Brighton & Hove Albion 2016/2017: How promotion was won
PUBLISHED: 11:40 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:41 18 April 2017
17 April 2017 is a day Brighton & Hove Albion fans will never forget. The club’s long-standing ambition finally came to fruition as the Seagulls were confirmed as a Premier League club. Here’s how it happened…
The summer window was a productive one for Chris Hughton and his recruitment team as he brought in Steve Sidwell, this time on a permanent deal following a loan spell last season, as well as fellow midfielder Oliver Norwood. Left back Sébastien Pocognoli also joined the side but the headlines were made with former Brighton striker Glenn Murray rejoining the Seagulls and Irish international defender Shane Duffy signing for a club record fee.
Back with a bang
After a 0-0 draw at Derby to start the season the Albion headed to the Amex for games against Nottingham Forest and Rotherham. Both resulted in 3-0 victories with that man Murray bagging himself 3 goals.
August ended and September began with Chris Hughton’s men tasting defeat in back-to-back games against Newcastle and Brentford. Fears of a permanent dip in results soon disappeared as three successive wins followed; Tomer Hemed securing one of those with a late winner at newly promoted Burton Albion.
Sandwiched between draws against Ipswich and Preston was a trip to Yorkshire. Albion had always found it difficult to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough but Sam Baldock and Anthony Knockaert seemed keen to change that as the Seagulls left with all three points.
We want five
Solid 1-0 victories over Wolves and Wigan helped cement Brighton’s position in the top two, but it was a smashing 5-0 win over Norwich with Glenn Murray easing to a hat-trick that stole the October headlines.
A trip to Bristol City on Guy Fawkes Night proved a pretty special one with Steve Sidwell scoring a simply spectacular goal from distance, dedicating it to the absent Anthony Knockaert who was away from the squad after the passing of his father.
Baldock with a thunderbolt
Between a home draw against Aston Villa and a stalemate at Cardiff was the visit of Fulham to the Amex. The West London side took the lead before a moment of magic from Sam Baldock helped turn the tide towards another three points.
Last minute drama
Two wins on the bounce against Leeds and Blackburn preceded a tricky trip to Birmingham to face Gianfranco Zola’s side. The Albion were one nil down heading into the final ten minutes before Anthony Knockaert volleyed into the back of the net. Then, as time was almost up, Glenn Murray did what Glenn Murray does…
Robbery at the Cottage
Following a 3-0 win against QPR on 27 December, the Seagulls headed to Craven Cottage to kick off 2017, and there was no shortage of drama. Lucas Piazon gave Fulham the lead in the second half and - despite being well below their best - Brighton managed to get back into the game with a Tomer Hemed penalty. Then, just 90 seconds later, Lewis Dunk sent the packed away end into raptures.
Back to the summit
Albion suffered their first defeat since September as they were beaten at Preston in mid January but responded well with two home wins on the bounce. The second, against Cardiff sent Brighton back to the top of the Championship, but it was the first that got the pulses racing. A Knockaert double, Lewis Dunk own goal, Glenn Murray red card, David Stockdale penalty save and two dismissals for Sheffield Wednesday were all the menu. But most importantly, so were three points for Brighton.
Deadline day dealings
The Seagulls remained pretty quiet throughout the January transfer window… until the last couple of days! Chris Hughton added young Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom to his attacking options, as well as making Glenn Murray’s loan from Bournemouth a permanent move.
An awful 3-1 loss away at Huddersfield preceded a trip to West London to face Brentford. The Seagulls looked to be nearing defeat again, heading for the changing rooms at half time 2 goals down. A Solly March strike and Shane Duffy header brought them back level in the second half before a sickening blow in the 94th minute as Brentford went ahead. It was all over. Until Tomer Hemed saw an Anthony Knockaert cross coming his way…
Back on track
Albion got over their slight blip in form with a 4-1 victory over Burton Albion but were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Ipswich 3 days later. They added three more points the following weekend away at Barnsley; Sam Baldock scored another stunner, this time featuring a Mario Kart inspired celebration…
The counter-attack at its best
Promotion chasing Reading were the visitors to the Amex on 25 February and most were expecting a tight encounter. Brighton defended as well as they needed to, but it was the electrifying pace of Sam Baldock, Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert that blew the Royals out of the water.
Benítez comes to town
Rafael Benítez brought his Newcastle side down to the Amex in what was a huge clash at the top of the table. A win would see Albion go 4 points clear. However, it was the side from the north-east that took all three points in a game ending 1-2. Mohamed Diamé scored the equaliser in bizarre fashion.
After their loss to Newcastle, Albion headed to Nottinghamshire in search of all three points. However, a lively Forest side put three goals past the Seagulls resulting in a second loss in as many games. Brighton’s record signing Shane Duffy also picked up an injury in the game ruling him out for 6 weeks. Some fans started to wonder whether last season’s luck was returning…
Brighton got themselves back on track with two wins in two, first at rock-bottom Rotherham, followed by a smashing 3-0 victory over Derby County 3 days later. With Newcastle slipping up against Fulham, Albion were back level on points with the Geordies - second only on goal difference.
Club captain Bruno, a man sure to go down as an Albion legend, signed a new one-year deal in March, just a couple of weeks after Anthony Knockaert put pen to paper on a new contract.
A slight setback
Albion headed into the March international break on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Leeds. It wasn’t the end of the world though; with Newcastle drawing with Birmingham and third place Huddersfield losing 4-0 at Bristol City.
We’re on our way
Two home games followed the international break; the first, a 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers was a big one with 3rd place Huddersfield losing to Burton. Next up was the midweek visit of Birmingham. Glenn Murray opened the scoring inside 2 minutes with Tomer Hemed and Uwe Hünemeier adding to the tally in the second half. The ‘We’re on our way’ chant adopted by Albion fans was fast becoming a reality…
What a weekend
Brighton kicked off the Championship weekend on Friday night with a 2-1 win away at QPR, featuring a stunning free kick from Sébastien Pocognoli. Fans then sat back and enjoyed the results that followed on the Saturday with Huddersfield and Newcastle both losing. The Seagulls, with 5 games to play, sat 12 points clear of third-place Huddersfield. It was this moment fans realised that this WOULD be the year.
Away from the pitch, the EFL Awards took place in London with Steve Sidwell taking home Goal of the Year and Anthony Knockaert winning Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season. Knockaert also found himself in the EFL Team of the Season alongside teammate David Stockdale.
Albion headed to Wolverhampton on Easter Friday knowing a win would take them just 3 points away from being a Premier League club for the first time. That man Knockaert stepped up to help Brighton to a 2-0 win…
An Easter to remember
Brighton hosted Wigan Athletic in front of a packed out Amex crowd on Easter Monday knowing that 3 points would virtually confirm their promotion to the top tier for the first time in 34 years. Glenn Murray put the Seagulls ahead, and fittingly local lad Solly March scored the second, ultimately sending Brighton up.
The scenes that followed were the stuff of dreams as fans flooded the pitch
The players, along with Chairman Tony Bloom took over the press box to celebrate
Once Huddersfield’s game at Derby finished later that evening, Brighton & Hove Albion were officially promoted to the Premier League
Players and fans headed into the city together to celebrate what will go down as an historic day…
Brighton & Hove Albion 2016/2017: Promotion to the Premier League!
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