Brighton reserves at Newport in the FA Cup with no fans...no thanks!

Ian Hart explains why the FA Cup third round is no longer a top priority for him this season

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 11:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 11:22 am
Graham Potter will take his Brighton team to Newport County in the FA Cup this Sunday

The third round of the FA Cup weekend, a time honoured tradition in the footballing calendar, prior to the advent of televised football it was 3pm on the first or second Saturday of January.

A constant for supporters of teams from the top two divisions and for teams outside a mouthwatering opportunity to take on the big boys and on occasions inflict a classic giant killing.

Part of football folklore, this week my mind went back 38 years, to the 1983 third round encounter at the Goldstone between the Albion and Newcastle with a certain Kevin Keegan in their line up.

On that chilly Saturday afternoon in Hove it ended all square at 1-1 and no one in the crowd realised this was the start of a cup run that would see Albion at Wembley in May, taking on Manchester United in the final of the greatest cup competition in the world.

Great memories, sadly I’ve barely even given this weekend’s third round a second thought. It wasn’t until talking to my sports editor earlier this week that Leeds United are in Sussex on Sunday taking on Crawley Town, live on BBC One, thank goodness I’ve got Netflix.

The Albion, for their part, travel to South Wales to take on Newport County on Sunday night, again live on TV, this time BT, thankfully it doesn’t clash with ‘On the Buses’.

I never thought I’d say it, but I really couldn’t care how the Albion get on in the FA Cup.

It’s almost as if I’ve sadly fallen out of love with the FA Cup, frankly the Albion have 21 EPL ‘cup finals’ between now and May and as we found out in 1983 a cup run can provide a costly distraction.

That said the Covid lockdown and the lack of fans, should see the Albion progress into the next round on Sunday.

With a passionate Newport crowd packed into the ground, producing an electric atmosphere might have given County the edge over what effectively will be Albion reserves.

Without fans, and with all due respect to our League Two opponents, the almost sterile atmosphere should mean that even the Albion’s second string team will overcome their hosts and advance to the next round.

Back to the EPL, and back to back Amex games against Arsenal and Wolves saw a meagre one point return from a possible six.

That said at 3-1 down at the break against Wolves, the solitary point looked extremely unlikely.

A spirited Albion comeback got them a point, and the pro-Potter faction of the Albion support a few more members.

Unfortunately I’m not one of them. It grieves me to say it and I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong, but unless things change drastically, partly due to a busy transfer window and changes in tactics and selection, I still don’t think Graham Potter is the man to keep the Albion in the EPL.

Effectively, we are now playing for 17th place, even though the manager was apparently taking us to the ‘next level’.

Then again, as is often said, it’s never dull supporting the Albion, so bring on Manchester City next Wednesday night!