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West Ham Utd v Brighton & Hove Albion

Filed: Friday, 13th April 2012
By: Preview Percy

With all the fuss about the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic everywhere you look, Preview Percy would just like to deny that he was actually on board that night. Anyone that was seen barging their way past women and children en route to the lifeboats just happened to look a bit like him, ok? Here’s the wizened one’s look at this weekend’s visit of Brighton & Hove Albion with statistical input as ever from John Northcutt...

And so as the season limps wheezing and coughing towards its conclusion, we prepare to entertain Brighton & Hove Albion. Kick-off is 3pm (hurrah) on Saturday (double hurrah), the bad news being that this is the last of the Saturday 3pm kick-offs of the normal season.

Tubes? Well the southern bit of the District line is out all weekend – which may cause particular issues for visiting supporters using Victoria. Go to London Bridge & pick up the Jubilee is my advice. There’s large chunks of the DLR also suspended all weekend if you prefer toy trains.

The visitors arrive in 7th place with 63 points from 42 matches. They murdered Reading and somehow lost 1-0 the other night (them and many others this season), missing a penalty in the process. This leaves them two points shy of Cardiff, who currently sit precariously in the last of the playoff spots. They are also level on points with Boro’ in 8th, one point clear of Leicester in 9th and two clear of Hull in 10th. Lots to play for then.

They brought in some loan signings as the transfer window proper closed back in January. Gonzalo “Jara” Reyes and Joe Mattock both arrived from West Brom. It’s the second spell with the Seagulls for defender Reyes who has been capped over 50 times for the Chilean national side.

Whether or not he earns any more caps is something that is in the balance at present. He’s been suspended since before Christmas having turned up for a training session somewhat the worse for wear alongside some similarly sizzled teammates who included Wigan’s Jean Beausejour amongst their number. A far cry from my playing days when a few pre-match “liveners” in the bar were virtually compulsory.

We like a good bad boy story hereabouts and Reyes co-Baggie Mattock also has a bit rep (as I believe you kids call it). He was a promising youngster with his original club Leicester with whom he made his debut as a 16 year-old. Indeed we ourselves stuck a bid in for the player when he was still four months shy of his 18th birthday. He joined West Brom in 2009 the manner of his transfer annoying Leicester boss Nigel Pearson in the process.

Around the time of his move to The Hawthorns he got into a spot of bother in a Leicester nightclub with some Foxes supporters giving the player “grief” over the move. The “debate” descended into affray with the player getting a 10 month suspended detention order, 150 hours of unpaid work and £1,500 of costs into the bargain. He also spent the latter part of the 2010/11 season on loan at Sheffield United, though it is believed this wasn’t actually part of the sentence.

As well as a good crime story, we also like a good player name here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered. Normally we’d get a good few paragraphs of schoolboy humour out of goalkeeper Michael Poke. Unfortunately he’s been at Bristol Rovers on loan since the turn of the year so we’ll have to let that one pass. Slovakian Peter Brezovan was preferred to Dane Casper Ankergren between the sticks. Ankergren also missed out on the reverse fixture last year when they signed Steve Harper on the day of the game.

They have another January loan arrival up front in the form of Welsh international Sam Vokes. Normally one would think that being sent out on loan for much of the season by your parent club (Vokes had a month or so at Burnley before Christmas) would be a sign that you might be out of favour. However, since Vokes’ parent club is Wolves the player probably sees every minute spent away from Molineux as a plus at the moment.

Vokes came on as a late sub for one-time Hammers target Craig Mackail-Smith who has had a mixed season thus far. He had a bright start to the term following his summer move from Peterborough netting five in eight. However the goals dried up over the winter and he managed just the one between November and February and Brighton were probably hoping for a bit more of a return than the ten goals he’s got from his 46 league & cup matches this season.

The top scorer with 13 from 46 matches in all competitions is Ashley Barnes, though his efforts are bolstered by the fact that he’s the first choice penalty taker. It was he, damn him, who saw his spot-kick saved in the Reading match having been brought down to win the kick in the first place.

The obligatory ex-Hammer in the opposition ranks is the semi-legend Mauricio Taricco whose Irons career lasted less than half an hour thanks to a torn hamstring. Despite this, the player won many friends by tearing up his contract rather than sitting in the treatment room for the duration of his contract and collecting his salary. He’s made 12 appearances for the Seagulls this season though his primary role at the club is that of assistant to manager Gus Poyet.

Us? Well the good news is that the play-offs are mathematically the worst we can do. The bad news is that they’re also likely to be the best we can do. The season looks almost certain to head into overtime which, given the averageness of those that are likely to finish above us in the final table, is a major disappointment.

If, as now seems likely, we miss out on automatic promotion, we will only have ourselves to blame. We ought to have won both of our last two home matches and, splendid though the comeback against Birmingham was, it wouldn’t have been necessary had we not continued this bizarre habit of self inflicting wounds to our metatarsals.

It’s an unbelievable seven games since we won at the Boleyn and, although events elsewhere may make this result irrelevant in terms of auto-promotion (and good luck to whoever has to referee the Southampton v Reading dive-fest), it’s still important that we get some sort of momentum going in the run-up to post season. The visitors are, if it’s any consolation, in an even worse position.

Disappointed though we are with currently being third they’d swap positions in a flash and they’ll need to be thinking in terms of a win rather than avoiding defeat. With us in the same boat this has all the potential to be a cracker. So, for my prediction this week, the whole of next year’s Rest Home budget for batteries for the Carbon Monoxide detectors (£2.50) is going on a home win 3-2

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: Won 1-0. Kevin Nolan’s early strike was enough to give us all three points on our inaugural visit to the Amex Stadium, and, although we spent most of the rest of the game defending that lead it was notable that on-loan ‘keeper Almunia had virtually nothing to do.

Referee: Roger East. His second time in charge of one of our matches. He was last seen in the middle for the 4-3 defeat of Portsmouth at the Boleyn, a match in which Lawrence saw red for a couple of horrible challenges and Piquionne saw red for staring at Halford with such venom that the defender went down clutching his face in agony.

Danger Man: Craig Mackail-Smith. Although the season may not have quite worked out as the player would have hoped he’ll still be something of a threat.

Daft fact of the week: Brighton is of course the setting for much of the splendid film Quadrophenia. This was, of course, based on the story of the concept album of the same name by The Who, who were managed by Bill Curbishley, whose younger brother Llewellyn is better known to all and sundry as Alan who, as I am sure John Northcutt is about to remind us, played for both us and the Seagulls during his career. There is probably some significance to this coincidence but it eludes me for the time being.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 19; West Ham Utd 9, Brighton & Hove Albion 5, Draws 5.

Biggest Win
6th Janaury 2007: West Ham Utd 3-0 Brighton (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 3rd Round)

Heaviest Defeat
16th September 1989: Brighton 3-0 West Ham Utd (Goldstone Ground, Division Two)

First Meeting
3rd February 1923: Brighton 1-1 West Ham Utd (Goldstone Ground, FA Cup 2nd Round)

Last Five Meetings
24th October 2011: Brighton 0-1 West Ham Utd (Falmer Stadium, Championship)
6th Janaury 2007: West Ham Utd 3-0 Brighton (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 3rd Round)
23rd April 2005: Brighton 2-2 West Ham Utd (Withdean Stadium, Championship)
13th November 2004: West Ham Utd 0-1 Brighton (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
10th April 1991: Brighton 1-0 West Ham Utd (Goldstone Ground, Division Two)

Memorable Match
23rd April 2005: Brighton 2-2 West Ham Utd (Withdean Stadium, Championship)

Tomas Repka was always a bit of a hot-headed sort. We knew this long before he was arrested for an altercation with his neighbour and even before he was sent off in his first game for the club. Therefore it was no surprise when he fell out with our own supporters as the players left the (track and) field after this 2005 match at the Withdean 'Stadium'. Alan Pardew's West Ham had conceded a 90th minute equaliser, dropping two vital points in the chase for a play-off spot. Whilst Pardew kept his head down despite being called 'a f*cking disgrace' by some of the 700 travelling fans perched in the temporary stands, the Czech defender was rather less inclined to keep his own counsel and retaliated when he was called similar. Fortunately a physical altercation was narrowly avoided, West Ham eventually won the play-offs, Repka was restored to 'cult hero' and everyone lived happily ever after.

Previous Friendlies
August 1988: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 West Ham Utd
August 1979: Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 West Ham Utd (Jennings)
November 1962: Brighton & Hove Albion 0-5 West Ham Utd (Scott 2, Crawford, Dear, Sealey)
January 1962: Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 West Ham Utd (Woosnam)
January 1959: Brighton & Hove Albion 3-3 West Ham Utd (Keeble 2, Dick)

They Played For Both
Alan (Llewellyn) Curbishley; Sam Jennings; Paul Kitson; Bertie Lutton; Dave Sexton; Mike Small; Bobby Zamora; Archie Macaulay; Sam Small; Dennis Burnett; George Parris; Brian Dear; Greg Campbell; Almer Hall; Tommy Dixon.

You're Off! Red Cards Received
Matt Kingsley (a) 1904-05; Frank Lampard (a) 1982-83; Hayden Mullins (h) 2004-05.

Bossing It
Archie Macaulay was the Brighton manager between 1963 and 1968 - as was Liam Brady between 1993 and 1995.

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 Albion
01:06AM 15th Apr 2012
''Congrats to West Ham for a superb performance. I could not understand how you managed to draw with Reading and failed to beat Birmingham. Your crosses into the channels were just too accurate and the finishing was clinical. With our defence I could see it coming, but a few other of the percentage game teams could not hit the target with an equal number of chances.

Our forwards have been firing blanks lately and have not done so well all season. But that was down to your defence. Kazenga was completely marked out of it (when he came on after the game was lost) and Vicente could not do it on his own, especially as he was being marked by three players. Greer's goal was over the line but it was hardly deserved from a header that he did not connect with properly. Albion got back into the play in the second bit of the first half, but I thought Big Sam would rectify this in the second half and so it proved.

Hindsight says Gus Poyet put the wrong team out and some choices were a bit mystifying. But it was the accurate crossing and tight defence that won the game for you. ''

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