THERE’S plenty to talk about this week, so where to start - points, penalties or Poyet?
Points – we got precisely NONE from our visit to Southampton.
Penalties – Saints got TWO, but both were poor decisions.
Poyet – our manager’s comments brought a rebuke from Sir Alex.
Sepp Blatter – well perhaps not.
It was always going to be a difficult game for us at St Marys. Southampton have won all nine of their home games this season. In fact they have won their last 20 games there.
Brighton have only won once in their last 12 matches. I’m afraid the bookies got this one right. We suffered a very unpleasant 3-0 loss.
All was well in the first-half. We frustrated the Saints with a lot of possession. Neither goalkeeper was seriously tested.
It started to go wrong on 49 minutes. A long ball in from the right found Rickie Lambert climbing high at the far post to head home strongly.
Craig Noone, who as our key attacker, you don’t want to see defending in his own six-yard box, and along with Mauricio Taricco, were never going to out-jump the Championship top scorer Lambert.
At one goal down with most of the second-half to go Brighton could still get a result.
But Premiership referee Peter Walton soon ruined the game with a dreadful decision.
Lewis Dunk and Jose Fonte came together outside the area as Saints attacked down the right. Fonte made the most of the tangle and went to ground.
The assistant ref indicated a foul but Mr Walton pointed to the penalty spot. The incident was a good yard outside of the area (as shown by the TV coverage and picture above!).
Albion players were understandably distraught. The ref did go over to his assistant but to everybody’s surprise he still gave the penalty.
That was bad but worse followed as Walton pulled out his red card and sent Taricco off. Clearly Albion’s assistant manager said something to the ref. Perhaps it was “With respect you might have got that wrong, sir” but in Spanish it sounded rude? Lambert doesn’t miss penalties and Brighton’s ten men weren’t going to be able to come back.
Southampton had been appealing for penalties all day. Mr Walton had been firm early on. He correctly turned down a shout when the ball hit Gordon Greer from close range.
He could well have awarded one when Marcos Painter barged Lambert down.
He actually yellow-carded former Albion captain Dean Hammond for diving as the 30,000 Saints fans screamed for a penalty.
But he then got a second penalty wrong. Inigo Calderon had replaced Ryan Harley. He chased Lambert into the box and slid into an attempt to get the ball. Lambert went down and ‘won’ the penalty. It was a harder decision but replays showed that Calderon didn’t make contact and Lambert tripped himself. So another one wrong. As I said, Lambert doesn’t miss penalties and it was 3-0.
I can’t say we were robbed as Southampton were the better team.
As an attacking force we were poor. It was another away game without a decent strike at goal.
However it is certain that the referee’s decisions influenced the game to the extent that Brighton had no chance of getting a result.
Gus Poyet had to weigh his words carefully after the game. “I cannot talk about the whole game because there were two games today; one before the 55th minute and one after … he (Walton) was supposed to be a Premiership referee but one decision changed the game … I’m always fair with referees because it is a difficult job… when the incident is a yard outside the box it’s embarrassing”.
Another loss leaves us on 23 points, twelfth in the Championship table still only four points from the play-offs.
Now it is time to re group and get it right for struggling Coventry this Saturday at the Amex.
Give Gus a chance to talk and he will say what he thinks. His defence of fellow Uruguayan and Liverpool player Luis Suarez and his suggestion that Manchester United’s Patrice Evra was a bit of a cry-baby lead to Ferguson calling Poyet’s remarks “silly”. Mild stuff really but an issue that the club will keep well clear of, I think.
I’m sure several of you spotted my deliberate mistake last week? We did of course beat Southampton 3–1 at St Marys two years ago. A happy day - but Saturday’s defeat is one to forget.
Ending on a positive note, Albion have signed Kazenga LuaLua from Newcastle for an undisclosed fee. The 20-year-old winger has been given a three-year deal having been on loan since August. Kazenga said: “It was always my intention to sign a permanent deal, so this is a really happy day for me.”
Now we all look forward to seeing him back in the team and at his sparkling best.