By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Newcastle United 0
The Albion beat Newcastle by a goal to nil to progress to the 5th round of the FA Cup for second year running.
The Geordies, who beat Manchester United 3-0 just a short while ago, could not penetrate Albion’s defence or deal with their attacking threat.
It was, however, Leon Best who had the first clear chance as he shot narrowly wide of Peter Brezovan’s far post.
Matt Sparrow was finding space on the right hand side for the Albion, combining well with Buckley, who knocked in a couple of good crosses. Toon keeper Tim Krul was equal to these and then as the ball broke to Craig Mackail-Smith he miscued it well wide.
At the other end Gordon Greer cleared from the six-yard box with Brezovan committed. The big Scot hoofed away a goal-bound effort from Best who got lucky with a rebound.
The first half ended without either team really stamping their authority on the match.
Alan Navarro replaced Sparrow who was on a yellow as the second half started. The Liverpudlian soon stamped his authority in midfield and formed a central patrnership with Liam Bridcutt.
Brezovan soon showed why he is Albion’s current number 1 and keeping both Casper Ankergren and new boy David Gonzalez out of the frame.
First he saved well from Best before Adam El-Abd helped out by hacking the loose ball clear. Then the big Slovakian made a great stop from Shola Ameobi who hit a good shot on the turn.
Bridcutt was clearing up every loose ball in the midfield and was as effective as ever.
Mackail-Smith wriggled clear of two defenders, found himself some space and hit a fierce shot, which Krul beat away.
The Albion were now getting on top. El-Abd was striding out of defence and Will Buckley was supporting Ashley Barnes and Mackail-Smith at every opportunity.
With 15 minutes or so left Buckley slipped past Danny Simpson, ran almost three quarters of the pitch and into Newcastle’s penalty area and, with the help of a deflection from defender Mike Williamson, the ball looped over the keeper and sent Albion in front and the Amex wild with delight.
The Seagulls still had a while to hang on, but appeared to adopt to their normal patient passing game.
Newcastle will feel that they had a good shout for a penalty late on but were frustrated by Albion. Every time Jonas Gutierrez tried to get them going he was dealt with by Bridcutt.
In truth it looked safe for Albion soon after the goal, but they made it safe, they kept the ball intelligently in the last few minutes and Newcastle quite frankly ran out of ideas.
Albion: Brezovan; Calderon, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd; Bridcutt; Sparrow, Forster-Caskey; Buckley, Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs: Ankergren, Hall, Vincelot, Navarro, Harley, Hoskins, Agdestein.
Newcastle United: Krul; Simpson, Perch, Williamson, Santon; Gutierrez, Cabaye, Guthrie; Ben Arfa, Ameobi, Best. Subs: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Taylor, Gosling, Obertan, Ferguson, Kadar.
Ref: Lee Probert (Gloucestershire).