Reading v Brighton and Hove Albion (31/10/15) | Preview

Game 14 is approaching us, and the Seagulls unbeaten run is still going strong. A visit to the Madjeski has, in recent visits, proved difficult for the Seagulls and the visit on Saturday to Reading will prove just the same.

The Royals have had a good start to the season, sitting just outside the play-off places. 2 home wins against Middlesbrough and Charlton last time out at the Madjeski will give the Royals a boost, especially after throwing a 2-0 lead away last weekend away to Fulham, to end up losing 4-2. Reading have only lost once in the last 4 games at home (Derby, 15/9), beating the 2 teams above as well as thrashing Ipswich 5-1 in early September. The main goal threat for the Royals will be in the shape of Nick Blackman who has struck 9 times so far, with strike partner Orlando Sa also hitting 5. Oliver Norwood will be hoping to be continuing his outstanding impact in the centre of midfield, where he has played all but 21 minutes of Championship football.

Brighton will travel north without first-choice left-back Gaetan Bong after his injury last weekend, and will miss the rest of the year through the thigh injury he sustained; he should be back by the end of January. Dale Stephens is also set to be on the sidelines for a number of weeks too, at least until after the international break, allowing Andrew Crofts to increase his game time and chances of making it into the euro 2016 squad for Wales. Captain Gordon Greer looks set to return to the starting XI after injury, while Beram Kayal is poised to return too after serving his 1 match suspension. The only concerns for Chris Hughton will be who to play at left-back; Liam Rosenior or Inigo Calderon? It looks set to be Rosenior, due to his Premier League experience in that position, which would give Solly March the chance to earn himself a re-call to the starting XI after he was rested last weekend.

H-2-H;

Recent meetings have not been in favour of the Seagulls, with them losing in their last visit to Reading 2-1 (10/3/15). Brighton haven’t won in the league against Reading since April 2003; they have however beaten then more recently in the F.A Cup back in January 2014. Overall Reading holds 10 victories of the 18 played with 5 being draws, 4 of which have come in the last 6 meetings. The more likely result seems to point in the way of another deadlock, but if Reading can find the edge they have found at home in recent games, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Brighton’s unbeaten record broken.

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale

Bruno, Greer, Dunk, Rosenior

Murphy, Kayal, Crofts, March

Baldock, Hemed

Prediction;

Reading 1-1 Brighton

Why Is English Football So Far Behind It’s European Competitors?

It’s a question which most English football fans have been asking for years, maybe even decades, but what are the reasons for English football being so far behind their European competitors?

One reason which surfaced around a year ago was the introduction of ‘B’ teams. Now I for one was for the idea, but a huge majority of fans and Football League clubs opposed the idea, and the plans eventually were dropped. Just one of the reasons for the idea was the continued success of ‘B’ teams in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, nations where they have enjoyed World Cup and European Championship success within the last decade. Spain are clearly the best example to take from this, as some of their treble winning squad came through some sort of ‘B’ team process in Spain; Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, David Villa, Juan Mata, Pedro and David Silva are just a few names which have come through the Spanish ‘B’ team system and have been or are now world class players. The German process is no exception either, with 17 of their 23 man squad for last year’s World Cup success coming through a ‘B’ team at some point during their career; Mesut Ozil, Andre Schurrle, Julian Draxler, Mario Gotze, Shkodran Mustafi and Roman Weidenfeller were the only 6 who didn’t go through the process, but the likes of Phillipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Sami Khedira all did. What am I trying to say with all of this? Well, it seems that if you start playing young players in a competitive league, you can give those players game time to develop their skills, help them improve before making the jump to the first team. English teams really do lack in giving their youth players game time, except maybe team in League 1 and 2, only for the bigger teams to sign them in transfer windows and not play them. So what can be done? As much as most will hate to hear this, it seems like the only option, or the best option anyway, is to go forward with this ‘B’ team process. Me personally, I would give the idea a trial for a couple of years and see what comes of it; if nothing happens the scrap it, but give it a try and see what happens especially with Russia 2018 around the corner so soon.

However, it doesn’t just stop at ‘B’ teams, Premier League teams struggle to field any home grown players during their matches, which obviously impacts the game time which young players have, and end up falling down the football ladder or sent on loan constantly; Patrick Bamford is a perfect example of this. With the new broadcasting deal where Premier League teams all got a slice of the £4billion payout, it’s been a transfer window of buying and buying big. This had hindered the chances of young players who were looking to make the step up this year, like Bamford. Last season Premier League teams fielded the lowest percentage of home grown players; 77%. This is way behind Germany (96%), France (93%) and Spain (92%), but still behind Italy (79%). Ligue 1 had the most young home grown players with 25%, followed by La Liga with 23%. Bundesliga had 17%, while Serie A had the lowest with 10%; the Premier League sitting 4th with 14%. As mentioned before, ‘B’ could be a chance to increase these very low numbers, and could help produce more world class English talent.

Now it may not have anything to do with playing young players, but I feel that this is a reason why the Premier League is starting to lose fans and is starting to become overtaken by the other top European leagues; TICKET PRICES! During the BBC’s annual survey, The Price of Football, they had gathered that ticket prices had not only gone up, but were above the average selling price of a ticket for that league, even though most had frozen or gone down. It’s not just the Premier League, the Football League and even the National League are all guilty of it. If you compare the prices of some of the big European clubs, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus to English prices, it’s clear to see why fans would rather pay a little bit extra to go watch a game abroad in the sun, rather than on a rainy night in Stoke. I’m not saying that we should follow suit, but a re-consideration of prices is defiantly needed, even if they deducted £50 off the season ticket prices, it would be a start; after all we are supporters and not customers.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Preston North End (24/10/15) | Review

It has been a turbulent past few games for the Seagulls, games where they have dominated games and haven’t taken the 3 points, and games where they have been dominated and taken 3 points. However, they pushed their luck awfully close on Saturday at home to Preston, who felt that the point they did take away from the south coast wasn’t enough for their fine display of resilient defending, as well as surging attacking which caused Brighton problems all game. Now I’m not one for slating players or the team, but every so often there comes a time in which it does need to be done. The past 2 games have been very tight and a bit too close for comfort, not to mention that we could have lost those games too, had it not been for Bobby Zamora and his lethal left-foot. Saturday’s game was an indication that no team can be taken lightly, something I feel the Seagulls did do. Preston had come off the back of a massive away win at Charlton, and had the confidence of causing another upset, and they have every right to feel the point wasn’t enough; Brighton were totally rubbish, especially in the second half. It brought back unwanted memories of last season, where we would get dominated every game and lose comfortably. Brighton have heavily relied on Dale Stephens and Beram Kayal this season, and for the first game where neither have featured, the midfield was dominated and couldn’t get a full grasp on the game long enough to make an impact. They also missed Stephens for his set-pieces, which haven’t been great, but they have certainly been better that what Jamie Murphy was producing at times.  No blame is to be put on Rohan Ince or Andrew Crofts at all, but Chris Hughton really does need to start thinking about the games where he will be without Kayal or Stephens or both. Another concern of mine in which I have brushed aside recently is the plummet of form shown by Tomer Hemed, after such a lightning start to life on the south coast, it has been along the lines of disaster since the penalty miss against Wolves, where he hasn’t found any sort of form, and soon could find himself out of the starting XI if it continues, especially if Zamora keeps scoring. Now that I have gotten that off my chest, let’s get on to the match report.

Brighton had started quite brightly, and with a few good chances could have found themselves a goal up, only if Andrew Crofts had found either side of Jordan Pickford after a well-worked free-kick routine. Hemed then blazed over from a tight angle after he was sent through. They came even closer when a swinging free-kick from Murphy eluded everyone and was tipped over the bar by Pickford. To be honest, these were the only real chances Brighton had made throughout the whole game, as Preston became more of a danger as the game wore on. Preston’s 3 at the back were becoming increasingly hard to breakdown, and could have found themselves a goal to the good after half-time when a free-kick from Paul Gallagher wasn’t met by anyone in the box, but fortunately went wide of David Stockdale’s far post. The introduction of Bobby Zamora was clear intent by Chris Hughton that he wanted to go for the win. However, Simon Grayson threw on Joe Garner, and nearly made an instant impact after his header was cleared off the line by stand-in captain Bruno. Garner had another chance, but his shot from a tight angle was easily dealt with by Stockdale. As the game was drawing to a close, Seagulls full-back Gaetan Bong went down clutching his knee, and was later stretchered off with a brace on the knee, which immediately cause concern to all Albion fans. As I said a couple of games ago, there will be games where we felt we should have gotten 3 points and only came away with 1, well this game was the  exact opposite, as we should of came away with none, but held on for a point. I’m hoping that Hughton will realise what went wrong Saturday, and correct it in time for the visit to Reading.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (7); Made some good saves, most notably from Garner but had a fairly easy afternoon where shots were very little.

Bruno (7); Another good game from the stand-in captain, got forward well and got back when needed. Will defiantly be needed to do the job more often, if Bong is out for a substantial amount of time.

Hunemeier (7); Seemed shaky at times, and looked like Jordan Hugill had the better of him for a majority of the second half. However, he prevented him from creating anything clear-cut.

Dunk (6); Like Hunemeier he also had a bit of a tough time with Eoin Doyle, then Joe Garner. Little bit unsure whether to include him in the starting XI when all 3 centre backs are fully fit, as he has looked a little fragile.

Bong (7); Harsh on, what for me, is player of the season thus far. He got forward when he could and created chances for the 2 strikers. Wishing him the best of luck with his recovery, and hope to see him back on the pitch soon.

Rosenior (6); A up and down day for the former Hull man. He was superb in the first, very quiet in the second, and was replaced by March to add that extra bite to the Seagulls attack.

Crofts (6); First start for the Welshman since suffering that ACL injury last October, and looked comfortable for the first 30 minutes or so, but as Preston grew into the game it became increasingly difficult for him to provide any chances for the frontmen.

Ince (5); Some might think the 5 is a little harsh. For me he wasn’t sharp enough and Preston at times made it easy to pass around and through him. He had a very quiet game on his first start of the season, and not sure if he turned up or not.

Murphy (7); Returned to the starting XI after suspension, and looked very good. Had a cross-shot saved by Pickford from an out swinging free-kick, and hassled the Preston defence a majority of the time.

Baldock (7); A non-stop running machine, he reminds me of Mackail-Smith at times with his engine-like ability, and he put Preston’s defence under pressure a lot of the time; not to mention hassling Pickford enough times for most of his kicks to go astray.

Hemed (6); As mentioned above in the report, it seems he has gone off the boil a little. I think the only thing that will get him out this slump is a goal; penalty or 25 yard screamer it doesn’t matter, just a goal and hopefully that will re-kindle the form we saw for the first few games.

Subs;

Zamora (6); Playing against 3 defenders as a lone striker is really tough, and this was no exception. They stopped him from making it a hat-trick of winners, although he never really had a chance to grab one.

March (6); Has done really well in the previous 2 games, but needed this rest. Came on lively and changed the game for a moment, but not much creation in the final third something he needs to work on.

Holla (N/A); Came on to help see the game out, bit of a strange decision for me as he had Goldson or Calderon to do the same job on the bench too.

Brighton [0]-[0] Preston

Att; 24,629

MOTM; Bruno

Brighton and Hove Albion v Preston North End (24/10/15) | Preview

Its been a quite surreal start to the campaign for the Seagulls, 12 games in and they still haven’t lost a game, a record which only they hold in the whole of England! The unbeaten Seagulls welcome Preston to the south coast for their first meeting for 10 years, in what should be another tight, tense game.

Preston recorded only their second victory of the season on Tuesday with an away win against Charlton, but will give them a much needed boost for the visit to the AMEX. After a solid start to their life back in the Championship, the Lilywhites have since struggled to find any rhythm in their game, which has resulted in them hanging above the trapdoor to League One. Their victory against Charlton has come at a much needed time, with important games to come before the November break, with visits of Bolton and Nott’m Forest to come after their trip to Brighton, before a tricky trip to QPR. They do however welcome back their main talisman Joe Garner, who has finished his 3 match suspension, and will be a much needed boost to Simon Grayson. Top scorer Daniel Johnson has found his eye for goals so far with 5 from midfield, and so expect him to take a few long-rangers during the game. Paul Gallagher will provide the threat from the top, with 3 goals to his name this season, he will defiantly be wanting to add to his tally.

Brighton will welcome back winger Jamie Murphy after his 3 match suspension, and looks set to be re-called into the side at the expense of Solly March. Mainstay midfielder Beram Kayal will miss out, due to him picking up 5 bookings, but it will give a chance for Andrew Crofts to get some much needed game time. Gordon Greer looks set to return to the starting XI and captaincy role. One big headache for Chris Hughton is whether to give Booby Zamora a start, after 2 goals in 2 games. After a lightning start to life in the Championship, Tomer Hemed has since hit blanks, and Hughton might feel he could be better off coming on from the bench.

H-2-H:

There have only been 6 previous meeting between the 2 teams, with the last of them being 10 years ago. During that 05/06 season both games finished 0-0, and Brighton only win against Preston was back in August of 2004. Preston last win was in April of the same season. Evidence suggests that this will be a hard game to predict, not just scoreline wise, but also team wise too. Based on previous results from this season, it looks like both teams will score, but expect it to be tight and tense.

Likely Line-up:

Stockdale

Bruno, Greer, Hunemeier, Bong

Rosenior, Crofts, Stephens, Murphy

Baldock, Hemed

Prediction:

Brighton 1-1 Preston

Brighton and Hove Albion v Bristol City (20/10/15) | Review

Has everyone calmed down yet? No? I wouldn’t blame you if you hadn’t? Once again, it required another late winner from Bobby Zamora for Brighton to snatch all 3 points from their opponents. After Saturday’s game against Leeds, Bobby said he wanted to keep on the goalscoring trail, and did just that on Tuesday. But you have to credit Chris Hughton, for once again some genius tactical making. He changed the formation to a 4-3-3 on Saturday and got the winner, and did the same last night and with the same result. But all credit to Bristol City, they came with a plan, and stuck with it throughout until they needed the equaliser in the dying endeavours of the game. They were ruthless, blunt and at time quite smart and made the game very difficult for Brighton to get a hold of, which worked in favour of the visitors. After a relatively quite first 15 minutes, the first real chance came from City, as Lewis Dunk was pick-pocketed by Jonathan Kodija, who found City fullback Derrick Williams at the far post for him to guide the ball in to the net on 17 minutes, with the help of Dunk. From then on, City had their mind set on defending what they had, and holding out for the remaining 73 minutes; not an impossible task, but a dangerous one. Brighton had a plentiful of chances to equalise, Solly March stole the ball in City’s final third and played in Sam Baldock, but wasted his chance after taking too long to get his shot away. Yet again , Baldock had another chance but his delicate chip over Frank Fielding was cleared off the line. However, he did put away his next chance at the start of the second half, when a great square ball from Bruno was met by Baldock, and trickled over the line. Both teams were from then on, looking for chances to get a possible winner. Luke Freeman had a chance for City soon after the goal, but was penalised for a ridiculous dive in the box, which resulted in him getting booked, when the shot looked like a better option. Main threat Kodjia went close with a thunderous volley, which left both sets of fans in disbelief as to how it didn’t go in, with only the strong hand of David Stockdale denying the Frenchman. Once again, Stockdale was called into action when Kodija was played through by Freeman, but couldn’t finish 1-on-1 with Stockdale, after a superb save from the Seagulls stopper. As the game became stretched, there was bound to be a winner, it was just who could stepped up to be that hero. Well, up stepped Zamora to drive home the winner in the 82nd minute after a blocked Stephens shot fell kindly for him, with Fielding rooted to the floor from the previous Stephens attempt. City then came out of defensive mode, and threw as many men as they could afford forward in the hope of salvaging a point. They had that chance in the 94th minute after Kayal had apparently infringed on a City free kick, which resulted in him being booked and the free-kick taken again; and after some pinball in the box the eventual shot was hit wide, and allowed the Seagulls to run down the clock and taken home all 3 points, keeping their unbeaten start in tack.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (9); Had one of those days Saturday, but made up for it with what turned out to be match-winning saves. His contribution has, at times, gone unnoticed but he is defiantly starting to show the reason why he was signed last summer.

Bruno (8); Took captain duties with the absence of Greer, didn’t have too many problems with Williams after they scored, as he was cautious to get forward too much, but the assist to Baldock was so good, he couldn’t miss.

Hunemeier (7); In the XI for the injured Greer, and at times it was hard for him to cope with Aaron Wilbraham, but he stuck to the task in hand and didn’t allow him to create and clear-cut chances.

Dunk (6); Possibly at fault for their goal, but with the pitch being so wet, players were going to slip around a lot. His night made harder with the constant threat of Kodija, and his will to add to his goal-scoring tally.

Bong (7); Had to be careful not to make too many runs forward with Elliot Bennett lurking around on the right wing, but after he came off and the game opened up, it gave him more freedom to try and create that winner.

Rosenior (7); Made some good chances in the first half, with some excellent crosses. Little quiet in the second though, and sacrificed for Crofts during the formation change.

Kayal (7); The midfield maestro found it hard to pick out passes with the middle of the pitch being so crowded. Played some good balls to the front 2, but not much happened for him.

Stephens (7); Almost the same as Kayal, hard to move when City have 3 central midfielder’s roaming around the middle, and shutting off chances. His mis-cued shot however, did set up Zamora for the winner.

March (7); Off the back of 2 superb games, this was defiantly a ‘come back to earth’ game for the young winger. He did find it hard to beat Bennett at times, but some of his crosses were good and did have some luck when Bennett was substituted. Might just have staked a claim to be a starter on Saturday

Baldock (8); Had multiple chances in the first half, but couldn’t take them, but did take the one that was put on a plate, which allowed Brighton a way back into the game. Endless running was a huge headache for the 3 centre backs

Hemed (6); A quiet night from the Israeli, not many chances for him apart from the header in the first half he put off target. At times he was just their to make up the 11 on the pitch.

Subs:

Crofts (7); Brought on to add something different on Saturday, and had the same influence yesterday. Found gaps between the back 5 as the game wore on, and was also on hand to defend when it got down to the wire.

Zamora (8); Yet again the match winner. A bit fortunate the ball came his way after the deflected shot, but took it coolly and put it into the bottom corner to send the AMEX into raptures.

Calderon (N/A); Brought on late to help seal the 3 points

 Brighton [2] v [1] Bristol City; Baldock (53), Zamora (82); Williams (17)

Att; 23,181

MOTM; Stockdale

Brighton and Hove Albion v Bristol City (20/10/15) | Preview

Match Preview;

Hope you have all digested the drama from the game on Saturday? No, well too bad, cause we are back in action tomorrow night at home to Bristol City! If the game tomorrow is anything like the Leeds game, we will be in for; 1) a treat and 2) lots of nail-biting, as the Seagulls chase another 3 points.

Bristol City have had a tough start to life back in the Championship, winning just 2 of their 11 game thus far and are desperate for wins. However, a 2-0 home win last Friday night against Nott’m Forest may just give them the lift they need, to kick start their season back in the second tier. They have been good going forward, but its their defence which has let them down massively, conceding 20 so far. Their bright spark comes from Frenchman Jonathan Kodjia who has struck 6 times in the league thus far. Aaron Wilbraham, his strike partner, has hit 4 goals too meaning that 10 of Bristol City’s 14 league goals have come from their front 2. If they are going to take something back to Bristol tomorrow night, the task rests heavily on their shoulders.

Brighton still haven’t been beaten in the league this season, and picked up a valuable 3 points away to Leeds last time out, after 3 disappointing draws to Wolves, Bolton and Cardiff. While top scorer Tomer Hemed hits a flatline, Dale Stephens has stepped up with 3 goals in 4 matches from midfield. Solly March’s last 2 games have been what most Brighton fans would expect of the talented youngster, and is taking full opportunity of Murphy and LuaLua not available due to suspension and injury respectively. Gordon Greer is having a late fitness test to see if he will feature, and so will Bruno, who both picked up minor knocks during the Leeds win; both are expected to recover however.

H-2-H;

Recent results suggests that Brighton will continue to remain unbeaten, with the Seagulls unbeaten against the Robins in the last 4 games, winning 3 of them. The last 2 encounters at the AMEX were both 2-0 victories for the Seagulls, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they made it a hat-trick of 2-0’s, but as always in the Championship it will be a difficult match.

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale

Bruno, Greer, Dunk, Bong

Manu, Kayal, Stephens, March

Hemed, Baldock

Prediction:

Brighton 1-0 Bristol City

Leeds United V Brighton and Hove Albion (17/10/15) | Review

Brighton fans are living in dreamland, and not just because they are still unbeaten but Bobby Zamora, described as the messiah, notched up his first Albion goal in over 12 years, 4,549 days to be exact. Zamora scored an 89th minute winner to knock down a resilient Leeds side who, as I’m writing this, are manager-less after Uwe Rosler was given the boot earlier today. All credit to Leeds for their performance, they were hard to break down, organised and had desire to score on every chance they had. But as most Albion fans will know, you need a bit of luck, and the Seagulls certainly got a huge slice on Saturday. The Seagulls took a 14 minute lead thanks to a Solly March goal. who was threaded through from a quite wonderful ball from Beram Kayal, and the young winger was on hand to coolly slot home past Marco Silvestri. Leeds upped their game after the goal, and were level in the 22nd minute after a cheap free kick was given away in a dangerous area, and a swinging ball from Alex Mowatt was met by the head of Liam Cooper, and found its way into an empty net after David Stockdale had been caught in no-mans-land. Leeds could of been in front had Chris Wood found the target from his free header, from another swinging Mowatt free kick, which should of been finished off. Wood had yet another chance to put Leeds in front but he put his shot over from 3 yards, after a bit of pinball in the Brighton penalty box after a corner from Mowatt. Stockdale almost gifted Leeds a goal, after he took too long to clear the ball, his clearance cannoned off Mowatt before striking the post and heading out for a goal kick. As the game became older, it was also becoming more stretched and chances were coming from both ends. Solly March hit the bar after cutting in from the right, and Leeds had some neat chances from ex-Seagull Will Buckley not put away. They would soon rue those missed chances, as a superb through ball from Gaetan Bong found its way to Booby Zamora, who kept his nerve and chipped it over a despairing Silvestri to score his first Albion goal in over 12 years. Based on the game, it could of been perceived as a goal against the run of play, but that won’t matter to Hughton or the Brighton fans as they now stretch their unbeaten run to 11 games, as well as open up a 4 point lead at the top of the table. After 3 frustrating draws, it was nice to see Brighton pick up 3 points whether or not they should of had them all or not.

Line-Up;

David Stockdale (6/7); Kept the Seagulls in the game, but could be at fault for their goal, after being caught in 2 minds whether or not to come for the ball. Could of gifted Mowatt a goal too, so a mixed day for the Albion no. 1.

Bruno (7); Seemed to be coping well, until the introduction of Buckley, where things went a little bit pear-shaped. Nothing to worry about though too much, and looking like an important member of the squad, something which wasn’t said a lot last season.

Greer (6); Only lasted 40 minutes, after picking up a minor knock. Help evade Leeds chances before making way for Hunemieier.

Dunk (7); Seemed to do OK with marking Wood for most of the game, might of been at fault for letting Cooper make the run around him for his goal, but was good enough to prevent any more Leeds goals.

Bong (8); Keeps going from strength to strength at the moment, with yet another assist which set up Zamora for the match winner. Early contender for Player of the Season?

Rosenior (7); Lovely link up play with Stephens in the first half, hardly got noticed in the second though, which properly prompted Hughton to go to a 4-3-3 with the introduction of Crofts.

Kayal (8); Showed some wonderful ability in midfield yet again, and made March’s goal with a delicate through ball. Seems to be showing the quality he had at Celtic a few years ago.

Stephens (7); After some excellent performances in recent games, Stephens to a back seat it would seem in this game, and just helped tick things over in the centre of the pitch. Had a good chance in the first half, but was comfortably saved by Silvestri.

March (8); Scored his first goal in 10 months, and showed glimpses of the quality which we knew he had, but has failed to use thus far. Could the Murphy suspension and the LuaLua injury actually been a good thing, as this has given Solly the incentive to cement his place in the team?

Baldock (7); Did well in the first half linking up well with Hemed, pushed out to the left in the second to accommodate the 3 up the top. Still think he has the goals in him to help win close matches though.

Hemed (7); Like, Baldock, did well in the first half, but not noticed too much in the second before making way for the goal winner Zamora with 12 to go.

Subs:

Hunemeier (7); The partnership all Brighton fans have been wanting, didn’t really disappoint as he worked well with Dunk, and other than the Wood chance in the 6 yard box, kept his chances to a minimum in the second.

Crofts (7); Got a return to first team action after his knee injury last October, and looked as if he never left. He was calm and collected on the ball and made some nice passes.

Zamora (9); What more to say? We have been waiting for this moment since the news that Bobby would be coming back, and what a way to do it; match winner and a cheeky chip! Bow down to Bobby Zamora.

Leeds [1] v [2] Brighton; Cooper (22); March (14), Zamora (89)

Att; 22,736 (940 Brighton Fans)

MOTM; Zamora

Leeds United v Brighton and Hove Albion (17/10/15) | Preview

Match Preview:

As we approach the quarter stage of the season, it looks quite promising for Brighton; sitting top of the Championship, and the only unbeaten side left in England’s top 5 divisions going into the game at Elland Road, where hosts Leeds have struggled.

Leeds have not taken away three points from home since their 2-1 victory over Ipswich back on the 4th of March, highlighting their woeful home form. Leeds had been unbeaten in their first six games, drawing five of them however, before three defeats in four between the two international breaks, leaving them with only two victories so far this season. The loan signing of former Seagull Will Buckley, who is unlikely to feature against his former club, is a clear statement that they need some variety in their game, with a majority of their goal-making chances have come from Mirco Antenucci, and with him being constantly being hassled by defenders, he hasn’t had the freedom he would of liked. Another former Seagull, Chris Wood, is the Peacocks top goal-scorer this season with four goals, but has struggled to hit the ground running, something Uwe Rosler would of been hoping for when he signed him back in August. Defensively, Leeds are pretty good, with left-back Chris Taylor one of their main threats on the attack, and central defender Giuseppe Bellusci provides solid cover, not to mention goalkeeper Marco Silvestri who was not only one of the best keepers last season, but has played his part so far this season as well.

Brighton are a different side of the coin, with the Seagulls enjoying a fine run of ten unbeaten league games. Last week’s home draw against Cardiff was the first points the Seagulls had dropped at home so far, and will also be looking to break a unwanted ‘hoodoo’ of no league wins in October since 2010, with victory against Leeds after three straight draws. Chris Hughton has pretty much a full squad to select from with the exception of suspended Jamie Murphy and injured Kazenga LuaLua, who isn’t going to be risked for this game, with the hope he might be fit enough for the visit of Bristol City on Tuesday. Tomer Hemed has hit a bit of a drought after a quick fire start to the season, hitting five goals in the first seven games, but hasn’t found the net since. Dale Stephens has taken up Hemed’s goal-scoring role, with his three goals coming in the last four games, and Chris Hughton will be hoping the midfielder can work some more magic in Yorkshire. Lewis Dunk is set to be benched again, which will mean Uwe Hunemeier will be recalled to the starting XI. Whether Hughton takes a gamble on Kayal, who is one booking away from a suspension, remains to be seen but it looks as if he will start the Israeli midfielder.

H-2-H:

Recent results suggest Brighton will break their October ‘hoodoo’, with the last three contests being in favour of the Seagulls, with the last two being 2-0 wins. Leeds have only beaten Brighton once in nine attempts, and it looks like with the current form, that run might continue. If I was a betting man, the 2-0 win looks quite promising, and a third 2-0 success against Leeds isn’t a long shot, considering their dreadful home form and Brighton’s unbeaten start.

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale

Bruno, Greer, Hunemeier, Bong

Rosenior, Kayal, Stephens, March

Baldock, Hemed

Prediction;

Leeds 0-2 Brighton

Brighton and Hove Albion v Cardiff City (3/10/15) | Review

10 games over, nearly a quarter of the way through the season, and Brighton are STILL unbeaten!! Can Brighton fans really start thinking that this could be the season? With the second International break now upon us, Brighton still occupy the top spot, with their lead being extended on Saturday to two points, after closest rivals Middlesbrough lost away to Reading. Last time Brighton were top going into the second International break, they got promoted to the Championship later that season, as well as staying top for the rest of it too. Anyway, onto the game in hand; Cardiff were welcomed to the AMEX on Saturday, and were also in high spirits after an excellent start to the season, which saw them sit in the final play-off place going into the game. With no Hunemeier in the starting XI, Hughton re-called Dunk to the starting line-up, clearly so he could keep tabs on powerhouse forward Kenwyne Jones, which he did quite well. However, it was his strike partner and Cardiff’s top goalscorer Joe Mason who made the breakthrough, after Brighton were caught in possession in the opposing half. The ball was played down the wing to full-back Shaun Malone, who executed such a brilliant cross that any would be pleased about, even more so that Mason managed to tuck it under a disparing David Stockdale, to send the travelling Bluebirds fans into raptures after just five minutes. As the first half grew older, Brighton became more of a threat and tested second-string goalkeeper Simon Moore multiple times without any luck, with some Brighton fans wishing to have seen David Marshall in goal as Moore was performing so well. But, Brighton did get a breakthrough and once again it was Dale Stephens controlled shot which rippled the net, after his superbly timed volley found its way into the bottom corner on thirty-eight minutes. From then on the game was controlled by Brighton, with Cardiff barely getting anywhere near Brighton’s final third, only as the game began to stretch in the dying endeavours of the game did Cardiff feel/look like a threat. Brighton had chances to win it though, most notably in the ninety-third minute when a cross from Dale Stephens evaded everyone, and the diving Gordon Greer could only ‘thigh’ the chance wide of the post with the goal gaping. With performances like that, it’s defiantly frustrating to only come away with a point, but Brighton are still unbeaten and have extended their lead by a point which, come the end of the season, could mean all the difference.

Line-Up;

David Stockdale (6/7); Hard to rate a player when he had nothing to do, could of sat out their with his newspaper, but kept alert in case anything did come about.

Bruno (7); Was at fault for Cardiff’s goal for being way to far up the pitch, but made some nice plays and did provide chances which unfortunately weren’t taken.

Greer (7); Missed the chance of the season, could of put all of his critics in their coffins had he scored, but has probably gained more due to the miss. Other than that, his defensive duties were good and stopped Mason from scoring anymore.

Dunk (7); Kept Jones quiet for a majority of the game, and provided a threat from set-pieces too.

Bong (7); Had to work hard in the first half, with March not performing too well, but worked wonders with him in the second and created some brilliant chances for Baldock and Hemed.

Rosenior (7); Once again, had another sound game. Not too many chances created but linked up with Bruno and Kayal well which set up chances.

Kayal (8); Looked exposed for some of the first half, but grew into the game as Brighton started pressing forward. Provided the assist for Stephens and had a good couple chances in the second half himself.

Stephens (8); Scored for the second game in a row, as well as looking solid in midfield. Starting to see the reasoning behind Hughton’s decision to keep him instead of selling him to Derby, as the season progresses. Could be a valuable member of the squad.

March (8); Didn’t perform at all in the first half, but made up for it with a quite flawless display in the second. Had Fabio and Peltier beaten and could of had the former sent off it it wasn’t for some lenient refereeing.

Baldock (7); Had some tough chances, but should of scored the square from Rosenior mid-way through the first half. However, he is still looking a constant threat with his pace and hunger.

Hemed (7); First games back are always difficult, and this was no different. He did, however, link up nicely with Baldock to set up some chances, but was rightly replace by Zamora mid-way through the second half.

Subs:

Zamora (6); Still feels like he is not quite fit enough, little bit rusty in places but did do well holding the ball up waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

Elvis (5); Had little time to make an impact.

Brighton [1] v [1] Cardiff; Stephens (38); Mason (5)

Att. 26,399

MOTM; Stephens

Brighton and Hove Albion v Cardiff City (3/10/15) | Preview

Match Preview:

As we approach the ten game stage in this season’s Football League Championship, it safe to say Brighton fans can still not believe that they are unbeaten. Setting two new club records last week against Bolton, Brighton will be looking to kick on now, and they face a Cardiff side who have had a very nice start to the season, sitting in sixth with just two defeats, both of which came within the last 3 games.

Cardiff had a brilliant start, and were one of six English league teams who were unbeaten after six games. However, after a home defeat against Hull and an away defeat at, then were, rock-bottom Rotherham they sit in the last play-off place, which isn’t a bad thing, but they could really of been coming to Brighton also unbeaten if they had taken their chances in those two games. They have always held one of the best defensive records in recent seasons, mostly due to the heroics of superstar keeper David Marshall, who will subsequently be finishing his suspension against Brighton after his sending off against Rotherham. Basically their low-scoring nature and rock solid defence mostly accumulates to a very low scoring game, until this season where there has been a minimum of two goals in each of their nine league games. Joe Mason will be Cardiff’s threat, with the striker netting four times this season, including last time out against Charlton. Peter Whittingham will be the man pulling the strings over the pitch with four assists so far this season, and will be causing threats all afternoon. Federico Macheda will miss the trip to Brighton after he had his surgery in the week for a back injury, while Lee Peltier is hoping to be fit in time to play after missing last weeks game through a swollen leg.

Brighton’s magical start continues as they broke two long standing club records with last weeks draw with Bolton. However, that will be the least of boss Chris Hughton’s worry, after Jamie Murphy’s red card wasn’t over-turned this week leaving only Elvis Manu and Solly March as the only recognised wingers, but Liam Rosenior is another option if needed. The news that Murphy will miss the next three will come as a blow to Hughton, after the Scot had finally picked up a bit of form after performing well at Wolves, and scoring his first goal against Bolton before his sending off last week. On the brighter side, Tomer Hemed is set to be recalled to the starting line-up, after he recovered from his hamstring injury which made him sit out last weeks draw. Bruno is also set to recover from an ankle knock he picked up last week too. Hemed’s inclusion in the squad will be a big boost, as the five goal man looks to re-kindle the form he had before his injury at Wolves.

Based on recent head-to-heads, its safe to say that the betting men at backing a draw, as the Bluebirds haven’t beaten the Albion in eight games, a record that stretches back to October 2005 (2 wins, 6 draws) accompanied with the last three meetings at the AMEX being draws, your be safe to bet on a score-draw.

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale

Bruno, Greer, Humemeier, Bong

Rosenior, Kayal, Stephens, Manu

Baldock, Hemed

Prediction:

Brighton 1-1 Cardiff