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2013-14 Season Review Part One

To say 2012-13 ended in a bad way would be a little bit of an understatement. Play off semi final defeat to Crystal Palace, Gus Poyet launching his toys so far out of the pram that some were rumoured to have been seen in Moscow, bodily products in away changing rooms and ultimately the sacking of the entire management team.

Step forward Oscar Garcia with the difficult task of trying to take all that as well as a squad that had been severely weakened and turn it into another promotion push.

And of course, he bloody did it with another position in the top six secured amid wild scenes at Nottingham Forest. Here is part one of our season review of 2013-14.

Pre-Season 2013
With Championship left back of the season Wayne Bridge gone along with Vicente, Dean Hammond and Ryan Harley, some strengthening was needed yet there was no manager to do so. Matt Upson turned his loan into a permanent move from Stoke City with Adam Chicksen arriving from McDons before Oscar Garcia arrived as head coach having guided Macabbi Tel Aviv to the Israeli title the previous season. He soon had an assistant manager as well with Nathan Jones returning to the club much to the disgust of a large number of the fan base who hadn't forgotten some of his antics when playing for Yeovil against the Albion after leaving Withdean in 2005. With just two new signings made, pre-season got underway with a 3-0 win against Whitehawk. For the second year running we managed to complete a tour to a foreign country without getting involved in a mass brawl or game postponement with a 1-0 win over Getafe being followed by a 2-1 victory against Getafe and Crawley were dispatched 2-0 in the far less glamorous surroundings of the Broadfield Stadium. A third signing was added when Kemy Agustien and his 39 driving licence penalty points arrived from Swansea while David Lopez also agreed to return after a summer of umming and ahhing. The friendly schedule was rounded off nicely with a 3-1 home defeat to Vilareal and a 1-1 draw with Norwich City in which Solly March confirmed his rich potential with an absolute screamer.


August 2013
Oscar instantly showed his sense of style at The Leeds United on the opening day, wearing grey trousers and chinos as the Albion went down to a 2-1 last minute defeat after Leonardo Ulloa gave the visitors the lead. Another cock up in the COCup saw league new boys Newport County win 3-1 at The Amex with Inigo Calderon breaking Byron Anthony's leg for good measure. Disaster looked as though it had struck when the outstanding Liam Bridcutt was ruled out with a long term injury but Oscar showed the sort of faith in youth that Poyet never did, handing the shirt to Rohan Ince and being richly rewarded. Two goals for Chris Martin secured victory one of four for Derby in the first home league game after Ulloa gave the Seagulls the lead, highlighting that the squad was in desparate need of more reinforcements so in came Stephen Ward on loan from Wolves and Keith Andrews from Bolton. Oscar's first victory arrived four games into the campaign, Andrew Crofts netting the only goal in a 1-0 win at Birmingham City and that was followed by a 2-0 home win over Burnley courtesy of Crofts and Ulloa and a last gasp 1-1 draw with Milllllllll.
Record: P6, W2, D1, L3, F7, A8

Results: 1-2 Leeds A, 1-3 Newport H, 0-2 Derby H, 1-0 Birmingham A, 2-0 Burnley H, 1-1 Millwall H
League Position at End of Month: 13th


September 2013
Back-to-back away games in the space of four days against recently relegated and highly fancied for an immediate Premier League return Reading and QPR represented the fixtures computer doing it's best to cause unnecessary pain but as it was, two 0-0 draws represented good results. What didn't represent anything near good was Leonardo Ulloa seeing red in that televised clash at the Madjeski Stadium for attempting to decapitate home defender Aaron Hughes with a kung fu kick meaning his services were lost for the next three games.The first of which was Spanish Day at The Amex, with fans encouraged to come in Spanish fancy dress to celebrate all the players from that nation we have at the club. As it was, David Lopez duly got into the mood of celebrating his country by scoring an own goal to give visitors Bolton Wanderers the lead. A remarkable three goals in four second half minutes completely turned the game on it's head as Jay Spearing put through his own net and Inigo Calderon and Will Buckley completed the comeback. The month ended with a disappointing defeat as Ipswich Town completely outclassed Oscar's men in all departments to win 2-0 at Portman Road while Craig Conway also arrived from Cardiff City.
Record: P4, W1, D2, L1, F3, A3

Results: 0-0 Reading A, 0-0 QPR A, 3-1 Bolton H, 0-2 Ipswich A
League Position at End of Month: 12th


October 2013
Ah, October. That month we haven't won a game in since 2010. The curse predictably struck again, opening with a 1-1 home draw against struggling Sheffield Wednesday thanks to a last minute Keith Andrews leveller. More concerning was the sight of Leonardo Ulloa being carted off on a stretcher in his comeback game from suspension. Big spending Nottingham Forest were 3-1 winners at The Amex in an ill tempered match thanks largely to the actions of poisoned dwarf manager Billy Davies with Ruben Martinez ultimately being sent from the home dug out after a spot of handbags broke out. With Ulloa out long term, Leroy Lita bought the shiniest head in professional football to the Albion on-loan from Swansea and he made his debut from the bench in a 0-0 draw at Yeovil. The Sky cameras were in town for the Halloween visit of Watford in another themed game - Fright Night - and it looked as though that would be very apt when the Hornets went ahead after just four minutes but Andrew Crofts grabbed an equaliser and referee Keith Hill took the man of the match award for not awarding a Watford goal after the ball went 30 feet over the line.
Record: P4, W0, D3, L1, F3, A5

Results: 1-1 Sheffield Wed H, 1-3 Nottingham Forest H, 0-0 Yeovil A, 1-1 Watford H
League Position at End of Month: 16th


November 2013
After the dirge of October came the brilliance of November as three wins out of four bought Oscar a richly deserved first Manager of the Month award in England. Having won just once on the road all season, a convincing victory at Doncaster was just what the doctor ordered. Jake Forster-Caskey scored a contender for goal of the season with a stunning 35 yard strike with late goals from Leroy Lita and a trademark David Lopez free kick securing the three points. Ashley Barnes got his season belatedly up and running in front of goal with a brace as Blackburn Rovers were dispatched 3-0 at The Amex before the tough trip to Wigan Athletic also ended in victory thanks in part to a Tomasz Kuszczak masterclass and yet another late strike from Andrew Crofts to hasten Owen Coyle's exit from the DW Stadium. With Liam Bridcutt now back in training after three months out, things were looking up ahead of the televised "South Coast Derby" away at an equally in form AFC Bournemouth in which Barnes put himself forward as another candidate for goal of the season with a stunning volley after playing keppy upies on the edge of the Cherries box to earn a 1-1 draw.
Record: P4, W3, D1, L0, F8, A2

Results: 3-1 Doncaster H, 3-0 Blackburn H, 1-0 Wigan A, 1-1 Bournemouth A
League Position at End of Month: 9th


December 2013
The curse of the Manager of the Month award struck within three days of November becoming December as bottom of the table Barnsley ran out deserved 2-1 winners at The Amex with Pat McCourt the best player on the pitch. That was naturally followed up by league leaders Leicester City being clinically dispatched thanks to an Ashley Barnes brace and a first goal for the club for Craig Conway. The long journey to Teeside to face Middlesbrough was a memorable one for Matt Upson who scored an 86th minute winner while bandaged up with a nasty head injury and the Albion faithful who made the trip as Paul Barber bought every away fan a pint. We've always liked the guy. Huddersfield visited in the last game before Christmas in a bore draw that finished 0-0 in driving wind and rain and Leonardo Ulloa returned to the starting line up after two months out injured with a brace in a 3-2 Boxing Day defeat away at struggling Charlton Athletic. 2013 ended with all the glamour that comes from a trip to the seaside resort of Blackpool and Inigo Calderon popped up with the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Bloomfield Road.
Record: P6, W3, D1, L2, F8, A6

Results: 1-2 Barnsley H, 3-1 Leicester H, 1-0 Middlesbrough A, 0-0 Huddersfield H, 2-3 Charlton A, 1-0 Blackpool A
League Position at End of Month: 8th