The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FOURTH ROUND - By Matthew Bad­cock

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SPOT-ON: Lin­coln’s Alan Power scores from the penalty spot and, in­set, Brighton’s Richie Tow­ell cel­e­brates his goal

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