• Leeds United 0 - 2 Albion

    The omens weren't good. Played: 2, Lost: 2, Scored: 0/nil/zero/zip. The season was only 10 days old but the vibe amongst Albion fans was as negative as it had been for many a year. A visit to Leeds was not what the doctor would order for this sick patient. The hosts have higher aspirations for this season than both clubs who had already defeated the Albion in the opening 2 games of this Championship campaign, and having seen off big-spending Middlesbrough only days before they were confident of a second home win inside four days.

    As the team slowly headed North from St Andrews, via St George's Park, Danny Holla was an unexpected recruit given Albion's existing wealth of options in midfield. The Dutchman was an immediate addition to Albion's squad for the Elland Road fixture with the expectation of a bench spot due to perceived lack of match fitness.

    How wrong those perceptions proved to be as Sami Hyypia sought to make amends for the lacklustre loss to Birmingham by changing things around a bit. A lot actually. Teixeira was rewarded for his Birmingham cameo with his first start and Danny Holla was thrown straight into the deep end. Kemy Agustien completed the midfield changes, being given another opportunity, somewhat generously many would say. In defence Aaron Hughes was rested, giving Lewis Dunk his first league start of the season.

    On paper this gave Albion a 4-5-1 formation with Craig Mackail-Smith unaccompanied up front. As it transpired, Holla and JFC sat in front of the Albion defence with Bruno, Agustien and Teixeira pushing forward to support CMS.

    The other big surprise, an hour before kick-off, was the simultaneous announcements that trialist Paddy McCourt had signed a one-year deal with the club and, oh yeah, he was on the bench too.

    The first 45 minutes passed in a flash. The Albion were dominant to a degree that no one could have expected. Possession was retained, time and time again, through precision passing. Forwards, sideways and backwards - there was always a man available to take the ball, control it and quickly move it on. This was not the passing of the Poyet or Garcia eras however - yes the ball was moved incisively but there was a clear aim to move forward wherever possible.

    The game had barely begun when Albion's passing was rewarded. Bruno released Teixeira on the right with a slide rule pass and the Liverpool loanee converted well from a tight angle. It was the best possible start given the circumstances and served to calm any nerves. Leeds owner Massimo Celino famously hates the number 17, and the fine finish from the man bearing the shirt of that number will not have helped.

    Half-chances came the Albion's way, possibly the best to the impressive Adam Chicksen, but the vital second goal didn't arrive. As the Albion sought to play out two minutes of first-half injury time disaster nearly struck, but the Seagulls survived, just. David Stockdale may be a proficient ball player but sometimes it pays to just launch it upfield.

    Billy Sharp has often been a thorn in Albion's side, but the marksman did not have a sniff of a chance in the first half where the Albion had 70% of possession and the lion's share of efforts on goal.

    The tempo of the match was sure to change in the second half, and so it proved. Leeds took greater control of the game but, for their increased dominance, David Stockdale remained largely a spectator in the Brighton goal.


    Danny Holla made way after a very impressive debut. That he tired was a surprise to no one. That he could contribute so much so early in his Albion career must be seen as a real positive. Kemy Agustien was also taken off, having received a knock in what was probably his best Albion performance to date. Their replacements Rohan Ince and Kazenga LuaLua gave the Albion fresh impetus as opportunities on the break were sought.

    Mackail-Smith set Ince through, galloping like a gazelle, and he just had Leeds 'keeper to beat. He scuffed his shot but it looked good enough to clinch the game but, agonisingly, the ball struck the far post and bounced clear. Leeds have a record of late goals to disappoint the Albion and some were fearing another such episode. It wasn't to be, however. Joao Teixeira was scythed down as he shaped to shoot right on the edge of the Leeds penalty area. The resultant free-kick looked tailor-made for Kazenga LuaLua and he didn't disappoint. His shot was low and hard and was in the back of the net before anyone could move. Back-flips all round. 2-0 and game over.

    The Albion easily saw out five minutes of added time to record their first victory of the season.

    Sami Hyypia stood on the edge of his technical area for most of the 90 minutes and even clapped the Albion fans who had been vocal all night long. Did the season start today? It certainly felt like it.

    It's difficult to describe just how dominant the Albion were tonight. Performances of this manner do not come along very often and should be savoured. With two home games to follow, and new players also due to arrive soon, the Albion have a great chance to build upon this and put behind them the disappointments of the opening two league games of the season.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. hans kraay fan club's Avatar
      hans kraay fan club -
      Nice.
    1. Brighton Boy's Avatar
      Brighton Boy -
      Good night.
    1. LamieRobertson's Avatar
      LamieRobertson -
      Even CMS seemed to be back to his old self....chasing everything
    1. Papa Lazarou's Avatar
      Papa Lazarou -
      Good report. Who else has their football mojo back?
    1. Guy Crouchback's Avatar
      Guy Crouchback -
      Great report, and a very optimistic conclusion...

      It's difficult to describe just how dominant the Albion were tonight. Performances of this manner do not come along very often and should be savoured. With two home games to follow, and new players also due to arrive soon, the Albion have a great chance to build upon this and put behind them the disappointments of the opening two league games of the season.
    1. Dick Knights Mumm's Avatar
      Dick Knights Mumm -
      This was not the passing of the Poyet or Garcia eras however - yes the ball was moved incisively but there was a clear aim to move forward wherever possible.
      I loved the passing of the Poyet era, but that assessment looks really promising. Well done Sami.
    1. blue'n'white's Avatar
      blue'n'white -
      Can't wait for Saturday now . . .
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