A look back at two encounters between Albion and Cardiff in the 1972/73 season.
Having stormed to promotion the previous campaign, Brighton were quite unequipped to deal with the challenges of the Second Division. Despite the arrival of the experienced Barry Bridges, Pat Saward’s side finished bottom of the table, losing exactly half of their 42 league games.
Nevertheless, the Albion managed to hold firm against the Bluebirds, drawing 1-1 at Ninian Park in September thanks to Eddie Spearritt’s goal, before a creditable 2-2 draw back at the Goldstone six weeks later, with Ken Beamish and Bert Murray on the scoresheet. Cardiff, helped by Andy McCulloch’s 14 league goals, survived relegation by goal difference over Huddersfield.
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1972/73 season’s highs and lows
August: Willie Irvine continues where he left off the previous season, scoring four times for the Albion in just three league games. However, a 6-2 defeat at Blackpool rang alarm bells.
September: Barry Bridges makes his debut at Villa Park and Brighton come away with a valuable point. The first league win of the season is also enjoyed, a 2-1 win over Fulham at the Goldstone Ground. Playing for Fulham that day were Alan Mullery and Barry Lloyd.
October: Brighton defeat Huddersfield 2-0 at the Goldstone in a month where they are unbeaten.
November: Saward’s side loses three games on the trot, including a rare televised match, a 3-0 defeat to Millwall at the Den.
December: Striker Lammie Robertson is recruited from Halifax but he cannot stop the rot as all six matches in the month are lost, including a 5-1 reverse at Carlisle.
January: Albion are knocked out of the FA Cup, in an ugly 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at the Goldstone Ground, a televised match marred by some tough tackling from both sides. A 5-1 loss to Fulham means Brighton have lost 13 matches in succession!
February: Loanee keeper Tommy Hughes plus young reserves Tony Towner and Pat Hilton, are given their debuts as Pat Saward seeks to refresh the first team. It works a treat in a splendid 2-0 win over Luton Town, thanks to two Ken Beamish finishes.
March: Quite unexpectedly, the Albion start to really find their feet in the Second Division, winning all four home matches in March. Highlights included another win over Huddersfield, with Towner and Robertson getting their first goals for the Albion.
April: Brighton continue their fine form at home, and finish the season unbeaten at the Goldstone since January. This takes something special on the last day, coming back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to draw level with Nottingham Forest, thanks to Eddie Spearritt’s penalty and a goal from debutant Mick Conway.
Little known fact
Willie Irvine scored in his first game at Ninian Park, playing for Northern Ireland’s under-23s against Wales in February 1965.
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