We just have to grin and bear it

Last updated : 29 December 2002 By Tony Scholes

Needless to say one of the managers was pleased and relieved whilst the other admitted to being disappointed and frustrated. Brighton boss Steve Coppell had given Stan a warm welcome in his programme notes, describing him as an old and dear friend but he could never have thought that his friend’s team would gift him a point.

It’s funny though how two late goals can make the entire match look different and surely that can be the only reason for Coppell thinking that his Brighton side came anywhere near matching us over the whole 90 minutes.

"You have to keep going and going", said Coppell, "I didn’t think there was a great deal of difference between the two teams. At half time it could have gone either way but their extra bit of finesse gave them the edge. It would have been easy for my players to fold but credit to them, they showed great character to come back.

"I wasn’t happy though with the defending for either of Burnley’s goals but they do have £1 million players in their squad and we showed that we are capable of getting points against them.

"If you keep on going you never know what’s going to happen. We didn’t play as well as we have in recent games but I thought our performance was OK."

Stan was clearly not going to be happy, his face was like thunder as he left the pitch, but once again criticised the players for defending too deep. "It is obviously something that needs sorting because this problem costs us points", Stan said after the game.

"It really is very disappointing to throw it away so late in the game but I prefer to look at it positively and it is a point gained.

"We were comfortable with four or five minutes to play but for some unknown reason we started to defend way too deep. Their second goal was just a catalogue of errors following a long punt down the middle and we can improve on that.

"There were a lot of good performances out there and we should have won the game. Their keeper made some good saves and we were comfortable throughout. We should have been more professional than that when we were two goals in the ascendancy but it does happen from time to time and we just have to grin and bear it.

"But we are disappointed not to have the three points although I will predict that not many sides will come down here and win."

Sidwell saves Brighton

Mark Hodgkinson (Sunday Times)

ACROSS town at the Komedia theatre, there’s football’s first panto, A Blue and White Christmas. Here, in the athletics stadium, we saw cold-sweat excitement; Steve Sidwell, a 20-year-old borrowed from Arsène Wenger, scratched out two Brighton goals inside the final two minutes to give the First Division strugglers a point they did not deserve after a toothless, witless display for the previous 88.

Three days, three goals, four points. Sidwell, who scored the winner against Norwich on Boxing Day, mastered a hoisted pass from Richard Carpenter to slot inside the right post. Seconds later, the midfielder converted Bobby Zamora’s cut-back for the equaliser.

Sidwell, who has flitted behind the front men since early November, is patently enjoying himself after years twiddling thumbs in the Arsenal reserves.

Burnley were lucky to hold an interval lead with a messy goal on 44 minutes from Glen Little, who pounced after goalkeeper Michel Kuipers had pawed away his original shot.

Thirty seconds after being introduced, substitute Ian Moore doubled Burnley’s advantage, tucking in Dean West’s looping cross.