Albion 2 – 2 Blackpool

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Disappointing as it was to throw away both a 100% winning record and a two goal lead, yesterday was all about a striking masterclass from a still very potent ex-International footballer. Kevin Phillips was the main reason the Albion didn’t win three points, it’s as simple as that.

Earlier yesterday I stuck £5 on Ashley Barnes at 40/1 to be the Championship’s top striker this season. A foolish bet some might think, but big Ash scored again yesterday, and only Phillips has scored more so far. The big fella had another good game yesterday, haranguing, bustling and being the old-fashioned number nine that the old comic books used to love. His partner Craig Mackail-Smith was even better, and scored a total peach of header for a striker – again like Kevin Phillips – who makes up for lack of height with strength of spring.

The Albion battered Blackpool in the first half, and fully deserved CMS’s goal after Dicker released the always threatening Craig Noone who put it on a sixpence on the noggin of CMS charging into the box. Gilks in the Blackpool goal had no chance, 1-0 and three sides of the Amex went wild. The rest of the half was more of the same with the four in midfield – Noone, Vincelot, Dicker, and the main man – Liam Bridcutt, taking the piss out of the recently Premier League-bothering visitors. I descended into the bar area of the East Stand just before the break in a fully satisfied mood.

Second half and the sun was blazing into the East, and we sat and fried as we watched our team go two up thanks to that man Barnes, then melted as Ian Holloway showed he is more than a media fool and switched 3 players simultaneously, changing the whole feel of the match. After that the Albion were on the back foot, and when Blackpool have a goal poacher of the pedigree of Phillips on the books the second half had an air of inevitability about it. A madman in a Brighton shirt and scarf was seen in the doorway of an RAF helicopter that appeared over the ground, fuck knows what that was about, but it was the only relief for the home fans in a torturous final half hour.

Us lot in the East have been ragged for being too quiet so far during games, and just when the whole stand got up to lead a song Phillips rose and headed one in. We need to keep quiet in the sunshine seats from now on methinks. After that the cavalry charge came in waves, and the tangerine army to our left found their voices at last. The sickener came in the last minute of the 90 when we only cleared to Phillips who volleyed a beautiful goal that went straight through everyone into the onion bag.

The donkey lashers went mental, and a few of them – one of whom was oddly in his sock soles – mounted a mini-pitch invasion, which the stewards thankfully treated as the harmless expression of sheer joy it was. They deserved it in my opinion, we invited Blackpool to attack us, and I think Poyet changing LuaLua for Noone, and putting on yet another defensive midfielder in Navarro was the wrong move. Holloway won this tactical game, although his team didn’t deserve more than a draw. Ten points from the first four games is an amazing achievement, and nothing that happened yesterday has me worrying about our season yet.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 7 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Liam Bridcutt

Attendance: 19,494

Npower Championship table

Saturday, 20 August 2011 19:20 UK
P GD PTS
1 Southampton 4 7 12
2 Derby 4 6 12

3 Brighton 4 4 10
4 Crystal Palace 4 3 9
5 Peterborough 4 6 7
6 Middlesbrough 3 3 7

7 Cardiff 4 1 7
8 Blackpool 4 1 7
9 West Ham 3 4 6
10 Millwall 4 1 5
11 Portsmouth 4 0 5
12 Nott’m Forest 4 -1 5
13 Reading 4 0 4
14 Leicester 4 -2 4
15 Barnsley 4 -2 4
16 Bristol City 4 -4 4
17 Leeds 3 0 3
18 Birmingham 2 0 3
19 Hull 4 -4 3
20 Ipswich 4 -7 3
21 Burnley 3 -2 2

22 Watford 4 -5 2
23 Coventry 4 -3 1
24 Doncaster 4 -6 0
Full Championship table
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