WHAT were the memorable moments from Brighton’s game against Leicester City at the Amex on Saturday?
I can think of three things: red cards, Vicente... and Will Buckley.
Oh, and that it was COLD.
We knew the snow was coming but luckily it didn’t arrive until after the last gasp 1-0 win over the Foxes.
Red cards? Well, referee Andy Woolmer waved his three times.
A dirty game, you may think, but it wasn’t. It was the officials being officious and part of the growing trend of penalising supposedly dangerous tackles.
Also, I am sure Mr Woolmer waved the red at our Matt Sparrow to even things up after red-carding Jermaine Beckford. Sparrow’s dismissal was for a mistimed tackle – but it didn’t hurt Brighton too much as there was only five minutes left.
Beckford’s red was something of a mystery. Into the limelight came red/yellow flagging assistant referee Michael Bull. It was early in the second half and still nil-nil. Lewis Dunk and Beckford had a coming together that floored the Albion player.
The officials initially saw nothing wrong but when Beckford walked past Dunk, who was on the ground, eagle-eyed Bull saw something.
Or perhaps he heard something? He flagged and told his tale, leaving Woolmer no option but to send the bemused Foxes player off.
The third red came in added time when we had already scored the winning and only goal of the game.
Leicester midfielder Neil Danns chased back to prevent Vicente’s run into the penalty area (more of him in a moment). He brought him down and Mr Woolmer’s award of a second yellow enabled him to wave the third red. It didn’t matter by then as it was game over.
Now for Vicente, also known as Rodriguez; he was memorable simply because he was there. An Albion fanzine had as on its front-page “Where’s Vicente?” with a Where’s Wally-style cartoon. The Spanish international came to us in September after a glittering career with Valencia – but we have seen only a few minutes from him in rare appearances from the bench.
He wasn’t match fit originally and then picked up injuries. But he is good! Manager Gus Poyet was able to bring him on with 20 minutes to go.
The cameo appearance paid off.
The 90 minutes were just about up when he brought the ball down on his chest in the right side of the area.
He picked out Buckley at the far post in space. Our MOTM volleyed past Kasper Schmeichel (son of Peter) for the late winner: gutting for Leicester, celebrations for us.
This brings me to my third memorable category, Buckley.
He has been our saviour recently. With Craig Noone and Kazenga LuaLua out with injuries Will has been our speedy wide-man, both provider and goalscorer in the last six matches.
Albion remain unbeaten in the eight games in 2012 so far. Buckley can take much of the credit. We miss Nooney (and still hope he isn’t on his way to Cardiff) and a fully fit LuaLua, but Buckley has done the business for us.
Leicester are a good side. Their manager Nigel Pearson has improved them and they have recently showed signs of form that would take them into the play-off zone.
Their style was very much like Poyet’s Brighton. Both sides kept possession with moves building up slowly from the back. To be honest we cancelled each other out and there weren’t a great number of clear cut chances created.
Ashley Barnes did score for us in the first-half but Seagull cheers were short lived as linesman Bull decided he was offside.
After Leicester were down to 10, Poyet brought on two of his new players for their debuts.
Sam Vokes replaced Alan Navarro and Joe Mattock took over from Adam El-Abd. Mattock looked comfortable in the left-back slot but we didn’t get to see much of Vokes.
There was another great crowd at the Amex. Leicester brought over 2,000 so that again the attendance was over 20,000. Consistently we have top attendances in the Championship. Only Cardiff and West Ham had more. I can’t help thinking back to last year and Withdean: 8,000 meant a full house then AND more often than not we were cold and wet. The Amex remains a dream and Seagulls’ fans don’t want to wake up anytime soon.
The win and three points eased us up to 10th but with a batch of teams concertinaed around us, two more points would put us into the play-off positions.
Second-placed Saints are only seven away in an automatic promotion to the Premiership spot.
Poyet was positive after the win. He has three new players plus those returning from injury. But he can’t leave out Buckley, who he describes as: “Untouchable,” adding “He has repaid his £1million transfer fee, now he is in credit. He is creating the chances and he’s scoring goals.”
And of his Spanish star, Poyet went on: “Vicente showed a bit of real quality. I needed Vicente on the pitch and credit to him because he stepped up.
“We are looking forward to a full week to prepare for another busy run of games against Leeds (Saturday), Millwall (Tuesday evening) (and) Liverpool (Sunday February 19).
Now comes decision time. To go or not to go, that is the question. Do I get my Anfield ticket? Sunday with a 4.30pm kick-off doesn’t make for easy travel plans, and friends and family are struggling to make it.
TV coverage does at least give a decent alternative but how often are we going to get the chance to make the pilgrimage to Anfield?
On the other hand, with Brighton on the up – perhaps every year?