I MISSED last Saturday’s game at the Amex which meant I missed an exciting climax.
I expect several Albion fans had deserted the stadium to catch a bus or train to beat the queues by the time the winner arrived. At least they would have heard the cheers.
Will Buckley scored the only goal, securing the three points, in the 92nd minute. The last gasp win moved our Seagulls up into the play-offs on 32 points, just three points away from Middlesbrough, our opponents this Saturday, who are in third spot.
The second and first placed sides came unstuck. I’ve previously said that in this season’s Championship anyone can beat anyone – and bottom side Doncaster beat top club Southampton 1-0 while mid-table Burnley beat second placed West Ham 2-1 at Upton Park.
There was another packed Amex stadium (20,385) for the Saturday afternoon game. Manager Gus Poyet went for Craig Mackail-Smith and Ashley Barnes upfront. Into defence he brought back into the team Mauricio Taricco and Gonzalo Jara Reyes.
In the second half he used all three subs with Romain Vincelot, Buckley and Kazenga LuaLua replacing Alan Navarro, Craig Noone and Barnes respectively. To say the least, it wasn’t a great game but did of course have a brilliant ending. I asked one of my family group to summarise for me: “Terrible game, great result… we only had ONE shot on goal and that was in the 92nd minute AND IT WENT IN!”
Not a lot happened in the first-half. Forest’s Paul Anderson came closest with a shot wide of Casper Ankergren’s right-hand post.
The second 45 minutes didn’t produce many chances either. Marcus Tudgay should have scored from a cross when unmarked but Albion escaped as his header was sent wide. Forest saw another shot, from Radaslaw Majewski, slide past a post late on.
Forest’s manager Steve Cotterill must have thought they were returning with just the one point.
But the sting was in the tail. Into added time, Mackail-Smith did wonders colleting the ball and setting off on a fine right-side run.
He found Frenchman Vincelot in the box who laid the ball back for Buckley to slot home beautifully. Ninety-two minutes were up as the Albion players celebrated the winning goal wildly.
Poyet said: “If I am honest we probably didn’t deserve to win the game. When we are not great we have to make sure we are good at the back.
“The only thing you can do as manager is to make substitutions and bringing on Will Buckley was a good sub to make. Harley and Hoskins missed out due to slight injuries so it wasn’t easy for us… but in the end we won the game.”
So it is three wins on the trot and successive clean sheets. Can we score at Middlesbrough?
Casper Ankergren is back between the posts now that Steve Harper has gone back to Newcastle.
Casper had nice things to say about Harper’s time with the Seagulls: “We all learnt a lot during the month that he was here and he’s good at passing on that experience he has got.”
On to the FA Cup, with Gus saying: “The FA Cup is the best cup in the world if you ask me. I would like a home draw against the smallest team possible – no more Sunderlands or Liverpools – because of those two games we went on a run of not playing well.”
Well Gus should be smiling as we have Wrexham (no disrespect to the Welsh side) at the Amex in the third round on the weekend of the 6th-8th January.
As we are consolidating nicely in the league it is time for a nice cup run.
Have you been waiting for the chance to get to Brighton’s marvellous new stadium? It has been difficult if you aren’t one of the 17,500 season ticket holders. Well here’s your chance. The Seagulls’ Youth side are playing Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at the Amex on Tuesday (December 13th) kick-off 7.30 pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance, online or at the Amex or Queens Road, Brighton ticket offices. Seats will be in the West Stand.
So there is a great chance to sample the stadium’s splendour and see possible Seagull stars of the future.
A footnote – a reward for Albion’s long suffering fans. Last Saturday at the Amex in the Coventry game, chairman Tony Bloom picked up a cheque, a very big one in every sense, for £2million.
Albion received this from The Football Stadia Improvement Fund for improvements to their ground.
Richard Scudamore, CEO of the Premier League, said: “The fans of Brighton & Hove Albion have had a long, and at times painful, journey to build the American Express Community Stadium, but we hope it provides them with some exciting and stable times ahead.”
Amen to that.