Archive for the ‘Cup Games’ Category

Albion 1 – 2 Liverpool

September 22, 2011

That was a great night of football. Even though we lost it felt that this exciting new Albion side has finally arrived, with the potential we now show it can only take a catastrophic loss of nerve not to make something special of this season, the tools are there already, it’s the psychological factor that will decide if we rise or fall.

Seeing Liverpool – virtually at full strength – take to the pitch at Falmer was fantastic. The noise inside the ground was spine-tingling. The scousers are the first ever team to fill the away end (though I suspect the majority of them were probably from the South anyway) and they made some great noise themselves.

Dalglish’s side are in a different class to us, make no mistake, arch-twat Bellamy scored their first with nonchalant ease and the Reds battered us for most of the first half after that. I wasn’t arsed for two reasons – it’s only the League Cup, and I appreciate the beautiful game being played to the highest standard no matter who’s kicking the leather around. This is a team that most likely will finish top five this season in the Premier League, it just shows the quality of the top end of the big league.

Poyet made a couple of changes, Steve Cook replaced the on-form Dunk, which raised a few eyebrows. But the former Albion schoolboy had a decent game. Sparrow and Navarro both started in midfield, and they had a hard time against Rodriguez, Spearing and Lucas. CMS, up front alone without Barnes, ran and ran. I thought he might give that old fart Carragher a harder time, but the former England man is still a class act.

Our best players in the first half were once again our flying wingers – the perennially unlucky Will Buckley, and having the night of his life, life-long Liverpool fan and former tiler of Steven Gerrard’s roof – Craig Noone. Man of the Match for me again.

As someone mentioned on twitter (sorry I can’t remember who exactly) the club spent a fortune on one new winger, and chased another all summer for a loan deal, when actually we had our best winger at the club already. Nooney already has player of the season wrapped up in September, unless our latest winger can make an impact (more about him later).

It wasn’t until 5-10 minutes from half-time that Albion got a foot on the ball and started to threaten. Up until then it was flap central at the back, and our uprights played a blinder as Ankergren showed a worrying lack of nerve against the onslaught from Bellamy, Kuyt and Suarez.

No-one needs any further proof of Gus Poyet’s powers of motivation, and after his half-time talk a new team emerged (same players) from underneath the West Stand ready for the second interval. We took it to them, and it was one of the best second half performances I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. The atmosphere went stratospheric, and there were a few worried-looking faces in the away end.

Noone rattled the crossbar with Reina stranded and off we went. Sparrow went close, and Calderon and Noone started making progress into the last third. Then the crowd went hushed – poor old Buckley injured his hamstring again and the player who was taking off his trackie was none other than Vicente Rodríguez – The Dagger of Benicalap. This is Hollywood stuff folks, two times La Liga winner, UEFA Cup Winner, and 38 caps for Spain, now wearing the stripes in Brighton. The roof came off.

Vicente may not be 100% match fit, but straightaway he was flicking and dribbling into the danger area. Liverpool were reeling, and another world class player was about to come on. Say what you want about Gerrard, and he is a prime example of a modern-day shithouse millionaire footballer, but the guy can play. The Reds’ fans were happy he was back and he set about marshalling his midfield.

With ten minutes to go and Albion pressing, we got hit with the classic sucker punch, Liverpool broke, it was two on one at the back and Rodriguez put Kuyt in to finish us off. Hopes were raised when Vicente took a tumble in the area, and the substitute Ash Barnes tucked away the spot-kick with aplomb. It didn’t matter though, the game was worth it no matter how it turned out.

The train home was good fun, lots of scousers being scouse, the ‘let them mingle’ policy at the ground has worked famously – although Friday night and Leeds, then the Palace on Tuesday will almost certainly be segregated. But, there was no drama with the Liverpool lot and they remain dedicated and noisy on their travels.

I thought the recent international break broke Albion’s momentum, apparently we were bobbins at Leicester on Saturday, but this game hopefully has us back on track for a tilt at promotion. Roll on Friday.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 8 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Craig Noone

Attendance: 21,897 (2,403 Liverpool)

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Albion 1 – 0 Sunderland

August 24, 2011

Nice game, shame about the photo

I decided to sample the delights of the North Stand last night, just to see how a match looks & sounds in the bleachers. Apologies for the shitty photo, but I hadn’t much time to concentrate on photography during this classic match. I miss the old banter of the North Stand lot, and the goal end view isn’t as bad as I thought it would be; in fact I’m sorely tempted to move my season ticket over there for next year.

What can you say about this game? Sunderland were as poor as they were when we met met them in the Algarve last summer, and judging by the amount of abuse Steve Bruce took off the mackems back then I’m as surprised as anyone he’s still manager today (that might change soon of course).

The first fifteen minutes were ours, then Sunderland edged the rest of the first half, just. The second half was an ode to Gus Poyet, his way of playing football has truly come of age, and Brighton & Hove Albion are back in the big time, no doubt about it. Facing a team of World Cup players, internationals, ex-Man Utd stalwarts and, er, Anton Ferdinand, we were undaunted and gave them a right runaround. For want of better finishing/better luck this game wouldn’t even have reached extra-time.

We hit the post, had a penalty disallowed (although most people now admit Calderon dived and deserved his booking) and with Craig Noone destroying them from both wings the impressive 1205-for-a-Tuesday-night away contingent were one glum-looking bunch. Everyone had a good game, but most impressive were Dunk, Calderon, a very impressive return for Alan Navarro, Bridcutt, new boy Ryan Harley, CMS, Barnes, and our story of the season so far – Craig Noone. Having both Bridcutt and Navarro on the pitch was great, our passing was the neatest I’ve seen so far this season as a result, and just when Sunderland had had enough of tricky run-at-you wingers like Noone, LuaLua was brought on to torment them further. And people, we still have Buckley and Hoskins to add to this team, what an attacking midfield we have at the club right now, unbelievable.

The goal in extra-time was worth the wait, Navarro crossing for CMS to nod home his third of the season. The only black marks were the injuries to both Greer and Vincelot, although the Frenchman is easier replaced than our big captain. Here’s hoping for an even bigger draw next round.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 8.5 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Craig Noone

Attendance: 17,019 (1,205 Mackems)

Albion 1 – 0 Gillingham

August 10, 2011

Trip the light fantastic

A fairly inauspicious start to what may yet turn out to be a classic Abion cup run. But another historic night as the first game under floodlights was played at Falmer, shame the match didn’t dazzle the senses.

Before I speak about the match I have to mention the journey to and back from Falmer. As there were only 16,295 souls at the game, 1328 of whom travelled from Gillingham, you’d expect less of a crush getting there. Not a bit of it. I changed tactics and decided to have a beer in Hove, then catch the train from there instead of Brighton itself. When the train rumbled in from Portslade it was already chocka, we had to force our way onto a sweaty, smelly feet and BO stinking and cramped cattle truck. I couldn’t move my arms for the short hop to Brighton.

When we scrambled onto the Falmer train it was the same sketch, hot & horrible & dangerously overcrowded, with some very anxious looking old people and small kids stuck in the mix, this isn’t good enough. On the way back we took one look at the humongous queue for the trains home and decided to interlope into the bus queue. Luckily enough a number 25 pulled up, already half-full with bewildered foreign university students, to exactly where me and my pal were stood in the throng. But we still had to sharp elbow it onto the coach. Again, this is a bad accident waiting to happen. Brighton & Hove Council and Southern Railway need to get together and put on bigger trains and more buses. Sort it out.

The match started well for the Albion, dominating a typically hoof-balling League Two side in our erstwhile landlords. Their almost cockney fans must be affected with the same malaise as their rioting city cousins in the capital, they’re a bad tempered lot. The main reason was the little fat ref, who to be fair to him, was crap, and did none of the two teams any favours. How it stayed 0-0 at half-time was down to the stubborn and sometimes ruthless physical defending by the visitors.

Second half and the Albion just stopped playing, that’s all I can say, not bad enough to make Gills a danger, but enough to make for a poor 45 minutes of football. Will Buckley’s penalty was the one incident where the over-gobby Gills fans had a point about the dodgy ref, it wasn’t one, there was no contact from where I was sitting. But hey ho, we’ll take any offered, and Barnes put it away with panache. The game died out after that, apart from some nasty Gillingham fouling, but this Albion team will have to get used to that now that everyone knows how we play. Shit game or no, this win sets up a potential ‘Big Club’ opponent next round, so I’m not that annoyed.

Best players were new boy Romain Vincelot, a tricky looking character, the ever-dependable Greer, Barnes battled hard but didn’t get enough chances, Buckley again impressed, but my man of the match was Craig Noone, the lanky scouser has been a revelation right at the start of this season.

Apologies about the poor quality of my phots, but I couldn’t be arsed to lug my usual camera up to Falmer last night so used my HTC phone instead, it would have been crushed in the rush to get there and home anyway. See you at Pompey Saturday.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 6.5 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Craig Noone

Attendance: 16,295 (1328 Gillingham)

Stoke 3 – 0 Albion

February 20, 2011

Stokie proposes on the pitch at half-time, she says yes, awwww

Dave Mackay, Graeme Souness, Steve McMahon, Norman Hunter. Great players who could also mix it physically, all remembered for protecting their teammates on the park and not being intimidated by the opposition’s hard men. Brighton and Hove Albion could have done with one or three of those yesterday.

As much as us lower league fans slag off the Premiershit, we all watch it, and we all know what Stoke are about. Gobshite manager who foregoes the technical game in favour of physicality, long balls and set-pieces. When it works, it works well, and Stoke City FC are the best example today of that football philosophy. It worked perfectly against the Albion.

The Britannia Stadium - "Lob-sided"

I’ll not talk much about the journey up and down from Hove, just to say that I had a few with some great mates, but will be taking the train to any matches north of Watford from now on. Stuff yer stinking motorways. The Britannia Stadium has mucho security too, all very well drilled and marshalled, do a great job etc, etc. No more to be said.

Gus Poyet learned a valuable lesson yesterday, and I hope a lot of our fans did too. The pretty passing will beat your average hoofball merchants like Colchester down in League One, but against the athletes of the Premiershit – even the awful Stoke – the beautiful game won’t work without a bit of muscle. When the teams took to the field I was gobsmacked at the shear brute size of John Carew alone, and then I studied their entire team. To a man Stoke are a big strong side, the Albion players looked like little dolls alongside them. When it kicked off it looked like a first team playing the under-16s.

First half mauling

Kick and rush, set-piece. Kick and rush, throw-in, Rory Delap. Delap’s throws are awesome, slag them off if you want, but they work, they undid us. Stoke battered us in the first half, the only place we passed the ball well was amongst the back four and keeper, when it went forward we lost it again and again. It was painful to watch at times, not just Brezovan’s bloopers (say no more). The most annoying aspect though was watching the Guru of Hoofball himself – Tony fucking Pulis – make an arse of himself, refusing to budge from his technical area screaming abuse at everyone and everything. It was as if he was playing Chelsea, not a third tier team caught in the headlights of his team of juggernauts.

Anxious Albionites hang on until the bitter end as contented Stokies file out into the car parks

Poyet must have given the team a soothing “Fuck it, we’ve no chance, go out and go for it” talk at half time. For, although second half we were pretty much contained to long efforts at goal, some of the old tippy-tappying started to make us look like the League One leaders we are. To no avail though, the damage was already done, but we kept it respectable. I’m not going to slate any players, but some didn’t perform at all. Those who did were Bennett (in the second half), and good little cameos from Cristian Baz, and Nicky Forster’s nipper Jake “Forster” Caskey. But one player was outstanding in my opinion – Liam Bridcutt. He might have been one of the smallest footballers out on the park, but he was magnificent yesterday. Bridcutt did make a couple of mistakes that we escaped from, but he alone went for Stoke’s jugular, good on him. Maybe Poyet should beef him up a bit and make him the Albion’s regular hard man.

The fantastic Albion away support applaud the team

The Hovian’s Team performance : 5 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Liam Bridcutt

Attendance: 21312 (3450 Albion)

Albion 1 – 1 FC United of Manchester

November 28, 2010

Loud, proud and confused? FCUM put on a good show

It was a strange old day at Withdean yesterday, one of the oddest I’ve spent at our soon-to-be-forgotten home among the posh trees of BN1. First of all there was the unseasonal weather, it was fucking baltic out there, horrible.

I took a mooch up around the pubs near Brighton Station at midday, just to see if the much-heralded FCUM fan takeover of ‘our’ alehouses was indeed happening. There were rumours rife on the internet that some sort of Manc mob would be on show, and I was curious to see them, if indeed some boys had travelled down. They hadn’t, all I got was a heavily swamped Evening Star full of friendly, thirsty and be-scarfed Mancs.

I could hear them as I walked up to Withers, and when I joined my usual seat-dwellers in Block H the away stand was bouncing with 800+ noisy FCUM fans. But what else would you expect? Yes they outsang an undermanned Blocks H & J, yes they sang throughout half-time, and yes they made quite a show with their MUFC inspired flares at full-time. But, when I saw the ‘MUFCUM’ banner with the words “TWO UNITEDS ONE SOUL” it kind of spoiled the spectacle. Either you’ve given up the Grand Old Trafford Whore or you haven’t, if you haven’t then FCUM are your pet team, a vanity project. Try this, “TWO DONS ONE SOUL”, nope? Didn’t think so.  I smell a rather large Mancunian rat.

The game. Lest said the better. Poyet needs to get a grip and treat the FA Cup with respect or play the reserves, end of. FC had two efforts on target, scoring one, we had at least 10. Why is Elliott Bennett still taking penalties? I’ll not dwell on the match, it was shit, and the cold didn’t raise the mood. Man of the match? I’m not giving one, perhaps the confused visitors on the away stand should get that honour, they were better viewing than the football on show.

Woking 2 – 2 Albion (Albion win 3-0 on penalties)

November 16, 2010

Coming to Withdean: Nu-Mancs give it the AFC Wimbledon sketch at Rochdale

What the fuck was that? I had one ear on Radio Sussex and the other, with eyes, on Shaun Ryder eating a crocodile’s cock on I’m a Celebrity. We scrape through against a part-time team who could and should have dispatched us, going by chances anyway.

Comedy moment supreme has to be Mauricio Taricco starting at left back, then getting sent off later on, priceless. Goals by Sparrow and Bennett kept us in it until the part-time legs of Woking let them down after extra-time and penalties.  It will be a tired team facing Bristol Rovers on Saturday, but the good news is that FC United of Manchester will come to Withers the weekend after, and no doubt they’ll fancy their chances after watching this shite on ESPN; I’ve only got freeview, but thank fuck I decided to stay at home and not travel up to Woking tonight.

TSLR 24

November 5, 2010

Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s only fanzine is available to buy again from tomorrow. As it’s FA Cup day there’s plenty of cup-themed articles, as well as all the other stuff including a column and art from this blogsite.

The Seagull Love Review costs less than a third of the price of a pint of ale, in that it is still only one pounding in price. If, like me, you aren’t about for the match against Woking tomorrow the mag will be available to buy home or away for the rest of this month, or order a nicely wrapped mail copy from the TSLR blog. Read it.

Albion 0 – 2 Leyton Orient

September 1, 2010

Tonights match sponsors

I only went along tonight because this Paint Pot nonsense was just £10 a ticket, and I was mildly intrigued to see Russell Slade, Dean Cox, and Alex Revell back in Brighton. Of course, like most people I’d guess, I fully expected Cox at least to score against us, and the little man didn’t disappoint.

We were poor tonight. We started well, but Cox’s wildly deflected goal was the undoing of us. Gus poyet put out more or less his strongest team, Liam Bridcutt debuted and was sloppy, giving the ball away endlessly. We finished the game at a canter, but were out of it even before they scored a second soft goal from a set piece. Murray missed another penalty, finally killing the game off.

Man of the match? Only Tommy Elphick didn’t embarrass himself out there, so he wins it. It was only the Johnstone’s Tin Pot, no great loss. Now the focus is very much on the league, but if we can’t beat a team like Orient with our best assets playing then our season won’t be as rewarding as I first thought. Time will tell.

The Hovian’s Team performance :  4 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match :  Tommy Elphick

Northampton 2 – 0 Albion

August 11, 2010

Not arsed. When I say not arsed I mean I don’t care about getting beaten in the Carling Cup, after all Gus Poyet played a lot of second string players here. I’m more bothered that Alan Navarro is properly crocked, and Matt Sparrow is out for three games after getting a straight red. Two games into the 2010/11 season and the Albion already have four yellows and one red to show for their troubles.

Stuck again at work, I was more than a little pleased to be sat inside, out of the wind and rain, listening to a dismal football match on the wireless. I bet it pisses down at Withdean on Saturday as well.

Aston Villa 3 – 2 Albion

January 24, 2010

Hercules the Lion offers out the Albion shirts for proper a toe-to-toe

I’m writing this with a major hangover. What a day out! It had everything, trains, banter, booze, freezing January weather and not a bad little football game in the middle of it all. A cracking game in fact.

Me and the missus caught the 0919hrs out of Brighton, and it was already chock-full of Seagulls on their way to Villa. I got my first ale down me at 9:30am and never looked back. The Virgin train out of Euston was probably 80% full of Albion supporters, and more ale and banter was to be had, all good fun and good-natured.

Two cans of Heineken, two Smirnoff tonics and two ham sandwichs cost £18.10 in the buffet! But even that robbing bastard Branson’s prices couldn’t dampen our spirits. This was our big day, and we were well up for it.

Getting a swally in a pub near the ground and around Witton was impossible, the pub set aside for Albion supporters was already applying a one-in-one-out entry scheme when we arrived. There was a queue of about 100 waiting outside as we rocked up gagging for a pint. The off sales next door was emptying fast and the Asian shopkeeper was trying hard not to burst out singing and dancing.

After downing the last of our booze it was into the Doug Ellis Lower for the game. 8000 Albion balloons were released as the boys walked out beside a Villa team unrecognisable from the one that trots out against Man U and Arsenal, but watching the Albion come out on the big screen filled my heart with pride and the roar was deafening from both our section of the ground and the North Stand Upper. Villa fans were scratching their heads at this point – “Who are these headbangers who follow such a gash team?” more than a few Brummies around the ground were probably thinking. Fair play to them though – most of the ground was full, but for a tenner why not come along and watch their Premiershit big shots hammer the south coast minnows?

We played well, the Holte End didn’t start singing until they went 3-1 up. Tommy Elphick’s goal just before half-time had us in rapture – all I wanted from the day was one Albion goal to cheer, and I had just got it, but more was to come. At half-time I thought we were going to be good enough for a draw. The Villa Park refreshments are ok, but I especially recommend their curry and chips, fucking lovely. The home team scored on 48mins and that sinking feeling settled in my gut, we had had our big moment. When they opened us up like a can of beans and went 3-1 up their hitherto half-asleep fans started the Wembley singing, and I have to admit, when the Holte End opens up it makes some noise.

Just as the game was dying good old Nicky Forster scored his 15th goal this season, the ball was retreived and we went for them. Some Villa fans stopped their progress out of the ground to watch the dying moments as we pressured their goal – could we do it? The noise from both Albion sections was deafening, but it was not to be. Our best players in my opinion were: Adam Virgo – man of the match, he has regained some of the fire that was always in him, an immense display. Glenn Murray had an excellent game, as did the much maligned Alan Navarro. Michel Kuipers pulled out some incredible saves, and Tommy Elphick played out of his skin too.

On the train home I got shitfaced, and fell asleep on the living room floor when I got home! I think I’m still jet-lagged as my missus couldn’t wake me up. But it was worth it, every single minute of it. Thank you Gus and the team, a fantastic day. Nice one.

The Hovian’s Albion Team Performance : 8 out of 10

The Hovian’s Albion Man of the Match : Adam Virgo

Albion Team (goalscorers in bold):

(4-4-2) Kuipers; Calderon, Elphick, Virgo, McNulty; Bennett (Dickinson 64), Crofts, Navarro (Cox 73), Dicker (Carole 64); Murray, Forster

(Subs) Brezovan, Hoyte, Carole, Tunnicliffe, Cox, Hart, Dickinson