Brighton nearly there, Bong still fuming

Can Brighton and Hove Albion make it to the safety zone? Their recent football results have included a draw and a loss, so they are stuttering their way a bit to the safety of Premier League shore. While the fans really should have nothing to worry about, because while the team can still be mathematically caught, the bottom placed teams have done nothing to suggest they can turn around their own problems with form.

So the summary if you are a Seagulls fan – don’t fret. The teams below us are running out of games to catch us. It is like the end of a marathon, if you are running at the same pace as the person behind you, you are both runnning short of distance to the finishing line – which is good for you.

The only worry for Brighton is that their remaining four games are against Burnley, followed by the top three teams, in the order of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool. Burnley at Turf Moor are a hard team to play against as their crowd gets well behind them. The Seagulls have to sneak for draws against United, who may be resting the first team for the FA Cup final, Manchester City, who may be coasting towards the Premier League title, and Liverpool, concerned with UEFA Cup glory.

A win against Burnley would really go a long way to calming Seagulls fans, instead of leaving things to chance against the big three.

Gaetan Bong’s allegation of racism against West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez was found not proven. Which is a little disappointing, to say the least.

I have nothing against Jay Rodriguez. I thought against Manchester United, he was outstanding in securing a 1-1 draw for his team. But maybe, as others say, the relegation period is the third transfer window; time for relegation bound players to display their wares, throw caution to the wind, to show what they can do. And Rodriguez was great in that game.

But when you pinch your nose, and waft it in front of a fellow professional, you are not exactly professional yourself, much less being a role model.

And everyone knows really why Rodriguez covered his mouth or pinched his nose. Managers do it all the time. In this age of lip-reading, leaving your lips for all to read is suicide.

So we could speculate that Rodriguez covered his mouth to say something racially abusive and then wafted his hands to add more insult to injury.
We see on video quite clearly Jay Rodriguez makes some gestures of some sort. So there is intent.

Let us remind ourselves that the charge made by Bong was not proven. In other words, if Gaetan Bong claimed the Baggies player said something racially abusive, the charge was not upheld only because the panel could not prove Rodriguez said racist words – only because his mouth was covered. But it does not mean that Rodriguez did not say something. What it means is what he said could not be proven.

Rodriguez could have said to Bong, “You farted and it smells.” Or “You should try using bodyspray.” The panel that found the charge “not proven” gave him the benefit of the doubt that was what he said. But he clearly said something that provoked.

So, not guilty, but not tasteful either.

Seagulls into the next round

Are things on the up for the Brighton football club? The Seagulls scored a 3-1 win over Coventry in the FA Cup to progress to the quarter finals. The progress to that stage is the club’s first since the 1980s – 1986, to be exact.

And what a dream debut for Jurgen Locadia. The record signing from PSV Eindhoven joined in January and made a dream appearance, scoring just inside a quarter of an hour to edge his club in front. Brighton’s dominance was never really much in doubt with Connor Goldson scoring with a header twenty minutes later to put the Seagulls further in front. And went old boy Leonardo Ulloa, on loan from Leicester scored in the 61st minute, the fans by this time realised they were on the verge of a quarter-final trip. The consolation goal by Coventry did not dent the joy at reaching the last eight, although it must have been a bit of a downer for Netherlands and former Newcastle stopper Tim Krul not to have kept a clean sheet.

Locadia had several chances to add to his debut and had he been able to convert them he would have had an even greater debut with a hat-trick. But the forward is only just recovering from a hamstring injury which delayed his debut, and his combination with Solly March and Anthony Knockaert is promising for Albion.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton was delighted with the performance and felt the team carried themselves well even though Coventry were in the lower leagues. He had reason to be pleased with the performance of March, who looked like a threat whenever he received the ball. March was voted man of the match and his performance and tireless running created chances for his teammates.

The result is a good one for the Seagulls before they meet relegation-threatened Swansea on Saturday, followed by Arsenal the week after. If they build on the positive performance and a run of good results, they might view the weeks leading to the close of the season more positively.