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Albion fans hope to make it third time lucky
6:00am Monday 12th May 2014 in News
The Albion faithful sung their hearts out as the Seagulls lost to Derby in the second leg of the play-off semi final.
The sea of blue and white rocked Derby's iPro stadium with 2,700 away supporters sounding more like 27,000.
But despite the efforts both on and off the pitch, Oscar's boys bowed out of the promotion battle following the 4 - 1 loss.
The general feeling following the game was one of pride, with supporters reflecting on a largely successful campaign.
John Kirkland, 64, from Crawley, said: "we didn't play well but I don't think we deserved to lose 4-1. I'm glad we got that goal at the end.
"I think we lacked a bit of spark today but it has been a good season, especially with it being Oscar's first in English football. To be honest if we had gone through and won in the final we would have been stuffed each week in the Premiership. So it's not all bad."
Tim Colville, originally from Tunbridge Wells but who now lives in Birmingham, was more critical.
The 52-year-old said: "that was one of the worst performances I have seen from a Brighton team. We had to go forward and attack but we didn't. We didn't come out to play today and Lua Lua and Craig Mickail-Smith came on far too late."
The day began with optimism in the air with fans young and old setting off early to reach the East Midlands for the 5.15pm kick off.
Every second car going up the M1 appeared to have an Albion flag hanging precariously from the window while the services at Watford Gap, Leicester Forest East and Newport Pagnell were a mass of blue and white.
From the early afternoon they started arriving at Derby's iPro Stadium -known to most as Pride Park - in dribs and drabs with the ring of "Albion, Albion" growing louder by the minute.
While some huddled round radios to listen to the conclusion of the premiership, others tried to take their minds off the roller coaster of emotions that awaited them with the customary overpriced beer and pies.
But with 5.15pm fast approaching, they filed into the upper west stand to run through the usual array of chants Sussex by the Sea threatened to drown out the stadium announcer as captain Greer led the team out and with that the game was underway .
While the home fans were in buoyant mood with their one goal advantage going into game, their players looked nervous.
Albion's away faithful matched their noise levels with everything from inflatable seagulls, beach balls and rubber rings tossed around to the sounds of "who's that man from Argentina".
Derby fans responded with chants mainly referencing their recent five nil thrashing of local midland rivals Nottingham forest.
And while most of the terrace banter was good natured, the Seagulls had to endure the odd homophobic gesture which they are sadly used to.
It took 34 mins to finally silence the 2,700 when Hughes scored to make it 1 -0 and 3-1 on aggregate.
With time running out and Derby looking solid at the back, most sensed it was too late.
The blue and white army continued making themselves hoarse regardless - much to the bemusement of the Derby fans.
A third from Thorne on 76 minutes and forth from hendrick on 87 minutes killed the game but not the Brighton spirit with the closing ten minutes arguably the loudest from the away end. Their support was finally rewarded by Lua Lua who slotted home on 89 minutes , but the game had gone.
And with the final whistle, derby fans broke the line of stewards and ran onto the pitch in celebration. While the majority of both team's players and staff headed for the safety of the tunnel,Ulloa defiantly fought through the mass of black and white to reach the Albion supporters.
Goaded and slapped around the face as he arrived in front of the east upper, he stood proud and thanked the Albion fans for their support. They responded with the day's loudest chant of "who's that man from Argentina".
Moments later a spent looking Calderon emerged and he too thanked the away fans before the pair were led to safety .
Well behaved as ever, the Albion fans took the applause of a number of derby supporters who cut short their pitch invasion to show their appreciation for what is arguably the league's best away support.
And despite a thrashing and 190 odd mile trip ahead of them, the blue and white army had enough left in them for another round of Sussex by the Sea as they made for their coaches.
Peter Bathurst, 57, from Brighton, said: "We didn't play particularly well but I didn't expect us to be here so it was a bit of a bonus. Perhaps the players felt the same and that was the problem.
"I think we have had a good season overall, to finish sixth is a good achievement. I think Oscar has done well. Coming into the season he wouldn't have known any of the teams he was up against or any of the players.
" I think like most people I would like to see some more flair next season."
Megumi Yachida, who is from Japan, adopted the Seagulls after moving to the UK in 2008.
The 29-year-old said:"It was very disappointing today - I was crying when the fourth goal went in. But I think it has been a good season anyway. Oscar Garcia has done well but we need to get some new players.
Mr Colville added: "I would like Oscar to have more say over the team. At the moment he is playing with Poyet's team so hopefully he will be able to bring in his own people and players and do his thing."
With the sun setting not only on Derby but another season, the Albion faithful settled down in their cars and coaches for a long trip back down to Sussex.
Battered and bruised from the days result but pleased with the season just concluded, there was - as at the start of the day - a sense of optimism.
Bring on August 9.
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