Brighton aim to put 87 years of hurt behind them against big spenders Chelsea on Monday

Monday’s Premier League opening game will be just the 15th meeting between Brighton and Chelsea.
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham PotterBrighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter

Albion’s only victory came in the very first encounter, way back in January 1933 in the FA Cup. Goals from Arthur Attwood and Tug Wilson brought a 2-1 victory at The Goldstone. Since then, there have been three further meetings in that competition, four in Division Two and most recently, the six Premier League games.

The eleven games since the FA Cup 4th round replay in 1967 all ended in defeat for Albion, the sequence only broken on New Years Day this year, with Alireza Jahanbakhsh earning a point with a spectacular overhead kick.

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For this week’s column, the first of the new season, I am going back to a time when Chelsea and Manchester City were battling at the top of the table. Not, as you may think, in the top flight, but in Division Two.

Seagull Review from March 1989Seagull Review from March 1989
Seagull Review from March 1989

When the Blues travelled to Hove for a Wednesday night fixture in March 1989, they were second, just one point behind City in the race to get back to Division One.

Albion had been promoted the previous season but were struggling towards the foot of the table, despite a decent home record. Leading up to the Chelsea game, we were unbeaten in 11 games at The Goldstone.

The previous home game against Blackburn Rovers had seen an impressive 3-0 victory and Albion Manager Barry Lloyd was hoping the run would continue. “We extended our run with a thoroughly professional team performance, especially in the second half”.

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He went on to praise striker Garry Nelson, who scored twice. “Garry could have had a hat trick in the end, and we could have finished up with four or five”.

He stuck with his tried and tested formula on the pitch, with John Keeley in goal behind a back four of Gary Chivers, Ian Chapman, Larry May and Keith Dublin. In midfield, Johnny Crumplin, Dean Wilkins, Mike Trusson and Adrian Owers were tasked with supplying Garry Nelson and Kevin Bremner with chances. Paul Wood and Alan Curbishley were on the bench.

Chelsea had Dave Beasant in goal and with Graham Roberts and Steve Clarke in defence, along with Kerry Dixon up front, Albion knew they were in for a tough evening.

We knew that the only way to stand a chance of getting a result was to take the game to Chelsea and the team carried out Lloyd’s instructions well. We had a number of chances to go ahead, with Kevin Bremner causing problems for the Blues’ defence and Larry May a real threat at set-pieces.

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Dave Beasant said after the game that he had had one of his busiest games of the season, but we couldn’t find a way past the giant goalkeeper.

We eventually succumbed to a goal from striker Kevin Wilson, but the 1-0 scoreline was perhaps more than Chelsea deserved.

The rest of the season was tough for Lloyd’s men and although we finished nine points clear of relegation, it was a troubled return to Division Two.

John Keeley won the Player of the Season award and Garry Nelson, with 16 goals, topped the scoring charts, just ahead of Kevin Bremner on 15.

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Chelsea won 11 of their remaining 13 games and ended up seventeen points clear of Manchester City to win the division with ease.

That was to be our last meeting until Albion returned to the top flight in 2017.

Our form in the post-lockdown period means we go into the game on Monday night with a degree of confidence. It has been eighty-seven years since we last beat Chelsea.

A win on Monday evening will do very nicely.