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2012-13 Season Review Part One

An expanded Amex Stadium, one of the strongest squads in the division despite only having "the 14th best budget", sell out crowds every week and one of the brightest young managers outside of the top flight.

Everything was set up for Brighton and Hove Albion to make a real push for the Premier League in 2012-13.

And until that fateful moment when somebody decided to take a dump on the away changing room floor, that's what looked like would happen. Here's part one of our Season Review

Pre-Season 2012
Quality signings were what were needed to turn the Albion from a top ten side into one who could challenge for the top two and that is what Gus Poyet bought in during the summer with three full internationals arriving. The goalkeeper problems of last season were consigned to history with Tomasz Kuszczak coming in from Manchester United, the worrying lack of pace in the full back positions addressed with Bruno from Valencia and one of the transfer coups of the summer, Wayne Bridge and Frankie Sandford on-loan from Manchester City and former captain Andrew Crofts returned from Norwich. After a disappearing act, the great magician that is Vicente also returned with the club taking up the option of an extra year on his contract despite him wanting to return to Spain. Following the previous seasons tour to Portugal which ended up in a mass brawl, the pre-season tour instead took in Spain and saw a victory over Portsmouth (how did they afford to go there?) and a draw with local side Cordoba. As if optimism wasn't ripe enough already, it went through the roof when the Champions of Europe - Chelsea, not Leeds - played their first game on English soil since lifting the trophy and were duly dispatched 3-1. That was an Albion side with Vicente playing as a striker against a full strength Blues outfit. Everybody who was there that day predicted two things - that Roberto Di Matteo would be gone before Christmas at that this was going to be a good year for the Albion.

 

August 2012
The season started with a cock up in the COCup as League One side Swindon Town dished out a 3-0 hammering to the Albion with Alan Navarro predictably netting on his debut for the Robins. The league season opened with a 1-0 defeat at Hull followed by a 0-0 draw at home to Cardiff - little did we know at that point we'd faced the eventual top two already. Three games in and no goals scored made it look like Gus had dropped a huge one by not bringing in that much-needed new striker but that all changed when Barnsley were hammered 5-1 at The Amex with braces for Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith and a first goal for the club from Wayne Bridge. Nobody even minded that Craig Barn Door Davies got on the score sheet and celebrated in front of the North Stand. There was plenty of business on transfer deadline day as the squad became even stronger - Andrea Orlandi arriving from Swansea, Dean Hammond returning on-loan from Southampton, David Lopez coming in from Athletic Bilbao and yet another attempt to address the centre forward issue with promotion expert Stephen Dobbie signing having previously gone up through the play-offs with both Blackpool and Swansea. Craig Noone finally completed his long-expected move to Cardiff for 1.5m.
Record: P4, W1, D1, L2, F5, A5

Results: 0-3 Swindon A, 0-1 Hull A, 0-0 Cardiff H, 5-1 Barnsley H
League Position at End of Month: 10th

 

September 2012
Craig Mackail-Smith began September on fire scoring not just one, but two contenders for goal of the season away at Burnley including a stunning overhead kick. Gordon Greer got a brace of his own in the 3-1 win, one of which was unfortunately an own goal. The Friday night visit of Sheffield Wednesday saw another goal fest as Wayne Bridge, Mackail-Smith and Will Buckley all netted in a 3-0 win with CMS debuting his new C-Gull celebration. The Albion took an absolute battering away at Watford but Tomasz Kuszczak showed his worth in a superb display in a 1-0 win through another Mackail-Smith goal, this time from the penalty spot. The win took the Albion top of the table and comparisons were already being made to 2010-11 when the Seagulls went to the head of League One in September and stayed there until the end of the season. A 2-1 victory away at Miiiiilllllllllll did nothing to dampen expectations of a title challenge. Ashley Barnes and Adam El-Abd got the goals with another former Seagull, Chris Wood, scoring for the Lions. The good run was over in what would become familiar fashion as Gus Poyet's side battered Birmingham, failed to score and ended up losing 1-0.
Record: P5, W4, D0, L1, F6, A3

Results: 3-1 Burnley A, 3-0 Sheffield Wed H, 1-0 Watford A, 2-1 Millwall A, 0-1 Birmingham H
League Position at End of Month: 1st

 

October 2012
Ipswich arrived at The Amex in the drop zone with the Albion atop of the table but this being the Championship that counted for nothing as it took a Will Buckley goal in the 80th minute to rescue a point. A 0-0 draw away at Derby followed before a case of de ja vu from the Birmingham game three weeks previously as Middlesbrough were completely outplayed yet left with the three points thanks to Marvin Emnes scoring in a 1-0 Boro win. The Tuesday night trip to Leicester ended in a 1-0 defeat when the penalty miss curse of two years ago returned as Ashley Barnes insisted he took the spot kick despite Craig Mackail-Smith's recent successes from 12 yards and duly missed. Tomasz Kuszczak left the striker in no doubt about what he thought of that as the two remonstrated on the pitch come the final whistle. Gus Poyet helped the situation greatly by saying he was "bored" of his team not being able to score. The trip to Blackpool took place on one of the worst pitches outside of Sussex County League Division Three as the Albion came away with a point in a 1-1 draw with Barnes netting this time to round off an October in which they failed to register a victory.
Record: P5, W0, D3, L2, F2, A4

Results: 1-1 Ipswich H, 0-0 Derby A, 0-1 Middlesbrough H, 0-1 Leicester A, 1-1 Blackpool A
League Position at End of Month: 10th

 

November 2012
The Sky cameras rolled into The Amex for their annual broadcasting of Brighton v The Leeds United and it wasn't a disappointment as the game finished 2-2. Craig Mackail-Smith netting twice and being denied a third and the chance to win the game when his spot kick was saved. A first win in seven came against Peterborough when Stephen Dobbie popped up in the last minute to score in a 1-0 win. That was followed by the first of what would become another recurring theme - points thrown away at the death. The robbers were ten man Wolves with Roger Johnson scoring a 94th minute equaliser after Stephen Dobbie had scored a 91st minute penalty to put the Albion 3-2 ahead. Two goals from Will Buckley at Huddersfield secured a 2-1 win in which Sexy Pete Brezovan was called into play in goal at the last minute delighting the females in attendance at the McAlpine/Galpharm/John Smith Stadium. Another last minute equaliser from David Ngog got Bolton out of jail as they rescued a point with a 1-1 draw when Ashley Barnes not only missed a penalty but then put the rebound straight at Adam Bogdan with the goal gaping before Bristol City were beaten 2-0.
Record: P6, W3, D3, L0, F11, A7

Results: 2-2 Leeds H, 1-0 Peterborough H, 3-3 Wolves A, 2-1 Huddersfield A, 1-1 Bolton H, 2-0 Bristol City H
League Position at End of Month: 7th

 

December 2012
December got off to a woeful start as leaders Crystal Palace dished out a 3-0 hammering at Selhurst Park. FFSMurray scored twice and the Albion's cause was far from helped with Lewis Dunk seeing red within ten minutes on a rare start. A 2-2 draw at Charlton followed with Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua on target. Nottingham Forest came to The Amex and went away with a point in a 0-0 draw. Gus Poyet experimented with a 3-5-2 for the  visit of Millllllllll which led to Chris Wood scoring twice more against us within the opening hour. Kazenga LuaLua and a David Lopez penalty rescued a 2-2 draw. The long trip to Blackburn was due to be next but with Rovers suffering an injury crisis and heavy rain leading up to the match, the game was postponed just two hours before kick off which led to most Albion fans heading to Accrington Stanley v Plymouth. Funny how a League Two ground five miles away could with the weather cope but a Championship one couldn't. December ended with the Albion being torn apart 3-1 by Watford, easily the most impressive team seen at The Amex. A winless month lead questions about just where the club would go in 2013....
Record: P5, W0, D3, L2, F5, A10

Results: 0-3 Crystal Palace A, 2-2 Charlton A, 0-0 Nottingham Forest H, 2-2 Millwall H, 1-3 Watford H
League Position at End of Month: 10th

What were your highlights of the opening months of 2012/13? You can share them with us using the comments form below.

 


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