The exception that proves the rule. I actually went to the game yesterday. A fellow Addick couldn't make it, I was going to be at the ground for the pre-match demonstrations, he was keen that his seat be taken by someone who could be relied on to howl long and hard (before, during and after the game), and my attending involved no money transferred to the regime.
First off, as others have commented, that the away end should be filled with fans joining in and initiating chants called for the departure of our owner was a remarkable and much appreciated show of support, especially as the game was of considerable important for them. We won't forget either. They understand what it's all about, just as most football supporters do. We wish them well - and hope they won't take it amiss if we say we would welcome a similar show of empathy from the Burnley fans in the final match (and will understand if we end up handing them the three points).
I didn't think there was much point in me writing a match report as I couldn't put into context the performances of individual players (many of whom I'd never seen play before) and as assessing the level of commitment seemed a bit pointless as we're already down and have nothing except a bit of pride to play for, plus most of those in a red shirt won't be expecting to be here come August. But there were a few thoughts.
Overall to me, even allowing for the circumstances, we looked disjointed and less than the sum of the parts. At times we threatened when going forward; a combination of Vetokele, Lookman, Harriott and Gudmundsson ought to cause problems when in possession and with any sort of space. But possession in decent positions happened too infrequently for Brighton to be pressured and with Vetokele looking at best short of match fitness there wasn't a focal point. Cousins and Diarra worked hard but could never control the game. Defensively often we looked strong enough, yet gave away three awful goals: for the first - another from a set piece into the box - Diarra was clambering all over his guy but didn't get near the ball, a fairly innocuous cross ended up headed square to a guy unmarked for basically a tap-in; for the second our central defender, instead of holding up the play, allowed himself to get turned both ways to open up the space for a pass to a guy in space; and the third was a poorly conceded and blatant penalty resulting from a mistimed and rather tired tackle.
The surprise was that for long periods of the game Brighton were only one to the good, for them putting at risk a potentially crucial couple of points. If they had gone two clear they could have relaxed and coasted through the game. As it was, after they went ahead they seemed to tighten up when really we were there for the taking. Gudmundsson's equaliser might have been unexpected but he nearly repeated the trick after we'd gone 1-2 down. For much of the game he looked like he was playing within himself but he took his chance, nearly scored a second, and when given the ball in space he showed what a good player he is. That his priorities are now staying fit for Euro 2016 and securing a good move away are entirely understandable. He caused Brighton's defence most problems; let's just say that Sanogo did not and leave it at that.
It is worrying to read Chicago Addick citing rumours that Solly was dropped from the squad and Jackson from the starting XI for what they said at Thursday night's sponsors' dinner and at the instigation of Meire. I have no idea whether this is true. If it is, shame on Riga for bowing to the unacceptable demands of his boss (or of course bosses in the event that Duchatelet while in London had a word or two in his ear). It would have been better for him to walk away and state why. If it isn't true, I would welcome a denial of the rumours from Riga, Solly and/or Jackson. We only want the truth. We don't need additional reasons to want a change of ownership and I don't want to immediately believe the rumours - including that Meire wanted to loan Solly to Gillingham - because they feed into an anti-regime narrative.
Suffice to say that I would believe what Solly, Jackson and Henderson might say on these issues and the causes of our relegation, would listen to but not necessarily take at face value anything Riga might say, and would take with a pinch of salt anything from Meire or Duchatelet. Just as I believed (and continue to believe) the accounts of Sir Chris, Dyer and Kermorgant (disgruntled ex-employees all) over the contradictory accounts given by Meire. This isn't the result of bias or some form of prejudice, it's just based on the evidence of what we have seen and heard and decisions over whose word you trust and why.
All of which leads us back to the protests. They were pretty good yesterday, especially the pre-match march and as the release of balloons came a little earlier than the whistle to start the game, giving us all a few fun minutes with them bouncing around before trying to get them on the pitch with the beach balls. The confrontation in the West Stand seemed within the bounds of acceptability. The later throwing onto the pitch of some of the balloon pumps and balloons filled with water were over-the-top (and the flare at best questionable), especially as they often came close to the Brighton goalkeeper. How would our cause have been helped if he'd been hit by something? Full marks to those who made the fresh trip to Belgium to bring the protests closer to Roland's home.
One fixture left this season before we all go our separate ways for a while. Meire and Duchatelet may be thinking just one more home game to get through and the protests will lose impetus. If so, they are once again fooling only themselves.