Day: August 9, 2011

Match Of The Midweek: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Gillingham

The real party, of course, was on Saturday. Brighton & Hove Albion marked their arrival at The Amex Community Stadium with a late, late win against Doncaster Rovers, but the celebrations continued this evening with a narrow win against Gillingham of League Two. After fourteen years waiting, though, could the new stadium possibly live up to expectations? So much has been emotionally invested in this new arena that it felt plausible to believe that its grandiosity might have been overstated. Could this possibly be the case? The answer, of course, is a resounding no. It is, perhaps, a symbol of the effect that this building has had on the football club and its home town that the train out to Falmer at shortly after 6.00 this evening was full to standing room only. Upon arrival, after a journey lasting just eight minutes, one is swept around, over a bridge and along towards the entrance to the ground. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first sight of it at close range. Brighton is, for the want of a better phrase, good at curves, from the faux-Raj stylings of the Pavilion to the elegant, sweeping design of the main railway station. This design, however, is very much of the twenty-first century and the welcome – from staff, police and stewards alike – is warm and welcoming. There was plenty of...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: Wigan Athletic

They escaped by the skin of their teeth last season, but for Wigan Athletic there has been little to get excited about this summer and there remains the distinct possibility of another long, hard winter ahead for a club that has, over the last few seasons, battled against all odds to keep hold of this most unexpected of Premier League places. This is a club that has become dependent upon Premier League television money and the continuing goodwill of its chief benefactor – in this case, Dave Whelan – to the extent that we might ask what, exactly, the plan is for a scenario in which the club were to get relegated from the Premier League. It’s a question that is worth asking, of course. Wigan had looked dead and buried last season, until Roberto Martinez managed to rally his team to losing just two of their last nine matches, hauling themselves over the safety line with a win on the last day of the season at Stoke City, thanks to a goal twelve minutes from time from Hugo Rodallega. It was a narrow escape, of that there can be very little doubt, and the good news for Wigan supporters is that the club has at least managed to retain the services of Martinez for the start of the new season, in spite of rumours linking him with other,...

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The Under-20 World Cup: Let’s Get This Party Started

It is a quirky system that requires two-thirds of the matches to knock out one-third of the entrants. But the opportunity for a well-placed third-placed team in a group to qualify for the last-16 gave us what drama there was in the third series of matches at the Under-20s World Cup… and perhaps the most bizarre qualification in recent tournament football history. England, of course, followed this website’s suggestion of three points and a zero goal difference, thanks to a solid defensive display against Group F runners-up Mexico.  Dull as dishwater it may have been to watch. But given the paucity of playing resources available to the England set-up (almost three-dozen players refused participation, we’ve been told almost three-dozen times in recent days), it was a commendable effort from coach Brian Eastick’s men and boys. The flaw in the plan has now emerged, of course, and it is shaped like Nigeria, who are the tournament’s top scorers and will provide England’s last-16 opposition in a classic ‘contrast of styles’ encounter – i.e. Nigeria have some. Nigeria’s Group D was the best example of how a dead group was brought to life by the ‘best third-placed’ system. You might have expected more intensity from the Flying Eagles’ encounter with Saudi Arabia, given that England awaited the winners and Brazil awaited the losers.  But Nigeria’s 2-0 win was an aimless, passionless...

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