I was there but still have difficulty in believing it. But... YES, WE DID BEAT ANOTHER PREMIERSHIP SIDE AT THE AMEX!
We’d already dumped Sunderland out of the Carling Cup, back in September. And now we’ve knocked out their near north east neighbours, the Magpies of Newcastle United.
The first problem was what to wear for the BIG cup game, Skint, Palookaville or trad blue and white personalised shirt?
The Toon army brought a cold wind with them, so I put on all three.
It worked, obviously, so I may have to repeat if I make it to Anfield. And yes that’s on the cards as the reward for the 1-0 win over Newcastle in the FA Cup is a trip to Merseyside for Liverpool in the 5th Round!
Newcastle are currently sixth in the Premiership (against our 10th in the Championship).
They had class players, strong defenders and powerful forwards. BUT Brighton matched them in this one-off FA Cup encounter.
The Geordies (although looking at their team list I don’t think too many are Geordies) missed the few chances they had, whilst Brighton battled away. Our back four deserved medals.
In the end it was one piece of brilliance from Will Buckley that made the difference.
Our Amex Stadium was full with a crowd approaching 22,000. The away stand was packed with the black and white Toon Army (bolstered by a good number of southern-based United fans).
The atmosphere was great as the stadium resounded with noise as kick-off (at 5.15pm to accommodate live TV coverage) approached.
Albion manager Gus Poyet kept faith with the team that had remained unbeaten in their run of six games in 2012 going into this cup tie.
No risks were taken on our injured star strikers, Craig Noone and Kazenga LuaLua, neither of whom even made it to the subs’ bench. Craig Mackail-Smith continued up front on his own, supported by Buckley and Ashley Barnes.
Young Jake Forster-Caskey joined Liam Bridcutt and Matt Sparrow in the midfield.
Peter Brezovan retained the spot between the posts, which he should keep after an impressive performance.
For me the stars were our defenders. In the centre, captain Gordon Greer and Lewis Dunk performed miracles.
Okay, Newcastle were without their star forward, Demba Ba (playing in the African Cup of Nations), but Leon Best and Shola Ameobi are top Premiership strikers.
Best was always a threatening presence and he won most high balls, but Greer and Dunk didn’t allow the United players any space.
Best’s couple of chances went begging while Albion attempts by Mackail-Smith and Sparrow didn’t trouble Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.
Inigo Calderon and Adam El-Abd had the difficult job of trying to contain and Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye.This they did magnificently.
El-Abd succeeded in frustrating Cabaye to the point that their on-the-ground tussle might have caused the United player to let his boot go into Adam’s lip. Blood was spilt and referee Lee Probert didn’t see the incident.
Cabaye later in the week found himself subject of an FA charge because of that incident. But it wasn’t a dirty game and largely both teams and both sets of supporters were very well behaved.
With no score after 75 minutes, we were starting to believe we could be in the velvet bag for the next round draw.
Then man of the match Buckley received the ball wide in his own half. He touched on and sped towards our North Stand. Danny Simpson didn’t dare to impede him having just picked up a yellow card.
Buckley’s pace took him down the left and his cut-back into the penalty box beat a couple of defenders.
He fired in a firm shot and deserved the luck when a deflection off Mike Williamson left Krul helpless as the ball flew past him and into the Newcastle net.
Forget own goal, I give it to Buckley. The move deserved to win the game. And it did.
Alan Pardew the Newcastle manager brought on his three subs at the same time with 10 minutes to go. But it in the tense final minutes, Albion were remarkably solid.
There was time for a loud Newcastle appeal for a penalty when a shot deflected up onto Barnes’s arms but Mr Probert correctly thought it not intentional (Really? Albion were a tad fortunate a pen wasn’t awarde, if you ask me... Barnes’s arms were well away from his body – Sport Ed).
But it was Brighton’s day. The Seagulls had triumphed over the Magpies.
Poyet praised his side: “I don’t know if we can say we deserved it. We had to defend, we were very organised and strong, we scored the winning goal – it was a good cup tie.”
The Sunday draw gave us another BIG one – Liverpool away. This will be on the weekend of February 17-19. The Reds beat us in the Carling Cup at the Amex earlier in the season but we’ve got an impressive FA Cup record against them.
We beat them at Anfield on our way to Wembley in 1983.
Is it just possible we could cause another upset?
NO FEWER than 2,720 brave Albion fans made their way to Crystal Palace for this Tuesday evening game.
It was tense and hard fought. Gus Poyet made one only change from the Saturday line-up that beat Newcastle United.Alan Navarro came in for Forster-Caskey.
In the Palace defence was ex-Albion Paul McShane, a Seagull hero because he scored a late winner fou US against Palace.
We were looking for a fourth consecutive league win and revenge for that poor 3-1 loss at the Amex back in September.
We started well and the first-half was even.
Their keeper had to make one fine save with his feet from Craig Mackail-Smith after 30 minutes. We started the second half well too – until referee Stuart Attwell decided to make himself known.
He produced the first yellow for El-Abd. When Barnes and Wilfred Zaha tangled he waved another yellow at the Palace player.
He followed this with an immediate yellow to our keeper, apparently for getting involved.
The game lost its flow. Then Zaha did a tricky run and fell in the penalty area. Had Buckley touched him?
Mr Attwell thought so (although BBC commentators thought Zaha had fallen over his own feet) and gave the penalty. Chris Martin scored – one-nil Palace.
Perhaps the fussy ref’s assistant thought it unfair as he evened things up just 10 minutes later by flagging for a trip on Buckley – another penalty.
Ashley Barnes stepped up and equalised. Game on.
Poyet was positive. Off the bench came new signing Sam Vokes and Torbjorn Agdestein.
In the final stages Albion went for the win. Ex-Seagull Glenn Murray came on for Palace but didn’t figure.
It was Albion pressing to the end. We had several corners and another wonder shot from Inigo Calderon.
Julian Speroni made a spectacular save leaving both sides with a point. We remain unbeaten in 2012 (seven games!) and look forward to Leicester City at the Amex tomorrow (Saturday).
As the January window was closing, Poyet clinched the signings of Welsh international Vokes, from Wolves, and TWO full backs from West Brom: Gonzalo Jara Reyes (RB) and Joe Mattock (LB). With Craig Noone and Kazenga LuaLua returning to fitness, Gus has the nice problem of a depth of players from which to pick.