Over the past few weeks it’s safe to say that Brighton and Hove Albion have been a ‘little’ off their game.
Goals had dried up leading to an alarming slide down the Championship table. It can’t of been much fun around the Amex of late. But that all changed at 3.03pm last Saturday when Seagulls legend Bobby Z, on his 35th birthday, tapped into an empty Blackburn Roves net.
That moment sparked uncontrolled and elongated celebration amongst the massed traveling ranks.
A visit to Ewood Park has been in the diary since the fixtures came out. It, being one of the 14 grounds of 92 to get this season. (still to visit Blackpool, Wigan, Bolton, Chesterfield and Forrest) A 250 mile trip north is sometimes a little tricky especially if the M25 or M6 is misbehaving but on Saturday morning everything played out beautifully. Leaving at 8.30, in my mates old but reliable ford focus, we flew up to the Stafford services for a fried breakfast.
I then drove the last 100 miles into the town centre for around 1.30. The stadium is traditional built in a residential area which towers over the rows of terraced housing. It is slightly removed from the town centre probably a twenty min walk. From the Darwen end you get a great view of the whole ground. It is quite a stunning vista, both outside and inside, four individual stands with a capacity of 31,500. However, it all seemed a little flat with a huge number of empty seats (12900 crowd). And it seemed that not many of them were interested in creating an atmosphere.
That wasn’t the case in the Derwin Stand high up behind the goal as yet another excellent turn out from Sussex were making a racket. Its always exciting travelling away with our biggest club, Seagulls fans never fail to give their team tremendous support. The game got off to a flying start as Murphy’s shot hit a post and rolled neatly into the path of Zamora who made no mistake from 6 yards. After that the action really opened up. The game flowed with purpose and pace on a slippery surface. It made for compelling watching, with some nail biting moments at times. Whilst Albion had two more great opportunities to score Rovers easily shaded possession and shots. Lady luck had deserted Brighton in that recent poor run but was definitely on their side in this game. Perhaps the biggest slice was handed to keeper Stockdale halfway through the 2nd half. A long cross seemed to cannon off bar and the keepers hand but somehow the ball didn’t end up in his net.
At the final whistle there was smiles, chanting and probably a collected sigh of relief in the away end. In some ways this edgy, hard fought one nil away win might just turn into the most important result of the season. As Chris Hughton stood in the snow and saluted the fans he must of been feeling a whole lot better. His team had battled hard. The club now have the luxury of a full week on the training ground before taking on mid table Huddersfield at the Amex on Saturday. Win that and their automatic promotion dreams will be very much back on track!
The journey home for us was interrupted by an excellent night out in Stafford. Great little town with some hidden gems in terms of nite spots. After a late night,bed and breakfast we rolled back into mid Sussex around 1.30pm. A top week-end following the Seagulls.
Costs Ticket £22 (good value) petrol £22, accommodation £40 and around £50 in ‘sundries’.
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