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Iconic meetings: Brighton vs Southampton

With Brighton set to take on Southampton on Sunday, The Woodwork takes a look at some iconic meetings between the two south coast sides:

November 2009: Southampton 1-3 Brighton

Sunday’s opponents Southampton currently occupy the undesirable title of the Premier League’s basement club, providing supporters of the Seagulls with significant hope that their side can be victorious over the saints for the second time this season. However, there was a period in which victory over Southampton appeared impossible, notably in the not-too distant days of Brighton’s Football League purgatory. At the end of October 2009, Brighton were languishing in the bottom half of League One, having picked up just one win in eight league encounters. In their final game of the month, the Albion drew 3-3 at home to Hartlepool United in front of an underwhelming crowd of just 2,545, a result which would see the Seagulls end the month of October without victory, and subsequently without a manager. Despite the disappointing start to the season, there was great promise in the appointment of Gus Poyet, a young Uruguayan manager looking to make his managerial debut, having recently worked as an assistant at Tottenham. However, Poyet’s first match as Brighton manager appeared to be a significant test; The Albion were set to take on Southampton away from home, a side which Brighton had failed to beat in their previous seven meetings. Given Brighton’s descent towards the relegation zone under previous manager Russell Slade, it was crucial that Poyet began his post as Brighton manager with a victory, particularly against a side who were considered to be relegation rivals at the time. Thankfully for Poyet, his side would go on to secure such a result. Goals from Glenn Murray and Andrew Crofts would secure a first win for the Seagulls in two months, in turn ending a 28-year yearning for victory over the Saints. The victory proved to be one of many for the Albion under Poyet, beginning a four-year tenure which transformed the fate of the football club.

January 2012: Brighton 3-0 Southampton

Within two years of being appointed as Brighton manager, Gus Poyet had guided the Seagulls back to the second tier of English Football, having gained promotion from League One in his first full season on the south coast. However, Poyet’s tenure would soon turn tedious. With 2011 drawing to a close, Brighton would find themselves languishing in the bottom half of the table like they had upon Poyet’s arrival, with poor form once again proving to be a significant problem for the Seagulls. In their final game of the year, the south coast side suffered a two-goal defeat away to the Championship’s bottom club Coventry, a result which proved to be Brighton’s fourth consecutive match without a goal. Therefore, with the new year looming large, supporters of the Seagulls could be forgiven for thinking that their side faced a significant challenge in attempting to secure safety. Such fears would have been exacerbated by the visit of table topping Southampton, a side which had thrashed Poyet’s Brighton just two months prior. However, Poyet’s side refused to be phased by any pre match adversity, instead exchanging the three-goal thrashing they received away at Southampton in November 2011 with a thrashing of their own. Goals courtesy of Jake Forster- Caskey and Matt Sparrow on the afternoon ensured that the Albion began 2012 with a win, a result which inspired the Seagulls to commence an unbeaten run spanning 12 games.

March 2021: Southampton 1-2 Brighton

Almost a decade after making their mark on the second tier under the leadership of Gus Poyet, Brighton were beginning to establish themselves in the Premiership under Graham Potter. Unfortunately for the Albion, the journey to becoming an established side would prove to be somewhat of a struggle. Despite an impressive start to the new year, in which Brighton defeated both Liverpool and Tottenham within the space of a week, the Seagulls would find themselves faltering by the month of March as they slipped to three consecutive defeats, ending an impressive unbeaten run spanning six matches. In similar fashion to the encounter with Southampton in 2012, the Seagulls went into their meeting with the Saints on a losing streak, with victory appearing essential in their battle with the ever- present threat of relegation. However, Graham Potter’s side were presented with a challenge unbeknown to that of any Brighton side of the past. The COVID-19 Pandemic remained in full swing in the early months of 2021, meaning that, unlike the encounters between the two sides under previous managers, Graham Potter’s side would have to travel to St Mary’s without its supporters. The challenge of no supporters appeared to be a significant one for the Albion, as it had done for the majority of the campaign, but it was not a challenge which prevented the Seagulls from securing a crucial victory over their south coast rivals. Goals from Lewis Dunk and Leandro Trossard in an empty St Mary’s ensured that the Albion broke their unwanted losing streak, with the Seagulls scoring twice in a match for the first time in two months. The result would inspire Potter’s side to finish a peculiar Premier League campaign with 41 points, Brighton’s joint- highest points tally for a Premiership season at the time.

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