Argus journalist John Vinicombe was in a happy mood, describing Brighton’s 5-0 annihilation of Cardiff City in December 1978. Helped by three goals from Teddy Maybank, the handsome result put the Seagulls in third place in Division Two:
Albion’s form in the two Christmas matches – at Charlton and yesterday against Cardiff City at the Goldstone – was nothing less than superb.
From the 3-0 success at The Valley, where Malcolm Poskett scored a second half hat-trick, Albion carried on where they left off when Cardiff arrived at the Goldstone.
And there to greet them was a numbing goal in the first 23 seconds by Gary Williams and Teddy Maybank bagging his first hat-trick for the club.
But for the courage of goalkeeper Ron Healey, City would have been taken for a cricket score.
The 5-0 victory was easily Albion’s most convincing display so far and helped lift them to third spot in the table as all the results went their way.
Before a ball was kicked, Albion knew that close rivals West Ham had crashed to a shock home defeat at the hands of Orient.
Albion needed six goals to eclipse them on goal difference alone, and the situation now is that Brighton have won more games (12) than any other side. On this form they face the New Year with confidence.
If Charlton were just as comprehensively outclassed as Cardiff, it should be borne in mind that Charlton picked up yesterday to take a point at Stoke.
Other results in Albion’s favour were the 1-0 defeat of Newcastle United at Bramall Lane and Sunderland dropping a point at home to Leicester City.
And while West Ham came tumbling down, there was a similar upset at Selhurst Park, where leaders Crystal Palace suffered a 1-0 defeat by Bristol Rovers.
This is a traditional time for crazy results, but there was no hint of Albion slipping up. I cannot recall them playing so consistently welt for the entire 90 minutes as Cardiff reeled under a succession of tremendous blows.
Never mind Cardiff’s bad away record… they had toppled Fulham in their previous match and are desperate to avoid the drop.
Not once did they remotely look like upsetting Albion’s approach, and it was realty a case of how many goals would finish in City’s net.
The three deposited by Maybank will do wonders for his morale. In a twinkling, a much-maligned player has earned many new admirers, although those who watch the side home and away will testify to his voracious work rate.
Significantly, Mark Lawrenson played a part in all three Maybank goals, and if there is a more gifted player in the division, I have yet to see him.
When Maybank headed Albion’s second at 23 minutes it was his first at home for nearly a year! He last hit the Go!dstone net on January 21 against Mansfield and it is almost four months since he scored away from home.
The way has been far from easy for Maybank, but now that the spell is broken I look forward to his luck changing.
Although his damaged ankle ligaments are healed, there was no place for Peter Ward. How could Alan Mullery have changed the side that dazzled at Charlton? Now he has what managers like to call a ‘nice problem’. With nearly half the season remaining there will be plenty of chances for Ward to get back, but the good of the club comes first and personal feelings second.
It must be satisfying for Mullery to have found the touch with his players at such an important time. Aibion were long overdue for a good Christmas. but I don’t think even the most devoted fan thought in terms of two wins and eight goals!
The heavy conditions yesterday suited Albion, and skipper Brian Horton showed himself master of the long ball. Peter Sayer and Peter O’Sullivan ran and worked so hard that there was nothing for Cardiff to create. And Lawrenson, always ready to go on runs at Charlton. was equally hungry yesterday. He inspired that much confidence in Andy Rollings to mind the shop with the ever vigilant Chris Catilin to provide additional cover.
Twelve minutes from the end, Lawrenson limped off with a touch of cramp. It was a wise move to pull him out at that stage, as Cardiff’s defence lay in tatters.
Without any buses, the crowd was kept down to 20,172, but surely there must be a good 28,000 for Saturday’s visit of Newcastle.
They should prove a sterner test than Charlton or Cardiff, but in this mood I doubt if Albion care very much who they play.
Shrewd Mullery had the players in on Christmas morning to be weighed. Not one was a pound over – testimony to their professionalism. I lost count of the bails on Cardiff’s goal. Lawrenson hit the post early on, and midway through the first hall Poskett’s shot was deflected on to the bar. Two other Poskett efforts missed by narrow margins, and twice Maybank went very close and so, for good measure, did Cattlin.
When referee Tony Cox sounded the final whistle it was a merciful release for Cardiff, who were reduced to the stature of a park team.
One minute: The stopwatch showed 23 seconds when Williams hit a swerving shot from just inside the box from a pinpointed Poskett centre (1-0).
Twenty three minutes: A long ball from Lawrenson found Sayer and he quickly picked up Sully. When the ball came over to the far post, Maybank was in with his head (2-0).
Forty three minutes: A finely worked move involving five players ended when Ryan flicked across for Maybank. He pitched headlong when he shoved in the back by Roberts, and Horton nearly took the back of the net out from the spot (3-0).
Forty-eight minutes: A run of 20, maybe 25 yards by Lawrenson took him down the right, and the hard, low cross was met by Maybank with a diving header (4-0).
Sixty-two minutes: An almost identical move: Lawrenson raiding yet again, and Maybank getting in to force the ball home (5-0).
Albion: Moseley; Cattlin, Williams, Horton, Rollings, Lawrenson, Ryan. Poskett, Maybank, Sayer, O’Sullivan. Sub: Clark for Lawrenson (withdrawn), 78 minutes.
Cardiff City: Healey; Thomas, Pethard, Campbell, Roberts, Larmour. Attley, Stevens, Evans, Dwyer, Lewis. Sub: Bishop for Stevens (withdrawn), 63 minutes.
Referee: Mr T. Cox (South Croydon).
Bookings: Campbell (foul).
Albion Jackpot: Pink 88107 – £105; yellow, 1609 – £57.50; pink, 94905 – £34.50; yellow. 3819 – £23.
From his moment of triumph, Teddy Maybank didn’t quite run into a rich vein of goalscoring form. He popped up with the opener against Leicester City in early February at the Goldstone before embarking on another fruitless spell in front of goal. A sending off against Sheffield United in March threatened to curtail his participation in the final run-in as Mullery moved quickly to sign Martin Chivers as a stop-gap.
However, three goals in the last four matches meant Maybank ended the season with a bang. It was ample reward for a forward who unselfishly did the donkey work to create space for his more fleet-footed colleagues.