Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Doncaster Rovers 1
By Tim Hodges from the Amex Stadium at Falmer in Brighton
Saturday 6 August 2011 will live in the memories of Albion fans like 5 May 1979 and 21 May 1983.
The atmosphere was incredible as approximately 18,500 Albion fans waved flags and roared with delight a full ten minutes before kick-off.
The teams emerged to Sussex by the Sea blasting out of every corner of the stadium.
Despite Gus Poyet’s protestations that the occasion mustn’t get to the players, early on it appeared just this had happened, as Rovers dominated large parts of the play.
Ashley Barnes had Albion’s first clear-cut chance, but he appeared to scuff his shot and George Friend cleared off the line.
John Oster and Ryan Mason were able to cut through the Albion once or twice, as Lewis Dunk and Gordon Greer dealt with the aerial threat from Billy Sharp and James Hayter.
Kazenga Lua Lua was receiving some rough treatment from Sparr which saw the full back booked a while later Lua Lua was bundled over in the box but was booked for simulation. Poyet saw red, whacked a water bottle and was sent to the stands by referee Eddie Ilderton.
As the game warmed up Donny took control again. Matt Sparrow was too slow to react to Mason’s challenge and he in turn quickly fed Sharp who put Rovers in front via the post and Casper Ankergren’s parry.
For a while the Amex was a little quieter.
Craig Noone replace Lua Lua for the second half.
Albion used Noone as much as possible and Barnes moved further up front with Craig Mackail-Smith instead of the wide postion he adopted in the first half.
Albion got into their familiar passing stride and on 70 minutes Noone was played in by Gary Dicker but hit his shot wide when clean through.
Sharp was carried off after a strong challenge from proud Brightonian Dunk
It was from a Dicker free-kick, which Rovers failed to clear properly, that Will Buckley, who had just replaced Sparrow, smashed a curling half volley just inside the far post for Albion’s first competitive goal at Falmer.
You must have been able to hear the roar in Bevendean.
One-all and game on!
Rovers looked nervous and lacking ideas now. Mackail-Smith had a fierce snap shot from the edge of the area well held by Gary Woods.
Hayter was then the second Rovers player to require assistance leaving the pitch and this ensured seven minutes of added time.
With just a couple of these left, Noone drilled a glorious ball to Buckley on the left. He threw off the defenders’ attentions and curled a shot past Woods to send all Albion fans everywhere wild with delight.
If you could hear the celebration for the first in Bevendean, then I am sure you could hear this cheer at the Palace Pier!
“So let your voices ring my boys!”
Albion: Ankergren; Calderon, Greer, Dunk, Painter; Bridcutt, Sparrow, Dicker; LuaLua, Barnes, Mackail-Smith.
Subs: Brezovan, Vincelot, Navarro, Noone, Buckley
Doncaster: Woods; Dumbuya, Naylor, Friend, Spurr; Gillett; Coppinger, Oster, Mason, Hayter; Sharp.
Subs: Sullivan, Hird, Brown, Bennett, Barnes.
Ref: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear)