ON Saturday Albion won at Oldham, 1-0. On Tuesday evening they beat Notts County at Withdean, 1-0. Two wins, six points, means another huge stride towards winning League One and gaining the promotion that would mean the first game at our new AMEX stadium would be in the Championship. That was the dream and it is getting closer and closer.
It’s a sign of a good side when they win without playing their best football. That was us in both games.
Oldham’s manager Paul Dickov had done his homework. At Boundary Park his team stopped us playing the ‘Poyet passing game’. The Oldham strikers marked our defenders, forcing keeper Casper Ankergren to kick long. Brighton were put under constant pressure and it was our defence that took Gus Poyet’s praise for the clean sheet.
Albion withstood the first-half pressure and had a couple of near misses of their own Chris Wood’s first time shot went narrowly wide while a Glenn Murray effort was touched onto the crossbar. Nevertheless, Ankergren in Albion’s goal was the busier keeper.
Poyet made two decisive changes after half-time. Gary Dicker replaced Radostin Kishishev and Ashley Barnes took over from Wood.
And Barnes it was who quickly broke the deadlock.Liam Bridcutt sent the ball forward; Murray, in an offside position, cleverly stood still to be deemed inactive, thus allowing Barnes to race from the left and squeeze his shot past the Latics’ keeper. Unfortunately he picked up an ankle injury before the end and departed on a stretcher. We held out to the end for the clean sheet, the win and three points, thank you!
Albion had to work very hard for their 1-0 win against Notts County. Again they were not at their best missing several early chances.
They made County look very ordinary and didn’t ever look like conceding, but it took a sixth goal from right-back Inigo Calderon in the 63rd minute to win the game. It was Brighton’s sixth win on the trot!
County were a tough side who didn’t make it easy. Their veteran striker Lee Hughes was a good example of this. After a couple of tussles with Adam El-Abd he picked up a yellow card. We took bets. When would he be red-carded and off? Amazingly he stayed on the pitch but failed to get Adam carded with his dive and multi-rolls! Unfortunately Adam had to be replaced after 44 minutes because of what looked like a pulled hamstring. Tommy Elphick replaced him and fitted in effortlessly.
I admit to being nervous! We were all out of our seats shouting “Goal!” as somehow Wood chested an early chance wide. He then put a header over the bar. Murray had three chances that he might have converted. Elliott Bennett saw his fine free-kick tipped over by Oldham’s Stuart Nelson.
With no score at half-time we pondered on Poyet’s next move. It came on 59 minutes when Craig Noone replaced Bennett. It was another one of Gus’s magical substitutions! Noone’s extra pace caused immediate problems and it was his left-wing cross that lead to the only goal of the game.
The ball was fired across the face of the goal, beating the defenders, the keeper and our strikers, but there was the Spaniard Calderon arriving late at the far post to slide home.
That was it as Albion saw the game out. Francisco Sandaza came on for his usual cameo 10 minutes at the end for Wood. The Kiwi now flies of to China on international duty for New Zealand. This leaves Gus with a poser. What will his strike force be for the Swindon game at Withdean on Saturday (kick-off 1pm as England are playing at 3pm). Barnes is injured and Wood is in China. Could Sandaza make a rare start or could veteran Gary Hart appear for a final time? He also has young Norwegian Torbjorn Agdestein to consider. In Gus we trust!