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BLAST FROM THE PAST: ASTON VILLA

5 May 2017

Look back at two meetings with Aston Villa in 1971/72.


Brighton & Hove Albion's first-ever appearance on Match of the Day came in September 1971, when Ray Graydon and Ian Hamilton got the goals in a 2-0 defeat to Villa.

The defeat dropped Pat Saward’s men to seventh in Division Three. By the time of the return fixture at the Goldstone in March 1972, both Albion and the Villans were hotly tipped for promotion.

Again, the fixture attracted the Match of the Day cameras, with the Brighton groundstaff painting the muddy patches of the pitch green to make it look good on TV! Willie Irvine scored a wonderful team-worked goal, which was to be runner up in Goal of the Season competition.

After Bruce Rioch rifled a 55th minute equaliser, a bubbling Brighton snatched a deserved victory when Kit Napier nodded in with six minutes to go. At the end of the campaign, Villa and Brighton made it to the Second Division.


1971/72  season’s highs and lows

August: Kit Napier hits a hat-trick at Mansfield, taking Albion to top spot.

September: Pat Saward’s men drop down to ninth after a wretched spell of two points in five matches, but new loanee Bertie Lutton scores twice in two matches.

October: Another difficult month sees Brighton slip to 12th after a 2-1 defeat at Swansea.

November: The turnaround is underway as Albion close November with a sixth successive victory, including a 7-1 thrashing of Hillingdon Borough in the FA Cup first round.

December: A huge crowd of 30,600 pack into the Goldstone to see Albion defeat Bournemouth 2-0 with Kit Napier and Peter O’Sullivan taking the side to fifth position.

January: Albion join a breakaway group of four clubs chasing two promotion slots, after ending the month with three wins and a draw.

February: After a goalless first half, Brighton win 5-3 at Shrewsbury, with Albion holding onto fourth spot.

March: Stewart Henderson and John Napier are sensationally dropped, with Bert Murray and Ian Goodwin talking their places in a revamped Albion side that defeat Villa 2-1

April: Six wins in nine matches take the Albion to the edge of promotion.

May: Brighton have done it! John Templeman gives Albion the lead against Rochdale at the Goldstone. Although Reg Jenkins equalises, giving home supporters the jitters, a point is enough to send Albion into the Second Division.

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