Sunday 7 August 2011

Buckley At The Double On An Historic Day

Albion 2, Doncaster Rovers 1 - 6th August 2011:

Brighton's historic opening Championship match at the new Amex Stadium was a real barnstormer of a game that had just about everything. And the flags, my God the flags, thousands of 'em, just brilliant. What a Saturday afternoon this turned out to be. It was an emotional start to our Championship season with all the Albion fans waving their flags like crazy and singing their hearts out. As the teams came out I'm not too proud to say that it brought a tear to the eye of this Albion fan. It was an exciting start to The Seagulls campaign with a great atmosphere and lots of noise coming from every stand. The Albion fans were just fantastic throughout, the place was rocking!.

The game was to be something of a roller coaster ride for Albion with Doncaster Rovers the better team in the first half and the prolific Billy Sharp getting the opening goal for the visitors after Gary Dicker carelessly lost possession in midfield. Probably well deserved if I'm honest. It wasn't a particularly physical game but three Doncaster players managed to get themselves booked by the referee in the first half. Kasenga Lua Lua for the Albion was brought crashing down on a couple of occasions early on but the third time he was also booked by the ref for diving. This incensed manager Gus Poyet who rightly felt that Lua Lua's tumble was not self inflicted but a result of a fair but hard challenge from Rovers James Hayter. As a result of his complaints to the officials Poyet was ordered from the dug out for the duration and ended up watching the rest of the match from the press box.

The second half saw Craig Noone replace Lua Lua and there was a definite improvement. As the game wore on Albion put more of their passing game together as they started to press Rovers. Billy Sharp was stretchered off after a tough tackle from Lewis Dunk and Rovers started to suddenly look vulnerable. Gus Poyet then made a second substitution and replaced the industrious but rather ineffective Matt Sparrow with new million pound signing Will Buckley. This proved to be an inspirational move. Now Albion stepped up a gear, kept possession and really started to dominate the game and went looking for the equaliser with real conviction. Finally the pressure brought a result and it was Buckley with a fierce low drive from just outside the penalty area that found the bottom right hand corner of goalkeeper Gary Woods net. The place erupted with noise as the fans went wild and asked themselves if  Albion could possibly get a winner. The answer was yes. With Rovers down to ten men after an 89th minute injury to Hayter the referee signalled seven minutes stoppage time and it was in the very last minute that Noone laid on a dream pass to Buckley, who squared up and slotted the ball beautifully past the despairing Rovers keeper. The crowd went wild yet again and even more flag waving followed, it was an unbelievable end to a thoroughly entertaining game. Although Doncaster Rovers made the brighter start it was Brighton & Hove Albion who took all three points in a real thriller of a match.

To be fair to Doncaster Rovers they played their part and may count themselves a touch unlucky not to come away with a point. They play their football in a similar attractive fashion to Albion, keeping the ball on the ground and playing a good passing game. Sadly the injuries to Billy Sharp and James Hayter look serious as they both left the ground on crutches after this encounter and it would appear that they will be out of action for some time. Hopefully their absence won't affect Rovers too much as the team seem to have a bit of quality and are good to watch.  

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