Ian Hart: Chris, you might want to take the handbrake off

Brighton boss Chris Hughton. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Albion’s Friday night visit to the Vitality Stadium (Dean Court in old money) provided an interesting and exciting performance, yet ultimately disappointing result.

As the Seagulls departed Dorset, there was a touch of the Johnny Nash’s (1970s music reference, Google required) ‘more question than answers’. Everyone must have felt that it was at least a point dropped, maybe even all three. I get that one of Chris Hughton’s qualities is his defensive nous, but how we’ve performed in the Championship over the past couple of seasons is now consigned to the club’s history books.

I’ve no doubt in a Championship scenario, the Albion on taking the lead would have held out for all three points, but to reiterate that was then, this is now.

Bournemouth, while one of the sides we must compete with, are a cut above anything currently in the Championship, and as has been illustrated in the previous games this season, mistakes and errors are more often than not ultimately punished.

A steady first 45 minutes then turned into a bright start to the second half, creating opportunities before Solly March broke the deadlock. At that point, the Albion should have gone looking for that second goal which would have all but secured at least a point?

But that would mean potentially bringing on at least one impact substitute. Bournemouth did and look what happened. After his brief but impressive showing at Watford, I thought the game was tailor-made for at least half an hour from Colombian record signing Jose Izquierdo, but Hughton appeared to dither. Ibe came on for the hosts and changed the game.

Ifs and buts I know, but what could the Colombian have done if he’d come on at the same time as Ibe? Once they’d gone behind, it was if the Albion never got out of second gear even though they were chasing the game. It is a worry because I think come May every point will count, and ultimately didn’t the Albion come off the pitch on Friday night thinking they could and should have done more?

Thankfully the Albion immediately have the chance to ‘get back on the horse’ this Sunday, with the visit of Newcastle in the 4pm televised game.

Last-minute Championship winners in May, never mind the game at the Amex in February, they are clearly due a bit of payback. Despite their supporters delusions of grandeur, they are very much in that bottom eight/ten club mini league, so this is a game the Albion need all three points from.

Prediction time, give Jose, and possibly Murray an extended run out and all three points could be a reality come 6pm.

In short Chris, take off the handbrake!

In the 1994/95 season, the Albion languished in mid-table in the third tier of domestic football but they set a unique Football League record when on February 18, 1995, 39-year-old Nigel Erskine became the oldest mascot in the league’s history, for the home game at the Goldstone against Crewe.

Sponsored by the Gulls Eye fanzine, in the days when we had a ‘relationship’ with the board, Nigel realised his boyhood dream of running out with the team. He slotted a shot into the goal in front of the North Stand and then launched into a ‘Klinsmann dive’, losing his shorts in the process. No one complained because Nigel was and still is an Albion legend. And today, Thursday, September 21, he turns 60. While he’s not enjoyed the best of health in recent years, his love for the Albion has never waned. Happy birthday ‘Bushfire’.

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