Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Christian Walton survived something of a siege this evening to help League One side Wigan Athletic achieve a remarkable FA Cup upset.
Walton, 22, is on a season-long loan with Wigan who repeated their famous 1-0 win in the 2013 FA Cup final over Manchester City in an incredible fifth round clash.
Even after City’s Fabian Delph had been sent off at the end of the first half, Wigan were pegged back.
Delph himself has been something of a torment for Albion, starting with a wonder strike at Withdean for Leeds nine years ago.
And let’s not forget a crucial FA Cup goal as Albion were beaten at Aston Villa a year later.
Ten-man City gave Walton plenty of work to do tonight. Even the visiting goalie, Claudio Bravo, spent some of the second half inside the Wigan half.
But it was all to no avail. Will Grigg’s 79th minute goal – despite being under pressure from three City defenders – proved enough for history to repeat itself.
Wigan hung on, with Walton – who joined Brighton in 2013 – proving himself under a bombardment from the Premiership-leading visitors.
The underdogs are currently second in League One, having – like Brighton – been relegated from the top flight in the season they made it to the final at Wembley.
Brighton, of course, will hope history doesn’t repeat itself when they rake on Manchester United in the quarter finals next month.
Aside from the 1983 cup final replay, United beat Albion in the cup at Old Trafford in 1993.
Three months earlier they also knocked the Seagulls out of the League Cup at Old Trafford in a replay after a 1-1 draw at the Goldstone best remembered for the debut of a young star in the making called David Beckham.
Brighton have beaten Man United just once – at home in the old First Division in 1982 – and never at Old Trafford.
But after acquitting themselves well in the Theatre of Dreams in November in their first Premier League meeting – a lucky 1-0 win for the Reds – it’s United who have it all to lose.
And, as a footnote, another former Albion player enjoyed an underdog tilt at top flight opposition when Rochdale held Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-2 draw yesterday.
Reluctant Seagulls signing Jimmy McNulty, now 33, spent two and a half years with Brighton from 2009, his appearances limited by injury, including the loss of his right kidney.
He spent almost the whole 90 minutes on the pitch at Spotland and will hope for a game at Wembley if only in the rematch with Spurs at their temporary home.
And who says the FA Cup has lost its magic!
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