A look back on Albion's 1982/83 Division One season.
Against Birmingham City
Steve Gatting’s close-range finish past Birmingham goalkeeper Jim Blyth secured a 1-0 win in September 1982. It was enough to give the Seagulls a third successive home victory, but the 9,845 gate was the Seagulls’ lowest ever Division One attendance at the Goldstone.
It came at a time when the team’s performance faced scathing criticism in the local media. In the return fixture, Ian Handysides gave Birmingham a fourth minute lead, making the most of good work from Mick Harford and Mick Ferguson.
Brighton, now managed by Jimmy Melia, responded in the second half with an equaliser from Gordon Smith, after being set up by Michael Robinson. Despite the form in the FA Cup, the Seagulls finished bottom of the First Division. By contrast, Birmingham ended in 17th spot and beat the drop by three points.
1982/83 season’s highs and lows
August: Albion open with a promising 1-1 draw against Division One runners-up Ipswich Town on Graham Pearce’s debut.
September: The Seagulls suffered some heavy away defeats, crashing 5-0 at West Bromwich Albion, 4-0 at Nottingham Forest and 5-0 at Luton Town. At home, there are three consecutive wins, including a 1-0 victory over Arsenal before coming back from 2-0 down to defeat Sunderland.
October: Peter Ward returns on loan to the Goldstone, as the Seagulls beat West Ham 3-1 with goals from Smith, Gatting and Robinson.
November: Brighton record a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, their first ever over the Red Devils and it’s Peter Ward whose smart finish sealed the win at the Goldstone.
December: After losing a fourth successive game, 2-0 to Coventry, boss Mike Bailey leaves Albion by ‘mutual consent.’ George Aitken and Jimmy Melia are put in temporary charge and the team respond with a 3-0 victory over Norwich City.
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January: The Seagulls are winless in Division One but defeat Newcastle in an FA Cup replay at St James’ Park in a controversial game before overwhelming Manchester City 4-0 at the Goldstone.
February: Another month without a league victory but the Seagulls send shock waves through English football by defeating Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the FA Cup thanks to goals from Gerry Ryan and Jimmy Case.
March: Only the second Division One victory for Melia’s side, as they won 2-1 at fellow strugglers Swansea City. Jimmy Case also gets the winner in the FA Cup Quarter-Final against Norwich. Form in the league improves with credible draws against Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa.
April: Brighton reach the FA Cup final after defeating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Highbury. A last-ever win in the top flight is recorded as Terry Connor’s goal is enough to gain three points against Coventry.
May: Brighton lose 2-1 to Norwich in their last Division One match, with substitute Chris Rodon making a fifteen-minute debut. In the FA Cup Final at Wembley, the Seagulls did themselves proud, drawing 2-2 against Manchester United with Gordon Smith and Gary Stevens on the scoresheet. The Albion lose the replay five days later but return to Hove to a heroes welcome.
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