Sunday, 31 August 2014

Slam Dunked

Brighton & Hove Albion 2 -2 Charlton Athletic

This week it was our turn to be denied three points in the dying moments of the match as Lewis Dunk's looping header grabbed a late point for The Seagulls. This time last week of course we were enjoying the flip side as Vetokele's late strike earned a point at Huddersfield.

Brighton Away
Normally I really look forward to away days but a trip to Brighton isn't as an enjoyable away day as it should be. Why?!?! Previous trips to Brighton used to involve being in a temporary built stand around a running track and the pitch being yards away from the away fans, now is the opposite with The Amex stadium being one of the nicest grounds in the league. But for me there is a snag, the ground is in the middle of nowhere and to get to the ground you either have to be ferried in on one of the park and ride coaches, pay to park near,  or drink in Brighton to then leave over an hour before kick off to queue up at the station to get on a packed train towards Falmer where the ground is situated. Not ideal and I cant imagine Brighton fans enjoy this commute to their matches although in their case anything is better than playing football at a athletics stadium.

The afternoon started for me with us drinking and eating around 30 mins away from the ground & then driving and hoping to park in Stanmer Park located near the ground. Due to my Dad not listening to directions we ended up right next to the ground and after asking a steward if he could direct us to Stanner Park he described it being "such a ball ache to get to" he would allow us to park in a road overlooking the stadium for free! (Thank you Mr parking steward). So after meeting friends we ended up getting into the stadium around 40 minutes to Kick off.
Approaching The Amex

Again as on previous visits to The Amex Brighton try and make the away fans feel quite welcome with Charlton badges dotted around the concourse, their staff donning Charlton polo tops & mini posters thanking us for travelling so many miles to the ground. I remember Reading doing similar thing last season too which again is a nice initiative for the clubs to do. As we were early managed to have a few beers before hand priced at a hefty £4.20 a pint and was able to put my flag up in a decent spot again thanks to some helpful Brighton stewarding.

As we took our seats a few minutes prior to kick off noticed there was one change from the side that drew at Huddersfield the fit again Stephen Henderson replacing Pope in between the sticks.

Ben Haim   
Jackson (C)
The teams makes there way out
On our two trips to the The Amex we hadn't scored...Were we going to break that record today? Well the answer to that question was going to be answered very quickly! Within three minutes we took the lead through in form striker Igor Vetokele, Yoni Buyens ran through the middle then dinked a ball over the top to Vetokele who then cut inside his then attempted pass to Tucudean bounced back to him which saw him take a touch and then rifle a drilled shot into the bottom corner of Brighton keeper Stockdales goal. What a start! Met by chants of IGOOOOR IGOOOOR! 0-1

They always say your most vulnerable to concede after you've scored and that very nearly happened on loan Liverpool midfielder Teixeira had just Henderson to beat but the new Charlton keeper stood tall and produced a fine save to turn it round the post!

To be honest at an away ground behind the goal singing and cheering on your team it's quite hard to notice as much as the games action as usual, so apologies if I missed anything key out or my players reviews arent accurate I was shouting and singing a lot as usual! Brighton were dominating possession but our defence was very organised and on any rare occasions the defence was breached Ben Haim and Solly were there with some vital interceptions and clearances.

The best chance of the half fell to midfielder Colunga as a Brighton corner was flicked on from Dunk to an unmarked Colunga but from a few yards out he fired wildly over the bar. The half time whistle came with overall Brighton having most of the first half but with Charlton's defence remaining resolute, but The Addicks leading thanks to Vetokeles 4th of the season.

The second half saw the introduction of striker Simon Church who was a like for like replacement for Tucudean who I assume had a knock. A different sub from Peeters as we have seen him opt to bring on Moussa instead of Church in previous games, but maybe this time Peeters saw Church's work rate as a factor in him being brought on. The half started as the first half ended with Brighton pressure and the busy Mackail-Smith swivelled in the box and saw his half volley just go wide of the post.

Charlton corner in the second half
Brighton were pressing more with shots from Bennett & Teixeira not troubling Henderson in the Charlton goal. We made our second sub 15 minutes into the half with Cousins being replaced by Wilson & Lua Lua replacing Mackail-Smith for Brighton. Brightons pressure paid off when a corner from Holla headed powerfully into the top corner of the goal a fine header from Dunk but poor zonal marking from The Addicks. 1-1

Brighton continued to attack & Lua Lua who always looks a threat whenever he plays against us had two shots on goal one producing a decent save from Henderson. But surprisingly it was Charlton who struck next against the run of play and it was all down to the work rate of Simon Church, he nicked the ball from a Brighton throw jinxed his way down the byline cut a fine ball into Vetokele who then with a sublime piece of quick footwork lost the defender and with Stockdale approaching he fired a hard shot against the post and into the net! What a lovely finish from Vetokele and great hard work from Church in providing it sent the travelling fans into mayhem & Vetokele lapped it up with a Balotelli esque celebration.1-2

Straight away Hyypia sent on new striker Sam Baldock in search of an equaliser & Peeters sent on Fox for Gudmundsson to shore up the midfield. Charlton looked comfortable then and were playing some nice football. A nice passing move from The Reds found Church in the box he went down but The Referee booked the Welsh international for diving. A Charlton corner then was headed wide by Bikey where he really should of done better.

Jackson applauding the away fans before he takes a corner

The game entered into stoppage time and Brighton won a corner which saw their keeper Stockdale come up, the corner was too long but was picked up by Lua Lua who dinked a fine ball into the unmarked Dunk whose powerful header looped over Henderson and into the back of the net off the underside of the bar. Heartbreak for Charlton as although Brighton's dominance they rarely troubled the Charlton goal and gutting to concede so late in the game. Dunk scored an unlikely brace both from set pieces! Final Score 2-2

The players clap the fans at the final whistle
Again Peeters always gets the whole of team to applaud the travelling fans which is good to see, although hard for Ben Haim who clearly was distraught at conceding the late goal great to see his passion & that he really cares for the cause. Peeter's did walk straight over to Henderson to have a few words of what he felt he could have done better with the late equaliser.
My short reviews on player performances although not too accurate from being behind the goal!

Henderson - Didn't have much to do really on his return to the team made a fine save early on, but on second viewing of the late equaliser he was well off his line and was at fault as Dunks header looped over him into the net.
Solly - Thought Chris had a good usual solid game from him, especially what I saw when Brighton attacked towards our end in the first half.

Ben Haim - A very good performance from Tal who in the first half made some vital interceptions and clearances and kept Brighton at bay.
Bikey - Didn't really notice Bikey that much really but he for one will be annoyed that both goals came from set pieces but as we do the new zonal marking from corners its hard to pin point exactly who was at fault. He was strong as ever in tackle and again stopped Brighton troubling the goal.
Wiggins - Again another player who wasn't noticed that much but again played his part in a solid defensive effort.
Cousins - Jordan had a poor game lots of wayward passes from him and poor touches saw him lose the ball often. This saw him replaced by Wilson early in the second half. Cant be too harsh on Jordan as again left midfield is not his position.
Buyens - Really impressed with Buyens again his constant work rate is great to see and played a part in the first goal.
Jackson - Johnnie didn't have the best of games lost the ball quite a few times but he did always work hard to win it back.
Gudmundsson - Looked lively early on but then faded as the game went on.
Tucudean - A quiet first half from him which unfortunately saw him subbed at half time which I assume was down to him having a knock.
Vetokele - Man of the Match 2 shots 2 goals and both finished so clinically. What a signing he's proved to be the second goal was genius great footwork and a fine finish.
Church - Often at the forefront of anger from Charlton fans he came up with a fine performance, really worked his socks off and provided a fine assist for Vetokele's second.

Afterwards quite a few hundred Charlton fans congregated on the concourse and had a few drinks in the bars whilst waiting for the crowds to disperse as Brighton leave there bars open after the game. This also gave opportunity to discuss the game, we all agreed that we would have taken a point before the game just gutting the way it come about. But what an improvement! In April we were thrashed 3-0 here where as this season we were minutes away from three points.

Home Fans - There were just over 24 thousand Brighton fans in attendance which is a great turn out from them. Not too much noise from them other than spurts of Seeeaaagulllls & Albioooon Albioooon.

Away Fans - Shame we couldn't sell out the away end but a decent following of 1992 fans who made good noise throughout the match especially in the latter stages to spur the team onto victory.

Moment of the Match - Has to be Vetokele's second goal, a lovely finish which sent the away end into delirium at a time in the game where Brighton were on top.

Moan of the Match - Although a wonderful stadium £32 for a ticket is too much and i hope they get charged the same at The Valley, I think the price put a lot of Charlton fans off but I must say that if the unthinkable happens and we get promoted this season the price of  a away ticket in the premiership is almost double that & I'm sure those fans will be turning up then.

Overall I did enjoy the day and despite the last minute agony there is a lot to be excited about, again remember last season we got thumped where as we came here this season played well &  we so nearly snatched three points although a draw was a fair result. Looking forward Big Bob would have been disappointed to concede from two set pieces but other than that there is not too much to work on.

We now head into the international break unbeaten & there is two weeks until our next game against managerless Watford who have also started the season well and sit in second position.

Will it be a busy day tomorrow in the transfer window deadline day? Maybe another striker will be drafted in which may see Pigott head out on loan hopefully to a League one side where he could do with some much needed playing time and hopefully can prove his ability.

Who would've have taken unbeaten so far and to have found a new hitman in the shape of Vetokele! Even after a late setback we can take hope from a good performance and you can sense good times are coming! COME ON YOU REDS!

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