He's had plenty of grooming as they say. Swindon, Leeds, Spurs, all as assistant manager and then came his chance with the sacking last November of Brighton's Russell Slade. He was given the job and steered Brighton away from relegation and has obviously impressed a few important people down there as recently he's been rewarded a 4 year extension to his contract, an almost unheard period in his line of work.
Six points in front of us and top of the table with 22 points and unbeaten in their last 8 with the 4th best away record in Tier Three from 2 wins (Swindon 2-1, Plymouth 2-0), 2 draws (Carlisle 0-0, Tranmere 1-1) and only a single defeat at Sheffield Wednesday 0-1.
Number 14 is Iñigo Calderón who will be disappointed that Miguel Llera is not playing because the two of them played together at Alicante in 2004/05 before Miguel moved to Gimnastic Tarragona.
There's only two this week, but what a couple of ex's. First there's a respected member of the Wembley Play-off team who played with his heart on his sleeve and always sweated blood for the team. His name - Stevie Brown. He played 228 games plus 55 sub appearances for the Addicks over eleven years from 1991 to 2002 scoring 11 times and Carles Puyol, capt of Barca and Spain always reminds me of Steve's head first style, except that Brownie hasn't got a World Cup winners medal. Steve's now returned to his roots and is Youth team manager at the Seagulls.
The other ex is, of course, Kish. Immoralized by the blogging world we can only wonder what his reception will be like. Now 36 and in his first season at Brighton, he's started 8 games this season for the Seagulls. He joined us in 2000 and stayed for 7 years before playing his last game in Jan 2007 and moving to Leeds.
Top scorers are twenty year old number nine Ashley Barnes and number 17 Glenn Murray who have now been joined on 3 goals each by Kazenga LuaLua, on loan from Newcastle. And, no he's not the famous one, thats his brother Lomana.
Brighton have a good record at the Valley with 9 wins in the twenty-four games played at the Valley, all in the League, with 13 Addicks victories and 2 draws. And their last victory was on a wet night last February with Llera's mate right-back Calderon scoring the first on 36 minutes. Bennett added a second with 78 minutes gone and we only had a Sodje goal in the dying seconds to show for our efforts.
In fact, you could argue that they have one of the best records at the Valley of anyone for of the last 10 games at the Valley over the last 37 years they have won 5, the Addicks only 4 with a single draw.
What Are They Saying?
Whats Their Secret?
Especially clinical against the bottom half of the table with 4 wins and a draw and as we said before the 3rd best defence in Tier Three. But there does appear to be a lack of staying power present in the Seagulls. Because in complete contrast to the Addicks who have scored 6 out of our 14 in the last 5 minutes, the Seagulls do completely the opposite and have conceded exactly half of their 8 goals conceded in the last 5 minutes. And its a problem that sadly is getting worse for the Seagulls. Goals conceded last week at home to Bournemouth (in the 92th minute) and the week previous at Tranmere in the 87th have cost them 4 points in the last couple of weeks. Previous to that they lost another two points at home to Rochdale with a 92th minute penalty and the only time it didn't matter was a late consolation earned by Walsall in a 2-1 win.
For Addicks strikers a brace of goals doesn't come along very often so we must heap praise on those that achieve it. Apart from Pav Abbott's couple in the League Cup against Shrewsbury in August, the last time anyone scored twice was Deon Burton's two, both penalties, in the 4-4 draw with the spanners at the Valley in December last year. Prior to that Lloyd Sam got two against Tranmere in our 4-0 win there in August last year but the last time a striker scored more than one in the League and not from penalties was Deon again on May 3rd against Norwich in our Tier Two 4-2 swansong, 57 league games ago. So it may have been a long time coming but at last we can say well done Paul.
Elliott; Francis, Dailly, Doherty, Jackson; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Reid; Abbott, Benson
Brighton's only defeat so far in the League was away at Hillsborough in front of 18,000 fans and with gates at the Withdean averaging just 6,800 maybe they are just not used to a little bit of noise. There were 10,000 at Swindon when they won 2-1 but perhaps our only chance will be to get behind the team, make a lot of noise and encourage them to attack until the very end especially in the last 5 minutes when Brighton are prone to concede.
All in all, Parky, its time for a Leeds-type performance to kickstart the season and bring these Seagulls down to earth. But as mentioned before, optimism is a bit lacking in this neck of the woods and for me its a 1-1 draw unless Benson can pop up with another late, late winner.