Brighton and Hove Albion v Charlton Athletic (5/12/15) | Review

Another match gone, and another 3 points added to the tally, but it could of all been very different. As Brighton stretched their unbeaten league run to 20 games, Charlton fans, players and staff must of been in bewilderment after they threw away a 2 goal lead to leave the south coast with absolutely nothing.Let’s get 1 thing straight here, Brighton’s first half performance was totally shocking; they lacked ideas, creativity and struggled to make a 5 yard pass at times, they thoroughly deserved to be 2-0 down at the interval. However, as Chris Hughton was giving his Albion players the ‘hairdryer’ treatment, there were many in the stands firmly believing that Brighton could turn this around and actually win it. I’m one to hold my hands up and say I wasn’t apart of that group, I would of been quite content with a point especially after that first half display, but a complete change in the second half got everyone believing that they could produce one of the greatest comebacks in AMEX history. And so they did; not only did they win the game, but provided the fans with such a high quality of entertainment at the same time, something which Brighton lacked especially last season.

The game started with Charlton on the front foot, as you would expect giving their are the away team and going up against an unbeaten side, but nobody, not even the travelling supporters would of believed that they had taken a 2 minute lead when Ademola Lookman squeezed the ball into the net from a tight angle after wriggling his way past Bruno. Just as the celebrations were dying down, they picked up again after Reza Ghoochannejhad made it 2-0 after just 5 minutes when a cross from Brighton villain Ricardo Vaz Te evaded everyone inside the box, but fell kindly for Ghoochannejhad to power home the ball into the roof of the net. The travelling fans were in raptures, while the home fans had their arms crossed and looked as glum as the weather. It could of been more if it wasn’t for the ever present David Stockdale, after he kept out an Alou Diarra header after he rose highest above Inigo Calderon. Once again, Stockdale to the rescue, after he kept out Johann Gudmundsson; Lewis Dunk lost the ball carelessly on the half-way line and a swift counter attack from Charlton resulted in a chance for Gudmundsson, only to be denied by the leg of Stockdale. Charlton’s attacking waves kept coming and coming, after they broke again after Brighton lost possession from a cross they had created. Vaz Te played in Lookman on the left wing, and after a cut-in from the tricky winger, his shot was once again denied by the legs of Stockdale. Thankfully for the home supporters that was the end of the half. As you would expect, Brighton came out all guns blazing, and they pulled a goal back from loanee James Wilson, who was celebrating his first Albion start. Charlton lost the ball in their own half, and Wilson dribbled his way through the Addick’s defence to coolly slot the ball home through Stephen Henderson’s legs and half the deficit. It could of been level just 2 minutes later had Solly March’s effort been a yard or 2 below the bar, after it ricocheted off the woodwork. The job in hand for the Addicks was made harder after Patrick Bauer was given his marching orders after a last-man foul on Bobby Zamora, giving referee Keith Stroud no choice but to sent him off. From the resulting free-kick, Beram Kayal fizzed a shot towards goal, but it was deflected over the bar for a corner. As the game dragged on, you could see the gaps appearing in the Charlton defence, and with Hughton throwing on Tomer Hemed, who was dropped at the expense of Wilson, it was clear what his intentions were; overload the box and try and feed of the scraps that came. And that certainly happened, after March crossed a low ball towards Hemed; his shot was saved by Henderson but Zamora was on hand to poke home the rebound, to score in his 3rd straight game. With the Seagulls now back level and with 6 minutes plus stoppage time to play, it was clear that they were going for it all; and 22 seconds after the restart they got it all, after a cross from Rajiv van La Parra found Hemed, who’s goal-bound header was saved by Henderson, but he nor his defenders could react quick enough to save it trickling over the line, to send the home fans, players and coaching staff crazy. As the game drew to a close, Brighton were quite content in keeping the ball and make the, already tired Charlton players, run for the ball.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (9); For me, he was by far the best player on the pitch, not so much in the second half, but in the first he was hand’s down the best player. He stopped us going in at half-time 5-0 down, and has been the story of his season so far, he has become hard to beat and is starting to look like the keeper he was when he was with Hull a few years ago.

Bruno (7); Not much joy in the first half, got easily beaten by Lookman for their first, and his attacking presence wasn’t really felt until the second.

Greer (7); Some sloppy play from the skipper and his companion in the first half, could of easily given Charlton extra breathing room it it wasn’t for Stockdale’s saves.

Dunk (7); Gave the ball away unnecessarily towards the end of a poor first half; luckily he had Stockdale to thank after another great save. Much better second half. but needs to stay on top of his defending at all times

Calderon (6); Like Bruno, he didn’t have much attacking joy in the first nor in the second. Quite restricted to how far he could venture forward with Gudmundsson lurking around all the time.

Murphy (6); Had a couple of good crosses in the first half, but not much in the second half, hence being replaced by Hemed.

Kayal (7); A very average first half from the Israeli, struggled to make passes at times, and was very lethargic when Charlton were attacking. Up his game in the second half, and most of the chances came through him including the pass to La Parra which set up the winning goal.

Stephens (7); Similar to Kayal in the first half, but improved in the second half, and provided some nice passes which allowed chances to be created.

March (8); It’s very hard for him not to have a bad game even when the team’s don’t play well. The brightest spark on the pitch in the first half, and lit up Charlton’s defence numerous times in the second, as well as semi-providing Zamora’s goal

Zamora (8); 3 straight game when he has bagged a tap-in, but he won’t care as long as he can keep doing it. His movement off the ball was marvellous, and drew the foul which had Bauer sent off.

Wilson (8); Opened his Albion account with a fine solo effort. Very quiet in the first half, but brought his ‘A’ game in the second, and produced what we can only expect more from during the season

Subs;

Hemed (8); Finally broke his goal-drought with a terrific header, altough it was initially saved. Was an aerial threat when he came on and was unlucky not to score from the March cross, which Zamora got his tap in from.

La Parra (7); Had only been on the pitch a matter of moments, but produced arguably the cross of the game; Hemed couldn’t miss. Helped see the game out as it drew to a close

Chicksen (N/A); Came on late to provide vital left-back cover, when March had been operating.

Brighton [3]-[2] Charlton; Wilson (50) Zamora (83) Hemed (85); Lookman (2), Ghoochannejhad (5)

Att; 24,587

MOTM; Stockdale

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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.