Stoke - Away, Withdean Era
Season 12 (A) FA Cup R5 19/2/11 - 0-3
Although this tie was very much a one-off in terms of league1 leader BHA's participation in latter rounds of k-o competitions, we can peruse it in context to that infamous Withdean era - see below. Falmer would be on-stream for '11/12 and hopefully with Gus Poyet in charge, BHA would be back playing in the Championship again. We'd joined Stoke initially for league1 (div2) back in the day (see below), when rising from fourth tier to second level via back-back promotions. Yeah, this section is about history and our previous encounters with City at theirs since, hadn't exactly been fruitful - sorry but we gotta tell it like it is. Eat yer heart out Andy Naylor - see Argus on-line for info. Stoke got into and established in the Premiership, therefore we still only aspired to greater things. Chairman Tony Bloom supposedly had deep pockets and we wanted to live the Amex dream. Anyway we now hoped to make a better attempt to bridge a skills-gap, so woefully evident from those Champ's visits. Btw, read the home report for '05/6 campaign - OMG, spare the memory!! Brighton fans long suffering, or what? Nearly 3500 travelled and made up the away end in a crowd of 21300.
Oh dear, we hit the buffers hard. Brezovan missed a trademark long throw and City took advantage early doors (14min). It was all up-hill after, when a cross got headed home in slightly too easy fashion (22m). Just before half-time Albion went three down to basic aerial stuff from a corner (43m). Stoke clearly won the first 45min and Gus was not impressed by our performance using 4312 shape. He changed a couple going forward on the hour mark but went orthodox 442. Albion were better following turn-around and Caskey done good in a m-f role. Baz got on late and had a chance for a glory goal. But we'd not really put Stoke under pressure in the final third and could only draw the second period. It was quite open in closing stages, although City allowed us time and space as they cruised into the quarter finals. It was a learning curve and probably, Gus and his assistant Tanno found out a lot about what we couldn't do against decent elite opposition.
Brezovan, Calderon, Elphick, Greer, Painter, Battipiedi (Caskey), Bridcutt, Dicker, Bennett, Murray (Sandaza), Barnes (Baz)
Season 7 (A) 5/11/05 - 0-3
Mark McGhee said, 'we totally dominated the first half at the Britannia Stadium, only to be hit by a sucker punch just before half time with Stoke's first attack on our goal.' That statement was virtually true but highlighted a lack of Brighton converting goal-scoring chances in this division, which apparently opposition didn't find as a problem. He went on, 'with that in mind, our strikers have to be more dangerous in front of goal. We have to work at ways to be more ruthless as a team.' In the second period City, who were after a play-off place, decided to act like it and put two more past relegation fodder from the south.
Cracks were beginning to appear in the squad / manager relationship, where some players couldn't or wouldn't adapt to his requirements. Knight had been dropped and Kazim-Richards and Robinson not exactly on fire. Turienzo was having problems at this standard and Jarrett flattered to deceive. McCammon and McPhee had been forgotten. Also Hart was no longer considered a striker. McGhee was looking for replacements but had drawn a blank to date. In the meantime, it had to be realised possession wasn't pressure, going forward didn't make for incisive attacking, crosses ain't chances, nor on/off targets being goals. And how did we let in three? So easily, it nearly made frustrated Brighton fans cry.
Blayney, Hart, McShane, Butters, Reid, Carole, Nicolas, Hammond, Frutos, Robinson (McPhee), Kazim-Richards (Turienzo).
Champ's P 18 . W 2 D 10 L 6 . F 17 A 25 . Pt 16 Po 22
Season 6 (A) 5/3/05 - 0-2
Mark McGhee said after this inept defeat, 'at Stoke we struggled because effectively we played without strikers in the first half. McPhee is still coming back from injury and McCammon was suffering with illness. We regrouped in the second half and played a little better. It was our first half performance that cost us the game. We didn't have enough shots on goal or threaten them enough. However we didn't throw in the towel, retained the ball better and showed a positive attitude when two nil down.'
McPhee was subbed before half an hour gone and McCammon at halftime. McGhee must have felt hard done by as Stoke scored twice from penalties within five minutes, just before the break for necessary intravenous feeding. Albion had fallen into a hole on reclaimed land at the Britannia during that psychological period either side of coffee and stimulants. Ref got to shoulder some of the blame for a poor Brighton performance across the board. We didn't resist pressure and made it easy for him to spot infringements by constant last gasp tackling. Once he'd seen how it was all going he assumed centre stage and prima donna instantly springs to mind.
Nearly 900 B'ton fans made a 200 mile trip to the Potteries to join 14000 locals on a freezing cold afternoon. At the time we'd taken 19 points on the road and lost eight from seventeen. We were more or less putting out a settled side but missed Virgo due to suspension. This ninth reversal would continue a run up to twelve and seriously threaten maintaining a position above the drop zone. Most Brighton fans wrote this off as a game we couldn't grind out when luck, decisions, bans, injuries and lack of players were already against us.
Shaaban, Reid, Hinshelwood, Butters, Harding, Hart, Carpenter, Nicolas (El-Abd), Knight, McPhee (Oatway), McCammon (Jones).
Champ's P 36 . W 12 D 8 L 16 . F 30 A 45 . Pt 44 Po 16
Season 4 (A) 5/3/03 - 0-1
Steve Coppell said after this disappointing defeat, 'what a difference a week makes in football. We prepared on the back of three victories. Now a week later after two successive defeats we have to answer huge questions about our ability to escape the drop. It is amazing how minute the difference between success and failure can be. I feel we are missing something in our play. At best I would probably call it a belief in belonging. We are fighting for survival and on occasions that significant something appears to be missing.'
Brighton fans couldn't remember when we had last beaten those midlands elevens in the Potteries - at their old Victoria Ground. The Britannia Stadium has proved equally negative since and for some reason seemed to get bleaker there on each subsequent visit. They were struggling like us and we badly needed a result after crashing 3-0 on Saturday previously at Gillingham. A 21k crowd created a good Wednesday evening atmosphere but it was the home mob who went to bed happy, while we had over 200 miles of bad feelings left to replace sleep. Brighton were back in that bottom three and regretted not dealing with other sides who were locked deep in the drop zone. It was to be a recurring theme, as Albion effectively failed to make those clubs ones we had beaten.
Stoke scored eight minutes from time. It was from a breakaway after an Albion attack had broken down. We didn't deal with the counter and that has been typical of a lot of Brighton teams for all standards, whether against good opposition or not. It makes you wonder if coaches have any way of dealing with being outnumbered in a headlong rush to goal. Black was the selected strip, on a night when nails began to be banged into our coffin and somehow seemed appropriate, given a shocking sudden death result.
Beasant, Watson (Barrett), Ingimarsson, Cullip, Blackwell, Mayo, Brooker, Carpenter, Rodger, Zamora, Rougier.
Div 1 (Champ's) P 35 . W 7 D 8 L 20 . F 34 A 55 . Pt 29 Po 22
Season 3 (A) 1/3/02 - 1-3 ~ Steele
It hadn't exactly been every other Saturday for Brighton fans home and away this season. Apart from Tuesday night escapades for LDV trophy rounds and LC & FA cup-ties, there had been quite a number of league fixtures from Monday through Friday but not a Sunday in the calendar. Of course, TV schedules had something to do with fans disrupted diary dates and everybody knows it's booked for gym or weight-watchers, or both on a Thursday anyway. The Stoke trip came on a Friday night, following a visit to south coast rivals Bournemouth on Tuesday. Brighton fans are considered rich but mostly in reputation as top blokes and birds, rather than for time-on, or money-in, their hands. Nearly 1000 got into the midlands to go see Britannia, with 28000 red seats and a statue of Stanley Matthews. The place appears as a beacon at night, being erected overlooking a meandering Potteries valley, on the way to Port Vale.
Stoke were hard on our heels before k-o, in a p-o berth and keen to reduce that distance to boot. They were fired up and hoped to crack us open by exposing feet of clay. Brighton fans kinda glazed over, when City went ahead a second time with a pot shot. Steele stood in for suspended Zamora and kept up the temperature with an equalising goal. Fifteen thousand who turned up in red and white stripes enjoyed home advantage, maintaining their strong record and putting three past big club wannabes from the south. Taylor said, 'the match was a fantastic advertisement for division two football as both sides played a very open and very good game. We did make some disappointing individual errors but overall were as good as I have seen since I arrived here. There are ten games to go and a lot of hard work is required. We need to remain patient and there will be a few strange results up and down the division as the season draws to a close. Nothing is guaranteed but we are one hundred percent focused and we'll work our socks off.'
Kuipers, Watson, Cullip, Morgan, Mayo (Jones), Hart (Melton), Carpenter, Lewis, Pethick (Webb), Brooker, Steele.
Div 2 (League 1) P 36 . W 18 D 12 L 6 . F 48 A 37 . Pt 66 Po 2
Stoke - Home, Withdean Era
Season 7 (H) 30/4/06 - 1-5 ~ Loft
BHA youth team were presented with medals and a trophy for winning their league and did a lap of honour. Goals at 6, 22, 40, 63 and 82 minutes set the seal on a scene of senior failure, where surely there was a price to pay before pre-season. Oh, Loft got an 84th minute goal to open and immediately close his account for '05/6. The W'dean gate dropped to 5800, ominously an indicator for '06/7, although a sponsored family stand appeared to be populated along right lines.
McGhee said, 'the Board must trust in the manager's decisions. Supporters must believe that the manager will deliver, given circumstances under which he has to work.' Theory sounded fine but in fact the Albion boss was already talking about the forthcoming season. 'I will be asking the Board to afford me funds to develop the squad. Supporters can help by having the faith to buy season tickets.' Brighton had become something of a selling club and that had contributed to a struggle on the pitch, by subsidising one off it. McGhee went on, 'we must be determined to keep all our best players, add more quality and depth to the squad.' He appeared to still be referring to the Championship and therefore in some sort of denial.
Dick Knight said, 'we were forced to endure petty and malicious delays caused by Lewes District Council. If anything, they make us more determined to triumph.' Regarding finances he explained, 'it made it hard for us to bring in new faces, most importantly that elusive experienced striker.' In fact Knight sounded more like a manager saying, 'our young players are that squad in League 1, as we once again look to challenge at the right end of the table.'
Henderson, Reid, Hinshelwood, Butters, Lynch, Carole, Carpenter, Nicolas, Frutos (Loft), Kazim-Richards, Noel-Williams.
Champ's P 46 . W 7 D 17 L 22 . F 39 A 71 . Pt 38 Po 24
Season 6 (H) 17/12/04 - 0-1
Darren Currie had transferred to Ipswich. Now Danny Cullip was in negotiations for a probable move to Sheffield United. Steve Claridge cleared off to Brentford in a quest for eternal youth, while perennial Gary Hart started another comeback by making the bench. Mark McCammon arrived on loan to make up an alternative front-man option to versatile Adam Virgo. Meanwhile Paul Watson and Nathan Jones from good old days, appeared to be on the fringe these days. Ben Roberts had continuing back problems, whilst Albert Jarrett and Maheta Molango disappeared off radar. John Piercy had unfortunately played his last game, due to chronic illness. Youngsters Adam El-Abd and Dean Hammond were still trying hard to break through. Chris McPhee and Jake Robinson were injured and a super kid respectively. Young Chris May got to be regular reserve goalie but was only learning his trade.
Brighton got beat on their pre-Xmas Friday night fixture with in this particular season Stoke. McGhee said, 'there are two ways of looking at it. If we can't win when playing like that we should be worried. If we keep playing as well as that we will certainly win games.' After a spell using three centre backs, Albion went to unorthodox 433 in a bid to hit the net. The game rattled through to five minutes from time when Akinbiyi behaved like a Championship striker and scored like one too.
Albion fan of opinion, Albi Hove said, 'a new formation got employed after a week of transfer activity. So what, we could have had wingbacks, men in holes and the old five man forward line for all it mattered. Hey, McGhee we can't score goals!' It was a seventh defeat in ten since our last draw and sixth without a goal. There were definitely problems who ever said what.
Kuipers, Reid, Hinshelwood, Butters, Harding (Jones), Nicolas (Hammond), Oatway, Carpenter, Virgo, Knight, McCammon.
Champ's P 24 . W 7 D 4 L 13 . F 17 A 32 . Pt 25 Po 20
Season 4 (H) 17/9/02 - 1-2 ~ Carpenter
Brighton fans were being asked to help make Withdean bigger by writing to the city council to approve a substantial planning application. Away fans would eventually end up behind that huge hammer and discus net on the shady side. New changing rooms were intended to go up, not far from those perimeter tennis courts. We would still be a multi-function stadium but at least didn't ground-share with a rugby club. No roofs were involved in the ongoing hurt fans would suffer while openly waiting for Falmer.
Meanwhile on the pitch, Brighton had another early season evening fixture but fell to a fourth consecutive defeat at home. We went down to a side that had come up with us thru play-offs and who we were capable of beating. This was game 9 and Albion had lost 7 in a row. Giving a penalty away didn't exactly help, yet we were still in it until a 'what happened next moment'. Stoke led to a 17 min spot kick, following accidental handball. It was nip and tuck until 15 min from time. Cullip and Butters crashed together trying to clear and a loose ball got tucked home for free. A Carpenter rocket pegged one back to signal a crazy end. Almost on the final whistle Ref turned down a stone cold certain penalty, when Hart was floored. Luck went against us yet again and four B'ton were booked to boot. Supporters were increasingly alarmed at bizarre events inside Withdean. Brand new manager Hinshelwood was now under a lot of pressure to sort it all out.
Dick Knight said, 'I felt it was essential to review all those candidates thoroughly. Going through that evaluation process before deciding that Martin should get the job. I've been criticised for not appointing Martin earlier and I don't believe that it has fundamentally affected us in terms of the squad. What we had was a squad in place and had great confidence in Martin.'
Petterson, Pethick (Jones), Cullip, Butters, Watson, Hart, Oatway (Hammond), Carpenter, Melton (McPhee), Marney, Wilkinson.
Div 1 (Champ's) P 9 . W 1 D 1 L 7 . F 8 A 17 . Pt 4 Po 23
Season 3 (H) 18/9/01 - 1-0 ~ Watson
Stoke had spent some years during the nineties in div1 at their old Victoria Ground in the Potteries. Then they got a new stadium on a hill out of town and went down to div2! Of course they fully intended to go back up again but had only made an average sort of start, when coming over to visit Withdean in mid September. Meanwhile Brighton were climbing again from depths of a yawning chasm that was homelessness and had aspirations for a community stadium, at the bottom of a hill out of town. The real difference was in what could be achieved should both clubs manage to regain div1 status. Stoke had firm foundations on which to build. Brighton had no foundations until powers that be allowed them to put down permanent roots. We would be in a state of suspended animation before the first bulldozer grabbed a giant bucket of chalk, right next to Falmer station. Stoke had potential to be a top ten, second tier outfit with dreams of Premiership play-offs. Brighton would be a yoyo club, condemned to lower leagues and waiting for a political benefactor to wield the power of life over slow death.
On the pitch, under floodlight on a balmy Tuesday night in suburbia, Stoke looked like they'd been around the block once or twice. City had plenty of possession and went up and down flanks like a football legend in red and white stripes. Albion played some fairly fluid stuff but huffed and puffed a bit, pushing into their opponents half. Kuipers kept a clean sheet for a fourth time in eight fixtures. Just before punters were thinking about going home to bed, Watson hit the bar with a very late specialist free kick. Attacking to the very last, Jones and Hart combined to put City's goalie under pressure. Watson was meandering into the area and picked up the returning loose ball. Yes, he actually scored from open play!
Kuipers, Watson, Cullip, Morgan, Mayo, Rogers, Oatway (Jones), Carpenter, Pitcher (Brooker), Steele, Zamora.
Div 2 (League 1) P 8 . W 5 D 2 L 1 . F 11 A 5 . Pt 17 Po 4