I’M sure you will have heard by now that our Seagulls flew up to Liverpool and lost.
And you will also have heard that the Premiership team scored SIX.
I’ve been thinking how to take some positives from our exit out of the FA Cup. Difficult you will say given the record books show Liverpool 6 Brighton 1 – but I’ll try.
Firstly – We (Seagulls) scored FOUR. Liverpool only scored three. This is true but, I admit, somewhat misleading.
Secondly – We can now concentrate on the league. A cliché I know, but with the play-offs within touching distance it is balm to the wounds.
Thirdly – Kazenga LuaLua’s goal was the best of the bunch.
Fourthly – Gus Poyet was right (we aren’t ready for the Premiership yet) and now we are going to believe him.
Fifthly – We are in the record books (three own-goals in a cup game).
Sixthly – Peter Brezovan saved a Luis Suarez penalty.
Seventhly – OK, I’m struggling for any more positives other than to say I had a very good lunch at the Amex before watching the game and didn’t have to face the long trip home from Anfield.
The 6,000 in the blue and white army that made it up to Merseyside were magnificent in their support.
So, seven goals with Brighton netting four of them. It went like this.
For the Reds, Martin Skrtel glanced in Steven Gerrard’s corner after just five minutes. Not the start we were looking for. But we were off our seats cheering on 17 minutes when LuaLua equalised with another of his specials.
LuaLua had taken the ball inside and won a free-kick 30 yards out. Alan Navarro and Will Buckley set it up by sliding the ball sideways for him – and Kazenga smashed a low shot past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal right in front of the Kop. Perfection. Albion’s Liam Bridcutt then scored on 44 minutes – and he grabbed his second goal of the match on 71 minutes by repeating his earlier trick of bundling the ball over the line from close range.
The trouble is, those two Bridcutt strikes were own goals.
So, instead of putting Albion ahead, those inadvertent Bridcutt efforts meant the Seagulls were by now seriously behind, 4-1 behind in fact. Andy Carroll had already scored from a Stewart Downing cross.
Lewis Dunk then scored ANOTHER Brighton own goal (the fourth and final goal scored by a Seagulls in the match) with a bizarre solo effort, again in front of the Kop.
Liverpool’s third contribution to the scoreline came from a Suarez header with only five minutes left.
So, we did lose 6-1 and it hurts but we were genuinely unlucky. Level at one each coming up to half-time we were definitely in the game.
Watching with a couple of hundred at the Amex we were still in with a chance to play the next round, a quarter final at home against Premiership Stoke (conquerors over Crawley).
We had watched the draw live before the kick-off. But on 44 minutes came Bridcutt’s first OG. Our striker Sam Vokes, preferred by Poyet over Craig Mackail-Smith, was back on the goal line to keep out a Glen Johnson header.
Unfortunately he headed down into Bridcutt and the ball came back into the net. Going into the break behind from a goal given away like that was a horrible downer that Albion didn’t ever recover from.
Early in the second-half Carroll got his goal to make it 3-1. For once Adam El-Abd wasn’t in his pocket.
Then it got worse still for Liam.
Navarro misjudged a bouncing ball and Gerrard’s persistence paid off when his cutback across goal hit Bridcutt and finished in the back of the net, again. Two own goals for Liam!
That was extreme bad luck for our hardworking midfielder.
Amazingly, worse was to follow. A Brezovan flap at a Suarez cross diverted the ball to Dun,k who was on his own a few yards out. He chested down but then kneed it over the line. It’s a cruel game when things go wrong. Suarez nodded in Liverpool’s sixth at the end – which saved his blushes as Brezovan had saved his penalty just a few minutes earlier.
So, our good cup run ended in a disappointing manner but it did take a strong second-half performance from a top Premiership club to end it.
Poyet said :“We looked a decent team up until half-time but after that we were outclassed. We could not cope with their passing and power. I hope the players learn – I wouldn’t change the way we play but I have learned a lot.
“We feel sad for the fans. We didn’t produce enough and we are disappointed for them. We now look forward to Wednesday against Hull City.”
Gus certainly didn’t blame bad luck for the defeat. Despite beating Premiership opposition this season in the shape of Sunderland and Newcastle (and giving Tottenham a scare in the opening commemorative match) he has always maintain we aren’t ready for promotion to the top level. Sadly he was proved right.
You could query his team selection. You could question his substitutions, especially Vicente on for El-Abd after 69 minutes when it was only 3-1. This forced Craig Noone (who replaced a disappointing Buckley at half-time) into a full-back slot. He gave away the penalty.
But Liverpool were too good, just like their old selves. With the Kop in full voice and Albion players under extreme pressure you could understand the nerves.
There was no place in the squad for new signings Abdul Razak and Gai Assulin, both midfielders and both from Manchester City. I think we will be seeing them soon. Razak is from the Ivory Coast and comes on a 93-day loan.
Assulin is an Israeli international and starts on a short-term loan deal.
The 20-year-old was with Barcelona in 2010 before going to City.
I’m getting to know the Amex Stadium very well, having visited three times in a week. There was the Millwall game, then an Amex Tour and on Sunday the lunch and Liverpool game in the large BUPA hospitality lounge. But it’s back to normal business tomorrow (Saturday) when Ipswich are the visitors.
I can thoroughly recommend the stadium tour – it’s £10 and two-and-a-half hours well spent. I wish there was space to tell you about the dressing rooms!
LIVERPOOL: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard (Shelvey 76), Henderson (Kuyt 76), Downing (Maxi 76), Adam, Suarez, Carroll. Unused Substitutes: Doni, Coates, Kelly, Maxi, Spearing, Shelvey, Kuyt.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION: Brezovan, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd (Vicente 69), Calderon, Navarro (Booked 49), LuaLua, Bridcutt, Buckley (Noone 46), Barnes, Vokes (Mackail-Smith 69). Unused Substitutes: Ankergren, Vincelot, Noone, Vicente, Harley, Mackail-Smith, Agdestein.
REFEREE: Andre Marriner. ATT: 43, 940.
SEE TODAY’S Sussex Express for a fantastic two-page spread of pictures from the game at Anfield by Angela Brinkhurst.
WEDNESDAY night our Seagulls made the long trip up to Hull. Picking themselves up after the battering they recieved at Anfield was not going to be easy. City’s form is impressive. They have conceded the least home goals in the Championship. Before the game, Hull were on 50 points compared to our 49, Albion just one place behind in ninth.
It ended 0-0 with neither the Tigers nor Seagulls able to score. The one point leaves us three points outside the play-offs. Albion boss Poyet made four changes to the team that lined up against Liverpool. There was a debut for Adbul Razak in midfield at the expense of Will Buckley. At the back Gonzalo Jara Reyes and Joe Mattock came in for Inigo Calderon and Lewis Dunk who were “rested”. Up front Craig Mackail-Smith took over from Sam Vokes.
The pitch wasn’t the best. They do play rugby league on it, which showed by the lack of grass. Apparently we haven’t won at the KC Stadium for more than 11 years. Before the start I think most of us would have settled for a point. As the game wore on, of course, we Albion fans were hoping for another last-gasp winner. In fact Hull came closest at the end but Peter Brezovan was unbeatable between the posts. He was possibly our MOTM. Abdul Razak looks to be a good signing. He put in a strong performance in the centre and no doubt we will see him at the Amex for the next game. Towards the end Gai Assulin replaced him for his debut appearance. A clean sheet – so well done our keeper and defence. It was end-to-end stuff with both sides failing to make anything of their chances. We still hang on to our record of being unbeaten this year, in the league that is (nine games).
What we don’t need to hear is talk about Wolves. They’ve sacked Mick McCarthy and are scratching around for a manager. Gus has a contract with four years remaining but they want to talk to him, allegedly. How do we keep the Wolves from our door? They may huff and puff but the Amex is made of strong stuff. He won’t go, will he?