BRIGHTON outplayed Hartlepool on Saturday. The 4-1 score flattered the Monkey-hangers (if you missed the derivation of this do try Google!). We could have had six or seven!
The win kept us three points clear at the top of League One with games in hand AND an increased goals difference. We remain UNBEATEN at Withdean this season! FORTRESS WITHDEAN it is again – just as we are about to leave! There are only NINE more games to be played there.
Perhaps there will be a few tears as we say goodbye (not a lot!) but these will be overshadowed by the excitement of the move to our marvellous brand new Amex Stadium now just months away.
Its 21 weeks we’ve been AT THE TOP, a club record that is ongoing. It might have been spoiled by Bournemouth. They had two games to play whilst we go to Premiership Stoke trying to win the FA Cup!
BUT their midweek game was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch so we remain top for another week without playing! Hartlepool, meanwhile, did us another favour by beating Charlton on Tuesday night.
Having declared last week that we will get automatic promotion, I confess to being just slightly worried about Hartlepool! Top of the league and trying to stay there makes every game a BIG game. The opposition try that much harder for the kudos of pegging back the leaders.
Hartlepool had inflicted one of our rare defeats back in November at Victoria Park. They are the only team to have scored three against us this season! It was there that Kazenga LuaLua’s leg was broken.
But any nerves vanished after 12 minutes as manager Gus Poyet’s possession passing game reaped rewards. An Elliott Bennett short corner, a Gary Dicker pass and a Chris Wood finish from 12 yards for 1-0. Five minutes later and we were up and cheering a Glenn Murray goal. It was a thing of simple beauty. Ashley Barnes (Poyet was playing three strikers!) raced onto the pass through the Pool square back-line to find Murray. He calmly stroked in his 13th goal of the season.
Wood picked up an ankle injury but the Brighton threat wasn’t diminished with Craig Noone replacing him.
We should have put the game safe by half-time as attack followed attack. Murray had more chances. One shot was pushed onto the post another attempt was blocked.
Albion scored their other two goals early in the second-half. After several corners our defender Adam El-Abd was 12 inches out with an acute angle. Agonisingly his shot went across the goal-line and away. It fell to Noone who volleyed home for 3-0.
Then it was Dicker who slid the perfect pass to Murray running through the middle. He easily beat the out-rushing keeper for number four and his 14th goal. He joins the list of leading goalscorers in the division and looks like the 20-goal striker every successful team needs.
We debated whether we would get five or six or seven – but it remained four with chances not taken by Murray, Barnes and Noone. We were being greedy! Hartlepool even snatched a consolation goal as we coasted to full time.
Bournemouth and Southampton picked up narrow wins but we moved further ahead of Huddersfield and Oldham. And of course our impressive goal difference is worth an extra point. It’s looking good – very good!
Withdean was full (crowd 7,296) for the game! That’s not quite true because although all Albion tickets were sold there were only 129 Hartlepool supporters!
As our team has been successful so support has grown. For the last nine games it seems the stadium will be a sell-out. Once at the Amex the crowds will at least double!
Diaries out: Saturday 16th July will be the first match at the American Express Community Stadium. This will be the 2011 Sussex Senior Cup Final and the first “ramp-up” event. The crowd will be limited to 10,000. Albion CEO Martin Perry said: “I am delighted the Sussex County FA and its member clubs have seen the enormous benefits of the final being the first historic fixture at the Amex… for the Albion it gives an ideal ramp-up event ahead of our flagship friendly which will be the official opening.”
I don’t know who will be in that final, perhaps Albion’s reserve side and I’d like to see Lewes but I will certainly try and be there.
And I don’t know who it will be in that “flagship friendly”! Barcelona or Real Madrid, Chelsea or Arsenal? You read it here first!
Getting married and love the Seagulls? Well you can keep the faith AND marry at the Amex! The stadium banqueting suite will be registered for weddings! That would do nicely!
Now it’s off to Stoke on Saturday as another step towards winning the FA Cup. Dreamland maybe but it’s as close as we’ve been for many years!