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2009-10 Season Review Part Two

Part two of our 2009-10 Season Review picks up, unsurprisingly, where part one left off at the end of December.

The arrival of Gus Poyet had heralded an upturn of sorts, but the Albion still found themselves worryingly close to the relegation zone in 20th place.

With a January transfer window to work through though, changes were expected which would hopefully see a steady climb into the safety of mid table

January 2010
January opened with a scrappy 1-0 win at League Two side Torquay to set up a glamour FA Cup Fourth Round game at Champions League chasing Aston Villa. Spanish right-back Inigo Calderon had fans asking "who" when he arrived on a free, left back Marcos Painter came in on loan from Swansea City, Craig Holroyd signed from Cambridge, Kazenga Lua-Lua from Newcastle and Seb Carole arrived for a THIRD spell in the stripes. The great snow meant it was two weeks before the next outing, when goals from Nicky Forster and Glenn Murray saw off Walsall, before 6,000 Albion fans made the journey to Villa Park and witnessed a plucky performance in a 3-2 defeat with Tommy Elphick and Forster on target. Hopes were high following the game against the Villians that a turn around in fortunes was coming, but in true Albion fashion they followed it up with a lucky point against rock bottom Stockport thanks to a late Andrew Crofts goal, meaning that the Hatters had taken a quarter of their seasons points total of 16 from the Seagulls.
Record: P5, W2, D1, L2, F6, A6
Results: 1-0 Torquay A, 2-1 Walsall A, 2-3 Aston Villa A, 1-1 Stockport A, 0-1 Millwall H.
Red Cards: 0 (Yes, none!)
League Position at End of Month: 20th


February 2010
February began with Nicky Forster handing in a transfer request over the lack of new contract on offer having seen Adam El Abd sign a new deal weeks after Gus Poyet's arrival. It was a worrying moment coupled with the departure of Liam Dickinson as questions over where the goals would come from arose. Incredibly, Poyet's brand of "flicky flicky" football began to take affect, as draws at Leyton Orient (in which the manager joined the list of dismissals for the season) and home to Huddersfield were followed by defeat against champions elect Norwich and a last-gasp equaliser allowed Leeds to steal a point at Elland Road following Adam Virgo's sending off. Promotion-chasing Charlton were defeated 2-1 away with Calderon already establishing himself as a fan favourite with a goal from distance after a powerful run, and Exeter were dispatched 2-0 at Withdean as the Albion sailed through what originally looked like a ridiculously tough run of fixtures against some of the leagues promotion chasers with ease to move into the lower-reaches of mid table
Record: P6, W2, D3, L1, F7, A5
Results: 1-1 Leyton Orient A, 0-0 Huddersfield H, 1-2 Norwich H, 1-1 Leeds A, 2-1 Charlton A, 2-0 Exeter H
Red Cards: 2. Gus Poyet. Adam Virgo (Season Total: 10)
League Position at End of Month:


March 2010
The upturn in form continued into the early days of March, with the country being treated to a 0-0 draw in a dire game away at long ball merchants Colchester United live on Sky. Swindon inflicted a first defeat in four with a 1-0 win at Withdean, which galvanised the Albion into a three game winning streak. Nicky Forster bid goodbye to Withdean before heading off on-loan to Charlton with the last goal in a 3-0 win over Brentford following a first Withdean goal in two years from Glenn Murray and an Adam Virgo strike. Oldham were defeated 2-0 at Boundary Park with Elliott Bennett scoring an absolute "worldy" and another Peter Brezovan penalty save in an impressive display from the big Slovakian, and the month ended with an unbelievable display of passing football with Tranmere defeated 3-0 with Murray, Andrew Crofts and a debut goal from on-loan Plymouth man Ashley Barnes who signed on loan on deadline day along with multi-million pound Stoke man and Uruguayan international Diego Arismendi and ex-England international Lee Hendrie.
Record: P5, W3, D1, L1, F8, A1
Results: 0-0 Colchester A, 0-1 Swindon A, 3-0 Brentford H, 2-0 Oldham A, 3-0 Tranmere H
Red Cards: 0 (Yes, zero!)
League Position at End of Month: 13th


April 2010
Elliott Bennett and Ashley Barnes were on target as April Fools Day saw lucky Southampton steal a point thanks to a last minute Lee Barnard equaliser at Withdean in a 2-2 draw in which Dean Hammond entered the bad books of the Albion world by celebrating like a school girl in front of the South Stand when he netted the Saints first equaliser. A 2-0 defeat at Hartlepool eventually saw the Pool deducted points for playing an ineligible player which upset Gustavo somewhat, and Carlisle were 2-1 victors on their long trip to the South coast thanks to another Brezovan howler, with Tommy Elphick on target. A 1-1 draw at relegation threatened Gillingham with Adam El-Abd (yes, El-Abd!) scoring suggested that March's excellent run of form had been nothing more than a good blip, but victories away at Southend United thanks to another Barnes goal which relegated the home side and at home to Bristol Rovers mathematically secured another season of League One football, with Glenn Murray seeing red for the second time in the season.
Record: P6, W2, D2, L2, F7, A8
Results: 2-2 Southampton H, 0-2 Hartlepool A, 1-2 Carlisle H, 1-1 Gillingham A, 1-0 Southend A, 2-1 Bristol Rovers H
Red Cards: 1. Glenn Murray (Season Total: 11)
League Position at End of Month: 13th


May 2010
The final month of the season yielded yet another red card, this time Diego Arismendi being dismissed for a bizarre fight at half time in the 0-0 draw at Milton Keynes Dons in one the mist dire games of the season, although teenage centre back Lewis Dunk impressed on his debut. For all the hype that surrounded the signing of a full Uruguayan international who had cost Stoke millions back in the summer, his contribution entitled giving the ball away constantly and getting sent off for violent conduct. The season ended with a 1-0 home win over Yeovil, Elliott Bennett scoring and Jake Caskey coming off the substitutes bench to become the youngest player in Albion history with another youth team product, Mitch Walker, keeping a clean sheet on his debut
Record: P2, W1, D1, L0, F1, A0
Results: 0-0 MK Dons A, 1-0 Yeovil H
Red Cards: 1. Diego Arismendi (Season Total: 12)
League Position at End of Month: 13th


A season of two halves....
If ever a season could be described as being of two halves, then this was it. A, for want of a better word, dire first half of the season was complimented by a second half of the season that is cause for great optimism for the future. Despite having pulled off the great escape a year previously, Russell Slade squandered copious amounts of money on players such as Liam Dickinson and James Tunnicliffe, who by the end of the season had been shipped out on loan. Gus Poyet showed that it doesn't take Mr Bloom's money to build a successfull squad following his transfer dealings, with Inigo Calderon and Marcos Painter both arriving for no fee and making a massive difference to a defence that up until January was leaking goals at an alarming rate. With the signings of Ashley Barnes and Lee Hendrie, Poyet showed that he could add real quality to the squad, and taking points off promotion chasers such as Southampton, Charlton, Leeds and Millwall indicates that the future could be bright. Perhaps the biggest indication of what is to come is by taking a look at the 1999-2000 season - a pretty ordinary first half was sparked into life in February, and the momentum was enough (as well as a certain Bobby Zamora) to lead the Albion to two consecutive promotions. With the American Express Community Stadium just around the corner, there may also be a return to those days of glory a little further down the road.