Blackburn Rovers - Home, Falmer Years
Season3 (H) 9/11/13 - 3-0 ~ Barnes 2, Forster-Caskey
Brighton's home form had been variable to say the least. Defeat to Newport in the initial CCr1 tie at the Amex was followed by loss against Derby in the Championship. Two more wins versus Burnley and Bolton interspersed draws with Millwall, Wednesday and Watford, plus reversal against Forest. Oscar Garcia had to scratch his Spanish locks in order to find a consistent winning formula. Injuries had played a part in finding a settled team and players had to step-up if BHA was to emulate progress under Gus Poyet in years one & two. In fact Seagulls had probably over-achieved last term when in theory, were heading the table for Jan-May '13. Now the new coaching arrangement was gathering momentum, so it was probably time to measure what progress had been made in real time. On the day a regular 27k crowd attended.
Albion put a below par northern outfit to the sword and netted three to boot in successive fixtures H&A. After half an hour or so Conway was brought down in the box and Barnes stepped up to the spot to wrong-foot the Rovers keeper (35min). Seagulls fans know a one goal lead is never enough at home or away and were excited when BHA doubled the lead after the break. JFC netted when getting forward and receiving from Conway with a header (56min). Bridcutt then got on after the hour for his first app since long-term injury. Albion piled on the chances and netted a third goal with the clock running down. Barnes bagged a brace after goalie spilled Crofts volley - so Ash chipped him (77min). Seagulls had 57% of possession, 14 shots and a ratio of 5:9 for on/off targets. Things were looking up at last and Garcia & co and Amex support all went home happy from seeing a right result.
Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, Upson, Ward, Crofts, Ince, Forster-Caskey, David (Bridcutt), Barnes, Conway.
Champ's P 15 . W 5 D 6 L 4 . F 18 A 14 . Pt 21 Po 11
Season2 (H) 12/2/13 - 1-1 ~ Vicente
Well, we were originally gonna play 'em twice in just over a month when the fixture list got issued back in summertime. But the initial away leg, immediately before Xmas, was postponed due to wet-winter waterlogging. So what happened next was FA Cup ties got in the way and the scheduled home match got shifted from late January into February. Therefore we ended up against Rovers twice in three weeks anyway. Gus Poyet wanted Albion to take more risks in the chase for a play-off place and go get the necessary points. He said, 'to win, that's the word now. To do that we need to be better at the back. We conceded three at Sheffield and I was not happy with those situations. To summarise, we need to be stronger in both boxes. That's the key from now on.' On a very cold night, over 24k attended and got to see Vicente make his first home start after long-term injury.
Vicente took Mom honours and gave a display of craft, skill, guile and quality above and beyond level two standard. Albion were off the blocks fast and in the first twenty minutes played magnificent football. God only knows how we failed to convert chance after spectacular chance. But Rovers took the lead from a corner when heading past a flat-footed TK (24min). Hoskins was carried off injured just before halftime as Seagulls struggled to get into the air again. Not long into the second period Vicente's cross was handled and he stayed calm amid visitors protests to ram the spot-kick home (57min). BHA continued to press and on final stats had two-thirds of possession. LuaLua came on with fifteen minutes left but B'ton couldn't completely break thru as the clock ticked down. However Rovers held out and with a certain amount of luck defended well enough to pinch a point. Gus said, 'you would have to spend heavily at any in any country level to have those first twenty minutes. Tactically, technically, speed, position, chances, it was absolutely spectacular.'
Kuszczak, Bruno, El-Abd, Upson, Bridge, Hammond, Bridcutt, Vicente, Buckley (LuaLua), Ulloa, Hoskins (Orlandi)
Champ's P 31 . W 11 D 13 L 7 . F 43 A 34 . Pt 46 Po 7
Blackburn Rovers - Away, Falmer Years
Season3 (A) 15/2/14 -
Season2 (A) 22/1/13 - 1-1 ~ David
When you looked at the Championship fixture list this term it was evident there would be some sort of north-south divide. Two Lancashire clubs, Blackburn and Bolton, dropped simultaneously from the Prem last season and joined others like Burnley and Blackpool as distant M6 destinations in the northwest. Visiting places such as Middlesbrough, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Barnsley were also long runs on the M1 for numerous travelling Brighton fans. We hadn't played Rovers during that infamous Withdean Era (12 years) since a homecoming at very end of the last century. Now BHA regained some former status of Goldstone days by playing out of Falmer from 2011, with ambitions of seriously becoming a big club. Gus Poyet did a good job to elevate BHA from third-tier also-rans to level-two play-off chasers but required an edge from somewhere in order to make the squad ultra competitive. We were over halfway thru the season and just doubling our present points tally wouldn't ensure qualifying for knockout phases. Only a prolonged winning sequence could shake off a multitude of sides after one of those coveted spots. On a freezing cold night, over 300 Brighton fans made the trip northwest.
Talk about a match of two halves. Albion appeared to be heading for defeat after conceding a pen just before half-time (45min). The second period was meandering to completion in stoppage when Ref pointed to the spot again. David did the biz and BHA got an unlikely draw right at the death (90+6). It wasn't that Seagulls were particularly bad but more a case of turning possession into football into chances into goals. Gus Poyet rang changes to our inept strike-force ten minutes thru the second half. He introduced CMS & Buckley with pace replacing Spanish flair. With twenty-five mins left Hoskins got on too. However it seemed things were going tits up until virtually last kick of the contest. We'd take a point, although the squad had played better on the road and lost.
Kuszczak, Calderon, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge, David, Bridcutt, Dicker, Vicente (Mackail-Smith), Barnes (Buckley), Orlandi (Hoskins)
Champ's P 28 . W 10 D 12 L 6 . F 40 A 30 . Pt 42 Po 7