THREE BIG games in six days at our new, wonderful Amex stadium. An amazing 63,511 have passed through the turnstiles. Each game has been a sell out. I wish I had shares in Harvey’s or Piglets Pantry (they make the pies).
In case you didn’t see the back page last week, we lost to Liverpool in the Carling Cup. It was a great game but left us to concentrate on the league.
Friday night then brought mighty Leeds United to our stadium. It was another cracking game. It was televised live, with commentators and experts saying it was a great advert for the Championship.
I’m sure any neutral armchair spectators thought a draw was a fair result. We were 2-0 down at half-time and clawing back for a draw was a dream. I don’t know what Gus Poyet said to his team at half-time but it worked. For the next 45 minutes we were tremendous outplaying Leeds and scoring three. My suggestion is that he gives his half-time gee-up talk BEFORE the game!
Andrew Keogh and Ross McCormack had put Leeds deservedly two up by half-time. Then came the fightback. Just two minutes in and it was Craig Mackail-Smith drilling the ball past Andy Lonergan in the Leeds goal. After 60 minutes Kazenga LuaLua found Mackail-Smith in the box and he was brought down. Ref Lee Probert gave the penalty. Ashley Barnes stepped up to lash home for his seventh goal this season. But Brighton weren’t happy with the draw and went for the win.
Barnes provided Mackail-Smith and he tucked it home for our third goal and his fifth of the season.
The 90 minutes were up and Albion fans were rejoicing – too early! Casper Ankergren had been booked for time wasting earlier, which may partly explain what he did. Poyet didn’t blame him, but I’m afraid I did. He booted the ball long to the Leeds keeper. Why didn’t he kick the ball into the stands for a throw in?
Lonergan launched it back and our central defenders failed to clear. It was crossed for McCormack to score: 3-3 – game over. Point won or two dropped?
To be fair Leeds probably deserved the draw given their first-half superiority. A win would have taken us TOP.
But we were treated to a spirited fight back to remain unbeaten in the league at the Amex. It was misery, hope, joy and finally frustration.
Because we were winning after 90 minutes, it felt like a loss. I hope those missed two points don’t cost us at end of the season.
I really don’t want to report the next bit, which should be edged in Black.
Four days later it was the Crystal Palace game at the Amex. Preparation for this derby game meant choosing the right, good luck shirt and sticking to the same routine of arriving early for my Brighton & Hove Albion pie and pint.
It only worked for 80 minutes. Palace had brought 2,500 fans with them and the atmosphere in another packed stadium was electric.
It had all started so well. The home fans erupted when Mackail-Smith slotted home on just seven minutes after good work by Gary Dicker (see picture taken by Angela Brinkhurst). It seemed Poyet had succeeded in getting Albion to start well.
As the game progressed Palace came more into it. We survived to half-time hoping Gus’s talk would get them fired up for the second-half. It didn’t. Palace pressed and we defended.
We needed a second goal but didn’t look like getting it. Kazenga LuaLua replaced Craig Noone but that didn’t help.
It was spirited stuff, with ref Andy D’Urso keeping busy with his whistle and yellow cards. Throughout, we were aware of Palace players who were causing us huge problems, Wilfred Zaha and Darren Ambrose in particular.
And the player we had decided to jeer, Glenn Murray (he who left us for Palace and more money), looked good.
There were just 10 minutes left when Zaha evaded two defenders and scored from the edge of the box. There was just one minute left when Ambrose bundled the ball in after clumsy defending. And, finally, Murray administered the killer blow in the 92nd minute to seal the 3-1 win.
Gone were the three points. Gone was our unbeaten home league record. Losing was bad. Losing to Palace was very bad. And the way we lost was worse still.
We were not a happy bunch leaving the Amex on Tuesday night. We were not very good. What was difficult to take was such a poor performance against arch rivals Palace. I hate to say it but on the day the Eagles were better than our Seagulls. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. We were distraught. Our Albion Amex rollercoaster hit the down slope.
A WIN would have taken us TOP. This reality check leaves us fifth in the Championship.