Tuesday 28 August 2012

Let Them Eat Cake On Coach 1

NWSS Coach 1 Introduce A Grub Stop:

I hear that the North West Sussex Seagulls Coach 1 (aka Andy's coach) had a 'cake stop' on it's way to the Amex last Saturday for the Barnsley match. That will explain why it was so far behind the newly re-branded and super-fast Usain Bolt like Coach 2 in arriving at the Amex coach park. I suspect this cake stop was a bribery campaign to try and attract some of the Coach 2 passengers to move across to Coach 1, this is doomed to failure as the Coach 2 posse are all, like me, slim and elfin like, fit as fiddles and are constantly watching their waistlines. It seems like the extra weight from these cakes only succeeded in slowing down Coach 1's arrival at the Amex. There was however one main benefit of this cake stop as the proceeds all went to a cancer charity which was no bad thing, even if it did make all the passengers on Coach 1 that much fatter.

Now me and my coach buddy Ian help look after the far superior Coach 2 and it's true that we do not have picnic tables like the other much slower coach and we don't take the scenic route over Devils Dyke nor do we have regular cake stops I'm afraid but we were the first coach to park up at the Amex coach park last Saturday. I would like it to be known that from this point on our passengers on Coach 2 are formally invited to bring along prawn sandwiches, cakes and biscuits to share on board with their coach buddies if they so desire. We really don't have time for 'cake stops' on board Mister Speedy.

I look forward to seeing all my NWSS buddies on 14th September for the Friday evening home game against Sheffield Wednesday. Coach 1 is perhaps best advised to start it's journey on Thursday if it intends to do a weekly shop at Tesco's for all it's passengers on the way down to the Amex!

Saturday 25 August 2012

It's High Fives at the Amex

Albion 5, Barnsley 1
Championship, Amex Stadium
Saturday 25th August

Three games into the new season and Albion finally hit form as they smashed five goals past an inept Barnsley side. It's true that Barnsley had many first team regulars missing so they were fielding a weakened side but you still have to beat whatever is put in front of you and Albion certainly did that this afternoon in front of a 25,000 crowd at the newly expanded Amex.

It became apparent as early as the third minute when Ashley Barnes capitalised on a horrendous bit of ball fumbling by the Barnsley keeper Gonzalez that there was only going to be one outcome in this game, it was just a case of how many goals the Seagulls were going to score. For once Albion went for the jugular and didn't let up for the entire 90 minutes. Goals from the very impressive Wayne Bridge (another bit of poor goalkeeping), a rewarding brace from the hard working man of the match Craig Mackail-Smith and finally another from Ashley Barnes in the 81st minute capped off a wonderful and powerful footballing display by the Albion.

Albion seem to have found a formula that works with the new defensive back line particularly impressive. Albion now have a decent goalkeeper at long last in Kuszczak and for me the best player on the pitch was once again Wayne Bridge who oozed class at left back. The skillful adventurous right back Bruno seemed to be absolutely everywhere, except right back. Mind you, he didn't need to be defending too deeply as the reds offered very little threat. The 35th penalty awarded to Barnsley for a trip by Andrew Crofts on Jacob Mellis was fair and temporarily bought the visitors back into the game at 2-1. This proved to be just a minor blip however as Albion immediately cruised straight down the other end for Mackail-Smith to score a third to make it 3-1.

The second half started as the first ended with Albion being absolutely dominant and threatening to score more goals. When the lively Craig Noone was replaced by the speedy Kasenga Lua Lua the afternoon did not get any easier for the Barnsley defence, he tore the left back to shreds on more than one occasion  The midfield and attack were rampant and believe me when I tell you that the final scoreline did not flatter them. Albion could have had seven or eight goals on an afternoon when everything went right for them. I wondered if Brighton would miss the creativity in midfield of the absent and somewhat injury prone Vicente, but they did not.

It's always best to keep things in perspective and let's be honest this was a poor and weakened Barnsley side, there will no doubt be teams in this division who pose much more of a threat. Sadly I think the Yorkshire side will struggle this season unless they can get their first eleven fully fit soon and buy some much needed additions to a squad that, on this showing, desperately needs it. Things are looking much better for the Albion though and if they continue to show this kind of form then they will be looking to challenge for a play off place at the end of what is a very long season. As they say, it's a marathon not a sprint and there will no  doubt be twists and turns along the way but one thing's for sure, life is never dull with Gus Poyet around.

A full and comprehensive match report can be found on the Seagulls official website here.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Michel Kuipers...The Former Dutch Marine

Photo courtesy of www.seagulls.co.uk
Albion 1, Reading 1
Michel Kuipers Testimonial
Amex Stadium, 7th August

The Amex finally welcomed former Albion goalkeeping legend Michel Kuipers into the Brighton goal one last time for his testimonial match. He served the club for over 10 years at the Withdean Stadium before moving on to Crawley Town in 2011 where he is now goalkeeping coach. The big former Dutch marine has long been a favourite with the Albion fans and wearing number 287 on his back, the number of appearances he made for the Seagulls, he strode onto the Amex pitch for the first time with son Duke through a guard of honour to rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the Albion faithful.

Both Albion and Reading had strong line ups for this encounter and although a friendly it proved to be a hard fought contest between the Championship side and the Premiership new boys. Kuipers was in goal for the first 15 minutes of the match and every time he touched the ball it was greeted with cheers. He made at least one outstanding save to cries of “Sign him up, sign him up, sign him up” from the North Stand fans. In a pre-planned substitution Albion’s recent signing Tomasz Kuszczak took over in goal for the remainder of the match and as Michel Kuipers walked away from the Brighton goalmouth for one last final time the crowd were up on their feet yet again to applaud him off in what must have been quite an emotional moment for him.

The match itself was reasonably competitive considering it was a pre-season friendly and Albion acquitted themselves very well against new Premiership opposition. They dominated for periods of the first half and yet again it was the creative and talented Vicente who shone. When Ashley Barnes was tripped in the area it was Vicente who buried the ball in the bottom left hand corner to send Albion ahead just after the half hour mark. Albion’s new Spanish right back Bruno was outstanding and although under pressure at times the Brighton defence looked pretty solid. The second half saw Vicente leave the pitch and so went the creativity with him. Reading capitalised on this, gained more possession and Robson-Kanu scored an 89th minute headed equaliser.  A draw was probably just about the right result but the match was almost of secondary importance on a night that was a well deserved tribute and thank you to Michel Kuipers, a faithful servant to the club who has earned the respect and admiration of Seagulls fans everywhere.

For a full match report go to the official Seagulls web site here.

Michel Kuipers and son Duke
Photo courtesy of www.seagulls.co.uk

Saturday 4 August 2012

Are Seagulls The New European Champions?

Albion 3, Chelsea 1 
4th August 2012, Amex Stadium
Pre-season friendly

Well, who would have thought that Albion would beat the European Champions 3-1? Certainly not the Chelsea fan sitting next to me on the NWSS coach to the Amex today (apologies to my brother Steve). Albion fielded three recent new signings including Andrew Crofts who brought extra bite to the midfield and yet another Spanish recruit, Bruno, who showed real class at right back. Vicente was majestic in the Brighton midfield and clearly deserved his player of the match award while Ashley Barnes worked his socks off as usual up front. 

The whole team played their usual passing game against a full strength Chelsea side and whilst under pressure for long periods Albion always looked in control and played well defensively. England midfielder Lampard scored a classy opener for Chelsea after a sloppy pass from Albion centre half Lewis Dunk but superb counter attacking from Brighton produced three excellent goals from Vicente, Barnes and the returning Crofts. Although only a pre-season friendly Albion produced an impressive footballing display on the field of play against a top Premiership side and European champions to boot, if that desire and form is maintained then we could have quite an interesting season ahead of us in the Championship. An unbelievable result that now makes Brighton & Hove Albion the kings of Europe I assume?

The camera never lies