Sunday 31 July 2011

Opening Day Spurs On The Albion

Saturday 30th July 2011: Albion 2, Spurs 3
It was a perfect summer's day and 18,000 eager football fans turned up to witness the official grand opening of the brand new and magnificent American Express Community Stadium in Falmer (the Amex to you and me). Nestling into the Sussex countryside the stadium is a real gem, beautifully designed and just great to look at - especially if you're a long suffering Brighton fan who's only seen football played at the dreadful and roofless Withdean Stadium.

The afternoon got underway at 1.30pm with a marching band, opera singer Martin Toal singing his heart out and former Albion players and managers also putting in an appearance. The highlight for me was seeing the best Albion player ever to wear the number 8 shirt, the magical Peter Ward. Coming out onto the Amex pitch to thunderous applause he did what each and every one of us Brighton fans wanted to do...he kissed the turf. What a legend!

The friendly match itself was almost secondary but the Albion played some really good football against a very strong Spurs first team. The Seagulls were particularly strong in the opening thirty minutes. A well crafted pass from the hard working and impressive Craig Mackail-Smith was finished off clinically in the eleventh minute by the prolific Ashely Barnes. The crowd went wild and the noise was incredible. Brighton began to play their passing game and were definitely looking the better side, until two defensive errors late on in the first half gifted Spurs two soft goals.

When Albion came out for the second half they pressed early on and Kasenga Lua Lua does what he does best, scored a 20 yard scorcher then followed it up with his trademark celebration somersault tumble. Brighton fans (and possibly Gus) had their hearts in their mouths at that moment fearing he might damage his recently mended ankle, they needn't have worried as Lua Lua was in sparkling form all afternoon. Sadly for Brighton there was a terrible goalkeeping gaff by Albion substitute goalkeeper Peter Brezovan a few minutes later that meant Spurs took a 3-2 lead.

Albion brought on substitutes Will Buckley, the lively Craig Noone and Roland Bergkamp to try and get the goal back but in truth the game rather fizzled out as it wore on late into the second half. Spurs became a bit stronger and consolidated with the energetic Aaron Lennon being a constant thorn in Albion's defensive side. Nonetheless it was an extremely enjoyable and attractive game of football to watch, a very good performance by newly promoted Brighton against a top flight Premiership side. Albion looked particularly good going forward and at times were the better team on the pitch, if it wasn't for the three defensive errors then Albion would have come out winners. It bodes well for the future if they continue to play like this, as long as they cut out the mistakes at the back. There's a full write up here at the Seagulls website for anyone that wants to read a more detailed match report. 

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