Harty on ... the Albion’s win against Derby and Pietersen

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I’D IMAGINE a number of Albion fans left the Amex wondering just how high-flying Derby County were beaten 2-0 on Tuesday night.

It was quite simple, really. The Albion rode their luck for long periods of the game, the Rams didn’t take a number of chances, coupled with Brighton keeper David Stockdale possibly having one of his best games in an Albion shirt. But the most telling factor was, when it mattered, the Albion took their chances.

After Saturday’s blip at Bolton Wanderers, Tuesday’s return to winning ways leaves the Albion nine points clear of Millwall, who occupy the first position in the relegation zone. The Albion are up to 19th, just ten points short of the perceived magic number of 50 which, with who is scrapping it out at the bottom of the Championship, should be more than enough this season.

They’re not totally out of the relegation woods yet and key games at Rotherham and Millwall will be a factor. But with four of the remaining five visitors to the Amex, Wolves, Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford still with Premier League ambitions, it’s certainly not going to be a cakewalk.

Off-the-field news of season ticket prices being frozen for next season really didn’t come as any big surprise, given how this season has panned out.

With possibly one of the worst managerial appointments in the club’s history at the start of the campaign and Championship survival not yet assured, any proposed price hike would have been most unwelcome.

It’s all very commendable that the chief executive has brought the overall debt at the club down, and been very well paid for it in the process, but the paying supporters, and I reiterate not customers, need a competitive, ambitious team on the pitch, otherwise they will stop coming, in numbers.

The appointment of Chris Hughton, albeit six months late, is a perceived statement of intent. I’ve previously stated I don’t think the Albion will go down, but this summer and next season is vital for the long-term future of the club.

Anything less than a sustained push for either automatic promotion or at the very least the play-offs could spell disaster for the club, with all the corporate boxes and 1901 membership up for renewal at the end of next season.

While not taking anything away from the rank and file season ticket holders, those particular two groups represent a big part of the Albion’s matchday income. Therefore, the level of support and specifically transfer funding from the board this summer will probably have to be the most significant in the club’s recent history.

n Regardless of being arrogant, obnoxious and disruptive, there was always a danger that bombing Kevin Pieterson out from international cricket so publicly would ultimately come back to haunt the ECB.

And, now with the incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves supposedly leaving the door open for the dislikeable South African, there really are two burning questions here.

As bad as things are, will getting KP back into the England cricketing fold possibly, overall, make things worse? And, as a nation, are we prepared to put up with sustained gloating and cries of ‘I told you so’ from Piers Morgan?