I HAD a different perspective of Brighton’s great win over Portsmouth in the Third Round FA Cup match. I was in the ‘away’ stand at Withdean! Let me explain, writes Ray Eggleton.
Pompey were entitled to 15 per cent of the seating as the away team. That was more than the West Away Stand holds.
So Albion fans were evicted from the East stands to make way for some 1,421 Pompey Chimes-singing fans of our south coast Championship rivals.
And so it was that I and 800 other Seagulls supporters found ourselves outside of the running track and behind the hammer throwing pit.
It was a very satisfying victory for our Seagulls. Manager Gus Poyet had shrewdly suggested Pompey were the favourites, but we knew differently. As we are TOP of League One and Portsmouth lie 18th in the Championship, they were only seven places above us in the league structure.
The fruits of our large first-team squad were obvious. Poyet rested Gordon Greer and gave the captain’s armband to Radostin Kishishev whilst Tommy Elphick was given a rare start. To be honest right from the start Pompey didn’t look like they fancied the challenge. Their chances faded after only 13 minutes.
Kitson self-destructed by flooring Adam El-Abd. Referee Graham Scott didn’t really have much choice – straight red.
The Poyet passing game was too much for Pompey who didn’t ever look like winners.
An Ashley Barnes “score” was disallowed as offside, Chris Wood came close and Glenn Murray nearly put away a half-chance. The Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown, who had a good game, did well to save an Elliott Bennett attempt, one from Murray and a Matt Sparrow volley.
The first goal came after 25 minutes when Mauricio Taricco crossed for Wood to smash home. Barnes made the woodwork shudder with a header from another Taricco cross. He did get his goal just before half-time from the penalty spot. Ibrahima Sonko handled a far-post corner and Barnes made no mistake.
We did see Pompey’s goal with just three minutes left. This was after Poyet had used his three subs Bridcutt, Sandaza and Holroyd with Albion coasting.
Our team responded immediately as in added time Francisco Sandaza knocked home a Barnes’ low cross. We didn’t see it of course but did hear the South Stand cheers! It was a well deserved 3-1 victory. Here’s a stat. We’ve played Portsmouth 31 times. We have won 16.
So on Sunday we were in the fourth round draw with Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Spurs. Who did we get? WATFORD at Watford! No disrespect to Watford but that was a downer! OK they are sixth in the Championship but not the BIG one we hoped for on the weekend of 29-30 January.
Poyet will be concentrating on the league but our fans will like the day out and chance tof another scalp.