Monday, 8 July 2013

Whitehawk 0 v 3 Brighton & Hove Albion

Saturday 6th July 2013
Pre-season friendly
Enclosed Ground, Whitehawk
Admission: £10.00
Team Poster: £1.00
Attendance: 1300
Match Rating: 3

For my first game of the 2013/14 season, options were thin on the ground on today, with most clubs starting their friendly matches next week. Although it would mean a revisit for me, I chose to head to the eastern fringes of Brighton for an interesting looking game between Brighton's two senior clubs.

The unimaginatively named Enclosed Ground is about a twenty minute bus ride east from Brighton city centre, and although Whitehawk itself is a rather ugly and crime ridden area, the ground has a very scenic and peaceful location, set in East Brighton Park with steep hills immediately surrounding the ground. To one side, Brighton racecourse's grandstand is clearly visible on top of the hills contains housing, whilst on the other, which is closer to the ground, a good vantage point of the pitch can be had on the grass, which several people opted for this afternoon to watch the game. Inside the ground, a fairly small all seater stand straddles the half way line, set back quite some way from the pitch, with the clubhouse and tea bar in one corner. These were present on my last visit here in 2007 when Whitehawk were members of the Sussex County League, but now there are additional temporary looking all-seater stands behind both goals - one is uncovered, the other has the middle area covered. Instead of a programme, a double sided A3 glossy sheet containing possible team line-ups was on sale today - better than nothing for an early pre-season friendly.

Today's game would see Whitehawk, newly promoted into the Conference South after winning the Ryman League Premier Division last season at a canter in their first season since promotion from Division One South, against Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion. After a turbulent summer which saw Gus Poyet leave the club along with his right hand men, today would be the first game of newly installed Head Coach Oscar Garcia's reign. As is usual for this kind of game, there were plenty of first team members who were given a run out by the professional club, as well as members of the Development squad and a triallist.

On a gloriously warm and sunny afternoon, the game was exactly what would be expected from a friendly around a month before the start of the league season. Fairly slow paced, with the professional team stroking the ball around and enjoying by far the majority of possession, with it looking only a matter of time before they took the lead. Whitehawk held their own and did manage to carve out a couple of opportunities when they could have taken the lead. They remained on parity until just a minute before half time, when Solly March curled a lovely shot from the right outer corner of the penalty area into the net. There was still time for Brighton to double their lead, when the ball was crossed from the byline high over the six yard box by triallist. Nicky Shorey, sailed over the keeper and was headed into the net by Ashley Barnes from a couple of yards.

Half time brought about almost a complete team change from Brighton, with second half team looking a stronger team than the one that played in the first half. Indeed, they were camped in the attacking third for long periods, and quite how they only added one further goal to their tally is anyone's guess. It was scored on 62 minutes by Andrea Orlandi, who chested down a pass from Will Buckley, made room for himself and then placed a shot into the goal with the outside of his boot. Whitehawk had the odd sight of goal in the second half, and although they spent most of the match chasing shadows, they gave a good account of themselves whilst Brighton will feel this was a good gentle work out to get their pre season up and running. Although this wasn't a game to set the pulse racing, it had enough to be entertaining, with a nice light hearted feel to proceedings with some skilful football to watch in glorious sunny conditions.

Match highlights at

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