Brighton 2-2 Millwall ~ Match Report

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What’s this? A new ground to visit at last? Finally, Brighton have moved away from the shit tip hell hole that was the Withdean and moved to somewhere called Falmers and a brand new stadium called Amex. What all this has to do with Brighton and Hove Albion is anybodies guess but the locals are none too impressed by this intrusion as they actively campaigned to make sure travelling to and from this place to watch a football match was as much a pain in the arse as a hedgehog cushion.

A small tip for any future budding designers of football stadiums, the idea of building a new all singing and dancing stadium is to have it full of people. Now strange as this may seem, these ‘people’ have to travel to and from this new temple to worship at the altar you have designed so wouldn’t it be a clever idea to allow enough infrastructure to cater for this?

Park and ride is not catering for this. Having park and ride and not organising it is even worse. You are lulled into a false sense of security when going to the stadium but after the game it is about as chaotic as a wasp’s nest during a visit from a honey buzzard.

But what of the stadium itself? Impressive is a word not used too often in my missives and it aint going to be used again here. It is functional at best, a strange lop sided appearance, the concourse very bland and passionless. The kiosk’s well stocked though but the service was appallingly slow.

The seating was decent enough, plenty of legroom, cushioned for her pleasure etc, and the view was fine so no complaints on that score but it all felt a bit unfinished and not snag free of defects. I suspect the builders have a defect list as long as chimpanzee’s arm but the pitch was playable and the lighting levels very good.

Mr Jackett was on the big screen before kick off waxing lyrical about having homosexuals playing for Millwall would be welcomed or some such idea which seemed a bit overtly camp simply because it was Brighton we were playing? I am sure there are footballers that, shall we say, prefer the company of men in social activities but I am in the Homer Simpson school of thought regarding homosexuals. I like my beer cold and my homosexuals flaming. That way there is no ambiguity so you know where you stand. If footballer’s are homosexual then I expect to see flamboyant gestures and plenty of single eye brow raising interspersed with ooh’s and aah’s in mock horror etc etc.

They kept using the term homophobia. I suspect the woolly minded liberals have usurped the meaning of this word. It still says in my dictionary that homophobia is a fear of homosexuals. I don’t really see how you can be frightened of a homosexual unless there is more to them than simply being homosexual. I mean if a person is swinging an axe at your head screaming profanities at you, foaming at the mouth then you are not really going to be bothered by the fact that they might be batting for the other side, are you?

The fact that they might be wearing Kokorico by Jean Paul Gautier is having no bearing on my fear of them at all so it really is a daft concept to try and promote. It should be something like homosexual hating or lesbian loathing to try and get the concept across.

Anyway, there was Mr Jackett doing his best not to smirk as he told us his views and then we got down to the nitty gritty as the team selections were read out (again maybe a pink star against Gay players might’ve been a help?) and we lined up as follows:

Forde in goal, Barron, Lowry, Robbo and Dunne at the back, Feeney, Mason, Trotter, Smith and Keogh as a five man midfield leaving Henderson as the lone striker.

Referee Young got the game started and a raucous gathering of around 2,500 Millwall fans roared the boys on from the first whistle.

We looked very confident, composed and poised as we began stroking the ball around with an almost cavalier approach but it was very good to see and Brighton did not have the measure of us at all.

It wasn’t just pretty passing football, it was more precise and penetrative and we looked very capable of getting past their defence.

A lovely little move on about ten minutes saw Barron pick out a direct pass to Feeney who squared across to Henderson who chested the ball down but Keogh was too far away to capitalise on the chance.

Soon after we were at them again as another flowing move saw us win a corner and from the resulting cross Keogh struck sweetly only for a defender’s foot to make a last minute lunge to deflect the ball away from a certain goal.

We were adopting a real passing regime throughout the pitch and although it was worrying at times (in defence) the pass and move strategy was paying dividends.

After about twenty minutes of Millwall dominance we finally reaped the benefits of our labour. A Scott Barron corner was poorly dealt with by the Brighton ‘keeper who flailed his punch and Dunne quickly got his head to the loose ball and headed it back across the face of the penalty area where Keogh was on hand to guide his header into the back of the net. 0-1! And thoroughly deserved it was too.

The home side should have been galvanised into action after this but we still had the upper hand all over the park but sooner or later it they were bound to get a couple of chances but they were gifted a golden opportunity to equalise when Forde spilled a shot straight into the path of Vokes who managed to miss the open goal by some distance.
The half ended with the Lions still bossing the game and the lads jogged of with our cheers ringing in their ears.

The second half duly started with no changes to the Millwall line up and we just carried on where we left off with Trotter going on a mazy dribble almost from the kick off which ended in his fierce shot being well saved by Brezovan in the Albion goal.

Minutes later it really should have been 0-2 as again we punished the Brighton defence and worked the ball across the face of their goal only for Keogh to slot his effort the wrong side of the upright with the goal at his mercy.

Then disaster struck.

An innocuous move forward by the home side saw an ineffective long range effort cruelly deflect into the path of Vokes and with Forde already committed to the first shot he was in way able to get himself right and the ball was shinned into the back of our net. 1-1.

It momentarily knocked the rhythm out of our play and we nearly got caught out by a sucker punch soon after. This time Vokes broke through our normally resolute central pairing but Forde was on hand to make a simple save from a weak shot from Calderon.

Josh Wright came on just after the hour mark to replace Mason who had a decent game and quickly settled into the pace of the game, showing a cultured approach and a calmness that was implemented throughout the team.

So we soon regained our composure and again took the game to the home side and when Henderson blocked a hurried clearance the ball spooned up high and looked like it was going out for a throw in over by the corner flag but Keogh had other ideas and had to god sense to pursue the ball. He controlled it superbly on the touchline and turned inside to find Henderson who went past his marker and squared the ball across the face of the goal to the delighted Feeney who had a simple tap in. 1-2!! Marvellous stuff.

We almost put the game beyond doubt as trotter again showed his markers a clean pair of heels as he waltzed his way into space and his shot had Brezovan beat all hands down but the ball curled just wide of the mark.

Henderson’s last contribution to a good nights work was a stinger of a shot that had been set up by Trotter that had Brezovan panicking. Hendo was then replaced by Kane who also looked the part, which was very encouraging.

With the clock ticking down and with only a few minutes remaining Brighton won a free kick just outside our box. It was in a good position for us to defend but unfortunately we switched of and when they shifted the ball we failed to react quickly enough and allowed substitute Lua Lua a free shot, which he completely cocked up. But worse than his shot was Forde’s attempt at stopping it as he again failed to hold the ball and it spilled through his Teflon coated gloves and ended up in the back of the net. 2-2. It was like a dagger to the heart.

We still had two more attempts to salvage the three points when first Trotter missed with a header and then Kane clipped a free kick just over the bar but it ended at 2-2 and in the heat of the moment it felt like a defeat rather than a well won point from supposedly a top ten side.

The performance was, over all, very encouraging and but for Forde’s last minute calamity the points were there for the taking. It bodes well enough as the type of football we produced was far and away better than the home side and we will win more than we lose if we can keep this tempo going.

Oh well, cup glory is next on the list as we entertain Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers in the fifth round of the FA Cup. It is winnable and the prospects of being in the quarter final is bringing back memories of 2004…

See you all there!

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