20 years ago, Brighton were languishing in the depths of the fourth tier of English Football. A famous match against Hereford United and subsequent equaliser from Robbie Reinelt ensured Brighton and Hove Albion’s safety. Meanwhile at the opposite end of the footballing pyramid, a Newcastle side led by Kevin Keegan, were gunning for the First Division title. They were pushed aside, 7 points behind a famous Manchester United side. 20 years ago, 90 league positions separated Brighton and Newcastle. Now it is just one.
It is amazing how much times have changed in 20 years. A club of Newcastle’s size shouldn’t be anywhere near the Championship. Brighton, who have spent a measly 4 years of their 116 year history in the top flight deserve this chance.
What do Brighton need to get promoted today?
If Brighton beat Wigan today, Huddersfield have to find victory against Derby. Brighton can also draw but that would require Huddersfield to lose to Derby. A draw would leave Hughton’s side on 90 points with a +36 goal difference. If Huddersfield lose, the maximum they can acquire is 89 points with +5 goal difference.
The magic number for Brighton is 93 points (4 more points) which is a win and a draw. That will guarantee promotion to the Premier League even if Huddersfield were to win their last five games (leaving them on 92 points).
After that, it is between Brighton and Newcastle to battle it out for the title. However, both sets of supporters will find relief in having guaranteed promotion sealed first.
It is surreal that 20 years of fighting, to save the club from relegation to the fifth tier of English football, to fight for planning permission for the AMEX, to comeback from back-to-back play off disappointments year after year, it has all boiled down to this day. This is the best time to be a Brighton fan. Let’s enjoy it.
Article by George Carden Contact:
Brighton are still well equipped for a top two finish after spending four days recuperating in the province of Valencia on the east coast of Spain. Chris Hughton’s side suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Leeds due to a brace from former Albion loanee, Chris Wood.
Despite the defeat, the performance wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Both goals were avoidable thanks to shoddy defending from Lewis Dunk and Fikayo Tomori. At the other end, Brighton’s main men were not at their best, chances for Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert were wasted. On another day, the result could have been completely different. However, you can’t afford to dwell on mistakes at this stage of the season.
The deserved break and three-day fitness camp should see players and management refreshed for the Blackburn match at the Amex on April Fools Day.
The first week of April sees Brighton face Blackburn and Birmingham City at home, as well as Holloway’s flying QPR side at Loftus Road on April 7. In the space of a week, Promotion could look more of a certainty than a dream. In the same week, Huddersfield have a straightforward match against Burton Albion, another home fixture against 8th placed Norwich, and an away match versus struggling Nottingham Forest.
If Brighton are able to get 7 points out of those 3 games, they will be on 85 points. Last season, Brighton were on 75 points after 40 games, they are 2 points better off with 2 less games currently. It shows how competitive the Championship has become at the top of the table. It is almost a certainty that more than 90 points will be needed for top two.
I would be much more worried if Brighton lost to Bristol City 4-0. However it can be said, all three top teams are dropping points at the moment. Newcastle have acquired 2 points out of a potential 9 in their last three games. Brighton and Huddersfield have 6 points out of a potential 9 in their last three games. The only team who have been undefeated for more than three games in the top six is Leeds. They are unbeaten in seven matches.
The end of another Championship season is drawing closer. Brighton are in a great position in terms of points tally and goal difference (+30 compared to Huddersfield’s +4 goal difference). If you told me that we would be on 77 points with eight games left and have a six point gap on third, I would have metaphorically bit your hand off!
Article by George Carden
Football can be cruel. In the space of minutes, a result can be turned on its head and throw fans through every emotion thinkable. Fulham were on the receiving end of that when Brighton punished them with two goals in three minutes back in early January. That would be the unfortunate fate of Brighton last night. Goals from Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez in the space of eight minutes snatched 3 points and 1st place from Hughton’s clutches.
Thoughts on the game…
Brighton started off the stronger of the two sides. Bruno was denied by Kyle Darlow after the keeper parried his powerful volley. Baldock also came very close after a clever free kick routine which saw him clear on goal. However, once again Darlow made the vital stop. The Magpies keeper made a few more decent saves against Knockaert and Murray
A scramble in the box granted Brighton a seemingly fortuitous penalty. Both Murray and Clark were pulling each others shirts. It was the first of many odd decisions by referee, Bobby Madley. Murray stepped up and converted the penalty.
Both teams had very good chances to score. Gouffran should have capitalised from Stockdale’s mistake. Brighton were unlucky to have a header cleared off the line. On another day the score could of been much higher for both teams.
It was a very mixed game for Brighton. The Seagulls created many great chances in the first 30 minutes. However, it was Newcastle who controlled the rest of the match in search of an equaliser.
David Stockdale – 6 – The keeper made some important saves which undeniably kept Brighton in the match. However, he almost gifted Gouffran a goal with a careless pass. Stockdale also should of done better with his punch for the first goal. It left him out of position for Diame’s fortuitous deflection.
Bruno – 5 – Unlucky not to score from his powerful volley. He was caught out of position and needed to win the header from Ritchie’s cross field ball to prevent the second goal.
Dunk – 7 – Another solid performance. Didn’t do much wrong and unlucky to see his header cleared off the line.
Duffy – 7 – Continuing to impressand wins virtually every header. A brilliant addition alongside Dunk. However shouldn’t have lost Perez in the box for Newcastle’s second goal
Tomori – 5 – Struggled on the left side because he is naturally right footed. Played well enough and made a few decent tackles.
Knockaert – 6 – We saw occasional glimpses of his quality. However, Newcastle did well in man marking and making sure he had limited space.
Sidwell – 8 – Another solid performance. He made some crucial tackles. Sidwell alongside Stephens is looking like a great partnership.
Stephens – 6 – Average game for his standard. He did his job but also misplaced too many passes on the night.
Murphy – 7 – One of the better performers in the team. His direct running threatened Newcastle in the first half. He went missing in the second half.
Baldock – 6 – Provided energy and pace upfront as he always does. He was unlucky not to score in first half.
Murray – 5 – Yes he scored a penalty. However, misplaced far too many passes and was isolated in the second half. Not his best game in a Brighton shirt.
Man of the Match:
Steve Sidwell. He was been rock solid in recent games. Provided some crucial tackles and link up play. He didn’t put a foot wrong in my opinion.
We have played the best team in the Championship and were unlucky to lose. We lost to a team that is worth over £70,000,000 who also have a Champions League winning manager at their helm. We only have one top six side to play (Leeds). The rest of our games are very ‘winnable’ against mid-table sides. Villa might be a struggle on the last day of the season, but hopefully we will be promoted already by then.
We need Newcastle to do us a favour and beat Huddersfield and Reading in their two fixtures. If they do and we can get past Forest and Rotherham then we could be 12 points clear of third.
We have +30 goal difference and are 6 points clear of third. We are in a very strong position and promotion is in our hands. Lets just hope the players can hold their nerve.
Both teams were below par however it was still an end-to-end entertaining game. The scoreline should have been much higher! Bobby Madley didn’t help the flow of the game by blowing the whistle every time players made contact. I thought we sat on our laurels too early and payed the price by sitting too deep and as a result gave Ritchie and Shelvey space to run at our defence and spray passes around the pitch. We were too sloppy with our passing which cost us when we were chasing a goal at the end. Hughton normally makes wise substitutions, however, taking Baldock off when it was 1-1 invited pressure and allowed the Magpies defence to play it out from the back. Kayal was also ineffective when he came on the pitch.
However, the chances we created would have probably been enough against a lower-placed side. It wasn’t our worse performance but a combination of misfortune and lack of concentration cost us. If we play like we did last night against Nottingham Forest, we are very likely to come away with three points.
Ideally, both Newcastle and Brighton will finish in the top two. Both teams have been superior than the rest of the Championship clubs over the course of the season and it would be the fairest outcome!
I believe Newcastle will win the league. Last night’s result will probably be the difference. However, winning the league is not the priority. Securing second and avoiding play offs is.
Top two is the priority and we are still in a great position to finish there.
From his days as a promising but reckless youngster, to a commanding ball-playing defender. The evolution of Lewis Dunk has been simply remarkable.
Since making his debut in a 0-0 draw with MK Dons back in April 2010. Lewis has gone on to make 133 senior appearances for Brighton and Hove Albion.
When did Dunk become a pivotal player for Brighton and Hove Albion?
Most Albion fans would agree that Dunk’s real breakthrough came in the 2014/15 season. Brighton finished 20th and without Dunk’s consistency and goalscoring threat, Brighton would of certainly been banished to League 1 obscurity. In all competitions, Lewis Dunk was Albion’s top scorer with 7 goals.
In the past, Dunk has been branded as a quality young player, however, a player who has a reckless streak. In the last 3 years, he has accumulated 4 red cards and 24 yellow cards (113 appearances). Two of those red cards were picked up last season.
Dunk has well surpassed last seasons yellow card total. The defender has picked up 11 this season which dwarfs his 6 from last season. Brighton fans have witnessed occasional lapses in concentration from the Brighton-born defender, he got sent off for a second yellow against the 3-1 defeat against Huddersfield and 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday for unnecessary tackles.
There is no denying his quality with Shane Duffy and David Stockdale in preventing goals. In Dunk’s 29 appearances, Brighton have kept 17 clean sheets. When Dunk has been suspended, Brighton have drawn 3-3 against Brentford, lost 2-0 to Preston, and scraped a win away at Wigan.
With games coming up against Reading, Newcastle, Leeds and Derby. Every player will need to be at their best. That means no reckless challenges from Lewis Dunk!
Brighton face a sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday side who will be looking to cause an upset in front of the Sky cameras.
Brighton suffered their first defeat in 18 games last weekend away to Preston North End. The Seagulls hadn’t lost a league game since September 10. However, before that, Chris Hughton’s side won five games in a row. Brighton currently have 12 points out of 15 in their last five games.
Sheffield Wednesday are currently unbeaten in six games, they have won four of those last six. Carlos Carvahal’s side boast wins against table-toppers Newcastle, and Huddersfield Town. In their last 5 games, the Owls have acquired 11 points out of a possible 15.
Last Time Out
Brighton won 2-1 thanks to goals from Sam Baldock and Anthony Knockaert. Gary Hooper scored a 90th minute consolation but it was too little, too late for Sheffield Wednesday.
Will Buckley. The winger joined Brighton in the summer of 2011 and went on to score 19 goals in 96 games for Seagulls. He then linked up with former manager, Gus Poyet, at Sunderland. Buckley failed to adapt to life in the Premier League. He made just over 20 appearances for Sunderland but since then has been loaned out to Leeds United, Birmingham City and current team, Sheffield Wednesday.
Fact of the Day:
Brighton last played Sheffield Wednesday on a Friday evening in 2012. The Seagulls won 3-0 thanks to goals from Craig Mackail-Smith, Wayne Bridge and you guessed it… Will Buckley.
We are looking forward to…
Having Lewis Dunk back in the side. He has been a rock in defence all season and having him back from his two-game suspension will be crucial.
Another massive game for Brighton. The players will be bursting to claim even more ‘revenge’ after the play off misery of last season. That revenge factor played the difference at Hillsborough in October and it could be the difference tonight.
November was a bit stop-start for the Seagulls. The two week international break certainly didn’t help Chris Hughton’s side. Brighton went into the Bristol City fixture on the 5th of November high on confidence after dispatching Norwich in a 5-0 thumping. A wonder goal from Steve Sidwell followed by a poignant celebration dedicated to Anthony Knockaert’s recently deceased father was the main talking point of the match. A goal from Jamie Murphy topped off a straightforward 2-0 win. It is important to also think of the Ince family during this time. Rohan Ince’s father also passed away in November.
Hemed, Duffy, Norwood, and Jiri Skalak represented their countries during the international break.
Brighton then faced Steve Bruce’s inform Villa side on November 18th. Despite their league position, most Albion fans could sense the importance of this fixture. Relatively low-spenders Brighton versus a Premier League founder who had spent 50 million on transfers alone in the summer. Villa came to the game and didn’t allow Brighton time and space with their pacey wingers and high pressure tactics. An outstanding goal from Glenn Murray was definitely the highlight. 1-1 was a fair reflection on the match in general.
Following on from this, Colin Calderwood resigned as assistant-manager the night before the Aston Villa match. He then controversially joined Steve Bruce’s side after a compensation deal was agreed between the two clubs.
Calderwood joined as Hughton’s deputy ahead of the 2015/16 season and alongside Hughton, guided Brighton to their highest ever Championship points tally of 89. He didn’t cover himself in glory however in the last game of the 2015/16 season. Arguably the biggest match in the clubs history, Calderwood appeared to elbow Boro manager, Aitor Karanka, after affairs became relatively heated. So maybe his departure is a positive thing. He doesn’t carry the same dignity and class as Chris.
Since then, Brighton have brought in Paul Trollope. He was the name everyone expected to be appointed due to his connection with Hughton from working with him at Birmingham and Norwich.
Beram Kayal signed a new two and a half year contract extension. The classy midfielder has been ever-present since joining in January 2015. He will be one of the key men if Albion want to grab a top 2 spot this season. Now all we need is for Dale Stephens to sign a contract!
Lastly, Brighton came back from the jaws of defeat, winning 2-1 against an impressive Fulham side. This game saw Stockdale, Duffy, and Baldock have some of the best games in their Albion careers. Fulham were unlucky not to get anything out of the match, but it also shows that the team we have assembled this season is one with a myriad of threats to opposing sides. Everyone contributes!
Article by George Carden. (Twitter: @George_Carden)
Arguably our toughest test of the campaign – The Seagulls will face off against fellow table-toppers Middlesbrough. A win on Saturday would really show everyone in the division that we are real contenders to be promoted (if we somehow haven’t proved that already!). Remember that the game is at 12:30pm rather than the standard 3:00pm.
Last 5 games
The Seagulls have nine points in their last 5 games. Picking up two wins and three respectful draws against fellow promotion contenders Burnley, Derby, and QPR. Surprisingly we have actually scored more than Middlesbrough, picking up 31 goals in comparison to their 30. However despite the spectacular goalkeeping efforts of David Stockdale we have managed to concede the relatively low number of 20 whereas Boro boast the best defence in the league with only 12 goals conceded.
Karanka’s side have acquired an excellent 13 points in their last 5 games. Picking up four wins and one draw. Two of those victories have been away from home.
Likely Goal scorers
With March injured until the end of the season, it is very likely that Rajiv Van La Parra will be given a consecutive start after scoring a wonderful 35 yard strike vs QPR. I get the feeling he will be able to make it three goals in as many games. Furthermore our other loanee James Wilson has been playing very well and his natural poaching ability could land him a goal. Bobby Zamora has been extremely potent since returning to the club so give him a chance and it will be more than likely that he will tuck it away.
One of Boro’s main threats will be playmaker, Stuart Downing. He had a great season with West Ham last season and moving down a division is definitely a big step down for a player of his quality. Boro’s other main threat comes in the form of Uruguyan international Christian Stuani (who must only play when Suarez and Cavani are ill!) who has notched an impressive 8 goals this season.
In my opinion this is our toughest test so far this season. A win tommorow will be massive encouragement and prove to everyone that we are true contenders in this league. I would not be suprised if either team snuck a victory but personally I feel like both teams will cancel each other out. I think a draw could be the most likely outcome.