For the 4th Round FA Cup match against League 1 side Port Vale coach Oscar Garcia made SEVEN changes from the team that played at Derby.
The potential banana skin was avoided and our Seagulls came away from Vale Park with a very satisfactory 3–1 win. Best of all the goal-scorers were Rohan Ince, Solly March and Jon Obika. The reward for getting into the 5th Round was Premiership Hull City at the Amex.
This was always going to be a tricky confrontation against the side managed by ex-Albion Micky Adams. “There’s only ONE Micky Adams,” sang the travelling 1,300+ Seagulls’ fans, although he was Brighton manager TWICE!
I wasn’t brave enough to make the journey up to Port Vale I’m afraid.
My last visit was the final game of the 2001/2 season when we had already won promotion up to League One. How times have changed.
The weather was terrible and the pitch almost waterlogged which certainly didn’t help Albion’s passing game.
Peter Brezovan, apart from one butter-fingers moment, was sound. Lewis Dunk, in central defence with Mathew Upson, was generally good.
Adam Chicksen at full-back, with Inigo Calderon who captained the side, performed well.
The combination of Kemy Agustien, Jake Forster-Caskey and Rohan Ince in deep midfield allowed Solly March and Andrea Orlandi to take wide roles. New boy Jon Obika was the lone target man upfront.
Brighton were well worth their lead on 27 minutes when Ince sweetly swept in an Orlandi corner.
It only lasted eight minutes as Chris Robertson headed home a Valiants’ corner.
The Seagulls went ahead again just before half-time.
Another Orlandi corner, short this time, went to young March who sent over a high far-post cross which ended up beautifully in Chris Neal’s top right-hand corner: 2–1. A little piece of luck perhaps?
Micky Adams’s side battled in the second-half to get back into the tie but it was Forster-Caskey and Agustien for the Seagulls who went closest to scoring.
Young Jake’s shot was brilliantly tipped over by Neal and Agustien was unlucky to see his skimming shot come back off a post.
We hadn’t seen much of Obika to be honest but with ten minutes left he capitalised on a mix-up by the Port Vale defenders to run clear on goal and neatly round the keeper to seal the 3–1 win.
Those three were the first Seagulls’ goals for Ince, March and Obika.
The 5th Round draw was on Sunday. A personally admission of failure here – I had booked February sunshine to coincide with the Blackburn away game.
Big mistake as of course the cup-tie takes precedence and the Seagulls’ chance to get us into the quarter-finals is now that weekend February 15/16.
We did get a home draw.
We did get a Premiership club.
Sadly, although I’m not going to be there, it was not Chelsea, Arsenal or Man City but Hull City.
Still that is one we can win and then it will get exciting! We dropped down to 8th in the Championship but win the game in hand and we could go above Ipswich and Reading into 6th.
l Brighton stayed in the north for their Tuesday night game against 3rd placed Burnley.
Garcia returned senior players Greer, Bruno, Ward, Andrews, Kuszczak and LuaLua to the squad.
It ended a tense 0–0 draw but this was a fine result against a Burnley side unbeaten at Turf Moor.
The home side hit Seagulls’ posts in both halves but in fact we had the better chances to win the game.
Burnley had their keeper to thank for fine saves from LuaLua and Orlandi.
We came under severe pressure in the second 45 minutes but Kuszczak and our defence kept another clean sheet.
I admit to being worried when Burnley brought on Ashley Barnes but happily there was no goal for the ex-Albion forward.
It was a good professional performance.
We must be happy with the point although with Reading winning and Ipswich drawing we stay 8th, four points from sixth spot with a game in hand.
It is away again on Saturday at Watford.