The club had just ended a run of 12 straight defeats and 13 without a win with a 3-2 win at home to Bradford, a game in which Zamora scored twice. This was an overdue win but one that showed with new manager Steve Coppell in charge, the Albion had found a new lease of life to re-energise their survival hopes. Many had given up on the team during that losing run, particularly after the 5-0 defeat away to rivals Palace, but this night was to show that the Albion had the fight and in Zamora the quality to put together a survival challenge.
Brighton went ahead with a goal as well-known as any of Zamora’s goals for the club during that period. Partly because it was live on Sky Sports TV away to big name opposition, partly because it would later form part of the Sky Sports Football League title sequence, but mainly because of the calibre of the goal.
This was Albion goal 74 of 90 for Zamora at the Albion. The preceding two years were an already legendary period for him and the club, and while the goals were fewer and further between at a higher level this one was just as spectacular as any that preceded it.
That said, this goal didn’t make the top ten of Bobby’s goals on the DVD released by the club after he was sold at the end of that season, (a DVD which contained all the 83 goals he scored in his first spell at the Albion). Maybe evidence of why Zamora is still thought so highly of at the Albion. In fact, then Chairman and now Life President of the club Dick Knight described Zamora as “the best signing I ever made” in his book “Mad Man”.
The goal was instigated by a perfectly weighted through pass from Simon Rogers, which put Zamora clean through in behind the Wolves defence. As the Wolves centre back Mark Clyde realised the desperation of the moment he flailed his arms at Zamora’s back, leaning forward in a final moment of desperation as Zamora sped away. Zamora was too sharp for the defender and the England U21 striker found himself one-on-one with an international teammate of only a matter of weeks before, the Wolves ‘keeper Matt Murray.
Seeing Zamora had beaten his teammate Clyde and knowing Zamora’s prowess in front of goal, Murray made a split-second decision to come charging out of goal in Zamora’s direction, hoping to put the young striker off his stride and avoid conceding the first goal of the day. But this only set the situation up perfectly for Zamora, as what was to follow was a sublime chip of the type Zamora’s YouTube reels are full of. Especially in that time whilst wearing the blue and white stripes.
So, as Zamora noticed the incoming sight of the Wolves ‘keeper he made the decision to go with the chipped shot over the keeper. By this time Murray had fully committed to coming off his line to stop the shot, but instead found himself laid on his side sprawled across the grass looking skywards as Zamora expertly and yet routinely lifted the ball over the ‘keeper and into the goal.
With Zamora shot still airborne, He, Murray and Clyde almost collided but his quick feet allowed him to avoid any harm and peel away ready to celebrate the Albion taking the lead, just as the ball landed neatly at the back of the goal nestling in the bottom of the net.
As the game went on it was defined by a magnificent goalkeeping performance from the Albion’s Michel Kuipers who made a number of great saves, including a double save that has gone down in Albion folklore. In fact, so much so, that it is often is played on the big screen at the AMEX before matches to this day.
And whilst Kenny Miller was to equalise for Wolves, this was a creditable draw for the Albion as they rebuilt their ultimately doomed but valiant survival challenge after a terrible recent run of defeats. Indeed, this draw, and Zamora’s goal showed there was still something there to give us fans hope. Just as the sign in the players tunnel at Molineux that the teams passed as they entered the pitch read – Out of darkness cometh light.