Last Time We Met...Brighton
Brighton & Hove Albion appear to be in the ascendency after gaining promotion from League One as Champions last season. Not only that of course but they also managed to ditch at long last their pretty grim Withdean Stadium in favour of their brand new spanking ground in Falmer otherwise known as the Amex Stadium! The club are now seventh in the Championship and are giving a number of establish clubs in this division a run for their money! Let`s hope Burnley will not be one of them when we play them in their new stadium for the first time this Saturday.
The two clubs have met each other on 18 occasions in the league; Brighton have won six, Burnley six, and six have been drawn. Stalemates have been produced in each of the last three Championship clashes. The Clarets 1-0 away victory back in November 200 is the only decisive result in five league clashes over nine years
Clarets fans may be wondering when we last played the East Sussex club. Of course we seemed to go our separate ways for a time, Brighton going in the wrong direction into League 1 and then Burnley enjoying a spell, albeit one season in the top flight! Our paths now cross again but it was actually over 5 years ago the last time we met back in the 2005-6 season.
To be precise, it was January 31st 2006 and it was played at the Withdean Stadium in front of just 6,267 fans! This was a bad season for Brighton, they would finish bottom of the Championship with just seven wins all season and would not return until 2011. Thankfully, the Clarets were not one of the clubs that lost but in a pretty mediocre season, we could only manage two draws against the bottom club and would eventually finish in 17th spot. It was Steve Cotterill`s second season in charge as gaffer but we only achieved a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor earlier in the season back in September 2005 against the Seagulls and could only come away from East Sussex with a goalless draw in the New Year.
This was a frustrating season for the Clarets, having been in the top ten by Xmas and pushing for promotion. In fact we were 8th but we lost key players as usual in the January transfer window to raise money. Leading goal-scorer, Ade Akinbiyi was sold to Sheffield United and it was a big blow for Clarets fans The insistence by the club to make a quick buck scuppered our chances of promotion and we were left with Graham Branch and Michael Ricketts trying and failing to get our season back on track. By the time we played Brighton at the Withdean in January, we had started to fall and by March we were 18th and in free-fall before steadily recovering to finish in our accustomed mid-table.
But what was our line up back then, the last time we played Brighton on their home soil? Well this is a blast from the past and maybe shows how far we have progressed since those days.
That day we lined-up as follows:
Jensen, Duff, McGreal, Sinclair, Harley, Elliott (McCann 80), Hyde, J O'Connor, G O'Connor (Spicer 89), Branch, Ricketts.
Subs: Courtney, Noel-Williams, Karbassiyoon
I would say that was one of our better defences, and Cotts always knew how to build from the back! Cahill, on loan from Villa would of course been our best defender from that era but nevertheless I would argue, age accepted, that the back four back then had they been playing today ( Duff still is albeit centre back) that our results may have been better than they are this season?
The problems we had back then though were clearly striker related and to some degree supply from midfield. I always get a cold sweat when Ricketts name is mentioned after the joy of seeing Akinbiyi the first time round! Ade was such an exciting striker back then and was adored by the Clarets faithful! Trust this club to kick us in the teeth as usual! Also Branch, bless him trying his best to score and failing miserably in a position that he was never suited to! OMG Noel-Williams was on the bench too!! Hell that team IS scary! The subs bench really had depth in squad to didn`t it? ((NOT!!)
No wonder we could only manage a 0-0 against the bottom club!
Oh well times have changed, but Kilby`s latest deliberations suggest once again we are a selling club after priming Clarets fans to expect some loses in the Jan window, despite a season recently in the Prem! One day..one day!!