Sunday, 31 August 2014

Glass Half Full?

Brighton and Hove Albion 2 - Charlton Athletic 2.

After the nomadic years and the shambles of the Withdean, Brighton deserve their excellent home. 

Well, a really rather pleasant day out at the seaside with a sneaky bit of kickball thrown in for good measure.

If that mythical person who goes around offering points before the game had come and sat with me on the train down to the coast, and then told me we could be heading back to London with a point, I would as the cliche demands, have "grabbed it with both hands".

Of course, I'd also have put more money than I did on the draw but that's not really important.

What is important is that by the time our team next wander out onto a pitch wearing the first team shirt, despite it very nearly being mid September, they will be an unbeaten set of players (if we hastily forget about the tin pot cup).

Another important point is that after many years of hoping and moaning, we do seem to have lucked into having a forward who knows where the goal is, showing he is a finisher, rather than one of the 'nearly' men.

Igor has won me plenty of cash already this season.
I fully expect Paddy Power to change his goalscoring odds quite dramatically over the next few weeks.

Brighton is a great destination. Quality pubs, great nightlife and the 'holiday' vibe whenever I head down there.

The Amex is a fantastic stadium and there won't be many places better suited to watching football. Crispy pointed out the red 'mood' lighting in the concourse that he'd heard is changed to match the colours of the visiting team.
There seemed to be rather a lot of Charlton crests stuck around the place and while you were staring dutifully at the wall having your 'comfort break', there was a message thanking you for making the journey from Charlton, helpfully stuck at eye line.

The pies were pretty good, the red wine (don't ask) wasn't as bad as expected and the padded comfy seats were all designed to make you feel welcome.
Normally the once a season away fans get the worst part of the ground so I'm assuming the home areas of the Amex are equally plush, if not more so.

As a special treat, Wayne Rooney had taken time out from his millionaire Cheshire lifestyle to come and do the stewarding of the Charlton fans.
Wazza, give us a wave.
After failing to score in the previous visits to the Amex, (which is even worse than actually scoring but not being able to see it due to the mist rolling in at the Withdean a few years back), Charlton set off like a rocket and were 1-0 up before some of our support had made it off the free train from Brighton.

From that point on, there was only one team in it.
They were the hosts.

Henderson pushed the ball around the post but mostly it was a masterclass in great opportunities with duff finishing from Albion.

At half time we hoped we might be able to hang on for the next 45 minutes but unfortunately, with about 20 minutes to go, a corner lead to bean pole Dunk climbing above everyone and smartly waking up the home support.

We all now hoped we might be able to hang onto the draw but Simon Church had other ideas. 
Having come on for the second half, he made a real nuisance of himself.  
If the game had been played in the Premiership he'd have been awarded a (soft) penalty rather than the yellow card he got for simulation.

As it was, he managed to get the ball to a frankly quite shattered looking Igor Vertokele who twisted and made the space to score, making the angle for himself by skilfully deflecting the ball off the upright.

Never has a goal been scored more against the run of play. 
We cared not one jot.
When the 4 minutes of added on time were announced there wasn't a single Charlton supporter who believed we were home and hosed.
We've seen it all before, many times but it didn't stop us hoping.

Unfortunately, an extremely poorly defended corner with just seconds to go was the chance for Brighton to get what they deserved. 
Dunk headed into an unguarded net while the Charlton team looked befuddled at the sudden arrival of an extra 'keeper in the box.

Ho Hum.

Sometimes a draw feels like a win, as the Brighton support showed, and sometimes it feels like a loss.

We do need to learn how to close out games but nobody could say that Charlton didn't (almost) manage the perfect away performance against stronger opposition.

The 2,000 Charlton supporters were honest and thanked the players for their efforts rather than being annoyed at the late setback.
Thanks at the Amex.

After a really quite pain free short journey back to town from Falmer, we were at the busy Brighton rail station.

A few fine beers nearby, with friends, in possibly Brighton's worst pub, were made more entertaining when some drunk middle aged women were refused entry.
They argued a while, then decided the reason they were not welcome wasn't because they had been too thirsty, it was because the pub bouncers toilet equipment was far too small.


A fine day out and a hardly deserved point on the board sent us home to London with a smile on our faces.

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