OUR SEAGULLS’ adventure in the Carling Cup ended on Wednesday night at the Amex.
We lost 2–1 against Liverpool. It was a thrilling game with a dramatic end for the 22,000 in a full stadium.
Kenny Dalglish played a strong eleven with BIG names on the bench (Downing, Carroll, and Steven Gerrard who came on towards the end). Pepe Reina was in goal with Jamie Carragher at the back. Suarez, Kuyt and Bellamy always looked dangerous upfront.
Gus Poyet made five changes and gave a debut to Steve Cook. We also had our first sight of new signing Vicente after 60 minutes.
Brighton went behind in the seventh minute. Craig Bellamy beat Casper Ankergren with a precision shot into the right corner.
Liverpool bossed the first-half and might have scored more.
In the second-half Brighton upped their game.
Craig Noone saw a glorious shot beat Reina but come back off the bar.
The Premiership side was put under great pressure and it was from a break-away that Kuyt scored their second.
Albion got the goal they deserved from a penalty in the 89th minute.
Ashley Barnes thumped it home (pictured by Angela Brinkhurst) but it was too late. We can, as they say, now concentrate on the league.
If you had told a Seagull fan at the beginning of August that by mid-September Albion would be third in the Championship, AND unbeaten at the Amex after five games AND in the 3rd round of the Carling Cup AND about to play Liverpool - he would have thought he had died and gone to heaven.
So it is hardly doom and gloom following the 1-0 defeat at Leicester.
Last week I said: “When and where will it end?” This week we have the answer: Saturday at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. We went eight games unbeaten and it had to end sometime.
Big spenders Leicester remain firm favourites to win promotion to the Premiership BUT are five points behind us even after their win. In the Championship table Brighton slip from top spot to third behind Southampton and unbeaten Middlesborough.
The game was something of a reality check. Leicester were the better side and Brighton weren’t at their best. Despite this we only lost by the one goal and had a glorious chance to snatch the draw in the second half when Craig Mackail-Smith volleyed over the bar from close range. The Foxes Japanese midfielder Yuki Abe had scored the only goal with a great header in the first minute of the second-half.
The Foxes didn’t need the help of the ref, Graham Scott, to claim the three points but he confirmed that it wasn’t going to be our day by sending off Marcos Painter with 11 minutes left.
This was harsh. He had shown Painter a yellow card for a soft challenge in the first-half. The second yellow was a ball-to-hand which only he could see as deliberate. It didn’t affect the result but it is very hard on Painter as he now misses the Liverpool game.
Mr Scott didn’t do the Foxes any favours either. After just 15 minutes he blew up for an Albion foul far too quickly as Lee Peltier went on to put the ball into the net. The home crowd were not happy.
Gus Poyet was philosophical after the game: “We didn’t deserve anything from the game...we were not consistent on the ball, our passing and crossing was not at our best and that is not good enough when you come to places like this...having said that if you told me that our first defeat this season would have been against Leicester I would have taken that.”
The support from Seagulls fans was as good as ever with over 2,000 making the trip to push the crowd above 24,000. They cheered them to the end. Leicester had several international players and big names like Kasper Schmeichel (son of Peter), John Pantsil, Konchesky, Darius Vassell, Jermaine Beckford and of course manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Poyet had stayed with an unchanged side. There was still no sight of Tommy Elphick, Adam El-Abd or our new Spanish international Vicente Rodriguez. Subs Alan Navarro (for Gary Dicker), Kazenga LuaLua (for Ryan Harley) and Will Buckley (for Craig Noone) did come on in the second-half but for once Poyet’s magic substitution touch failed.
All good things come to an end and we came back to earth with a bit of a bump. We had forgotten what it was like to lose. Now it is time to regroup and trust in Gus. He has a selection problem for left-back with Painter’s suspension. Will he go for his assistant Mauricio Taricco or could we see the return of El-Abd? Will we see Rodriguez for the first time?
With their game against Liverpool on Wednesday night, Leeds tonight (Friday) both at the Amex, closely followed by the club we love to hate, Crystal Palace (Tuesday), all coming in six days there’s plenty to look forward to.