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2016-17 Season Review Part Two

Well, we finally did it. One of the most memorable campaigns in Brighton and Hove Albion history ended with promotion to the Premier League, meaning that next season the Seagulls will play top flight football for the first time in 34 years.

There was plenty of talk about hangovers from missing out by two goals and Seagulls choking throughout the campaign, but Chris Hughton's side lasted 43 games to go secure a spot in the elite for 2016-17. The less said about the last three, the better.

It was an outstanding achievement from everybody involved with the club and frankly, we are probably going to struggle to fit all the highs in to the word count for this such has been the great time had by all.

We'll do our best though, so sit back and relive the year Brighton and Hove Albion finally became a Premier League club...

January 2017
Well, you couldn't get a much more dramatic start to 2017. Brighton were woeful at Fulham but two goals in 90 seconds from Tomer Hemed and Lewis Dunk along with a David Stockdale penalty save secured a totally undeserved 2-1 win. McDons were beaten 2-0 in the FA Cup with the Israeli men (hallelujah) of Hemed and Beram Kayal netting, followed by another poor performance in a 2-0 defeat at Preston. Anthony Knockaert scored twice as 10 men Albion beat nine man Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 - with another Stockdale spot kick stop - and it took 73 minutes to find a way around Cardiff City bus, Hemed continuing his rich vein of form with the only goal in a 1-0 win over the Bluebirds. Conference leaders Lincoln ended our FA Cup interest with a shock 3-1 win in the fourth round amid farcical scenes which included an own goal from loan debutant Fikayo Tomori and an injury to Niki Maenpaa seeing Casper Ankergren having to put out his 13th Marlboro Light of the game to replace him from the substitutes bench. Tomori wasn't the only loan arrival either, striker Chuba Akpom also rocking up from Arsenal.
Record: P6, W4, D0, L2, F8, A8

Results: 2-1 Fulham A, 2-0 McDons H, 0-2 Preston A, 2-1 Sheff Wed H, 1-0 Cardiff H, 1-3 Lincoln A
League Position at End of Month: 1st
February 2017
First met third as the Albion travelled to Huddersfield but they were comprehensively outclassed by the Terriers who ran out 3-1 winners. Tomer Hemed got the Brighton goal with Lewis Dunk seeing red. Talk about Seagulls choking gathered pace in a frantic 3-3 draw at Brentford, the Albion coming from 2-0 down to level things at 2-2 through Solly March and Shane Duffy and then needing a last minute Hemed strike to secure the point. Something approaching normal service was resumed as Glenn Murray, Sam Baldock and Hemed all scored in a 4-1 win over Burton while our dreadful Valentines Day record went on with a dire 1-1 draw with Ipswich. The goal once again coming from that man Hemed. The trip to Barnsley looked like a potential banana skin but a Baldock brace ensured it was navigated relatively comfortably before fellow promotion chasers Reading were dispatched 3-0 through Baldock, Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert. That set things up nicely for the top two to meet at the Amex where Newcastle came from behind to win 2-1 after a Murray penalty had given the Albion a half time lead.
Record: P7, W3, D2, L2, F15, A10

Results: 1-3 Huddersfield A, 3-3 Brentford A, 4-1 Burton H, 1-1 Ipswich H, 2-0 Barnsley A, 3-0 Reading H, 1-2 Newcastle H
League Position at End of Month: 2nd
March 2017
The choke was become a full blown blockage that required a Heimlich Maneouver after a 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. Even a trip to bottom of the table Nottingham Forest appeared daunting given we'd never so much as had a shot on target in two previous visits to the New York Stadium but in the end it proved a comfortable evening with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Anthony Knockaert and Solly March. Derby were vanquished in front of the Sky cameras 3-0, Knockaert again scoring along with Glenn Murray and Sam Baldock with the result ending Schteve McClaren's second spell in charge of the Rams. The Leeds United had been making great noises about going for automatic promotion and they laid down a marker as two goals from Albion old boy Chris Wood gave the Champions of Europe a 2-0 win at Elland Road. Their supporters took great delight in this, 30,000 plus of them singing "You'll fuck it up" at the travelling Brighton fans after the game. Can somebody remind us how they got on in the play offs again? What, they ended up not even qualifying for them? Aww, bless.
Record: P4, W2, D0, L2, F5, A5

Results: 0-3 Nottingham Forest A, 2-0 Rotherham A, 3-0 Derby H, 0-2 Leeds A
League Position at End of Month: 2nd
April 2017
The run in began with the Albion six points clear of Huddersfield with eight games left to play. Glenn Murray scored the only goal in a scrappy 1-0 home win over Blackburn and he was on target again along with Tomer Hemed and Uwe Hunemeier in a 3-1 victory over Blackburn. Murray and a quite brilliant free kick from Sebastien Pocognoli sent a packed Loftus Road away end mad as a 2-1 win at QPR was secured and that was followed up when Good Friday became Bloody Excellent Friday as Anthony Knockaert scored twice to defeat Wolves 2-0. All that meant that victory against Wigan on Easter Monday would secure promotion to the Premier League and it was duly delivered thanks to goals from Murray and Solly March. That sparked wild pitch invasion scenes, players crowd surfing on trains and one of the biggest parties the city has ever seen. Clearly the party went on a little too long as the final two games of April were lost, firstly away at Norwich where David Stockdale managed the quite amazing feat of scoring two own goals in 20 minutes and then 1-0 at home to relegation threatened Bristol City.
Record: P7, W5, D0, L2, F10, A6

Results: 1-0 Blackburn H, 3-1 Birmingham H, 2-0 Wolves A, 2-1 Wigan H, 0-2 Norwich A, 0-1 Bristol City H
League Position at End of Month: 1st
May 2017
Having been seven points clear of second placed Newcastle United with three games remaining, everyone knew it would take a spectacular cock up for the Albion to not lift the Championship title. But everyone who has followed Brighton over the years also knew that if one team was capable of it, it would be us. Even so, you'd still need a pretty warped imagination to come up with the manner in which said spectacular cock up actually happened. Leading 1-0 going into the 88th minute away at Aston Villa through a Glenn Murray penalty, we only needed to see out those final few minutes to be crowned second tier champions for the first time in the clubs history. Well, that went out the window when Jack Grealish shot from 30 yards more out of desperation than anything else and the ball flew straight through David Stockdale's legs. Newcastle meanwhile won at home and the trophy was on its way to St James Park. That was a disappointing end to an otherwise incredible season and it took all of one hour in one of Birmingham's many brilliant pubs to get over the fact that there wouldn't be anything new and shiny in the Amex Stadium trophy cabinet.
Record: P1, W0, D1, L0, F1, A1

Results: 1-1 Aston Villa A
League Position at End of Month: 2nd
We're on our way...
We had our doubts back in August. Missing out on promotion by two goals was heart breaking, the play offs were even more heart breaking. Would the players suffer the sort of hangover we were and not live up to their exploits of the previous year? Well, we should never have worried. Chris Hughton was canny in the transfer market, he bought in exactly what we needed which was namely an improved defence - take a bow, Shane Duffy - and a proven goal scorer at Championship level - take a bow, Glenn Murray. The result was the most memorable season we can ever remember supporting the Albion. From that first home game at the Amex when Forest were dispatched to the 5-0 win over Norwich. From the late, late winner at Birmingham which caused one member of the WAB team to split his trousers in celebration to David Stockdale saving three penalties in a month. And finally, to the Wigan Athletic game. 20 years after losing The Goldstone and nearly our club, the outpouring of emotion as the Albion completed the longest of journeys to the top of English football was something that will live with everyone who was there forever. A month after the season came to an end, it still doesn't feel real. Manchester United. Arsenal. Liverpool. Chelsea. Pep Guardiola. Jose Mourinho. Paul Pogba. Sergio Aguero. They are all coming to the Amex next year. What a season we had, what a club we have. We're on our way.