OUR flying Seagulls beat Peterborough on Saturday at the Amex 2-0 with goals from Craig Noone and Ryan Harley. Brighton this season have now gone SEVEN games unbeaten – six wins and a draw. And the three points took us TOP of the Championship, pulling clear of Southampton, Derby and Middlesbrough in the process.
We have 13 points from five games, two wins away, two wins and a draw at the Amex. Plus we’ve had another two wins at the Amex in the Carling Cup, including against Premiership Sunderland.
Has it ever been so good? Does it get any better for Albion fans? Well YES, actually! We have drawn LIVERPOOL in the Third Round at the Amex! I think “King” Kenny Dalglish will be the more worried manager. “Lord” Gus Poyet is thrilled. He said: “These tickets are going to go very quickly so it will be a full house and that will be brilliant for the players. All the lads were jumping up and down – especially Nooney and Navs who are from Liverpool. I always say that I either want to play the easiest team or one of the top sides; we have got one of the best sides in the country. It’s going to be a very special night here.”
To be honest it is all rather difficult to take in. We have the magnificent new stadium. We were promoted to the Championship. We have already beaten big names like Portsmouth, Cardiff and Sunderland. We are in the number one spot for promotion to the Premiership. In September we will be taking on Leicester, Leeds, Crystal Palace and Liverpool (West Ham and Birmingham are in October). No wonder Albion fans are happy. We don’t want to wake up. Poyet is doing his best to keep feet on the ground by saying it is only August. But after the win over the Posh he also said: “At the moment we are very good, we are top and we deserve to be there.”
Peterborough were good. They weren’t impressed by our record. They kept the ball marginally better than us. They had 12 shots at goal to our nine. Even when we were two goals up they attacked and we remembered Blackpool’s comeback last week. But we scored the goals.
There were 20,000 people in the ground to stand and cheer “Nooney’s” great strike after just ten minutes. Well 18,600 Albion fans as the Posh had brought 1,400 fans.
Noone had already looked our danger man when he cut into the middle and sent the perfect drive past Paul Jones in the Posh goal from 20-yards.
It was end to end stuff with chances at both ends. You could see how Peterborough scored seven last week. They pressed and had several players willing to get shots in.
Into the second half and our defence were being hard worked. Against the run of play Ashley Barnes “won” a free-kick 25-yards out. Up stepped new boy Ryan Harley. We were told he was a free-kick specialist and waited to see if this was true. He sent in a David Beckham like shot that flew into the top left corner. He is! 2-0 to the Albion.
Darren (son-of-Sir-Alec) Ferguson’s side didn’t fold and battled to the end. They will be a force to be reckoned with in the Championship, along with the other sides promoted from League One, Southampton and Albion.
Craig Mackail-Smith, who came to us from Peterborough, worked and worked all game. He had the chance to settle matters at 3-0 when arriving to head a Noone cross. It went narrowly wide and we settled for a very satisfactory two-goal win.
Poyet doesn’t pick favourites out of a team performance but I can say Liam Bridcutt is superb in midfield. Lewis Dunk and Gordon Greer have been fantastic at the heart of our defence. And with the Craigs Noone and Mackail-Smith we have exciting strikers.
We’ve had the chance to test ourselves against Premiership opposition and big clubs. It really is a different world from last year’s Withdean. We’ve had the chance to sing “Premiership? You’re having a laugh!” as have other lower league clubs who have dumped out some big names.
Meanwhile, the “big” clubs have been wheeling and dealing with big money. I’m disillusioned by the wages bandied about for big name players. Wage cuts to £80,000 PER WEEK, new terms of £150,000 per week. Player transfers at £25million and clubs being bought and sold for billions. Do we really want to join such a big-time set up? Perhaps not. In these problem times there will be some football casualties to come. But happily with our Seagulls, our Amex, our Gus and our Chairman Tony Bloom we are sitting comfortably, top of the league, thank you.
We take a break for a week now for international football. When we return, at Bristol City on September 10, our manager’s only problems should be who to play with contenders like Tommy Elphick, Adam El-Abd, Will Hoskins and Will Buckley all fit.