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2010-11 Season Review Part Two

The second part of our review of the 2010-11 season features the final five months of the season of January through to May.

With the Albion having been top of the table since the end of September, it realistically would have taken a major cock up for anything other than promotion to be secured.

That sort of thing, however, is what Brighton and Hove Albion do best, so nobody was taken the stunning first half of the season as we looked to give Withdean the perfect send off

January 2011
Despite opening 2011 at the top of the League One table, it had been two months since the Albion last won in the league. They put that right straight away as Glenn Murray grabbed a hat-trick to see off Leyton Orient 5-0. Gus Poyet took advantage of Plymouth Argyle's precarious financial position to sign Craig Noone for somewhere in the region of 250,000. His debut looked like it was heading for defeat away at Exeter until two late goals, including a last minute winner for the second season running at St James' Park, gave the Seagulls a 2-1 win. Championship side Portsmouth were convincingly dispatched 3-1 in the FA Cup third round south coast derby and Darren Ferguson's first game back in charge of Peterborough saw them beaten 3-1 to complete the double over the Posh. Poyet's decision to leave Murray out of the starting line-up backfired in a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth but he wouldn't make that mistake again for the rest of the season, and a home win over Colchester was followed by Ashley Barnes securing a 1-0 victory away at Watford in the FA Cup to take the Seagulls into the fifth round for the first time in 25 years.
Record: P7, W6, D0, L1, F16, A4

Results: 5-0 Leyton Orient H, 2-1 Exeter A, 3-1 Portsmouth H, 3-1 Peterborough H, 0-1 Bournemouth A, 2-0 Colchester H, 1-0 Watford A
League Position at End of Month: 1st

 

February 2011
The Albion were clad in their one-off, all white kit that would actually be used twice in the season for the goalless bore draw at Leyton Orient that opened February. Future Seagull Will Hoskins tore the defence apart as he netted twice for relegation threatened Bristol Rovers, but we hit four of our own to secure a memorable win at the Memorial Stadium and revenge for November's 3-1 defeat at the ending of Kazenga LuaLua's season was taken as Hartlepool were thrashed 4-1. Premier League Stoke City proved a bridge too far in terms of class as they scored three times in the first half thanks in part to a bit of a howler from cup keeper Peter Brezovan to eliminate the Albion from the FA Cup at the fifth round stage as the Potters headed to the final. They bounced back in style though smashing four goals past another opponent, this time administration-plagued Plymouth in a 4-0 win at Withdean. Despite being top of the league, the stadium:mk hoodo could still not be broken as another defeat at MK Dons occurred in arguably the sides worst league performance of the season, this time 1-0 and despite the home side being reduced to ten men.
Record: P6, W3, D1, L2, F12, A7

Results: 0-0 Leyton Orient, 4-2 Bristol Rovers A, 4-1 Hartlepool H, 0-3 Stoke A, 4-0 Plymouth H, 0-1 MK Dons A
League Position at End of Month: 7th

 

March 2011
The wipe-out of December's fixtures and the run to the FA Cup fifth round meant that eight games had to be fitted into March's four weeks that would define the season. A first ever win at Yeovil 1-0 was followed by Liam Bridcutt's 96th minute volley securing a 4-3 win over Carlisle after the visitors had equalised in the 91st minute. Ashley Barnes made it six missed penalties but a bizarre own goal made it a first win since 1995 at Brentford as Marcos Painter missed his only league minutes of the season in the last ten after being knocked out and Tranmere were beaten 2-0 at Withdean. A 1-0 win away at Oldham saw goalscorer Barnes stretchered off, and Gus Poyet's attempts to bring in Will Hoskins on loan were rejected by Bristol Rovers. With just Glenn Murray and Fran Sandaza as fit senior strikers, Notts County were beaten 1-0 and Swindon 2-1 despite Gary Dicker missing penalty number seven for the season after converting one earlier in the game. The perfect month was completed as win number eight of eight arrived away at Dagenham thanks to Glenn Murray's 20th of the campaign and ex-Seagull Bas Savage managing to hit the bar from two yards out.
Record: P8, W8, D0, L0, F13, A4

Results: 1-0 Yeovil A, 4-3 Carlisle H, 1-0 Brentford A, 2-0 Tranmere H, 1-0 Oldham A, 1-0 Notts County H, 2-1 Swindon A, 1-0 Dagenham A
League Position at End of Month: 1st

 

April 2011
The leagues form teams opened April as eight wins in a row Brighton took on five in a row Rochdale, with the result predictably being a 2-2 draw before Sheffield Wednesday were beaten 2-0 which meant out second game with Dagenham in two weeks would see the Albion promoted with a win. The Daggers went 1-0 up in less than 30 seconds. The Albion pulled it back to go 2-1 up before the visitors moved 3-2 ahead, but the win was eventually secured with Ashley Barnes netting the promotion-clinching winner in a 4-2 win that sparked pitch invasion scenes at Withdean much to Paul Samrah's anger. The title was secured four days later as Inigo Calderon, Glenn Murray and Elliott Bennett defeated Walsall 3-1. With nothing left to play for Southampton inflicted a first league home defeat of the season on the Albion with a 2-1 win. Easter Monday saw some comedy defending gift Colchester a goal in 1-1 draw live on Sky, and three games after winning it Gordon Greer finally got to lift the League One trophy after the final ever league game at Withdean, a 3-2 defeat against Huddersfield.
Record: P7, W3, D2, L2, F15, A12

Results: 2-2 Rochdale A, 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday H, 4-3 Dagenham H, 3-1 Walsall A, 1-2 Southampton H, 1-1 Colchester A, 2-3 Huddersfield H
League Position at End of Month: 1st

 

May 2011
The final league game of the season saw thousands of Albion fans make the trip to Notts County's Meadow Lane, many of them in fancy dress. Martin "Mad Dog" Allen's side needed a point to survive, and duly got it as they held the Champions to a 1-1 draw sparking a Withdean-esque pitch invasion and some mutual appreciation between both sets of supporters as applause was exchanged despite the stewards looking as if they were preparing for World War Three to break out
Record: P7, W1, D5, L1, F9, A8

Results: 1-1 Notts Count A
League Position at End of Month: 1st

 

Championes Championes ole ole ole
Tony Bloom said at the start of the campaign to many raised eyebrows that he would be disappointed if we didn't secure a top two finish. As it was, Gus Poyet ensured the Albion went one better by dominating the division. Not many teams go top in September and stay there. Worthy champions in the end, Poyet was right when he said that his side may not have contained the best individuals, but they were the best team. They may have failed to beat their closest rivals in Southampton and Huddersfield over the season, but it was results against the so-called lesser teams that showed the class possessed by this Brighton team - particularly in that record breaking March when eight teams from mid table and below were beaten in a row. What cannot be doubted is that they played the best football in the division and arguably the best football ever by a side wearing the blue and stripes. The pitch invasion scenes along with last minute explosions of joy such as those against Oldham and in particular, Carlisle, will stay long in the memory. It was the perfect send off for Withdean ahead of this summers move to The American Express Community Stadium and the foundations are well and truly laid for the future. At the end of last season's review we predicted a promotion tilt for the 2010/11 season, but we wouldn't be so bold as to do so again for next season! Not until we've signed a couple of million pound players, anyway...