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2012-13 Season Review Part Two

The second part of our review of the 2012-13 season covers an Albion side who were one of the most in form and impressive teams in the division.

Tightened up defensively by the arrival of Matt Upson on-loan from Stoke and given a clinical edge in attack with the signing of Leonard Ulloa from Almeria, everything was great until the world came crashing down in quite spectacular style in 48 hours that ended a terrific season on a very very sour note.

January 2013
A first win in five games arrived in style with a 3-0 hammering of Ipswich thanks to Dean Hammond, Wayne Bridge and Craig Mackail-Smith. How far we've come as a club was shown when the bookies made Albion favourites to defeat Premier League Newcastle and they duly did so with a 2-0 win through Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins with some excellent theatrics from David Lopez central to a red card for Shola Ameobi. Derby were seen off 2-1 at The Amex as the signing of Leonardo Ulloa was confirmed. Paperwork problems meant he couldn't make his debut in the 2-2 draw at Birmingham as a rare Tomasz Kuszczak mistake meant another two dropped points in the last minutes in a 2-2 draw. He made up for that in the rearranged Blackburn game with a superb display in which David Lopez scored a 96th minute penalty to get the Albion massively out of jail with a 1-1 draw. Arsenal were given an almighty scare in the fourth round of the FA Cup as Ashley Barnes and a debut goal from Ulloa cancelled out two Oliver Giroud strikes and it took the introduction of Jack Wilshere and the eventual match winner Theo Walcott from the substitutes bench to put the Gunners into round five.
Record: P6, W3, D2, L1, F12, A7

Results: 3-0 Ipswich A, 2-0 Newcastle H, 2-1 Derby H, 2-2 Birmingham A, 1-1 Blackburn A, 2-3 Arsenal H
League Position at End of Month: 7th


February 2013
Matt Upson arrived on-loan from Stoke and after just four months Stephen Dobbie departed to Palace as the transfer window slammed shut. Ashley Barnes saw red after half an hour at Hillsborough for an horrific lunging tackle and to add salt to the wounds, Wednesday scored from the resulting free-kick on their way to a deserved 3-1 victory with Andrea Orlandi scoring for the visitors. Vicente was back from his traditional winter break in the treatment room and on target for the first time in the campaign via a free kick as eventual runners up Hull City were defeated 1-0 at The Amex, leaving Steve Bruce to say we were the best team his side had faced and three weeks after we last met, there was another 1-1 draw with Blackburn and another Vicente goal. That made the Albion the only team that Michael Appleton faced both home and away during his tenure as Rovers boss. Runaway leaders Cardiff hadn't lost at the imaginatively named Cardiff City Stadium in an age but they were defeated in impressive style 2-0 thanks to Andrea Orlandi and Leonard Ulloa and that was followed up with a scrappy yet vital 1-0 win over Burnley with David Lopez continuing his fine goal scoring form.
Record: P5, W3, D1, L1, F6, A4

Results: 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday A, 1-0 Hull H, 1-1 Blackburn H, 2-0 Cardiff A, 1-0 Burnley H
League Position at End of Month: 6th


March 2013
Leonardo Ulloa really marked his arrival at The Amex with a superb hat-trick in the 4-1 hammering of Huddersfield in which the Albion were pretty much unplayable. In true style, that was followed up by three winless games - a 0-0 draw at rock bottom Bristol City in which we failed to muster so much as a shot on goal and Craig Mackail-Smith's season ended with a serious ankle injury, a 1-0 defeat at fellow play-off contenders Bolton which will forever be remembered for Ashley Barnes' dismissal for trying to trip up a referee and the subsequent seven game ban that came with it and a 2-1 loss at another of the relegation candidates Barnsley in which Ulloa scored and missed a penalty. It wasn't good form to have coming into the St Patricks Day clash with Crystal Palace but as is so often the case in derby games, form flew out of the window as the Albion hammered their rivals 3-0 with two for Ulloa and a stunning free kick from David Lopez as the 15m man Wilfried Zaha was last seen in Wayne Bridge's pocket. Another victory was their to take away at Nottingham Forest with the Seagulls leading 2-1 in the 89th minute until Capser Ankergren let an equaliser through his legs for more dropped points.
Record: P6, W2, D2, L2, F10, A6

Results: 4-1 Huddersfield H, 0-0 Bristol City A, 0-1 Bolton A, 1-2 Barnsley A, 3-0 Crystal Palace H, 2-2 Nottingham Forest A
League Position at End of Month: 6th


April 2013
Tomasz Kuszczak returned in goal for the 0-0 draw at home to Charlton and that was followed by another Amex point as Nigel Pearson just about clung onto his job despite Kazenga LuaLua's late equaliser as the two play-off contenders drew 1-1. A first win at Middlesbrough in a lifetime followed as three points on the road were picked up for the first time since February with the goal scoring midfield pair of Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez both on target. A battling point came from a 0-0 draw at Peterborough before the biggest win so far at The Amex saw the Albion score all seven goals with a 6-1 victory over Blackpool. Will Buckley, Matt Upson, Orlandi, Lopez and two from Ashley Barnes on his return from that seven game ban in the right end while a stunning diving header from Dean Hammond gave the Seasiders a consolation for their troubles. Fourth spot in the table and a play-off spot was confirmed with a 2-1 victory at Leeds via a last minute goal for the second year running - this year see Leonardo Ulloa instead of Alan Navarro - as El Hadji Diuof saw red for his wedding vegetable grabbing celebration in front of the away support after equalising from the penalty spot.
Record: P6, W3, D3, L0, F11, A3

Results: 0-0 Charlton H, 1-1 Leicester H, 2-0 Middlesbrough A, 0-0 Peterborough A, 6-1 Blackpool H, 2-1 Leeds A
League Position at End of Month: 4th


May 2013
With Wolves already pretty much relegated and fourth spot secured, the final game of the season was a dead rubber. Nobody told that to Kazenga LuaLua who netted twice in a 2-0 win in front of a 30,000 crowd at The Amex for the first time who were in party mood including several AMexican waves. Crystal Palace's win over Peterborough - their first since the St Patrick's Day massacring back in March - meant it was Eagles v Seagulls in the play-off semi finals. The first game went to plan for the Albion with a 0-0 draw grinded out and the sight of Wilfried Zaha's last act on the pitch at Selhurst Park being to present a bottle of champagne to Liam Bridcutt for his man-of-the-match performance. The second leg however was a complete disaster as the pace and power from the flanks that so blitzed Ian Holloway's side in March was missing with LuaLua left on the bench and it was Zaha who had the final word in Brighton's season, netting twice to send Palace to Wembley and ultimately the Premier League. Just to round an awful day off nicely, Gus Poyet threw his toys out of the pram about his budget again, threatening to resign and as a result ended the season being suspended from the club. Oh, and someone took a poo on the floor of the away changing room.
Record: P3, W1, D1, L1, F2, A2

Results: 2-0 Wolves H, 0-0 Crystal Palace A, 0-2 Crystal Palce H
League Position at End of Month: 4th


Best season in 30 years - bar the end
Statistically speaking, it was the Albion's best season for 30 years in terms of league finish. The average crowd was also a record for the club and we got to see international players galore pull on the stripes. Having watched both Hull and Crystal Palace get promoted with what certainly appear to be inferior squads, the final week of the season was hard viewing. Had we not thrown away so many points in the final minutes of games, missed so many chances at home when we battered teams only to draw or lose, not thrown caution to the wind away at sides at the bottom of the table in 0-0 draws or in that decisive second leg against Palace, we could easily be a Premier League team. As it is, we are have a manager under suspension and face the prospect of trips to Yeovil and Doncaster next season. No matter what Gus say's about budgets etc, he had a team with eight internationals in it and a host of players with La Liga experience. The facts don't lie and the fact is that the Palace side that won the play off final combined cost was less than that of Craig Mackail-Smith on his own. Managing Brighton and Hove Albion in the best ground in the Championship, in front of the biggest crowds outside of the Premier League and with a chairman who will support you with funds and time is a plum job, and whoever is in charge next season would do well to remember that. And if it's anywhere near as exciting and memorable as this campaign, then we should be in for a treat. Last 48 hours aside.