IF you had to pick a game to miss at Withdean (like me) would you have gone for the one against Carlisle United (as I did!)?
With our superb defensive record I anticipated a close game with us winning by the only goal! And so I wasn’t there. Bad decision - I missed seven – yes, seven – goals and the most exciting climax!
I had to follow the game via satellite and TV’s BBC Score.
After just three minutes our match flashed up on the tele-printer. Unfortunately it was not good news! Carlisle were one up! It was another 22 minutes before 1-1 flashed up.
I felt I could relax soon into the second half when I saw we had gone 2-1 up. Close up shop, secure the three points, job done. But soon the tele-printer showed 2-2.
Two points drifting away nd time to start worrying? But only briefly as barely three minutes later there we were again – 3-2 up. OK, that should be it, time for our fine defence to park the “Gus Bus”, surely?
There was time to check on our rivals. Bournemouth, Southampton, MK Dons and Peterborough were all winning. Huddersfield lost ground as they could only manage a draw.
The 90 minutes were up and results were starting to come in. But GOAL at Withdean, 90+2 minutes, 3-3 as Carlisle’s Harry Arter had netted! I couldn’t believe it. Two points snatched away from us in added time? Bournemouth had won so our lead at the top was shrunk to two points? But then, amazingly, with full-time results flooding in, GOAL: 90+3 Bridcutt: 4-3 Brighton! I had missed the most exciting game at Withdean this season!
Technology and the BBC enabled me to see all the League One goals the following day. The Withdean faithful were hardly settled in their plastic bucket seats when United scored after we failed to clear a corner. Glenn Murray hit the Carlisle bar soon after but finished beautifully on 25 minutes when put through by Ashley Barnes. That was his 17th goal of the season.
On 53 minutes Liam Bridcutt found Barnes beating the off-side trap for number two. The Carlisle equaliser on the hour was an individual goal from Ben Marshall. Barnes’ second three minutes later came after a great long ball from captain Gordon Greer.
Carlisle refused to accept defeat and stubbornly pressed for the equaliser. Our defence failed to clear and Arter’s strike seemed to give the away side the draw. I don’t know how many Albion fans trooped out of Withdean in disgust, but they should have kept the faith!
In the final minute of added time in our last attack the ball was cleared out to Bridcutt. He volleyed through the crowded area beating the keeper for a fantastic goal. That was only his second career goal and he won’t get a more important one. Game over and we came away with a sensational win, keeping us four points clear at the top with two games in hand.
I was travelling back from Portsmouth on Tuesday night when Brighton were at Griffin Park for the Brentford game. I picked up the BBC Sussex commentary with only 15 minutes to go. Annoyingly the commentator persisted in NOT telling the score! I gathered we were defending and apparently had something to protect.
Then it was into EIGHT minutes of added time! Finally it was revealed we were ahead by the only goal – an own goal – and Marcos Painter had been stretchered off. We did hang on to win 1-0. And as a bonus Exeter beat second-placed Bournemouth!
Albion’s winning own goal came from Bees defender Karleigh Osborne after 74 minutes. It could have been better but Barnes had missed a penalty early in the second–half. Casper Ankergren had put in a fine display in our goal. This was our first win over Brentford in 16 years. Almost 1,800 Albion fans were able to celebrate a hard-earned three points.
We are now seven points clear of second placed Bournemouth with two games in hand. As I drove on the A27 past our fabulous new AMEX stadium, then all in darkness, I looked forward just five months to next season’s first match that would surely be in the Championship. There are 13 games to go but our Seagulls should run out as Champions!