Baird strikes home

Brighton 1 (Baird 71) Scunthorpe 1 (Eyre 66) Attendance:4,365
Click to follow
The Independent Online
"We've got no home, we've got no home!" the Brighton fans sang at one stage of this match yesterday as they adapted England's joyous Euro 96 anthem into their own self-pitying lament. It isn't strictly true, but with Brighton's days at the Goldstone Ground numbered after 94 years, the quest for a suitable stadium is almost assuming a greater importance for the fans than the form of the team itself.

When the sale of the ground was announced last April it prompted a pitch invasion and a near riot by local supporters, forcing the final home game of a relegation season against York to be abandoned. Although the crowd was well behaved during this 1-1 draw against Scunthorpe, they chanted abuse at the club's chief executive, David Belotti, who is held responsible for the sell-out.

If the uncertainty is affecting the loyalty of the fans, it isn't damaging team morale. "I'm not interested in all that stuff and neither are the players," the Brighton manager Jimmy Case said, after seeing his side come back bravely from a goal down to force a draw against a talented Scunthorpe side who had managed a painless move from their Old Showground to a new stadium in 1988.

They certainly looked the side with a future during the first half,as they smothered Brighton'sponderous attacks and kept a nervous home defence on edge.

By half-time, the home fans' discontent had become a chorus of boos. The mood wasn't helped when John Eyre produced a brilliant half-volley from 25 yards after 66 minutes to give Scunthorpe a deserved lead.

But slow hand-clapping and a chant of "What a load of rubbish!" were stifled by Brighton's quick response, with Ian Baird getting an ageing leg around Jason Peake's header to equalise.

Brighton, on a run of three straight defeats, might even have managed a victory had Paul McDonald been able to poke his last-minute shot the right side of a Scunthorpe post. But the draw provoked a smattering of applause from the crowd, giving them grounds for hope, if not hope for a ground.