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2011-12 Season Review Part One

The second part of our review of the 2011-12 involves a superb run of form that saw the Albion move from 16th in the table and looking worryingly downwards to being late contenders for a play-off spot.

Of course, this being the Albion it couldn't be simply a matter of improvement on the pitch as it was coupled with more players being arrested, the arrival on the scene of arguably the best player ever to wear the stripes and a male grooming injury.

Which still wasn't as painful as conceding six goals, which happened twice in two months.

January 2012
In the midst of a five game losing streak in which we hadn't scored, the visit of leaders Southampton was the last thing anybody wanted. Gus rang the changes with Sexy Pete Brezovan and Jake Forster-Caskey being handed starts and Rickie Lambert's sending off helped the Albion on the way to a shock 3-0 win with Matt Sparrow netting twice and Gordon Greer bringing back his old trick of smacking an opponent in the face off the ball. Last seasons inability to beat non-league sides in the FA Cup continued with six members of the development squad involved in a 1-1 draw with Wrexham. Inigo Calderon scored a screamer as Bristol City were beaten 2-0 before Sexy Pete performed heroics in a penalty shoot FA Cup replay win, after which we had five players arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. Will Buckley scored twice to secure a first away win since November against Peterborough and he also got on the score sheet as Newcastle were shocked in the FA Cup before the embarrassment of a double at the hands of Palace was avoided as an Ashley Barnes penalty secured a 1-1 draw
Record: P7, W4, D3, L0, F11, A4

Results: 3-0 Southampton H, 1-1 Wrexham H, 2-0 Bristol City H, 1-1 Wrexham A, 2-1 Peterborough A, 1-0 Newcastle H, 1-1 Crystal Palace A
League Position at End of Month: 11th


February 2012
Striker Sam Vokes from Wolves, goalkeeper David Gonzalez from Manchester City and full backs Joe Mattock and the returning Gonzalo Jara Reyes from West Brom arrived during January while a 1m+ bid from Cardiff for Craig Noone was rejected and Will Hoskins left on-loan. Leicester were beaten 1-0 with another last minute Will Buckley goal, assisted by the now-semi fit Vicente as two Foxes players along with Matt Sparrow saw red. The Spaniard added two more assists as Craig Mackail-Smith responded to being dropped with a goal at Leeds where Alan Navarro netted another last minute winner. Vokes got off the mark in a 2-2 draw with Millwall on Valentines Day - with Kazenga LuaLua weighing in with a third 90th minute goal in a row. Abdul Razak and Gai Assulin arrived on-loan from Manchester City ahead of the FA Cup fifth round trip to Liverpool in which we scored four times - three of them own goals in a 6-1 defeat. The team bounced back to draw 0-0 away at Hull and Razak then stole the show as Ipswich and their less-than-intelligent fans with their less-than-intelligent banner were seen off 3-0 at The Amex.
Record: P6, W3, D2, L1, F9, A9

Results: 1-0 Leicester H, 2-1 Leeds A, 2-2 Millwall H, 1-6 Liverpool A, 0-0 Hull A, 3-0 Ipswich H
League Position at End of Month: 7th


March 2012
The month of Vicente began at the Keepmoat Stadium with a pitch that was more akin the the battlefields at the Somme than a Championship surface as a Craig Mackail-Smith goal was cancelled out by an El Hadji-Diuof penalty in a 1-1 draw. Cardiff decided that The Amex pitch was a better place to park their bus than the car park as they secured a 2-2 draw with another 89th minute goal, this time from Sam Vokes. Vicente single handily defeated a dogged Portsmouth with two goals from the bench before the unbeaten run in 2012 went in a damaging 3-1 defeat at Blackpool as Gonzalo Jara saw red. Vicente terrorised Derby including running the length of the pitch before hitting the bar from thirty yards as Ingo Calderon and Ashley Barnes saw off the Rams 2-0 to move the Seagulls into 4th. Matt Sparrow's return from suspension lasted 40 minutes as the midfielder saw red at Forest where Albion youth-team product Joel Lynch scored a 93rd minute equaliser for the Tricky Trees. March ended with a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough with Inigo Calderon again on the score sheet.
Record: P7, W2, D4, L1, F10, A8

Results: 1-1 Doncaster A, 2-2 Cardiff H, 2-0 Portsmouth H, 1-3 Blackpool A, 2-0 Derby H, 1-1 Nottingham Forest A, 1-1 Middlesbrough H
League Position at End of Month: 6th


April 2012
With a play-off place in sight, April began as it would carry on - badly. A 1-0 defeat at Burnley saw Gus Poyet walk out before the end of the game as no shot on goal coupled with some poor refereeing led to defeat. Joe Mattock had a close shave as a male grooming injury ruled him out of the visit of Champions-elect Reading who could have been beaten but for a great performance from Adam Federici including a penalty save from Ashley Barnes to secure a 1-0 win for the Biscuitmen. The play-off dream was ended at Upton Park as the Seagulls went 3-0 down in 15 minutes before ending up with a 6-0 defeat. David Gonzalez became the latest comedy figure to pull on the gloves as we came from behind to draw 2-2 with Watford, Vicente again doing the damage from the bench before Poyet rounded on The Amex crowd for booing the team and making fun of the clown in goal. The last home game of the season saw Ashley Barnes net in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham and Kazenga LuaLua appeared in court on an affray charge. A completely unmemorable game rounded off the season at Barnsley.
Record: P6, W0, D3, L3, F3, A11

Results: 0-1 Burnley A, 0-1 Reading H, 0-6 West Ham A, 2-2 Watford H, 1-1 Birmingham H, 0-0 Barnsley A
League Position at End of Month: 10th


Brighton are back
Average attendance of around 20,000, a highest league finish in 20 years and yet there were still fans out there who wanted so much more from the campaign - which just goes to show how far Brighton and Hove Albion have come in as little as a season. 2011-12 will forever be remembered for the first season at The Amex, last minute goals, unfortunate arrests and of course that man called Vicente. Had he have been fit all season it is scary to think just how much higher in the table we could have been - and were it not for that end of season eight game winless run or the dire away performances in December we might have made the play-offs even without him. While Gus Poyet has said we over achieved given our lack of budget, spending nearly 5m in the summer is unheard of for Brighton fans, let alone bringing in internationals on free transfers and on-loan. With a similar investment this summer from Tony Bloom, there is no reason to think that next season the club might go one better and make those play-off places (provided we can start scoring away from home). With a capacity increased by 5,000 and the tenth most season tickets sold in the entire country, everything is in place for a proper, sustained tilt at promotion next season. Now all we need is for Vicente to sign up for one more year and a few more stellar signings. Oh, and the double over Palace to put them in their place wouldn't go amiss either.