I’M afraid it WAS an unlucky 13 after all for our Seagulls on Saturday as they lost 3-1 at Blackpool.
didn’t make it up to the north-east but a large Albion travelling army did and were in good voice (as heard on BBC local radio). This was our first loss in the league this year as our fine run came to an end at Bloomfield Road. It was 12 games unbeaten – until Blackpool. Oh well, all good things, etc.
Last week I was silly enough to suggest that an early goal would make a nice change. We got one after just seven minutes when defender Joe Mattock came up for a corner and headed (or shouldered) home the perfect delivery. This was sent in by Vicente who was making a rare start.
Gus Poyet put out more or less the same team that had the fine win against Portsmouth but with Craig Noone starting instead of Will Buckley.
So we had the great start and an initial attacking spell that might have been rewarded with more goals. Craig Mackail-Smith had a headed chance well saved by the Blackpool keeper Matthew Gilks and a penalty claim waved away. Nooney put a shot into the side netting. It all went pear-shaped after that!
Suddenly it was our defence under pressure and the orange-shirted Seasiders punished us, twice, before half-time.
First defender Ian Evatt smashed in a loose ball past Peter Brezovan in the Albion goal. We could claim a bad bounce – but somebody should have thumped it clear.
The second came from Kevin Phillips. This wasn’t a surprise. Everybody knows that Kevin is deadly.
It was he who broke our hearts at the Amex back in August when he came on towards the end of the game with Albion 2-0 up. Kevin scored two fine goals to grab the draw for the Tangerines. It was a pity nobody was man-marking him as he scored from close range to give Ian Holloway’s side a 2-1 lead at half-time.
That was bad.. but it got worse. Early into the second 45 minutes Gonzalo Jara Reyes, to give him his full name – although others might want to call him something else – jumped into a tackle, not in a dangerous area, in front of Mr Simon Cooper.
There’s not a lot to say if the referee deems a challenge serious foul play. A straight red for Reyes more or less condemned Albion to defeat.
We tried of course and our 10 men went close with a Vicente free-kick, and a Gordon Greer header. But then that man again, Phillips, with 10 minutes left, killed us off with a tap-in for his second brace against us this season: 3-1 to the (northern) Seasiders.
The LuaLua brothers didn’t come up against each other. Our Kazenga stopped on the bench whilst his brother Lomana came on for the final 20 minutes.
Afterwards manager Poyet said we didn’t deserve anything from the game. However, he did say: “We are still in a great position and we are going to push until the end of the season – exactly the same as during our run-in last season – and hopefully that will be enough.
“We just need to focus on winning the next game. During the last month we have played on two or three difficult pitches and because of that we have had to slightly change our style of play. We did not adapt as well as we should but at home it’s always the same pitch and one of the best in the league, which will help us.”
A win would have sent us to the dizzy heights of fourth. Zero points, however, left us back in ninth. Blackpool did leapfrog us and moved up to fith.
BLACKPOOL despair from Saturday turned into Derby delight on Tuesday night. Brighton won 2-0 at the Amex to jump up to fourth in the Championship. Unlucky 13 was forgotten as our Seagulls put on one of their very best performances.
We were treated to a MOTM turbo-charged Kazenga LuaLua. But in my opinion the virtuoso display by Vicente (we don’t bother with the Rodriguez bit) was possibly the finest footballing talent seen at the Amex. The “Dagger”, as he was known when playing in homeland Spain, pierced the Rams’ side for both goals. The first thrust was a corner after ten minutes. Another early goal and this time not squandered.
The perfect delivery was met by fellow Spaniard Inigo Calderon who celebrated his return (thanks to Jara Reyes Blackpool red card) with a powerfully headed goal.
The second Vicente thrust that killed off a spirited Derby County was on 66 minutes. LuaLua weaved his magic on the left-by-line and played a reverse ball inside to Vicente who with assured composure teed-up Ashley Barnes to fire home his tenth league goal. After the game Albion’s top scorer revealed that the players call Vicente “The King” on the training ground. King or Dagger we have an incredible talent. Gus said “He’s the best at this club … imagine if he was fit for the whole season … we would be pushing for top of the table”.
It was a great team effort with several fine individual performances. Peter Brezovan saved our nerves towards the end with a couple of goal-saving blocks. Credit is due to Lewis Dunk for a sound showing after coming back into the team replacing Adam El-Abd. But for me the highlight was a Vicente run from the half-way line. He beat a couple of Derby midfielders, bamboozled another couple of defenders and sent in a dipping rocket shot that cannoned off the crossbar. He fully deserved the ovation at the end.