Date: 15th February 2010 at 11:26am
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Vital Norwich regulars Drayton Green, Yellow Belly and fanforlife share their experience of the Withdean Stadium…

Drayton Green

6am start and caught 8.00 train to Liverpool Street.

No Circle Line trains so decided to get tube to Bank and walk to a Wetherspoon’s for breakfast and a beer. London bridge train from Bank was just sitting there so we could not resist it so caught it and had a beer on train to Brighton instead. Canned beer not so good!!

Arrived Brighton at 11.25 having passed Withdean decked out for a children’s party with balloons around the stands. Idea was to at least have beer and chips by the seafront but could not be bothered to move out of the Evening star so stayed there for over two hours. YB and Northern joined us.

Train to Preston Park was free and got us to a packed-out pub near the station just in time for a couple more pints and to see Portsmouth’s last three goals on the telly.

In total contrast to last saturday we had to walk down a woodland path with home supporters instead of a barbed wire security route. On woodland theme…my hamster cage is bigger than this…etc.

I knew the stadium was going to be basic so was not surprised but still took a bit of getting used to. Away support was in my opinion totally quiet. On a few occasions we could hear the right-hand side a bit but most of game played out in what appeared total silence.

Polite steward asked left-hand side to sit down and everybody obeyed but right hand side could stand. No views to block but seemed their policy – could not see some other teams fans being so polite – apparently he pushed some fans down into seat. With balloons and bossy stewards it was beginning to be like a children’s party.

As for the game…I am worried. It was a very poor performance in line with no shows of previous managers.

Brighton goal sort over crept inside the post and even though we were behind it, I could have done with a 20p seaside binocular facility for a decent view.

Reasonably decent first 20 minutes with a few chances but Brighton then bossed the game and if it was not for a brilliant block on line by Nelson then it could and maybe should have been 2-0 at half time.

Second half seemed to kick off very late after a small jog to toilet and food facilities equivalent of athletics theme as it was a good 1500 metres there and back. Saw FFL on way back to seats.

We put on a bit of pressure at start of half but petered out after 10 minutes and Brighton started getting on top again and there appeared to be another block off line, this time by Lappin.

Substitutions began with ineffective Smith and Nelson being replaced by McNamee and Oli Johnson which made little difference as Norwich went in search of an unlikely draw!

Holt then scored with header into roof of net which was difficult to see if in or not. YB tried to start some singing and I joined in resulting in a bit of noise!

Darrell Russell free kick and Ginger Pele nodded in which was easy to see this time and an unlikely win was on the cards.

No watch or clock to go by so was surprised how close it was until end of the game. Four minutes added time passed by quickly and this unlikely win was achieved. We sang a bit and it appeared the crowd were jusy waiting for someone to start it off.

John Salako finally responded to our cries for a wave as he stood on the portacabin terrace reporting for SSN and players walked off right in my corner with appreciation for a bit of effort from our supporters.

Back down the wildlife woodland track. Train to London Bridge, supplies of food and beer at Liverpool Street and back to Norwich by 9.30 and home by 10.00 with thanks to Mrs DG.

The other results all went for us again and after these two rather poor away displays we appear to be in an even better position than before we started them. Whilst I accept that teams may raise their games and are battling desperately for points and we are still winning whilst others at top end are not I cannot accept the poor displays and want to see a really good performance next saturday.

As for the team:

Forster: 5. One good save.
Martin and Rose: 5. Average performances and did not stop crosses.
Donk and Nelson: 6. For goal and block.
Lappin and Smith: 5. Time for a rest.
Russell: 6. Good dogged performance.
Hoolahan: 5. Not as good as a month ago.
Martin: 5. A couple of chances.
Holt: 5. Looked rusty but scored.
Johnson: Gave ball away in dangerous areas.
McNamee: Did not really get going.
Spillane: A few minutes but good to see him back.

Did not feel like a win on way home and due to ground and reduced away support was not as great as a late comeback win should be. Happy to get the 3 points!!


Yellow Belly

I left Yorkshire at 17.00 on Friday for a nightmare run down the M1, M42, M5 and M50 to the borders. After a few pints of Young’s Winter Warmer it was time for the sack for an 8am onward journey to Brighton Saturday morning!

We hit town at 12.30 and found DG well into a few beers at the ‘Evening Star’. Train up to Preston Park and another pint before the woodland walk to the Withdean, surely the most peculiar ground in the Football League!

I am sorry but this was a dreadful perfromance by Norwich. Less than effective defending, a fairly inept midfield, Hoops surrounded by Brighton players and Chris Martin almost non existent, and it was no suprise when Brighton took the lead.

I don’t think we worked their keeper much for 80 minutes, and in reality Brighton should have been 3-0 up except for last ditch clearing off the line by Nelson and Lappin. It seemed to me we were unable to string two passes together to make headway, or produce a defence splitting ball.

We didn’t put the hard work that we should have ALL game until the last 10 minutes when of course we scored twice, and after that held on very easily, once we had knocked the wind out of Brighton’s sails. We hardly looked like top of the league playing a team in the relegation places.

Now this sort of performance can turn up – that’s football, but Northern reported to me that we were the same at Walsall where the scoring followed an almost identical pattern.

The fans were mostly silent except the last 10 minutes, and I had to get the chanting going. Like DG, I think the pressure is starting to show amongst us all, but team and fans alike have got to go for it!

But having said that we have won again when playing poorly and that is good. And of course I had a great weekend – we went truely mental when Donk headed that goal in.

After the game we caught the train back to cental Brighton and stopped at a decent bar on out way out (near Withdean) for food and an excellent pint of Old Speckled Hen! We were back at Northern’s at 11.20 and I travelled back up the M5, M42 and M1 to Yorkshire on Sunday.

I will do it all again if I can do a tiny bit to help us get promoted, and luckily for me our next two aways are up here so minimal travelling!!


fanforlife

Well my weekend in Brighton was superb; good food good booze good company…got back home last night (Sunday 10pm).

Oh I forgot about the footie…believe me for at least 70 minutes we were dire. So very bad it had to be seen to be believed, we could and should have been 3-0 down!!!

I expected Holt to be on fire. His fire wasnt even warm, When I was waiting to see YB & NY at half-time at back of stand I stood watching the faces of our fans. All looked so hacked off and miserable, and then I saw the most hacked off face ever, DG. He looked like one suicidal supporter – my own mirror image no doubt – still, we talked and smiled…a bit!

Our passing was just so bad. Passes going astray everywhere…I had already said to my son there is no way in the world we can get anything from this game. And by nothing I meant nothing so we would leave 10 minutes early and head back to our hotel. Of course glad we didnt, but honestly, to win – I am still in shock that it happened – but of course the win is brilliant no matter how achieved…I think! And our weekend cost me £600.

My man of the match? Nelson. If it wasnt for his goal line clearance in the first half we wwould have finished 2-0 down.

Well done to rainbow for sitting with the Brighton supporters all match. – no wonder he got presented with the match ball!!! True.

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