals in 2002. His move to Sussex garnered the interest of ITV’s highlights show, which sent Andy Townsend down to Withdean for his first visit. Regular presenter Matt Smith hosted the show from the main game at the Stadium of Light – for Sunderland against West Ham – and linked to our report after highlights of that clash.

Rotherham Townsend Rotherham Claridge Rotherham McGhee Rotherham Claridge playing

Townsend’s report began in the temporary stand behind the goal at Withdean as he introduced the piece before zooming out to reveal just a handful of fans dotted around him. The main focus was on Steve Claridge, whom he interviewed first in the tunnel. The pair had a chuckle at the surroundings before Townsend asked Claridge if he still felt the same about the game or if it had started to wane; “I don’t see how it ever does if you’re fit and you can play and can do a job, just take the enthusiasm for granted because I don’t think that ever goes.” Manager McGhee told Townsend that Claridge was “one of the fittest players you’ve ever seen, either as a player or as a manager… He’s made a big difference.” They touched upon the contract situation, with him only signed up for a month which was due to expire after the match the following week. McGhee stated he wanted to extend it but the club may say otherwise due to the costs and the financial constraints the stadium situation placed upon them all. Before showing the best of the action, we returned to Claridge who outlined the importance of this match; “We’ve lost a couple recently, it just puts a bit of difference between us and the bottom three if we can win today.” You have to beat the teams around you in relegation battles and failure to do that cost the Albion last time in this League.

Rotherham Harding Rotherham scoreline

Rotherham were right down at the foot of the table, with just one win in the last twenty-one matches. That came in the previous game so were in buoyant mood ahead of this crucial clash. Townsend voiced the footage which used pitch-level cameras and jaunty angles, a trademark of this type of report on The Championship. Townsend highlighted Claridge’s first half performance as the biggest threat, constantly looking lively and dangerous as we saw two of his shots saved by goalkeeper Mike Pollitt. Into the second period it was Leon Knight who looked liveliest now, having an effort cleared almost off the line by Ronnie Moore’s defence. The clock ticked away quickly with neither side quite doing enough. That was until the 82nd minute when left-back Dan Harding netted his first for the club (above left). A free kick bounced around the area before dropping to Harding on the left of the box to strike from seven yards. It crept into the far corner for a priceless goal and all three points. The VT ended with Claridge explaining his final match for Brighton was due to be in the upcoming Millwall trip but he was on his way in to see the manager now for clarity. It turned out that his contract wasn’t extended. But that was not the end of his Football League career as, remarkably, he went on to play for a further seven League clubs over the course of the next three years! The result sent the Seagulls seven points clear of the drop zone, now a few games past the half way stage of the season.

5

AND AGAIN (26th December 2004) Division One

The Championship, ITV1; Brighton 2-1 Gillingham

Gillingham titles Gillingham Smith

Three weeks after the victory over bottom of the table Rotherham came another crucial clash in the relegation battle; Gillingham were the visitors to an icy Withdean on Boxing Day 2004. The Gills were below the Albion in the standings but Brighton suffered back to back defeats following that Rotherham win. A two-nil loss at Millwall was followed by Stoke claiming all three points on the South Coast. As the country suffered another cold wintery Christmas period, Withdean was usually one to fare particularly badly. A number of games had been postponed since arriving at the athletics track in 1999 due to the weather, with rain causing waterlogs and ice or snow taking its time to clear. Presenter Matt Smith was wrapped up warm with a big coat and scarf as he introduced the day’s festive football from the featured match Coventry versus Sheffield United. Voicing the goals and incidents in our match was fellow Brighton fan Dave Beckett, who sounded a little bunged up no doubt due to the weather.

Gillingham intro Gillingham Crofts Gillingham Carpenter equaliser Gillingham Virgo winner  

The report began by mentioning Stan Ternant’s Gillingham side’s cause for concern about the state of the pitch, with a white sheen present brought about ice. But it was they who broke the deadlock thanks to future Seagull Andrew Crofts. He latched onto Nicky Southall’s cross, appearing to burst in from nowhere and more determined than anyone. His header burst the net and flew through goalkeeper Kuipers, Crofts leaving his marker Paul Reid flat footed (above, top right). It looked like it was going to be a frustrating Christmas for Seagulls supporters all the way until the 78th minute when up stepped Richard Carpenter. As a headed clearance fell to him, he took one touch to set himself before hitting a divine half-volley from almost thirty yards (above, bottom left) which skipped off the turf and slid right into the bottom left hand corner of the net. A fantastic way to equalise but more was still to come. A Mark McCammon header was saved well by Paul Gallacher. But he wasn’t to deny Adam Virgo, who turned home the winner three minutes from time. A long throw in was flicked on by McCammon with Virgo arriving in the centre. He made connection before his marker and struck past Gallacher, who managed fingertips to it (above, bottom right).

Gillingham scoreline

Another terrific result for Brighton who were managing to get the better of the teams around them at the bottom. This ensured they did the double over the Gills and entered the New Year a whole seven points clear of the drop zone. The form continued into January taking ten more points from the next six unbeaten matches. A fantastic victory over leaders Sunderland followed in February, as featured as the main game on The Championship, and come the final day of the season just a point was required to maintain their Championship status. That’s exactly what happened when Adam Virgo netted in a Sky Live one-all draw with Ipswich in May. Brighton would remain in the second tier for another season under Mark McGhee. Though the 2005/06 campaign fared much worse and Brighton were relegated finishing bottom of the table, the more important result came off the field when permission for the new stadium site in Falmer was initially given the go-ahead by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in October 2005 and, after another legal challenge delaying the saga further, the stadium finally could at last begin building work in the latter half of the noughties with the club consolidating in League One.


This look back over Albion’s tenure at Withdean Stadium continues with part two which can be accessed HERE.

#15: Brighton 2-1 Plymouth 31/01/2004

#15 BRIGHTON 2-1 PLYMOUTH Division Two
Saturday 31st January 2004 Image result for

PLY Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Steve Cotterill
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Gavin Peacock REPORTER Guy Havord
5.35pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium     5.30-8pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

PLY Ident PLY Sponsor PLY Intro

Context of the Match: After just twelve matches back in the Second Division for the Albion, there was a familiar sense of deja vu with yet another manager leaving the club. Steve Coppell was appointed Reading boss in October 2003 following their loss of Alan Pardew to West Ham. Speculation was rife about Coppell’s departure, with him clearly not happy with the facilities and the finances, or lack of. He signed on for a further year in the summer but these short-term deals were clearly an indicator that he didn’t want to commit himself on the South Coast too long unless guarantees could be made. In December 2003, the inspector’s report on the public inquiry into the proposed stadium site of Falmer was sent to Deputy PM John Prescott. In this, it was recommended that Mr Prescott should refuse planning permission, yet another blow to this long-running saga. A public inquiry was ongoing. By this time, former Wolves and Millwall boss Mark McGhee was appointed Brighton manager. The Scot came in at the end of October with good pedigree, having won this Division with Reading in 1994 and Millwall in 2001. The latter were going well in the First Division and many saw his departure there as a surprise, but rumours emerged of a falling out between McGhee and chairman Theo Paphitis, whilst McGhee seemed to suggest his time in South London had reached its natural conclusion. His reign at the Albion didn’t get off to the best of starts, with a draw away at Peterborough before a four-one thrashing at the hands of Bristol City. Back to back wins away at Notts County and home to Wrexham got them back on track and pushing up the League again just outside the Play Off places, having inherited a decent position in the first place from Coppell. December saw just one win, a four-nil thumping of Wycombe on Boxing Day. Last week’s victory over Barnsley was the first of the new year as points were being dropped too often, costing a top two place. Plymouth Argyle led the Division having lost just three times so far all season. Paul Sturrock’s men won nine of their last ten in the League and hadn’t conceded a goal for an incredible seven matches straight, since they went top of the table in mid-December. A seven-nil demolition of Chesterfield last time out showed they were ruthless in their pursuit of a return to the second tier for the first time in twelve years. Sky Sports selected the match for Live broadcast as January came to a close. An early-evening Saturday kick off at Withdean pitted two teams on course for top six finishes.

PLY Brighton PLY Formation PLY Plymouth

The Teams: Mark McGhee side enjoyed a win last week over Barnsley, which was separated by a Leon Knight penalty. The little striker had enjoyed an excellent season, firing eighteen goals in twenty-six League appearances thus far. The disparity was clear to see, with substitute Chris McPhee the next highest goalscorer this term with just four. Ben Roberts returned to the fold in goal of late, having missed around six weeks in the early stages through injury. Michel Kuipers deputised then but himself had been out for a long period following a horrific car crash a couple of months back. He was fit enough to take his place on the bench last week for the first time since that crash and continued to be Roberts understudy here. The back line of Kerry Mayo, captain Danny Cullip and Guy Butters was a tried and trusted solid defence. One change was made from last week, with John Piercy entering the midfield in place of McPhee. Adam Virgo made his first start of the campaign in that game, having been out all season with injury. Richard Carpenter and Charlie Oatway continued to do a superb job of protecting the back line as well as chipping in with the attacks. Striker Trevor Benjamin was the latest partner for Leon Knight up top. He joined on loan from Leicester earlier in the month, this his third start but yet to find the target. Gary Hart and Jake Robinson were waiting in the wings as substitutes if required. One man who was no longer available was Robbie Pethick, who joined Weymouth on loan under their player-manager Steve Claridge. McGhee’s fellow Scotsman, Paul Sturrock, relied upon twenty-year-old goalkeeper Luke McCormick in the sticks and has delivered with seven clean sheets in a row and more than ten hours and counting since he last conceded a goal. Both he and Paul Wotton came up through the youth system, with Wotton playing in his ninth season at Argyle. Defender Graham Coughlan was the club’s top scorer when they won promotion from Division Three in 2002. Left back Peter Gilbert joined in the summer from Birmingham and forged a regular place. Paul Connolly scored an own-goal in the reverse fixture, the thrilling three-three draw back in August. Both Hasney Aljofree and Nathan Lowndes were recruited from the SPL, leaving Dundee United and Livingston respectively. David Friio top scored from midfield with thirteen so far. The manager’s son, Blair Sturrock, straddled the bench alongside the terrifically named Marino Keith. Refereeing the action was Phil Joslin.

PLY Gavin PLY Cotterill PLY Studio

Presentation Team: This season Ian Payne presented all 12.30pm kick offs on the Saturday, be it Premier or Football League, with George Gavin hoovering up the rest of the Live games from the Three Divisions. With this match being a Saturday 5.35pm start, it was Gavin in the hotseat at Withdean. Often this slot would be presented from the Sky Studios as the day’s goals were shown after the match, but tonight they were on location in the South West corner behind the running track. Up on the makeshift gantry amidst all the scaffolding was our guest, Steve Cotterill. He’d been out of the game since he was sacked as assistant to Howard Wilkinson by Sunderland in March 2003. Prior to that he forged a successful early start to management with Cheltenham, his home town. He took them into the Conference in his first full season in charge, going on to lift them into the Football League two years later. Further success occurred when they beat Rushden and Diamonds in the Division Three Play Off Final in 2002, securing his third promotion in five seasons and a remarkable rise up the Divisions. Having taken Cheltenham probably as far as he could, he moved to Stoke that summer as they were promoted up behind the Albion into Division One. It didn’t work out in the Potteries as he surprisingly resigned after just thirteen matches and joined Sunderland as number two. As a player, he started his time in the non-Leagues with Cheltenham and Burton before top flight Wimbledon signed him up in 1989. In his four years there he didn’t really get a foothold in the team due to injury and actually spent eleven League matches on loan at Brighton in 1992, during which time he bagged four goals. He moved to Bournemouth to spend the final three years of his playing career, enjoying a better run in the team. More recently he has appeared in the media spotlight as a studio guest for Sky’s various lower League coverage. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Gavin Peacock. Whilst Crocker was the undisputed League number one commentator, Peacock was a new name to proceedings. Son of former Charlton player Keith Peacock, Gavin spent most of his career at Queen’s Park Rangers at the beginning and end. Spells with Bournemouth and Gillingham came before big moves to Newcastle and, probably most famously, Premiership Chelsea. The midfielder had an eye for goal, finishing top scorer for the Blues in 1995. When he retired in 2002, he moved into the media with the BBC across their various magazine shows and highlights as well as occasional Sky Sports appearances. He combined this with a strong Christian faith, preaching in his local church as his footballing time drew to a close. Completing today’s line up was regular reporter for Divisions Two and Three, Guy Havord. Having gained prominence as a commentator for the world feed 3pm Premiership matches for the final few years in the 90s, he also covered Live Spanish League games for Sky. A move to the ITV Sport Channel to lead their Football League commentaries followed before they went into administration and he ended up being made redundant. When he rejoined Sky towards the end of the 2002/03 season, he worked as a reporter for Sky Sports News and the League. From this season he took over from David Jones as the touchline reporter on top flight pay-per-view channel Premiership+, covering the weekly game.

PLY Theatre of Trees PLY Tunnel  PLY Coming Up PLY Div 1 goals

The Coverage: Saturday 5.35pm was the main Live slot for Sky’s Football League broadcasts since regaining the rights from ITV Digital in 2002. This season Sky would continue the broadcast until 8pm in order to incorporate the Division One goals from that day, as well as comprehensively wrapping up the analysis from the Live game. This particular start time allowed the scores to come in from the 3pm kick offs on Gillette Soccer Saturday, air some post-match interviews and get Jeff Stelling’s pundits reactions and round it all off before leaving at 5.30pm on one of the numbered Sky Sports channels, whilst they carried on over on Sky Sports News until 6pm. This did mean we were pretty much straight into the Live action when the Football League broadcast began, with less than five minutes for pre match build up. The theme tune, graphics and overall look were as they were when Sky last visited Withdean back in August for our two-one victory over a much-fancied QPR. Like with that match, just a five minute build up allowed very little time to talk up the game so host George Gavin and his guest Steve Cotterill barely said more than a couple of sentences before the teams were in the tunnel. That signalled it was time to hand to the commentary team of Ian Crocker and Gavin Peacock. At half time, the stats showed Brighton’s dominance in a deserved two-nil lead. Five out of six attempts were on target for the Seagulls. Guest Steve Cotterill put Plymouth’s disappointing half down to a lack of tempo on their part, believing Paul Sturrock would be mentioning that at half time. He was very impressed by Leon Knight’s “work rate, his hold up play” and pleased he got a good goal. After the final whistle and the post-match advert break, more than twenty minutes of the programme remained to wrap up this match as well as see some of the day’s goals. The full-time stats showed a more equal match than it read at the interval, with Brighton shading the attempts on target seven to five. Man of the Match was given to Danny Cullip, who spoke with reporter Guy Havord afterwards. He thought the first half was the decider; “It was important to start well, we played really well for forty-five minutes. It’s hard to keep that up for ninety minutes but we dug in at the end and got the result we deserved.” He played down the prospect of another promotion, saying there was still a long way to go in the season and they would enjoy this victory first and foremost. Back on the gantry, our studio team reviewed the key moments from the clash beginning with Trevor Benjamin’s opening goal. He was praised for his ‘tireless’ effort all day and showed superb strength to create his chance. Leon Knight impressed Steve Cotterill and believed that if Knight didn’t get that knock at the start of the second half, he may well have gone on to deliver further in this match. Manager Mark McGhee told, in his interview with Guy Havord, how good a game that was for his side; “I think the first half was the best performance since I came here. I think on a very difficult night we still tried to pass the ball. We knew we didn’t want to take Plymouth on in a sense just at their own game, they’re very good when they’re direct and physical, we didn’t want to just do that so we got the ball down.” He was also pleased with the character of the second half to maintain the advantage. Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock gave credit to the Albion, calling it “men against boys first half.” The final ten minutes of the show was given over to showing all the goals from Saturday’s Division One matches, as was the case in this slot all season. The studio pairing talked through the action and incidents. This included another win for high-flying Norwich over Sheffield United, an unfortunate own goal from West Ham’s Tomas Repka, Crystal Palace defeating Wimbledon in the ‘Selhurst Park derby’ and Steve Sidwell netting for Reading’s first home win in six. After a recap on the scores and Division One table, it was time to go as another broadcast came to a close.

PLY Kick Off PLY Comms PLY Benjamin goal PLY Benjamin

Story of the Match: Brighton’s task was a difficult one. Plymouth were top of Division Two and goalkeeper Luke McCormick hadn’t conceded in over ten and a half hours of football, dating back to December 13th. The wind swirled around Withdean on a dark January evening. The club needed the assistance of a tree surgeon on the day of the game to ensure the seats weren’t at risk of falling branches due to the gales. Never a dull moment at the Theatre of Trees. Cries from the crowd of “We want Falmer!” could be heard loudly around the ground as the Albion kicked off, shooting from left to right in the first half. Ben Roberts had to be sharp off his line after ten minutes to smother the ball, frequently getting caught in the wind, as Lowndes tried to latch onto it. But Brighton looked good early on down the channels, with pace and power in the shape of Knight and Benjamin causing the defence issues. And in the twelfth, that’s where the opening goal arose from. Virgo’s throw down the line found Knight, he shrugged off the defender amidst some shirt pulling to cross in with his left. A couple of Plymouth headers cleared only as far as Carpenter on the edge. He then used his head to nod it back into the danger zone. Trevor Benjamin expertly blocked off his opponent using his sizeable frame to turn and get a shot away. As McCormick rushed out, two covering defenders tried to get back towards the line. Benjamin’s low shot bobbled up off Connolly and into the net, bringing Argyle’s club record clean sheet run to an end. Co-commentator Gavin Peacock noted “It’s not a great strike, but he concentrates on getting it on target – that’s all he can do there, on his left foot, a little bit of luck to ricochets into the back of the net.” Confidence was up as John Piercy, absent for the previous three games through injury, tried his luck from long range; comfortable enough for the ‘keeper. The lead was doubled with just over ten minutes to go before the break. Adam Virgo showed nice trickery on the right wing to nutmeg his marker and escape down the flank. His low cross was driven into the centre, missed by Benjamin but following up at the back stick was Leon Knight. The little man was in the right place at the right time to slot home for two-nil Brighton. His shot went through ‘keeper McCormick, the pace just beating him on the way in. Commentator Crocker brought us the stat that “rather surprisingly it’s the first time he’s scored a League goal here from open play since October” for Leon Knight, netting for the twentieth time this campaign bolstered by his excellent penalty record. No better time to adjust that than the present!

PLY Knight goal PLY Knight celebration PLY Lowndes goal PLY Man of the Match

Leon Knight celebrated his goal by running towards the camera behind the goal, a celebration that would be used in future title sequences on both Sky and ITV’s coverage of the Football League. The half drew to a close with the Albion well on top, and deservedly so, against the League leaders. Outside of the two goals there wasn’t too much else of note from either side but Brighton looked decent playing the ball around and looking for opportunities. Plymouth made a double substitution at the break in order to salvage something from this, with Marino Keith and Steve Adams entering the fray. For the Albion, John Piercy picked up a little knock towards the end of the first period in a fierce fifty-fifty ball. He tried to run it off but was abundant at the resume of play that he could continue no longer. It was a shame for Piercy having just had a spell out injured already, he was replaced here by Gary Hart. A ball in the face affected Leon Knight for a brief spell, visibly hurt by the contact. Plymouth applied the pressure in the second half far more so than they did in the first, with greater spells of possession and half-chances being carved out. Ben Roberts almost contributed to them getting one goal back when he came way out of his goal in an attempt to claim a high cross on the edge of his box. He dropped the catch and couldn’t reclaim before Lowndes took it on. Thankfully there were two defenders waiting on the line to clear away when Lowndes tame effort trickled towards goal. With less than half an hour to go, it showed how quickly a game could turn out of nowhere. Sloppiness crept in to Brighton’s game, gifting possession away easily and a slip from Roberts almost presented a golden chance. Charlie Oatway and Danny Cullip defended resolutely throughout and were always there to help out though. Chris McPhee replaced Knight with a quarter of an hour remaining to provide some fresher legs and relieve the pressure off the defence. Brighton’s best chance in the closing stages fell to Guy Butters. A corner was taken quickly, short to Paul Watson. He whipped in a tantalising cross which was flicked on. Butters was stood at the far corner of the six-yard area and volleyed excellently. McCormick showed why nobody had scored past him prior to tonight in seven matches with a brilliant push onto the bar and over to deny what would have been a wonderful goal. The final few minutes became very nervy though when Nathan Lowndes finally did pull a goal back out of nothing. A long punt forward from their own half saw a flick on from Cullip’s head fly towards the Brighton goal. Ben Roberts dived down just managing to keep it out, but couldn’t keep hold of it. Lowndes reacted quickest to the loose ball to stab home from two yards out. Argyle were not to repeat their trick of the reverse fixture when two goals in the final nine minutes rescued a point for them at Home Park, tonight they ran out of time. It finished Brighton two Plymouth one and a huge result for the Seagulls in their push for another change of Division. The table left the Seagulls in fifth place after this win, whilst Argyle remained top of the shop and well placed for automatic promotion.

PLY Table

BRIGHTON 2 PLYMOUTH 1
Benjamin, Knight Lowndes

PLY Goal PLY Replay

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

NEXT; #16 SWINDON 0-1 BRIGHTON 16/05/2004

#14: Brighton 2-1 QPR 18/08/2003

#14 BRIGHTON 2-1 QPR Division Two
Monday 18th August 2003 Image result for

QPR Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Peter Taylor
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Guy Havord
8pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium     7.55-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

2003 Ident QPR Promo QPR Intro

Context of the Match: The final day of last season away at Grimsby proved to be one dramatic hurdle too many as the Albion were unable to escape the drop. Back in Division Two after a year away, many people saw Brighton as being well-equipped to challenge for a promotion place once more. But they’d have to do it without star striker Bobby Zamora who, after speculation all season, transferred up to the Premiership with Glenn Hoddle’s Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. The fee of £1.5 million was a huge boost to the Albion coughers, but the loss of his eighty-three goals in one-hundred-and-thirty-six appearances was always going to be tough to replace. The first man tasked with getting the goals in Zamora’s absence was Leon Knight. The twenty-year-old signed on loan from Chelsea in July, which was made a permanent transfer in the days after tonight’s QPR match. Another front man brought in was Darius Henderson, on a two-month loan from Reading. 1997 FA Cup Final goalkeeper Ben Roberts returned to the club this season, joining permanently after a brief three match spell back in January during the ‘keeper crisis that eventually saw veteran Dave Beasant see out the season with us. Beasant played his last competitive match in that final day draw with Grimsby but did sign on the books of Premiership Fulham this campaign ‘just in case’. Possibly the most important summer signing was of the manager, Steve Coppell. When he came in during the lowest period last year, the club were rooted to the foot of Division One and seemingly cut adrift. He got the most out of a downbeat squad but had only signed on for a year. Chairman Dick Knight managed to extend that for a further year, despite offering a longer deal. The sticking point for him, and any manager, was always going to be the facilities, or lack of, with no good news on the Falmer front forthcoming. Withdean Stadium remained our makeshift home, entering its fifth season. The opening home game of the Division Two campaign pitted the Albion against last season’s beaten Play Off Finalists Queens Park Rangers. Ian Holloway’s side pushed Cardiff all the way to Extra Time in May but couldn’t quite get the breakthrough. They were strongly tipped to go again this time round so tonight saw an early opportunity for Brighton to test their mettle against leading opposition. The clash intrigued Sky Sports enough to shift the tie from Saturday to the Monday night, bringing with it more vital income for the public inquiry fund. The opening match saw a triumphant return to the League, leaving Oldham with three goals and three points. More of the same here, please.

QPR Brighton QPR Formation QPR QPR

The Teams: Steve Coppell was able to keep hold of the majority of the squad which dropped down from Division One, minus the glaring space left by talisman Zamora. His initial two replacements, Leon Knight and Darius Henderson, made the perfect start on the opening day. Both men scored in the three-one win away at Oldham, with Knight bagging a brace. The good start was followed up by a one-nil win away at Bristol Rovers in the League Cup First Round last Tuesday, with the majority of the line-up starting both. Young striker Chris McPhee scored the winner there and a bigger involvement was planned for him. He made his debut at the age of just sixteen back in December 1999 but had largely spent his time in the reserves and youth sides since. He was an option on the bench tonight. The return of Ben Roberts in goal this season resulted in just one conceded in two matches. He was protected by a back core that established itself throughout all three Divisions these past three years; Paul Watson, Danny Cullip and Kerry Mayo. Cullip’s centre-back partner had changed throughout, with Dean Blackwell fulfilling the role during occasions in Division One but injuries hampered that. Graduate Adam Hinshelwood, nephew of Martin, was the man filling the role in all three matches so far. In the middle of the park, Paul Brooker left after three seasons when his contract expired and linked up again with Micky Adams for a third time, now at Premiership Leicester. Simon Rodger and Nathan Jones played in the two previous matches and made it three in a row here. However Jones would be missing in future, after he picked up a red card in the Cup win. Charlie Oatway famously is named after all eleven players in the 1973 QPR first team but only made the bench tonight. Other Albion stalwarts, Gary Hart and Richard Carpenter, completed the first eleven. For Ian Holloways’ Rangers, their team began with seven of the eleven who started that unsuccessful Play Off Final back in May. This included defender Clarke Carlisle, who gained notoriety in January 2002 when he won ITV’s quiz show Britain’s Brainiest Footballer, competing against such renowned wise men as former Sky co-commentator Alan Brazil and England World Cup winner George Cohen! Cautious-when-naming Danny Shittu was solid at the back. Tom Williams, on loan again from Birmingham like last season, joined Marc Bircham in the middle. Experienced striker Paul Furlong enjoyed two loan spells with the Rs before moving permanently in 2002, having also started his career there was a youth player. Amongst the subs was former Everton trainee Kevin McLeod who made a permanent move to Loftus Road this week. Their opening result saw a five-nil victory over a Seaside team in Blackpool, hopefully this would not continue on the South Coast. Tonight’s referee was Mark Warren.

QPR Gavin QPR Taylor QPR Studio

Presentation Team: This was Sky’s second season back covering the Nationwide, and the team established then remained largely in place now, with one or two additions. George Gavin was very much Sky’s face of the League, hosting Live games and the Thursday evening Football League Review magazine show. He spent a greater time in the studio this year with the move of the Saturday evening kick offs to be hosted from Isleworth in order to incorporate the First Division goals at the end of the broadcast. Whereas last season, this didn’t tend to be the case and the majority of matches came from the stadium. His workload was reduced slightly with the arrival to the broadcaster of Ian Payne from BBC Radio 5 Live. He was drafted in to take some of the matches from chief football anchor Richard Keys given Sky now held Live rights to the UEFA Champions League. Therefore Payne did every Live English match on Saturday lunch time, whether that be Premier or Football League. In addition, he hosted the top flight Monday Night Football coverage in the studio with a panel of fans. Other than Saturday 12.30pm kick offs, George Gavin did the rest of the Football League. His guest tonight at Withdean was Peter Taylor. He left his post as Brighton manager in April 2002 after winning the Division Two title. By November of that year he was back in the game, taking the job at Hull City, just in time for the opening of their brand new stadium; a factor which proved the stumbling block in agreeing a new deal on the South Coast. His Hull side were currently competing in Division Three and hoped the new facilities would provide a boost to their bid in climbing the ladder. Taylor was also a pundit on the Seagulls Live televised match at Wolves last season. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara. They were Sky’s number one League pairing, with Crocker beginning that role with the new rights cycle in 2002. Kamara still managed his commentary commitments around his work on Sky’s other high-profile shows reporting on Gillette Soccer Saturday and co-hosting Goals on Sunday with Rob McCaffrey. Taking Kammy’s place on the gantry on Saturdays and Sundays were, from this season, Garry Birtles and Tony Gale, with occasional other guest co-commentators drafted in too. This pretty much signalled the end of Alvin Martin and Ray Houghton’s involvement on this coverage, though Houghton continued to cover Republic of Ireland games and Martin was heavily involved with Talksport radio. After being introduced to the coverage on the final day of last season, reporter Guy Havord was much more involved from this season. Fraser Robertson still did the bulk but Havord now did all Live Division Two and Three games as well as helping out in the First. He also reported on the top flight for pay-per-view channel Premiership Plus from this year. It was Havord on the Withdean touchline tonight, with it being a Second Division clash.

QPR New beginning QPR Tunnel

The Coverage: The broadcast was short and sweet, perhaps cautious of the huge problems experienced the one and only previous time Sky showed a match Live from Withdean back in 2001 against Rushden and Diamonds. That afternoon both pictures and sound were lost, with host Rob Wotton and guest John Byrne having to keep popping up to fill the dead air until normal service could be resumed. There hadn’t been a Live match at the athletics ground since until tonight. Host George Gavin and his pundit Peter Taylor were situated behind the goal, and therefore behind the athletics track, left of the open-air South Stand on a makeshift gantry. Coverage came on-air just five minutes before the 8pm kick off and finished almost as soon as the match was over. This was how the 5.35pm kick offs started off last season, before extending the post-match to include analysis, interviews and round ups after a couple of months. So it was disappointing that this top Division Two clash had reverted back to the basic coverage. Nevertheless, a Live match was definitely a bonus for Brighton and provided a much-needed cash injection. The programme was still sponsored by the flatmates at SkyBet, with the theme tune remaining as The Skids’ Into the Valley. The titles were basically the same, just using more up to date clips and action as you’d expect. The graphics were also as they were last season, with the red and blue astons flying in from the edges of the screen. The replay transition was still the respective competition’s trophy, which for us this year was that pretty Division Two silverware. The scorebar and clock though had evolved to look more like the Sky Sports logo, with straight, full blocks instead of a slanted translucent strap. All of it complete with those big whooshing noises. The programme began by reminding us of the two sides heartbreak in May; the Albion relegated and QPR losing in Extra Time of the Play Off Final, before a more uplifting message of ‘A New Beginning’. Host George Gavin billed it as “an early opportunity to assess the chances of two of the form teams.” He then introducing his guest, the last man to manage Brighton in this Division, Peter Taylor.

QPR Coming Up QPR Full Time stats

The set up was improved this season to include multiple cameras for the studio at the ground instead of the single-camera setup for our games last year. There was barely time to say anything other than reminding the neutrals that Bobby Zamora was no longer ours, before handing up to the gantry as the teams emerged from the tunnel over in the North East corner of Withdean by the away supporters. Up in the box were commentators Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara. Some kind words were said by the pair about the club and supporters ahead of kick off regarding the stadium situation, with a decision due. “All credit to the Brighton fans who have stayed faithful to their club and they’ve had to spend four years now here at the Withdean Stadium, which is never going to feel like a football ground. A decision is expected in October as to whether Brighton can build a new stadium, a 22,000 seater stadium, in Falmer. The ultimate decision lies with John Prescott and let’s hope they get that new stadium because they really need to move onwards”, said Crocker. Kamara added “Well it should be a foregone conclusion. Brighton’s a footballing town and let’s give them a new stadium!” At half time, the stats showed an equal amount of shots on target, with Brighton shading the corners, in what was an even contest. The studio team analysed the goals, with Taylor calling the conceding of the free kick for the opener “a really, really cheap foul… a nothing free kick.” Plaudits went the way of both Hart and Knight for Brighton’s equaliser, with Knight praised for his sharpness and movement, Hart for the excellent delivery. Reporter Guy Havord had a quick word with a few of the fans at the end of the half time segment, with Knight again singled out for good work. There was no time to wrap things up after the final whistle owing to the tight scheduling. Chris Kamara summarised that there were three deciding factors in the result; “Leon Knight probably the first one. Danny Cullip and his superb defensive play. But it’s the lad, Terrell Forbes, who’s the turning point in the game.” George Gavin ran through the full-time statistics, which reinforced the scoreline and Albion’s deserving win. They were the early season pacesetters at the top of the Division Two table. Just a brief sentence from guest Peter Taylor at the end to close before signing off for the evening from Withdean.

QPR Kick Off QPR Comms QPR Opening goal QPR Equaliser

Story of the Match: Rangers got the game underway kicking from left to right in the first half in the August late evening haze. The perimeters of Withdean were decorated with messages to deputy Prime Minister John Prescott asking him to “Listen to the people” with regards to the 60,000+ signatures petitioning for the stadium site to be approved. Paul Furlong smacked the post for QPR after three minutes but the linesman flagged for offside anyway, as the away side made themselves feel at home very early on. The crowd were buoyant, making lots of noise for the Albion’s return for the new campaign. But it was the visiting set of fans who were cheering loudest in the ninth minute. Gino Padula whipped in a free kick from the near side with his left foot. The QPR strikers couldn’t quite get their head on it but it didn’t matter as the bounce just before it reached Ben Roberts, together with the bend and pace, saw it skim off the surface and into the back of the net. Brighton fired back level within three minutes. Gary Hart delivered a fabulous cross on the far side towards the six yard area. Stretching, Leon Knight stooped to head home past Day for one-all. It was all about the delivery from Hart to enable Knight’s touch, a perfect response against a team high on confidence and goals after the early season form. Credit too must go to Knight’s movement, as highlighted on commentary by Chris Kamara; “Two great bits of quality. One is the cross to begin with but look at the movement of the little fella. He’s hovering around that eighteen yard box. As soon as it’s on its way, he knows that he’s just got to get the other side of the big centre half. Once he does that then he’s in with an opportunity.” The game continued in this end-to-end fashion. Roberts had to be alert and sensible when Danny Shittu sent through Sabin for QPR, the goalie off his line to smother well. The intensity dropped off from the halfway point of the first half, not helped by a couple of stoppages for injuries, and it fizzled out slightly to a draw at the break.

QPR Red Card QPR Forbes headbutt QPR Knight winner QPR Winner

The second period began a little brighter, with the Seagulls creating a flurry of half-chances in a row, first with Knight unable to connect with Henderson’s fine cross, then Hart’s effort blocked and Carpenter’s follow up volley saved by Chris Day. At the other end, substitute Kevin McLeod created his own chance with his pace. Picking up a loose ball after Hinshelwood slipped, McLeod skipped past him with ease into the near side of the penalty box. With Roberts rushing out, he jinked just wide of him to get the shot away, it lacked any sort of power from a very difficult angle and Hinshelwood got back to put it behind. On the hour mark, the match changed due to a moment of petulance from QPR defender Terrell Forbes. He received a straight red card for a headbutt on Kerry Mayo. The pair went in for a fifty-fifty challenge strongly, neither wanting to back out. Whilst both were getting up off the ground, Forbes kicked out at Mayo’s ankle. They then squared up to each other and that is when Forbes pushed his head onto the Albion number three, with the referee nearby he rightly received his marching orders and Rangers were down to ten needlessly. With the game more open, Brighton were finding a bit more space to get into and test Day further. Two shots in quick succession, firstly from Knight and then Henderson, forced the ‘keeper to dive around and stay alert. But, with twenty-two minutes to go, there was nothing he could do about Leon Knight’s next effort to put Brighton in the lead. Danny Cullip’s free kick on the half way line was launched up field. Darius Henderson flicked it on with his head from the edge of the area. It looped over Danny Shittu and Leon Knight stuck out a leg to toe-poke it towards goal just as it hit the ground. From seven yards or so out, any touch on target would beat Day, who could just scramble low to his left and see the ball sail past him into the corner. The Seagulls were confident. They were on top with both a man and a goal advantage. With a quarter of an hour to play, Leon Knight almost turned provider for Henderson, his header blocked by Clarke Carlisle. Nathan Jones picked it up from there and went past Carlisle who appeared to have caught the Welshman with his leg for a potential penalty. The referee wasn’t having it and replays seemed to show there wasn’t contact. Charlie Oatway got his chance to play against the team he grew up supporting, providing commentator Ian Crocker with the go-to line about the midfielder; rattling off all eleven of his given names! Three minutes of added time were played but, in truth, it was elementary. QPR never really threatened after the sending off and Brighton held firm to maintain the one-hundred-per-cent start to the season. Injury to Carlisle in the additional minutes meant we’d played ninety-six before full time was finally called, but joy at the whistle as Brighton got their home season off to a flyer.

QPR Table.JPG

BRIGHTON 2 QPR 1
Knight (2) Padula

QPR Replay QPR Goal

PREVIOUS; #13 GRIMSBY 2-2 BRIGHTON 04/05/2003

NEXT; #15 BRIGHTON 2-1 PLYMOUTH 31/01/2004

#12: Reading 1-2 Brighton 04/04/2003

#12 READING 1-2 BRIGHTON Division One
Friday 4th April 2003 Image result for

REA Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Ray Houghton
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Fraser Robertson
8pm Kick Off; Madejski Stadium, Reading     7.30-10.10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 2

REA Promo REA Ident REA Intro

Context of the Match: What a turbulent season Brighton had back in the second tier for the first time in a decade. Having lost Peter Taylor due to budgetary restraints after securing the Division Two title, new manager Martin Hinshelwood was moved upstairs by the start of October. When Steve Coppell was appointed he couldn’t halt the slide of twelve successive defeats and inherited an Albion side low on confidence rock bottom of the League. It took a couple of matches to get the team playing the way he wanted but results soon picked up. In the last televised match back in November, Brighton picked up an invaluable point away at high-flying Wolves and were fifteen minutes away from a shock win. A win against Derby and a point at Preston saw the club close the gap on those above and suddenly relegation didn’t seem quite so nailed on. Coppell brought in a few players of his own, changed the formations up and made them a more solid, resilient side. A win away at Norwich sparked an unbeaten January in the League, with Steve loanee midfielder Steve Sidwell chipping in with three more vital goals to support star striker Bobby Zamora. Yet the Seagulls were still on the brink of the danger places towards the foot of the table. A thumping four-one victory over Wolves got the ball rolling for a fantastic three wins in a row to close February with renewed hope. This was scuppered by a costly defeat at relegation rivals Stoke but the team spirit was clear to see in battling wins against Rotherham and Play Off candidates Nottingham Forest. Draws in the last two outings – away at Ipswich and at Withdean to bitter rivals Crystal Palace – meant the Albion came into tonight’s televised clash with Reading having lost just once in five. In contrast, Reading were in with a real chance of a Play Off place up to the Premiership in only their first season back in the second tier. The Royals finished runners-up to Brighton last campaign but nine draws in their final ten matches cost them the title. This was clearly something that had been noted had drawn just four League games in this entire season. Five wins out of five in February saw them soar further up the table into the top six but March was very inconsistent, with each win immediately followed by a loss. It summed up this topsy-turvy Division in which anyone really could beat anyone. Having won at Bradford last time out, form would suggest Reading were due a loss tonight. The clash was moved forward to the Friday, kick starting the weekend’s action, to be televised Live by Sky Sports. It’s fourth top against fourth bottom. Under the Madejski Friday night lights, who would emerge the victor in this Meridian regional fight?

REA Reading REA Formation REA Brighton

The Teams: Brighton suffered an almighty goalkeeping crisis throughout the second half of the season. Number one Michel Kuipers started the campaign but injury forced him out for two long spells. First Andy Petterson replaced him for eight games before recovering until the New Year. Then a second setback saw a number of ‘keepers taking to the net. Ben Roberts made a brief cameo on loan from Charlton for three appearances before veteran Dave Beasant made the move from Wigan for the rest of the season. The forty-four-year-old triggered a clause in his contract in order to make the switch to Sussex in persuit of first team football and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. In his ten starts thus far Beasant kept four clean sheets as the Albion picked up eleven crucial points. If the last line of defence was constantly changing, the manager enjoyed a settled group in front of him. Paul Watson, Kerry Mayo and captain Danny Cullip were amongst the first names on a Steve Coppell teamsheet. Dean Blackwell hadn’t featured due to injury for a while so Coppell brough in another of his former players; Ivar Ingimarsson. The Icelandic defender slash midfielder came in on loan from Wolves. His start tonight meant he had the distinctive honour of playing in three of Brighton’s last four televised matches – and for three separate teams; for Brentford last January, for Wolves in November and now for us tonight. In the middle of the park, long-serving Gary Hart and Richard Carpenter rose through the Leagues with the Albion. Tricky winger Paul Brooker scored the decisive goal in last month’s win over Forest. Up front, striking duo Bobby Zamora and Graham Barrett’s partnership had been hampered by the latter’s niggling injuries and spells on and off the sidelines. Former West Ham and Newcastle forward Paul Kitson was one of Martin Hinshelwood’s first summer signings but rarely featured due to a number of injuries. The lesser-spotted Kitson featured in just five matches, with the last coming off the bench back in January. Patience ran thin with the Seagulls supporters who had barely witnessed him in consecutive matches let alone see a goal from him, but was on the bench tonight nevertheless. He sat alongside Albion stalwarts Charlie Oatway and Nathan Jones, waiting to come on and make an impact. Alan Pardew’s fourth placed Reading kept largely the same side that won promotion from Division Two behind the Albion last season. Top scorer that year and this, Nicky Forster, was the key man up top. Jamie Cureton got the goal on the final day last May to secure second place at Brentford’s expense but began on the bench today. Glen Little, signed on loan from Burnley a few days earlier, got the nod in his place. Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick was drafted in on loan initially for a month back in February before extending it the deal until May. Right-back Graeme Murty has made more appearances for the Royals than anyone else this term and last. American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann spent a short period on loan before joining permanently in the summer. On the bench was Steve Sidwell, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with the Albion in the autumn but were outbid by Reading when Arsenal sold him on permanently in January. Refereeing at the Madejski was Mark Cowburn from Lancashire.

REA Studio REA Kick Off REA Comms

Presentation Team: Sky Sports stuck with much of their team throughout the season that were hastily assembled in the weeks before the campaign began, having secured exclusive Live rights to the Football League at short notice in the summer. This followed ITV Digital’s collapse and liquidation, ceasing broadcast in May 2002 following the Live transmission of the Division Two Play Off Final. George Gavin hosted Sky’s Football League broadcasts, both Live and magazine programming. This was his busiest season to date for Sky, having joined in the mid 90s as a touchline and features reporter. With games being presented from the stadium, as much as possible this year, Gavin travelled the length and breadth of the country but so far had not taken in Withdean; both our Live matches had come away from home thus far. Joining him in the Madejski stands was Ray Houghton. The Glasgow born midfielder played internationally for the Republic of Ireland, scoring famously in World Cup ’94 and the winner against England at Euro ’88. His club career took off at Fulham before winning his first major trophy with Oxford in 1986, scoring in their League Cup Final victory. He then secured a move to Liverpool where he made the most appearances for the Reds than any of his other clubs, winning two League titles and two FA Cups in the process. At the start of the Premier League era Houghton was a major signing for Ron Atkinson, coming close to another League title in the first season. He later had spells at Crystal Palace and two years at tonight’s hosts Reading before ending his career in 2000 with Conference side Stevenage. He moved into media work with his distinctive Scottish accent, co-commentating and punditing for Sky Sports on Republic of Ireland internationals and Football League matches as of this season. He also became a regular voice on radio with Talksport. Houghton, along with Alvin Martin, would commentate on the League when number one Chris Kamara’s workload would not permit. This was usually Sundays, due to presenting Goals on Sunday, and some Saturdays, when he’d be at a ground reporting in-vision for results service Soccer Saturday. With this being a Friday, Kamara could take up his usual position alongside first choice Ian Crocker on the commentary gantry. The pairing covered our last televised match, the creditable one-one draw away at Wolves. During that match, Crocker pointed out Albion had never won a Live League fixture on the box. Quirky research, puns and enthusiasm were all key components to an Ian Crocker commentary, with his excitable, memorable goal calls often featuring in promos and adverts for upcoming matches. He made his name in Scotland and is very fondly thought of North of the border, leading Sky’s SPL commentaries for four years from 1998 before they lost the rights. Completing Sky’s broadcast team was a new name to Seagulls on the small screen – reporter Fraser Robertson. The Scotsman began television work on STV before moving to Sky in the late 1990s. He was a familiar voice on Sky Sports News reports and covered the 2000 FA Cup Final by reporting from the Aston Villa team hotel. Robertson joined the Football League team in November and has become the number one reporter since, replacing Bryn Law who began the season in the role.

REA Robertson REA Salako REA Reading form REA Little

The Coverage: Pre match build up began half an hour before the 8pm kick off, with Reading’s midweek matches usually beginning at this time instead of the regular 7.45pm start most others use. This extended the Sky coverage beyond the usual 7.30-10pm programme by an extra ten minutes or so. Still sponsored by SkyBet with those blokes enjoying a pizza and a gamble in their living room, the title sequence soundtracked by The Skids’ Into the Valley remained as it was for our last televised match at Wolves back in November. Host George Gavin introduced the programme by highlighting the contrasting fates of tonight’s two clubs; “They’re nervous, both sets of supporters, but for different reasons. Can Reading go up to the Premiership? Can Brighton avoid going straight back to Division Two?” With the intros done, Gavin brought in his guest for the evening, Sky regular Ray Houghton, up on the gantry. The studio coverage was still a single-camera set-up, meaning both were in shot when the other was speaking at all times and with a less experienced guest could make for slightly uncomfortable viewing. Houghton though was becoming well versed in telly since retirement. A glance at the table showed how precarious Brighton’s position was, out of the relegation zone on goal difference only and having played a game more than Stoke; both on thirty-seven points. There was a further six point gap to the team above in twentieth place – Derby County. At the other end, a win for Reading would move them one place up to third for the time being at least, though they’ve already played once more than current occupier Sheffield United as well as fifth placed Nottingham Forest. The Sky graphics were backed by Albion shirt sponsors, Skint records; their band Mighty Dub Katz and their track Let the Drums Speak, which I absolutely loved. The team news was brought to us by touchline reporter Fraser Robertson where the headline was Bobby Zamora’s return after two games out with a hamstring injury. The first VT piece centred around Reading, with their experienced midfielder John Salako talking us through their squad and the campaign overall. He was well placed having played under Steve Coppell and alongside Alan Pardew, both whilst at Crystal Palace. He singled out striker Nicky Forster for praise; “Great pace. I think Nicky would scare the life out of defenders and do really well in the top flight. I think he feels, at twenty-nine, that it may have passed him by but he’s got all the attributes and all the requirements to play at the very top level.” Reading’s form this season was documented, with 100% records in both November and February propelling them up the table. Manager Pardew spoke with Robertson on the touchline in cautious mode; “We need to have calm heads tonight and if we do that we’ll win… No-one gives up anything lightly, this is proper football tonight and looking forward to it.” Debutant Glen Little was in the spotlight, having joined from Burnley on loan; he’d be sure to be one to watch having already scored past us this campaign for his parent club.

REA Beasant REA Palm Reader REA Crystal Ball REA Zamora stats

When the attention turned to the Albion, the first man focussed on was the oldest; forty-four-year-old goalkeeper Dave Beasant. What followed can only be described as one of the most bizarre VT ideas in football as Beasant was sent along with Seafront to visit a palm reader! The full package is available to view at the foot of this post. With the Harry Potter music playing, Beasant was sat alongside this reader who predicted a bright future. “I’m very happy to see that you, and the people are you, are going to rise above where you are right now. I’m pleased to see that you and your team are going to do well because the outcome is what we’d all wish.” Presumably that wish being for this madness to end. I can only think that because of his big, goalkeeping hands they thought this palm reading idea up otherwise I’m really struggling. Because, after her empty platitudes (what else was she going to say? ‘I see you and your team being relegated by the end of the month’?!), Beasant had a normal interview in a normal surrounding. He told of the similarities between here and previous clubs; “The day I walked in the dressing room door at the training ground, the atmosphere in there was one that was very, very similar to what I left at Wimbledon all those years ago. It had got some characters in there; Charlie Oatway, Bobby Zamora.” Following this, the studio team analysed a man half Beasant’s ago; Zamora. Houghton was full of superlatives; “Fantastic player, a real livewire. Got all the ability, all the tricks and it’s tremendous news for Brighton this evening that he is fit and well and he looks like he really is up for this game.” His stats were displayed alongside him warming up, proving just what a huge part he played in the two title successes. His absence was sorely missed, with no wins this season when he didn’t play. The man trying to get the best out of him, Steve Coppell, then spoke in the tunnel to Fraser Robertson. He explained the team selections and the remaining games, taking his usual calm, measured approach to things. When asked why he believed they can save themselves from the drop, he responded with “I don’t know whether we can to be honest! If we’re good enough we can but that’s something we’ve got to prove over the next six games.” Sometimes he was a bit too honest. After a little more studio chat it was time to head for the adverts as kick off fast approached. Upon the return, the teams were in the tunnel and our commentators took over; Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara.

REA Infobar REA Coming Up REA Added Time REA MOTM

The Sky Sports Infobar at the bottom of the screen kept viewers up to date with the latest scores from the other match being played tonight; in Division Two between Northampton and Wigan. During half time, Gavin and Houghton looked back at the key incidents of the first period, which centred around the excellent decision making of Paul Brooker and Bobby Zamora to combine for the goal. The infobar showed Reading having had more attempts and corners but it was the goal that mattered most. George Gavin described it as “the cleverest goal you’ll see all season.” Houghton had no qualms over the decision to award the free kick saying it was a “definite backpass”. He did think Brighton rode their luck during the half at times and probably didn’t quite deserve a lead at the break. I think the 8pm kick off may have caught the schedulers out somewhat, as some listings had the programme down to finish at 10pm. As such, Sky actually continued until 10.10pm but did not take an advert break after the match, once it had finally finished following five minutes stoppage time and a referee change. This meant we got around ten minutes or so of post match reaction and analysis, beginning with a word from Man of the Match Bobby Zamora. On the unusual circumstances for the opening goal, Zamora explained his thought process; “It’s worth a try. You know, quick free kick and resulted in a goal – if he says no then we just take it again.” He paid tribute to the tireless defence for giving them a shout of survival before picking up the bottle of Champagne. The table made for much better reading for Seagulls fans, putting pressure on those above them now as well as inching clearer of those below. The studio team analysed the goals in more detail. Praise was placed upon Carpenter for his delivery in the second Brighton goal but the lack of marking of Paul Kitson was Reading’s undoing. Remarkably that was Kitson’s first goal since November 2001, when he scored a hat-trick for West Ham in their televised match with Charlton. Seeing the replay of the Cureton goal for the home team, the amount of swerve on the ball was evident. The surprising stat was the amount of corners; Reading having nine and Brigthon not a single one. But Beasant dealt with them all extremely well, commanding and claiming like the experienced pro he is. We also heard from Steve Coppell with Robertson. He said he could see Reading had the initiative as the final fifteen of the first half went by and wanted to quieten things down in the second, which is exactly what happened. Ray Houghton called for Coppell to be manager of the year if he kept Brighton up. After tidying up the other result from the night and looking at the League standings, it was time to shut down for the evening as George Gavin bid us farewell and “bye for now”.

REA Away fans REA Referee REA Quick free kick REA Brooker goal

Story of the Match: The Albion kicked off the match in their change kit of all red. It started positively with both goalkeepers getting early touches, with little concern. Referee Mark Cowburn signalled his intentions straight away by awarding Reading’s Steve Brown a yellow card in the fourth minute for a tackle from behind, forcing the centre back into having to be more careful for the entire match. The referee was involved again when the first real incident of note occurred after a quarter of an hour. Bobby Zamora brought the ball forward from the halfway line skipping past one defender before being dispossessed quite heavily by the next. A combination of Royals defenders then passed the ball back to goalkeeper Hahnemann who picked it up. Zamora appealed for the backpass, which the referee obliged with the indirect free kick in the area. The next thing you heard was the sound of the ball hitting the net and a cheer going up from the away supporters, whilst the camera had focussed in on Cowburn. It was a goal! The quick-thinking of both Bobby Zamora and Paul Brooker combined to break the deadlock in creative fashion. Once the kick was given, Hahnemann was being wrestled for the ball by Zamora. The ‘keeper threw the ball away but only as far as Paul Brooker on the edge of the box. He kicked it back to Zamora who was standing where the infringement took place, he settled the ball with his hand before tapping it to Brooker unmarked eight yards out who coolly slotted home for his sixth of the season, past the despairing dive. All this was done whilst Reading defenders stood around aimlessly, expecting the referee to disallow it. But he quite rightly deemed it a legitimate goal and it was their own fault for lacking concentration, just like the Sky match director in missing the goal Live. It was excellent work from the Albion, what a huge goal this was. It took Reading a full ten minutes to get over the goal and create a chance of their own. The ball bobbled around at the back post following a corner, Cullip couldn’t quite clear and it fell to Forster who scooped it high and wide when normally he’d bury it. As the half went on, Reading enjoyed a greater share of possession and many corners but very little was coming from this. That was until the thirty-ninth minute when James Harper’s corner was met by the head of Glen Little unmarked at the back stick. Paul Brooker was the man to rescue Brighton as he headed it off the line. A few minutes later it was Little again who had to be thwarted. It was chipped up to him to volley from fifteen yards which thankfully went straight down the throat of Beasant who was able to parry away and clear with the help of the defence. There were warning shots being fired Albion’s way for sure and the break probably came at the right time. Not before Nicky Forster was denied a penalty when Kerry Mayo tangled legs with him. The referee’s position prevented him from seeing the incident clearly enough and it was one-nil to the Albion at half time.

REA New Referee REA Subs REA Kitson goal REA Reading goal

One man heavily involved in the game that would not be returning for the second half was the referee Mark Cowburn. He picked up a calf injury and had to be replaced by Fourth Official Clive Penton, causing a momentary delay to the restart. Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle was amongst those watching at the Madejski, with long-standing rumours about Spurs seeking Bobby Zamora. Brighton sat back and invited Reading pressure on them in the second half. Chances were few and far between as the Seagulls held strong. The usually dependable Forster for Reading just wasn’t firing tonight. In the sixty-seventh minute it looked like he had carved an opportunity out for himself when he cut inside Danny Cullip but sliced the curling shot high and wide. A minute later though he went very close to the equaliser. Harper’s excellent through ball beat the offside trap. Forster managed to hold off Ingimarsson and took a shot on the slide as he approached the six yard box, the effort trickling just wide of Beasant’s far post. It was not his night. With less than twenty left on the clock, Brighton made a double substitution. Gary Hart, one of the most underrated players in the club’s history surely, ran himself into the ground all night and was replaced by Nathan Jones, whilst Paul Kitson made a rare cameo too. Whilst Reading made their second change having brought Kevin Watson on earlier, Jamie Cureton now entered the fray too. With less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Simon Rodger burst down the left wing at pace, only stopped by Murty’s foul. The resultant set piece was swung in to the middle of the box by Richard Carpenter where newbie Paul Kitson rose to glance a header goalwards. The ball went through Hahnemann’s legs and squirmed in to double the advantage. What an impact substitution! Finally, Kitson gave the Seagulls supporters something to cheer about after a season of virtually nothing, mainly due to injuries. For that moment, for those fans, it didn’t matter what went on before because suddenly a vital, precious win was well within their reach. Things got a little nervy with six minutes remaining when sub Cureton pulled one back for Reading from nowhere. A bouncing ball some thirty-five yards out sat up for the striker who hadn’t featured since January. He just went for it and, with Beasant on the six yard line, it flew into the goal. It was a wonderful strike, bending into the top corner for two-one. Somehow an additional five minutes were signalled by the new Fourth Official at the end of the ninety, prolonging the Albion agony. As they had done all evening, the Seagulls stood strong and came away with all three points as Reading could not force an equaliser. It was a huge result, giving a three point cushion above the drop zone, albeit having played more. But suddenly the great escape looked a slight possibility when for so long it was but a dream. The Albion had broken the television hoodoo, this the club’s first ever Live TV League win. Oh what a night!

REA Table.JPG

READING 1 BRIGHTON 2
Cureton Brooker, Kitson

REA Replay REA Goal

PREVIOUS; #11 WOLVES 1-1 BRIGHTON 11/11/2002

NEXT; #13 GRIMSBY 2-2 BRIGHTON 04/05/2003

 

#19: Leicester 0-1 Brighton 30/08/2004

#19 LEICESTER 0-1 BRIGHTON Championship
Monday 30th August 2004 Image result for

LEI Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Neil Warnock
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Tony Gale REPORTER Greg Whelan
12.30pm Kick Off; Walkers Stadium, Leicester     12-2.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

LEI Ident LEI Sponsor LEI Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton bounced back to the second tier at the first time of asking with the victory in the Play Off Final back in May. A solitary Leon Knight penalty beat Bristol City at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium to enable Albion’s fourth change of Division in as many seasons. Amidst all the promotions and relegation in recent times, one constant has remained; the need for a new permanent home in Sussex. The team on the field were wildly outperforming the circumstances off it, with athletics ground Withdean continuing to house the club for the time being. With the running track pitchside and the leafy forest behind the South Stand, big clubs like Sunderland and Leeds were in for a shock travelling down. They could be forgiven for thinking they were on a pre-season friendly in Norway rather than vying for promotion to the Premiership. The fight for a new ground continued as we entered the 2004/05 season in the newly rebranded Coca-Cola Championship – the new name for the old Nationwide Division One. The Divisions below were also renamed; as Leagues One and Two, and received a shiny new trophy to compete for. Brighton’s early form in the new League hadn’t got off to the best of starts. The Seagulls lost three of the first four, including a home tie to fellow newly-promoted side Plymouth. Things were starting to pick up though, as the first win of the season came just two days before today’s clash, as Albion beat Preston at Withdean thanks to an own goal. Games were coming thick and fast as we travelled up to Leicester for an August Bank Holiday Monday fixture. The Foxes were relegated from the Premiership last season in eighteenth place under former Brighton gaffer Micky Adams. They too struggled to adjust immediately to the new League, also with just the one win thus far. They were defeated last time out at the Walkers Stadium, Watford winning one-zero. The squad wasn’t hugely different to that of the last campaign so bigger things were expecting of Leicester and Adams. All this garnered the interest of Football League rights holder Sky Sports, who selected the match to be broadcast Live at the earlier time of 12.30pm. Could Brighton get one over their old boss in front of the nation and secure a vital three points?

LEI Leicester LEI Brighton LEI Formation

The Teams: Goalkeeper Ben Roberts kept seven clean sheets out of eight to guide Brighton up to the Championship at the back end of last season, but a persistent back injury forced him out of this campaign and had to retire in 2005. Michel Kuipers returned to the first team in his place, having previously been number one for most of his time on the South Coast since joining in 2000. He spent time on loan at Hull last season where former Albion boss Peter Taylor was in charge, but a car crash put him out of action. On the bench today was local eighteen-year-old Chris May, a product of Martin Hinshelwood’s youth system. Hinshelwood’s nephew Adam was given his Albion debut two years ago, when we were last in this Division, making over twenty-five starts since and increasingly becoming a regular. Usually a defender, Hinshelwood played in the middle of the park alongside another youth product; Dean Hammond. Joining Brighton at the age of eleven, he first featured in an LDV Vans Trophy match in 2000 aged seventeen. Professional terms were agreed in 2002 but never really broke through consistently to the first team, spending time on loan at Aldershot and Leyton Orient before getting his chance in this midfield. This area was strengthened over the summer with two trialists signing on; former Wycombe playmaker Darren Currie, who was out of contract, and Chelsea youngster Alexis Nicolas on loan. The central defensive partnership of Danny Cullip and Guy Butters was so key to Albion’s rise up the table last season. Left back Dan Harding was sent off in the first home match in the League and had been out of the squad since, with long-serving Kerry Mayo keeping his spot. Adam Virgo was surprisingly being used as a makeshift striker, perhaps spurred on by his crucial headed goal in the Play Off Semi Final in May against Swindon. This opened up an opportunity for nineteen-year-old Adam El-Abd to come into the side for his first start this season at right back. Play Off Final hero Leon Knight was yet to get off the mark. New names on the subs bench since that Final included Maheta Molango – who scored just twelve seconds into his debut at Reading – and former Wimbledon winger Albert Jarrett. Mark McGhee took on Micky Adams, who left the Albion for Leicester in 2002. Following their relegation from the Premiership, there was much comings and goings in the transfer market. Former Aston Villa forward Dion Dublin, sent off on the opening day on his debut, partnered David Connolly, who lost in the Division One Play Off Final with West Ham in May. They had experience in ex-England goalie Ian Walker, European Championships winner with Greece, Nikos Dabizas, at the back, left-footer Danny Tiatto and Foxes favourite James Scowcroft. On the bench, defender Martin Keown and striker Trevor Benjamin both had loan spells with the Albion; Benjamin back at the beginning of the calendar year scoring five in ten before Chris Iwelumo joined, whilst Keown made his professional debut on loan with us twenty years ago before enjoying huge success at parent club Arsenal. Taking charge of this Bank Holiday clash was referee Keith Hill.

LEI Gavin LEI Warnock LEI Studio LEI Whelan

Presentation Team: George Gavin once again hosted Sky’s exclusively Live coverage of the Football League, with the Divisions now sponsored by Coca Cola instead of Nationwide. With Ian Payne no longer fronting Saturday lunchtime Football League kick offs, Gavin had pretty much a monopoly on the coverage this campaign as well as hosting the Thursday evening preview programme Football League Review from Sky’s studios. With the new branding to the Championship, a regular Sunday night edition was added, showing all the goals from all three Divisions linked by Gavin’s voiceover. This was Sky’s answer to the new networked ITV programme The Championship broadcast each Sunday morning replacing Football League Extra. Joining Gavin at Leicester’s Walkers Stadium today was Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock. The Blades weren’t in action until the following evening, giving Warnock the chance to scout the opposition as he’d be visiting here Leicester in two weeks’ time, and the Albion a further couple of weeks after. Due to his loud, brash character, Warnock found himself making regular television appearances throughout his career. He joined Sheffield United in 1999 and had since became the ‘nearly men’, taking them to an FA Cup and a League Cup semi-final and losing out to Wolves for Premiership promotion in 2003. He enjoyed Play Off success with an earlier club; Notts County, as Brighton fans remember all too well back in 1991 as we were defeated three-one at Wembley. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Tony Gale. This was the beginning of Crocker’s third season as the voice of the Football League, established when Sky regained control of the rights in 2002. At the same time, the Scottish Premier League contract was lost, of which Crocker had been lead commentator for four years. Last season he re-established his Scottish football credentials by commentating on Celtic and Rangers in the UEFA Champions League during Sky’s first year covering the competition. His co-commentator today was Tony Gale. During the course of last season, Gale became a regular voice on the Football League behind Chris Kamara and Garry Birtles. He covered the Division Three Play Off Final in May and was also behind the mic for our First Leg Semi Final one-nil win at Swindon. He won the Premiership with Blackburn in 1995 but is more remembered for his spell before that at West Ham. Reporting on the touchline was a new name to Sky’s Football League coverage, Greg Whelan. He joined the Live team at the start of the season taking over from Fraser Robertson. Whelan previously reported on Sky’s Live Conference football over the past three seasons. He also regularly featured in-vision on scores service Soccer Saturday providing updates on games around the country.

LEI Fixtures LEI Referee

The Coverage: The whole League rebrand to the Championship brought about new logos, which Sky incorporated into the same style title sequence from last year. The theme tune remained The Skids – Into the Valley with the flashing scoreboard end card, now featuring the words ‘Championship Live’ as opposed to Football League Live. The programme however was still referred to as the latter. Leon Knight’s celebration in the face of the camera during our Live match with Plymouth last season was now part of the opening sequence too. Coverage was sponsored by SkyBet, as before, with new sponsorship bumpers featuring an irate Alan Partridge style commentator who was voicing over real action as his bet lost. Host George Gavin and pundit Neil Warnock came on air at midday for this 12.30pm kick off, giving a full half an hour’s build up to set the scene for this match and all the other 3pm games. Coverage was hosted from within the Walkers Stadium. The top of the show told of the changes brought about at Leicester following the drop out of the Premiership; “Director of football Dave Bassett has helped Micky Adams bring in eleven players to Leicester but seventeen have gone since relegation.” Their form didn’t begin well in the new League either, with a very inconsistent start particularly at home. Speaking of inconsistency, the Albion haven’t played in the same Division two years in a row since the turn of the Millennium; “Brighton’s players have been either promoted or relegated in each of the last four seasons.” The new season brought about new graphics for Sky’s Football League broadcasts, adopting the same style red and blue 3D bars as the top flight coverage took back in February and which we enjoyed in the last Live game; the 2004 Play Off Final. However, this League set was more basic than then, with fades in and out as opposed to the stylish animation. The refresh was brought in at the beginning of the campaign when Leeds opened Sky’s Championship season against Derby three weeks earlier; the first of sixty regular season games to be broadcast Live in the third of a four year contract since regaining the rights in 2002. All graphics were now different to before apart from the scorebar which remained as last year. The replay transition had changed; still the beautiful Championship trophy but now ran diagonally and with a bright light glow. The club crests crashed in as before when a goal was shown. The main backing track when the table and fixtures were shown was now the excellent ‘Apache’ by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band.

LEI Baine & Samrah LEI Dick Knight LEI Division 3 Champions

Gavin and Warnock looked back over the best of the weekend’s action, with clubs doubling up playing Saturday and Monday over the Bank Holiday. This included showing the only goal of the game as Brighton secured their first win of the season at home to Craig Brown’s Preston. The former Scotland manager then got the boot after a poor start. There was also brief discussion about the news from the morning that Newcastle had sacked Sir Bobby Robson in what turned out to be his final managerial role. Attention turned to the Live match, as we crossed pitchside to reporter Greg Whelan who brought us the team news. One of the key stories over the past few years had of course been the Seagulls’ fight for a permanent home and Whelan compiled a report on the latest goings on in that long-running saga, which can be viewed at the bottom of the page. The piece linked Saturday’s win with a look back at the story of the pitch battles, with archive footage from 1996 and the invasion protest, through to the Gillingham years and now at Withdean. Amongst the most prominent supporters leading the charge for the new stadium were John Baine and Paul Samrah. They were both on the PA system at Withdean and gave their take to the Sky cameras, telling the grim reality of the situation. Chairman Dick Knight also gave his story, from taking over at the end of the Goldstone period right up to now. Today’s opposing manager, Micky Adams, began the resurgence by winning the fourth tier in 2001 and came in for high praise from Baine; “In my opinion Micky Adams is the best manager that this club has ever had and I’ve been watching the Albion since I was seven. Certainly the best manager that I’ve ever seen, I think given the restrictions, the team he put together – many of which are still the backbone of the team we’ve got now.” The VT took us right up to now and beyond, glimpsing the proposed Falmer site and the struggle manager Mark McGhee had to keep players with the limited budget and facilities. Back in July the man making the decision, deputy PM John Prescott, ordered another public inquiry into the new stadium to drag things on even further. On the back of the report we heard from some of the travelling supporters at today’s match, stressing how important the decision is. It was amplified by playing Leicester who themselves had fairly recently moved home.

LEI Leon Knight LEI McGhee LEI Infobar LEI Coming Up

The studio team took a closer look at some of the key men in this fixture. Leicester strikers Dion Dublin and David Connolly were expected to be in with chances today, whilst the Albion’s cause was represented by Leon Knight. Warnock questioned Knight’s attitude, speaking specifically about a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday where he proved very inconsistent. The Sheffield United manager though also praised his ability on his day, with the goal tally last time round speaking for itself. Greg Whelan spoke with both managers ahead of kick off. Mark McGhee was taking all the positives out of the first win on Saturday; “The fact is we still don’t have some of our experienced players back fit and we’ve got four points. In many ways we look upon that as a bonus because we have been playing with a very young side.” The scene was set for the big match, an advert break separated the build up from the teams emerging from the tunnel for our commentary team of Ian Crocker and Tony Gale to take over. At half time, Neil Warnock’s tactical advice for Brighton was paying dividends, saying if they could hold out for twenty to twenty-five minutes and take their only chance they could cause an upset. The match facts running across the info-bar at the bottom of the screen showed a picture of domination from Leicester in the first period, having more shots and possession, even if it didn’t quite come across like that in reality. The replays also proved conclusively that Virgo was onside for the goal, with Warnock full of praise for the emergency striker’s tireless effort and work rate all match. The studio team didn’t have much time at all after the final whistle, with the off-air time due at 2.30pm it gave them just a couple of minutes to wrap things up. They analysed the decisive goal again and looked at the few chances which fell to Dion Dublin before he shifted to the defence. The table showed Brighton flying up from twenty-third before the match up to eleventh at full time, albeit before anybody else had played their sixth match. There wasn’t time to hear from the players or managers, with the final word going to Neil Warnock who wanted to praise the referee’s performance in a rare act of positivity towards officials. It was one of those days!

LEI Kick Off LEI Comms LEI Yellow LEI Onside

Story of the Match: Brighton started the better of the two teams, taking the game to Leicester in the opening minutes. The home side’s frustrations were evident, both in the stands and on the field. Frustrated with the start to this match and the entire campaign. The first flash point came after the quarter hour mark when David Connolly took a little off the ball swipe towards Adam El-Abd after he was blocked off during a long throw. Luckily for Connolly, his swinging leg didn’t connect too much with the Brighton defender or his yellow card could have been a lot worse. The Albion nearly opened the scoring five minutes later through a very dangerous free kick whipped across goal by Darren Currie. Dean Hammond was closest to getting the touch, any touch, which would have fired it past Ian Walker but couldn’t quite stretch long enough as it flew just wide of the post. The Foxes’ first real sight of goal came through a Dion Dublin header after half an hour. Danny Tiatto chipped the ball in from the near side of the penalty area, as Dublin leapt highest to meet it. The effort went wide of the target when he had done everything in the move correct until that point. This was followed up moments later by Connolly curling a first-time shot low and just wide of the near post, as Leicester finally began to crank up the pressure. So when the deadlock was broken with five minutes to go before half time it was with great relief that the goal went the way of Brighton. After Leon Knight made a nuisance of himself driving towards goal, Leicester were able to boot the ball upfield towards Dublin. After initially controlling it, the ball was nicked off him by Guy Butters on the half way line. Hammond touched it back to Cullip to launch a long ball forward where Knight was running back from. Knowing he was a long way offside, he made no attempt to interfere with play instead allowing makeshift striker Adam Virgo to run on. The home defence was caught out by Virgo’s run as he took the ball down from the sky well. Facing up against Matt Heath on the edge of the box, Virgo took a further touch to give a yard of space before unleashing a low drive towards goal. The quickly taken nature caught Walker out in goal as the ball found its way into the back of the net, squeezing just inside the post, to give Brighton the lead. Leicester were appealing for offside but with Knight not playing the ball and Virgo definitely level with his man the complaints were waived away. The Seagulls went in at half time in the lead with their only shot so far, to the boos of the home fans.

LEI Corner LEI Sub

Brighton in yellow kicked off the second half kicking right to left, after a false start. Michel Kuipers was forced into a smart stop early on to deny Connolly, the wide angle against the Irish striker. Dion Dublin then tried to catch the former Dutch marine off his line, lofting a shot from the half way line with Kuipers scrambling slightly. He did get back to cover it but in the end there was no need as it bounced over and wide. Warning shots were being fired. As the second period wore on, it was Leicester who were having all the creativity and the chances but without any joy or serious threat. The Albion defence stood strong. A tactical reshuffle for Leicester saw Dublin revert from centre forward to centre back, the opposite move from goalscorer Virgo who was now head to head with the ex-England man. A couple of clashes held up the game as it drew towards its final stages. A collision of heads meant Cullip required a new shirt without the blood spilt, as well as without a name or number, a rare sight in the modern game. A few minutes later James Scowcroft went studs first with a nasty looking leap towards the shin of Guy Butters, fortunately no injury was caused and a caution was collected. With Leicester’s lack of penetration and poor form, frustrations grew louder following substitute Keith Gillespie’s foul throw late on. There were half-hearted appeals for a Leicester penalty in stoppage time, as Adam Virgo’s hand was raised when trying to head the ball away from a free kick. It definitely hit his hand and should have been given but wasn’t spotted. Come the full-time whistle chants of “What a load of rubbish” rang round the East Midlands. So the Albion hung on for a famous away win to make it two victories on the bounce to close August out before the international break. A better start to life in the second tier here compared with two years ago was always going to be vital and the signs were positive as Brighton aimed to stay put in the Division for a bit longer. For this afternoon at least, the Seagulls were soaring into the top half of the Championship!

LEI Table

LEICESTER 0 BRIGHTON 1
Virgo

LEI Goal LEI Replay

PREVIOUS; #18 BRIGHTON 1-0 BRISTOL CITY 30/05/2004 

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Small Screen Seagulls; Play Off Final v Bristol City, 30/05/2004

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sThe story of Brighton and Hove Albion around the turn of the Millennium was of a club finally on the rise again. After a disastrous decade in the 1990s – losing at Wembley in a Play Off Final, embarrassing exits in the FA Cup to non-League teams, almost becoming one of those non-League teams but for the skin of our teeth at Hereford and, of course, corruption in the boardroom leading to the sale of the Goldstone and nowhere to call home – the 2000s began with back-to-back titles flying up the Football League. By May 2004, still homeless and fighting, Brighton had the chance to enjoy a moment in the spotlight in the Nationwide Division Two Play Off Final. It was the opportunity for the Seagulls to take flight into the second tier, win a trophy, play at a National Stadium and, most importantly, champion the Albion cause in public. The match was Live on Sky but for those at the game or who didn’t have digital telly, ITV in the Meridian region broadcast a full thirty minute highlight programme.


Brighton 1-0 Bristol City, Play Off Final; 3pm, Sun 30th May ’04

POFHL Titles

Meridian Broadcasting gained the ITV franchise for the South and South East from 1st January 1993, taking over from Television South (TVS). Since then the ITV regional programmes for that part of the country fell under the Meridian (or ITV Meridian) branding. What this meant in terms of the football coverage, not much changed initially. TVS did not have their own production for the Live matches involving the regions Football League teams once ITV lost top flight rights in 1992. Instead they showed the networked or LWT (London) productions. When Meridian took over this continued until the beginning of the 1994/95 season, when weekly highlights show The Meridian Match was brought in. Every Sunday afternoon, Andy Steggall would round up the weekend’s action from our local Football League teams; Portsmouth, Reading, Bournemouth and Brighton as well as Southend and Swindon who were on the edges and also covered by other regions. Southampton were predominantly a Premiership club during this period but would often be spoken about and featured whenever rights permitted. The Meridian Match would also feature occasional Live matches up until 1997 and then again in 2001/02, where highlights of the other teams would fit around. When Sky gained exclusive Live Football League rights, the regional programme would continue with half-hour highlights shows instead. Supplementing The Meridian Match on Sundays would be a midweek version; Meridian Soccer Night, also usually hosted by Steggall. This afforded the regions clubs regular exposure and highlights on the main commercial network and was how the majority of fans would view their team goals. For matches of significance, a special edition of the programme would air. When Reading reached the Play Offs in 2001 this was the case, and it was repeated in May 2004 when Brighton and Hove Albion travelled to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to take on Bristol City. At stake was a place in the second tier – to be renamed the Championship from August. Having followed Albion closely all season on Sunday afternoons, it was only right that Meridian got their chance in the Cardiff sunshine to see how it all ended.


Soccer Night, ITV1 Meridian, 11.45pm (Monday 31st May 2004)

POFHL Ident

A thirty minute highlight programme in the Meridian region was slotted into the late night Bank Holiday Monday ITV1 schedule to cover Brighton’s Division Two Play Off Final with Bristol City. Monday nights were football nights on ITV that season, with the regular edition of The Premiership on Monday chaired by Matt Smith and his panel of experts from 11pm. This was followed into the early hours of Tuesday morning by Nationwide Football League Extra, ITV’s weekly round up of all the goals from the three lower Leagues and voiced by the trio of Tom Skippings, Trevor Harris and Tony Jones on a whistlestop tour of goals and features. UEFA Champions League Weekly was also part of the late night/early morning three course football feast, as the best of the action from the continent’s premier competition got an airing. But on this particular Monday night, with the regular League seasons done and dusted, it was here where ITV1 Meridian could broadcast Soccer Night, showcasing the action and reaction from the Albion’s final match of a long season, complete with the regional ident featuring long-serving Meridian Tonight news presenters Debbie Thrower and Fred Dinenage.

POFHL Semi Final 1 POFHL Bristol Semi POFHL Semi Final 2

The programme began by having a quick recap of the Semi Final matches for both Brighton and Bristol City, seeing how they got to this stage. Fourth placed Brighton’s journey began away at fifth in the table Swindon Town on a very sunny Sunday afternoon in mid May. Richard Carpenter’s deflected goal the difference as the Albion claimed a one-nil victory. Bristol City, the highest placed side in third, secured a one-all draw away at Hartlepool in their first leg thanks to Tony Rougier’s opener after just five minutes. In the second leg it took two late, late goals to overturn the ‘Pool lead given to them midway through the second half. First Goodfellow in the 88th, then Christian Roberts in stoppage time saw the Robins of Bristol progress to the Final in dramatic circumstances. However, the Seagulls showed them what drama really was the following evening in their second leg! Sam Parkin’s goal ten minutes before the end of the ninety meant Extra Time was required. Rory Fallon then gave Swindon the advantage overall until that Adam Virgo header in the last minute of Extra Time dragged the Albion level once more and headed for a penalty shoot-out. With Mooney missing, Virgo put Brighton in the ascendancy meaning Andy Gurney had to score or Swindon were out. The crash of the ball against the crossbar sent Brighton fans running onto the pitch, boss Mark McGhee sprinting for his safety to avoid a mobbing and, most importantly, set up this Final clash with Bristol City at Cardiff’s magnificent Millennium Stadium.

POFHL Steggall

Familiar face to the Meridian region for ten years, Andy Steggall presented from pitchside at the Millennium Stadium. Steggall’s career in broadcasting began in local radio for the BBC in Leicestershire having studied at university there before moving to Southern Sound – the precursor to Southern FM in Sussex. He transferred into sports television in the local area with TVS for eight years from 1984 as well as working for Channel 4 on their daily breakfast show at the start of the 1990s. After a year doing the sport for GMTV, in 1994 he moved into the role he’s had to this point; presenting the sport for Meridian. This incorporated news programme Meridian Tonight as well as weekly highlights show The Meridian Match. During the early part of his time with Meridian he presented Live Football League matches when ITV held the rights from the studio in Southampton. The region’s highlights show has seen him travel the country following the exploits of the likes of Reading, Bournemouth, Pompey and the Albion through real highs and desperate lows. He introduced this programme before handing straight up to the action with our match commentator.

POFHL Kick Off POFHL Commentator

Voicing the best of the action from the gantry was Phil Duffell. He had long been ITV’s voice of football in the West (HTV) region, commentating on their version of Soccer Sunday (The West Match) regularly from around 1995. These commentaries would then be heard across other regions on occasions, and even the main networked highlights show Football League Extra. During the 2001/02 season, he got the opportunity to commentate on a Live match for HTV West, as Bristol Rovers took on Plymouth, when the various ITV regions were able to broadcast occasional Football League matches as part of Soccer Sunday Live. For today’s Play Off Final, he was primarily there commentating for HTV covering Bristol City, with Meridian opting to use the commentary too. During the regular campaign this season on Meridian, the usual commentator was Ross Dyer. If he wasn’t around, Andy Ford would voice the goals. The pair took over from John Roder who had been a mainstay of The Meridian Match since 1997, including the couple of Live outings in 2001/02. Roder benefitted during the 2003/04 season from British Eurosport having the Live rights to Serie A, meaning his association on the South Coast came to an end. With Premiership highlights returining to the BBC from the upcoming 2004/05 season, Roder would become one of the new voices on the programme.

POFHL Brighton

Mark McGhee made one change from the last Brighton match; the topsy-turvy Semi Final Second Leg with Swindon. In came Gary Hart as Paul Reid made way. Captain Danny Cullip was named in the PFA Division Two Team of the Season whilst centre-back partner Guy Butters was voted the fans Player of the Year. Hero of that Swindon night Adam Virgo took his place at right-back with another local lad on the left; Dan Harding. Welshman Nathan Jones joined Englishmen Richard Carpenter and Charlie Oatway in the middle of the park. Club top scorer Leon Knight wanted to add to his tally of twenty-five goals. The big man/little man striking combination was completed by Chris Iwelumo. His victory in this game for Stoke two seasons ago made the big Scotsman the only Albion player to have featured on this Millennium Stadium surface before today.

POFHL Bristol City

Ex-Albion midfielder Danny Wilson brought his Bristol City side back to this Cardiff pitch for the second time having secured the LDV Vans Trophy last season. Three of his starting eleven were named in the PFA Divisional Team this term; Steve Phillips in goal, Louis Carey at the back and Brian Tinnion in the middle. Striker Tony Rougier made a handful of appearances for Brighton towards the end of the last campaign. Scottish forward Lee Miller played in the majority of the club’s matches but had only netted eight goals thus far. Christian Roberts was born in the host city. Refereeing the clash was Richard Beeby.


POFHL Roberts flap POFHL City chance

Story of the Match: The prize was spelled out by commentator Phil Duffell right at the start of the match. “It’s five years since Bristol City last played in Division One. Brighton’s exile at present stands at just one season. In ninety minutes time, maybe more, one of these teams will be mixing it with the likes of Leeds, Sunderland, West Ham and Wolves. It’s a cast they all want to join.” The first action shown was a nervy moment for Albion ‘keeper Ben Roberts, who flapped at a cross as he dropped it onto Guy Butters before bravely throwing himself in the way of any follow up as the stripes were able to clear. Moments later he again failed to clear danger from a ball into the area, as big City centre half Tony Butler got in his way. The ball dropped to Butler who blazed way over, with the linesman’s flag only slightly sparing his blushes. It wasn’t the brightest of starts for the man who had performed so well between the posts all season. Bristol City were considered by many as favourites for this match and they began accordingly.

POFHL Knight crossbar POFHL Half Time

Brighton’s first chance of note came when Leon Knight took a free kick from just outside the box. Welsh winger Nathan Jones, playing in the National Stadium of his home country for the first time, was tripped at speed by the smallest of contacts to earn the foul. Up stepped Brighton’s top scorer to curl the set piece towards the goal. It had Steve Phillips scrambling on his line to get there but he was assisted by the crossbar. It was a terrific effort to get it up over the wall and back down from a relatively short distance but just didn’t quite have enough to sneak in. But it was a warning shot that the Albion weren’t here for a day out. The first half lacked quality from either side as the tension of the occasion perhaps got the better of one or two, and the first half highlights came to a close with the score goalless.

POFHL Iwelumo shot POFHL Caught in possession

The match continued to be too close to call, with nothing able to separate them as the second half wore on. Both were restricted to half chances at best, with long range efforts and weak attempts on goal. As soon as one team had the ball, the other would win it back shortly after but not able to do much with it before being dispossessed. It would not be one of the famous Play Off classics, that’s for sure! An excellent crossfield pass from Semi Final hero Adam Virgo found Chris Iwelumo who took it on his chest. He created space and had time, more time than he perhaps realised as he rushed into a volley some thirty yards out which skipped off the turf and bounced well wide. Brighton almost created a problem for themselves out of nothing at the other end when Butters was caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area. The ball was being casually played around the back line and goalkeeper when the former Gillingham defender was guilty of being too relaxed. Tony Rougier charged him down but the dispossession took the ball flying out behind for a goal kick towards the corner flag. One mistake was probably going to be all it took to decide this, as the ninety minutes drew closer and Extra Time loomed large.

POFHL Sub POFHL Iwelumo header

It’s never a good sign on a highlights programme when a substitution being made is shown in full. That’s how light we were on match action I’m afraid! But John Piercy came on to replace Jones, who had enjoyed a little bit of rare success on the day and was unlucky not to last the full ninety. Piercy was involved straight away and it was his cross from the left which saw an Iwelumo glancing header drop just wide of the far post as Phillips gathered before it fell behind the line. The Seagulls supporters sensed an opportunity and sung loudly to galvanise the side to get it done within the regulation time. And they were right to lift those spirits as, with time running out approaching the final five minutes, Brighton rewarded them with the crucial breakthrough.

POFHL Foul POFHL Penalty

Adam Virgo gathered a loose ball on the half way line and chipped it down the line for Iwelumo to chase. The big Scotsman held it up whilst support moved ahead of him. He shrugged off one challenge before dribbling the ball forward towards the area. Faced with two red shirts he pushed it through for Leon Knight. The diminutive striker couldn’t quite collect the pass under the challenge of Danny Coles but Iwelumo had continued his run. Just as he got his foot to the ball and looked like he was about to unleash an effort to trouble Phillips, Coles took a big swipe in an attempt to hoof the ball away but Iwelumo was too quick for him and ended up being scythed down. It was a definite penalty, for which referee Richard Beeby had no doubt. Up stepped Knight to coolly slot the spot kick home and Brighton had the lead! “One nil Brighton and Hove Albion! Who else but Leon Knight has the goal which has Brighton one step nearer to Division One. The shirt’s off, the celebrations have started,” was the call from our commentator Phil Duffell. The seconds ticked away before the full time whistle had blown. Brighton were back in the second tier at the first time of asking.

POFHL Scoreline


“There goes the final whistle. Brighton and Hove Albion are back from whence they came last season. It’s Division One for the Seagulls thanks to Leon Knight’s penalty. It’s Knight’s day in Cardiff,” commentator Duffell exclaimed. The twelve minutes or so of match highlights that ITV Meridian had managed to scrape together during a tight, turgid affair had came to an end and the result was that it would be Brighton going up, with Bristol City suffering Play Off heartache for the second successive season. Before the interviews and celebrations could begin, it was time for the advert break so the final ten minutes of the programme could be spent basking in Albion’s jubilation.

POFHL Full Time POFHL Medal POFHL Trophy Lift

The celebrations began with the trophy lift. Manager Mark McGhee led the players up the platform on the pitch to collect their winners medals, followed by everybody involved from Nathan Jones and Chris Iwelumo through Gary Hart and Charlie Oatway right up to Adam Virgo and, of course, captain and Man of the Match Danny Cullip. A sea of blue and white remained in the Albion end, with the contrast shown over in the City side where the pain was very real once more. Cullip lifted that lovely looking trophy to signify once and for all that the Seagulls were soaring up to Division One!

POFHL McGhee POFHL Knight

Andy Steggall conducted the interviews with the winning team, beginning with the gaffer. McGhee began by stating the importance of the victory in the wider context; “It means so much to us not just about playing in the 1st Division, about playing at Molineux, The Den and Walkers Stadium, the Stadium of Light instead of some of the places we’ve been this year, but also about our own stadium. This is a demonstration to anybody why we need a ground.” Goalscorer Leon Knight was up next, who admitted his penalty didn’t need anything special just do the job. “It weren’t well hit but it was in the corner and that’s the main point and it went in the back of the net”, having described it as the best penalty of all his.

POFHL Dick Knight POFHL Fans

The chairman was just an important role in the recent successful years at Withdean as much as any of the playing staff. Dick Knight heaped praise on the squad as well as sending out the rallying cry in the need for Falmer’s permanent home. “A wonderful achievement by our players and Mark McGhee. But it also makes such a strong statement about the incredible support that we have. We brought nearly 30,000 people here today so, frankly, they’re chanting behind me ‘We want Falmer’, they deserve Falmer.” Nobody had featured more or done more in the campaign for the new site than Mr Knight himself; always there, always ready with a soundbite and fought the Albion cause so, so well.

POFHL Virgo POFHL Oatway

Sussex born Adam Virgo held the trophy in his hands as he was interviewed by Steggall. We’ll gloss over the fact Meridian captioned him as Gary Hart though! With the backdrop of the ecstatic fans over his shoulder, Virgo gave credit to his fellow players for their efforts and talked about the emotions of the day. “I was in the hotel room, so excited to get out it was like Christmas Eve! I just wanted to get out and play and if I wanna play at the top I’ve got to play under the biggest pressure.” Midfielder Charlie Oatway, who had been in and out of the side all season, discussed his part in it all. “You can’t bottle what this club has got. For me personally it’s been up and down, but I’m so pleased it’s finished up with a high.” The interviews were interspersed with shots of the crowd celebrating and the other players lifting the trophy. It was a joy to watch all connected with the Albion having the day out they deserved. Danny Cullip had the Nationwide promotion flags wrapped around him and a big blue and white soft hat on, beaming with his winners medal around his neck.

POFHL Goodbyes POFHL Endboard

And with that, presenter Andy Steggall stood pitchside and rounded off the final programme of the season for Brighton and indeed the other clubs in the Meridian region. “As Fatboy Slim nearly said,” he began to close, “First Division football starts right here, right now. And what of the future? Well, on a personal basis thankyou for all your support, your letters, your questions – no, this isn’t a perm! Thankyou to all of your teams who’ve supported me so well throughout this season. On behalf of all the production team, we couldn’t do it without you, we wouldn’t want to. From all of us, for another season goodbye.” The credits rolled to an Oasis cover of David Bowie’s classic “Heroes” and the curtain came down on a successful season for Brighton and Hove Albion – going back to the big time.

POFHL Celebrations

Full report on the Sky Sports Live programme covering this Play Off Final is available HERE.