Brighton 2-2 Millwall ~ Match Musings

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I was looking forward to a boxing day excursion to Brighton for this game when the fixtures came out and it did, I have to confess, piss me off when it got changed as it meant a cold winter’s night at a fixture that has notoriously been complete crap weather wise (as well as result wise) was now on the agenda.

It started off well enough, me and MrsB set the Bonemobile onto auto pilot as the way to this place is set in stone (my dear old mum lives near this neck of the woods) and we parked up in our usual place along from the Black Lion pub. We went into this pub (as we always do for Brighton away) to get some grub and they have done it up a bit since last time but the food and service was appalling.

I am not a fussy eater as my size will attest, and all I wanted was the sausage and mash but it took them about 40 minutes to get it cooked and to my table and what the creative chef had done was plop a dollop of Smash instant mash in a breakfast bowl, ladle a spoonful of Bisto gravy around the edge and settled three surly looking sausages on top of the, to give it is Latin name, smoothinox fluffitflora, and gently coaxed them into a raft like shape.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. Charcoal. Strange, I thought as I gingerly lifted one of the bangers up and then the evidence was before me. The sausage was burnt to a crisp on one side. I checked the other two and they were the same so credit for consistency, I suppose.

Obviously, I choked the food down despite the state of it, as a fat man must eat, but I wasn’t too impressed with this and when I settled up at the end I made my feelings known by not leaving a tip and poking my tongue out at the chef. That’ll teach him…

We endured the park and ride from Mill Road with a bus full of mainly grinning jackanapes wearing seagull motifs and we soon arrived at the curiously shaped Amex stadium.

It has already been developed to accommodate more fans and there was evidence of even more expansion going on. It is apparently clear that there are enough dingbats in this neck of the woods to fill the place on a regular basis so they seem to know what they are doing. In my humble opinion, it is a base act of complete ignorance to get this many fruit loops into one place at the same time as there will no doubt be a mass outbreak of shoulder biting and drool puddles which will cause some unrest at the very least, at some point.

I must say that the actual seating arrangement was top drawer though. Plenty of leg room, cushioned seats, very modern but unfortunately our lot have a habit of standing up for the football and only sitting down when it stops so they are clearly a waste of money, at least in the away section.

The line-up was changed at the last minute when it was announced the Keogh had been withdrawn from the team, his broken toe allegedly is still broken, so this added to the changes that Mr Jackett had already made. The team lined up as follows: Forde in goal, Lowry, Shittu, Beevers and Smith A in defence, Henry, Smith J, Wright, Taylor and Trotter in a five man midfield with Wood as the lone striker.

It didn’t actually look like a 4-5-1 as trotter was hovering just behind Wood and in front of the midfield as referee (and we all know I am using that term loosely) Stroud got the game going.

We certainly didn’t look too unbalanced with so much disruption to the team and we had the better start, forcing Albion back into their own half and generally having the better of the play.

Wood was proving to be a handful and I must confess my ignorance as I had no idea the big front man had been on loan to the Seagulls before he came to us so if he had a point to prove it was boding well for the Lions.

Jack Smith, a bit of an unsung player, did extremely well slotting into a midfield role and his usage as a utility player should not be under estimated. Trotter looked a bit uncomfortable in his role and I suspect some of our crowd were also a bit confused as to where he was actually playing.

The defence looked pretty solid and we were clearly concentrating on the attack and after a few chances went begging we opened the scoring with a sublimely taken goal by that man Wood.

Henry snatched the ball in midfield and worked it down the left flank as Lowry went on the overlap. He looked up and squared the ball to Wood in the six yard box and as the ball came past him he opened up his body and deftly guided the ball past Brighton ‘keeper Kuszczak. 0-1 and cue mass celebrations from the 1300 odd Millwall fans in the away section.

It was a well taken and well deserved goal and it got the home side on the offensive and within five minutes they came close to an equaliser as a free kick (one of many against us) was floated over the top of the defence and was met by Greer’s waiting head. I think Forde had it covered but it missed the target and hit the upright/bar and the loose ball was quickly cleared.

Brighton made a clear tactical substitution with about five minutes of the half remaining, bringing on Lua Lua, our nemesis from the last visit. He didn’t make an immediate impact but his pace clearly looked a problem for us. He put Mackail-Smith through on goal but the out of form striker was way off side but referee Stroud waved play on as the inept striker failed miserably to make any connection with the ball.

The half ended soon after with Millwall in the ascendency and looking good for the 0-1 score line.

The second half eclipsed the first for entertainment value but it feels like a cop out when I say the referee went from mildly irritating to full on wanker mode. It always feels like the last resort of a disgruntled fan to blame a referee for any adverse stuff but Stroud surpassed all of the usual shortcomings. He should change his name to Simpson as in HOMER. He gave them nigh on every fucking decision they appealed for (and some that they didn’t).

Soon after the restart Mr Jackett made a change, bringing on Feeney for Taylor and shortly after that the ref awarded them a very innocuous free kick just outside the area and although the free kick was well struck it again failed to hit the target, this one hit the post and was cleared and almost straight after we watched in sheer amazement as we went on the attack and it was Shittu marauding deep into their half that threw them into confusion as he harried their defence for the ball and this allowed Wood to collect and then dispatch an absolute stunning left foot shot from all of 30 yards that screamed into the top corner of the net. 0-2!! Fantastic stuff, the celebrations were somewhat lacking in restraint in the away section, to say the least…

But, I am afraid to say that the joy lasted all of five minutes when we watched in abject misery as the midfield allowed Lua Lua to dance himself into space and hit a ferocious shot that gave Forde little or no chance to save. 1-2 and suddenly it didn’t look all rosy.

Lua Lua was again given too much time and space and he almost replicated his goal but his woeful effort went well wide proving, if nothing else, that his goal was a bit of a fluke…

We had a bit of a scare with a ridiculous goal mouth scramble that saw the ball somehow dance its way across the line as we tried to clear it and it was the calm thinking of Wood who simply put his foot on it and dragged it away to safety .

By now the ref was in full Brighton kit and exchanging text messages with Gus Poyet and it seemed only a matter of time before he would be able to construe a situation whereby he could facilitate a goal for his beloved team…

It wasn’t all doom and gloom as we were playing some decent football and we did have sporadic chances throughout but when you instances where your winger is running with the ball and the defender runs into him and falls over and then the free kick is given to the defender, you know you are fighting a losing battle.

With time almost up the inevitable happened. A cross into the box, Mackail-Smith does his dying swan impression; the ref gives out an audible sigh of relief as he manfully points to the penalty spot. It was bound to happen.

Forde guessed right and almost got to the spot kick but in it went (and to be honest, even if he had saved it I would’ve bet a pound to a pinch of shit that the ref would’ve had it re taken). 2-2 and that was that.

We had a cameo appearance of Henderson with a minute to play which bodes well for the future but made little difference to this nights proceedings. The five minutes of stoppage time slowly ticked away and after about seven minutes the ref finally conceded that Brighton were lucky to have the draw and that they were not getting a winner.

The lads got a deserved ovation at the final whistle more out of understanding than anything else. Sure, in the cold light of day a neutral observer will say “you threw away a two goal lead” and they would be correct but that doesn’t tell the whole story. It was a constant battle against some of the most ludicrous decisions witnessed in a long time but an away point is always welcome and as long as win on Saturday against Barnsley then harm done to our promotion credentials.

As a footnote to this saga, I have to add that getting away from this place using the park and ride was a fucking nightmare. The queues were orderly but it just took ages to get away. I had time to count every godforsaken paving slab on the exterior concourse (32,425 for the OCD brigade) and there was still time to sing the last three verses of land of hope and glory. How the home fans fo this every other week is beyond comprehension. I know the Withdean was a shit hole and the park and ride from there was only catering for 6,000 attendances but now they get 25,000 people but still use the same bloody method.

Rather them than us, they are mainly ‘new’ fans anyway and have no idea that what they are doing is in anyway wrong so let them get on with it!

One more game before Christmas so let’s hope we part company for the festive celebrations with a win against Barnsley and just for old times’ sake and a nod to long time readers of this guff….

See you all there :-)

"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble." - (Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I).
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    Excellent as always. Keep them coming.