As most of you know, I’m a lifelong Brighton and Hove Albion fan which means I’ve seen the club almost fall out the football league, lose their home, play at ‘home’ some ninety miles away in Gillingham and play at a makeshift temporary stadium for 11 years. 

Fast forward to 2018 and wow, times have changed. On the weekend, when so many were either fuming at the VAR and Melbourne Victory supporters were so much more kindly disposed towards it, I was fortunate enough to be a fan in Brighton’s beautiful new home, the world class American Express stadium. 

Fittingly, Brighton and Hove Albion’s last home game of the 2017-18 season would be my first Brighton Premier League game, and the opponents just one of the biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United … so no big deal! 

Going into the game, the Seagulls were five points above the relegation zone having taken just three points from the last 18 on offer. However, just a point in their final home game of the campaign would be enough to secure survival.

As for the Reds recent form, Manchester United had won six of their last seven games in all competitions and picked up 21 points from the previous eight league games. They also recently secured their spot in the FA Cup Final and were sitting second in the table, so the odds were firmly stacked against the Seagulls. 

The match

Pascal Gross' second-half header secured Brighton's Premier League status with a 1-0 win over Premier League giants, Manchester United and, while I hesitate to say it with the VAR controversy in the A-League grand final on the same weekend, thank heavens for goal line technology! 

Pascal Gross, Brighton’s Player of the Year, settled the contest in the 57th minute with a header which Marcos Rojo seemed to have dazzlingly cleared, only for goal-line technology to notify referee Craig Pawson that a goal should be granted.

Heroics from Brighton  

Brighton stood tall and played with immense fight, fluidity and determination during the first 45 minutes, creating a few excellent chances which forced the United's own player of the season, David De Gea, into action as he made several fine saves to frustrate Brighton. 

Brighton’s attacking approach was assured and incisive throughout the 90 minutes, led by the impressive attacking pace and intent of both Izquierdo and Antony Knockaert.

According to manager, Chris Hughton: “He's [Gross] not been injured all season, which has been important. You want a lot of players like that and we have been fortunate in that respect, particularly in that area of the pitch. Normally when you win this type of game, it’s because you’ve played at a good level and maybe your keeper has had to make some good saves or they’ve missed some chances. But United didn’t have a clear-cut chance in the 90 minutes. We were good value for the win.”

The atmosphere 

The roar from the home fans when the referee awarded the goal was absolutely deafening adding to the already spine tingling atmosphere. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could hear the cheers from afar as the sound boomed throughout what has to be one of the most stunning stadiums in the Premier League. Brighton fans everywhere expressed their pure unadulterated joy as the fairy-tale winning result  came that bit closer.  

Special mention for Brighton’s outstanding keeper, Maty Ryan 

I’ve followed Maty closely since his arrival at Brighton and I don’t think I have enough superlatives to describe his performance on the weekend. Colossal, commanding and composed would be a start. Arguably, he wasn’t tested that much throughout, unlike De Gea who showed the travelling fans his worth as he made a few world-class saves. 

Many fans doubted Ryan at the start of the season, but overall his performances have been first class and I think he will get on the plane to Russia full of confidence. He has won over the hearts of Brighton fans; everyone around me was full of praise and admiration for our number one. He is so often the last player out on the field after the match, signing autographs, posing for photos and giving signed memorabilia to enthusiastic young fans. Let’s hope he stays at the club for a while yet. 

Thanks for the memories 

Waking up on Sunday morning felt like a dream. Did I really witness Brighton and Hove Albion defeat Premier League giants, Manchester United? 

Yes, I did. No fairy-tale. It’s a reality. 

I’m so grateful I can say, ‘I was there’. The memories will stay with me forever. 

Thank you, Brighton. I can’t wait to see what season two in the Premier League looks like. #Together in the Premier League.

Categories: Opinion | News | Premier League

brighton and hove albion, mathew ryan, premier league

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