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Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United

Filed: Sunday, 23rd October 2011
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy is fed up with the change of date for this one. The new date clashes with the night the girl comes round to do his bunions apparently. Meanwhile he's taken time out from laughing at pictures of Ferguson and Terry to have a look at Monday night's visit to Falmer. As usual,John Northcutt takes a a less jaundiced look at the history between the clubs at the end....

Next up we have a quick trip down the M23 to Falmer where our hosts will be Brighton and Hove Albion in a match that, annoyingly for most, has been shifted from a supporter friendly Saturday to an irritating Monday night kick-off as Rupert Murdoch tries to recoup some of the damages that he’s had to fork out over the phone hacking scandal. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

Like us, our hosts are spending their first season at this level for a while, having entered the division from the opposite direction to us as champions of the third division last term. That trophy came as they saw out their final days at the Withdean Stadium, a stadium so unsuited to association football that I actually played there a few times during my playing days in the amateur game. Of course leather footballs were proper leather footballs back then. None of your plastic coated stuff, when it was damp they soaked up the water and took on the weight of ten Benni McCarthys, making headers a dangerous proposition. In fact .........(at this point Percy rambled on for ages about the carpet slippers they play in these days rather than proper boots, A-Z half time scoreboards and playing football on mudheaps before we prodded him with a stick to get him back on track).

After planning issues of Olympic proportions – including someone patiently explaining them to John Prescott – they finally moved into the “Amex” (as it is colloquially known) this season having left the Goldstone Ground 14 years ago. It’s a salutary thought that a child born in Liverpool on the day Brighton played their last game at the Goldstone Ground was probably a parent themselves by the time Brighton finally got a proper home of their own. In one of those nice coincidences that sometimes occur in the football world, Brighton’s first competitive opponents at Falmer were Doncaster Rovers, the team who supplied the opposition for their last match at the Goldstone before they departed for Gillingham (did Ryanair have anything to do with that one?). The new stadium holds 22,374 which prompts the question “why?” I mean could they really not have squeezed one more seat in there to make it a round number?

The manager who guided them to promotion last year is the former Chelsea and Spurs midfielder Gus Poyet, who is one of the better regarded young managers in the Football League. Brighton is Poyet’s first full managerial role, though he had a spell at Spurs as assistant to Juande Ramos under whom Spurs won the League Cup in 2008. A poor start to 2008/09 saw Ramos sacked and with him went Poyet. Poyet resurfaced a year later at Brighton, appointing Mauricio Taricco, of 27 minute Hammers career fame, as his assistant. Taricco’s act in tearing up both his contract at the same time as tearing up his hamstring was described by Alan Pardew as one of the most honest acts he’d ever encountered in football, and, of course, he’d know a thing or two about honesty.

Brighton started their season like a train – one of those high speed ones rather than the usual commuter cattle trucks. For a while they were neck and neck with fellow promotees Southampton at the top. However, they have gone a bit off the boil in recent weeks and currently sit in 12th place which, although it sounds a low place to occupy, still sees them only two points shy of ourselves.

Their overall record is won 5, drawn 4 and lost 3, whilst at home they’ve beaten Doncaster (2-1) and Peterborough (2-0), drawn with Blackpool (2-2), Leeds (3-3) and ‘Ull (0-0) and lost (annoyingly for them) to Crystal Palace (1-3). Their last outing saw them draw 1-1 at relegation-bound Millwall where they missed an early penalty before Noone (that’s pronounced to rhyme with the word for midday as with the lead singer of Herman’s Hermits, rather than “no one”) gave them the lead. Millwall’s equaliser came late on with a shot from distance that some suggested the ‘keeper might have done a bit better with.

The first choice ‘keeper is Casper Ankergren, who arrived in May 2010 as a free agent having spent a couple of years with Leeds. The 31 year-old has been capped at age level by Denmark but despite an appearance in the full squad about 5 years ago he never made the step up to full international recognition.

Their first choice right-back is the Spaniard (or, if you prefer, Basque) Inigo Calderon. Calderon arrived Alaves on a short term deal in the January 2010 transfer window. There was some confusion at the end of 2009/10 as the short term deal expired. The player kept his options open and, with Southampton making a financial offer that trumped that offered by the Seagulls, it looked like a trip along the A27 was on the cards. However, after some give and take, the player ended up signing a 3 year deal to stay with Brighton, the deal reportedly containing a clause allowing the club to cancel after 6 months should a hip injury sustained towards the end of last term not heal up to the club’s satisfaction.

Calderon has a compatriot in the squad (if you ignore that whole Basque Country/Spain thing, which, for the sake of the link, we will) in the form of Vicente Rodriguez. The 30 year-old midfielder/winger came in this September having been released by Valencia with whom he had spent eleven years, gaining some 38 full Spanish caps along the way. His later years with Valencia were marred by injury – something that often brought him into conflict with the club management and medical team who apparently suggested that the player’s problems might be more mental than physical in nature. The whole affair culminated in the player being fined over comments made regarding the standard of his medical care. Tellingly, perhaps, the player was neither starter nor sub for the Millwall match.

Also in midfield they have Matt Sparrow who, after a lifetime with Scunthorpe involving over 300 matches and a testimonial at Glanford Park, arrived on the South coast a couple of years ago. Sparrow seems to have recovered from a spell in prison in 2001 for some unspecified “youthful misdemeanours” and his term inside is mentioned here only because it tickles this old man’s sense of humour to make mention of Sparrow doing bird.

The big signing of recent times was, of course, Craig Mackail-Smith or CMS as we will refer to him to save my arthritic wrists from further punishment. Like that other chap that moved to Reading – La Fondre – his name always seemed to crop up as having scored every week on the highlights programmes. Although the recognition on my part may have been due at least in part to his double-barrelled surname sticking in the mind, his record with Peterborough was indeed genuinely prolific, something that led us to bid for the player during the last window. That we didn’t sign the player is put down to the fact that we dithered about over the fee for a while, something that the player took (rightly or wrongly) as a sign of doubt on our part. He made his full Scotland debut back in March and scored the only goal in their historic win against Liechtenstein. More impressively the player had a decent game in the sweaties’ recent 3-1 defeat by Spain, winning the penalty that led to the Scottish goal. Bizarrely, he also represented the England “C” team whilst playing in the Conference for Dagenham & Redbridge, prompting the questions a) who knew we had a “C” team and b) why on earth did we put out the “D” team against Montenegro the other week? CMS has netted 5 times in 12 league appearances for the Seagulls this term so the step up a division is not one that seems to have bothered him any.

CMS was partnered in midweek by Will Hoskins. Hoskins was another summer arrival, coming in for an undisclosed fee from Bristol Rovers. Hoskins was preferred to Ashley Barnes for the Millwall game. If Mackail-Smith's England C cap is a weird one, the fact that Barnes has an Austrian U20 appearance under his belt is stranger still. Barnes owes his cap to a grandmother from that part of the world, though the fact that the cap awarded three years ago has never been followed up may indicate that this is not going to be one of the more long-lived international careers.

Talking of relations, there are two more players in the squad with familiar family names. Roland Bergkamp was another striker arrival in the summer. The 20 year-old is nephew of serial elbower and planephobe Dennis. He has yet to feature in the league this season. Kazenga Lua Lua who is either the brother or cousin of the Blackpool forward Lomana Tresor depending on who you believe, is in his third loan spell at the club, despite coming with a recommendation to Poyet from Dennis Wise.

Us, well we had chances down at Southampton by all accounts. However, most reports suggest that that the performance was a bit lacking throughout. How much of that was down to the enforced changed caused by Taylor’s injury early on is debatable, though it obviously didn’t help any to make forced changes to a side that showed signs of gelling in the previous match. Taylor is a major doubt once more as is James Tomkins who is still struggling with the groin problem that saw him miss Southampton. Lansbury will be out for a few weeks yet with another knee injury, presumably having caught it from Green. Demel? Hamstring still, but Carlton Cole may have recovered from the foot injury that has kept him from involvement in recent weeks.

As for our new potential signing, I have this to say: No.

As mentioned in the lines drafted for Southampton, consistency has been an issue for us this season. It was interesting to note that, notwithstanding the manager’s comments to the effect that the team is likely to change week by week depending on the opposition, in midweek Mr Allardyce initially kept faith with the 4-4-2 that did so well against Blackpool. The injuries we have are such that a 4-4-2 would not be out of the question should the manager desire it and if that’s the case and if Cole is available for selection expect him to be on the bench. However, I do think that if we go for one up front (or three if you subscribe to the manager’s theory) Cole is Mr Allardyce’s striker of choice for that role, in which case messrs Carew and Baldock might expect some bench time. That would be a bit of a shame (in my opinion). We’ve been short of a decent striking partnership for years and there have been signs that this could be a prolific pairing should it be given time to develop. This would mean picking a formation and sticking with it at the start of matches at least, something that the manager’s comments suggest isn’t going to be an option.

Prediction? Well despite the setback last week I think we’ll get the full three out of this one – especially if we can pick up an early goal to settle things, 2-1 to us then and back to second spot.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We MetThe last time we met on their turf we drew 2-2 at the Withdean. Goals from Reo-Coker and Harewood were cancelled out by a pair from Hammond – the equaliser coming in stoppage time (ho hum). There were unedifying scenes as the players came off as Repka and some supporters exchanged views. More recently we beat them 3-0 in a third round cup tie in 2007 with goals from Noble (his first for the club), Cole and Mullins. There were more unedifying scenes as Alan Curbishley walked out of a press conference in protest at some poor journalism.

Referee: Kevin Friend – only had us once in my memory - the 0-0 draw at home to Blackpool last term where he managed to mystify everyone with a string of baffling decisions straight out of the twilight zone of refereeing.

Danger Man:Craig Mackail-Smith seems at home on the south coast and gave a decent showing for Scotland v Spain recently. Will have a point to prove over our transfer window “dithering”

Daft Fact of The Week: Had Sky not messed up the fixture date, those in Brighton for Saturday evening would have been greeted by people wandering round dressed as zombies. The gathering of people pretending to be brain dead was part of the annual Beach Of The Dead celebration and not, as you might have thought, a Mike Dean tribute act.

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner

Previous Away Friendlies v Southampton

Aug 1988 0-1
Aug 1979 1-3 Jennings (Tennant Caledonian Cup )
Nov 1962 5-0 Scott 2 Crawford Dear Sealey
Jan 1962 1-3 Woosnam
Jan 1959 3-3 Keeble 2 Dick

Red Cards

Matt Kingsley A 1904-05
Frank Lampard A 1982-83
Hayden Mullins H 2004-05

They Played For Both

Alan Curbishley, Sam Jennings, Paul Kitson, Bertie Lutton,Dave Sexton, Mike Small, Sam Small, Bobby Zamora.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Craggsy
04:13PM 24th Oct 2011
''That would be brother of little Treasure, or Tresor Lomana LuaLua as some folk call him. Newcastle have also sent reinforcements in the keeper department with Steve Harper on his bike down there, not sure if he can play tonight though.

I have refrained from making comment on Gnome (Preview's) playing career!''

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