‘POOR’ GOALS COST US DEAR, RAPS CHRIS
CHRIS HUGHTON blamed mistakes for Brighton’s shock FA Cup exit as they became Non-League Lincoln City’s latest victim.
Hughton’s men looked in control at the break after Richie Towell had fired them into the lead.
But a penalty from Lincoln’s Alan Power levelled proceedings before debutant Fikayo Tomori’s own goal put the Non-League side in dreamland.
And with time running out, Theo Robinson rolled in a third to send Danny Cowley’s side into the last 16.
“It was a result I couldn’t see at half-time,” Hughton said. “It was a difficult first half but you wouldn’t expect anything different here.
“It’s a difficult pitch, they play a very direct style and they do it very well. They put you under pressure and that’s what you have to cope with.
“I thought over that first period I felt there was enough in it that we could hopefully open up the game a little bit more.
“But in any game, irrespective of who the opposition is, if you concede the goals we have done – and all three were very poor goals – then it’s very difficult to win any game. You’ve got to be able to score four goals and that’s a very tough ask here.”
Lincoln reached the fourth round stage for the first time since 1976, when the late Graham Taylor was in charge, by taking the scalp of Brighton’s fellow Championship side Ipswich Town.
Even with Hughton making nine changes from the side that beat Cardiff City in midweek, the National League side were always going to find the Championship table-toppers a tougher nut to crack.
Solly March rattled the crossbar from distance as the Seagulls fired a warning, before Towell’s opener.
Murray flicked on for the Irish midfielder, who raced into the box and crashed the ball past Paul Farman.
Lincoln were holding their own, however, and third round goal-hero Nathan Arnold’s curling shot from outside the area was tipped wide by a full-stretch Niki Maenpaa.
But the game turned on its head on 53 minutes with a penalty decision the Albion boss felt was soft.
Glenn Murray was adjudged to have fouled Robinson in the box and referee Andy Madley pointed to the spot. Power had a long wait to take the spot-kick after Robinson’s momentum had taken him into Maenpaa as the Finnish international jumped to claim the ball.
Clutching his shoulder he was replaced by Casper Ankergren, and the first job for the substitute was to pick the ball out of the net.
He was soon doing it again. Arnold’s gorgeous cross was right into the defenders’ corridor of uncertainty. Chelsea loanee Tomori could have let the ball run, instead he touched it into his own goal.
There was another big error that led to the third. Brighton gave possession away deep in their own half and Robinson made no mistake when he was played in.
“We used the analogy of winning would be like getting to the moon, so winning after going behind is like getting to Pluto,” Lincoln boss Danny Cowley said.
“The football gods were with us. You need the football gods with you when you’re playing a Championship team.”
SPOT-ON: Lincoln’s Alan Power scores from the penalty spot and, inset, Brighton’s Richie Towell celebrates his goal