Brighton’s dream of lifting the F.A Cup goes on after they were beaten away to Hull, in what was a rather drear and quite frankly boring game. It was quite clear that both teams would rather focus on the league; this was apparent with both teams making 7 changes from their previous starting XI, but unfortunately 1 had to go through. A first half Robert Snodgrass penalty sent the Tigers to the 4th round, while Brighton went back to there drawing board, with their winless run now extended to 7 games; their goalless run is now 5 games too! As much as I have got behind the team during this barren streak, and will continue to do so, it has now gotten quite worrying about our ability in front of goal. Now everyone will say ‘Get behind the team, they will turn it around eventually’, and although I would love that to be the case, I don’t think that is the answer. The facts are that Brighton just aren’t creating enough chances or having enough shots; the first 10 games of the season we were 2nd with most shots (115), only behind Middlesbrough. In the 7 winless games we have only had 48 shots, one of the lowest amounts in the championship for the past 7 games. So what is the answer? To be honest, I’m just guessing as much as you guys, but it does seem like more shots need to be taken, simple logic really; shots=goals, no shots mean no goals. On to the game from Saturday now.
Brighton arrived at Hull with the opportunity to bury their winless run of 6 games, as well as extending their run of making it to the 4th round in each of the previous 6 seasons. Chris Hughton rung the changes, as half expected, with new signings Liam Ridgewell and Richie Towell both making thief first starts. Hull started the game well, and had a good chance early on when Snodgrass’s curling free kick went just wide of Niki Maenpaa’s goal. Another great chance went begging for Hull; from another Snodgrass free kick, Maenpaa punched clear only to Curtis Davies, but his half-volley went over the bar when anything on target would of been a certain goal. Hull did take the lead though, after a corner was half delt with by Maenpaa, the ball bobbled around the penalty box; Lewis Dunk tried to diving head the ball away from danger, only for him to bring down Snodgrass and the referee to award the penalty. Some say it wasn’t a penalty, but it was a stupid mistake and in my eyes was correctly awarded. Snodgrass dispatched the penalty well, slamming it down the middle leaving Maenpaa stranded as he dived to the left. After a first half of which made you want to scratch your eyes out, the second half started in pretty much the same way, slow and not much to cheer about on a cold afternoon; the only excitement was taking the micky out of a Hull fan wearing a Matalan tracksuit. Some half chances here and there for Hull went begging, before the introduction of Sam Baldock, Kazenga LuaLua and Tomer Hemed changed the game. The Seagulls had a bit more urgency, especially with LuaLua attacking down his favoured left side. Baldock had a long ranged shot just drift wide of the post, that being Brighton’s first shot of the game after 80ish minutes. As the game drew to a close, Brighton had 1 final chance; LuaLua fizzed a low cross into the box, and Baldock’s side footed shot cannoned off the crossbar and went out for a throw; that was the third time in as many games the Seagulls have been denied by the crossbar. As the final whistle blew, it was meet with overall disappointment from both sets of fans who were expecting a much better game, but it’s 1 set of fans who will be glued to the TV to see who they get in the next round.
Maenpaa (6); A quiet game for the reserve keeper; nothing he could of done with the penalty, only concern would of been dealing with crosses as he seemed to want to punch the ball rather than collect it.
Goldson (6); Not much wrong with his performance, done well in a back 3 and was given a stern test by Adama Diomande and then Greg Luer.
Dunk (5); Starting to lose patience with him, becoming increasingly unreliable as the games go on; had no though in what he was doing and was correctly penalised for it. To make matters worse, Sone Aluko had the better of him for most of the afternoon too.
Ridgewell (7); Super debut from the MLS winning captain; confident on the ball, swept up well and was dangerous on the attack, shame we only have him for a month.
Calderon (6); Had a bit more freedom playing a wing-back role, but struggled to link up with the central midfielders. Defiantly missing an out-and-out right winger.
Holla (6); Provided a stern test for Tom Huddlestone in the centre of midfield, and got the better of him as many time as he got the better of him; not sure if he is the kind of player Hughton wants.
Ince (6); Good stuff from the defensive midfielder, who protected the back 3 well and stared the few attacks we did actually have.
Crofts (6); Suprised to say this, but he had a good game; great passing with fellow midfielders and wasn’t afraid to take on defenders.
Chicksen (6); Like Holla, it seems he will be surplus to requirements come the end of the season, but he had a good game too, not much on the attacking side of things, but defensively he was sound.
Towell (6); Not a bad start from the Irishman; supported Manu well and got himself into attacking positions, could be a very useful signing.
Manu (5/6); While it’s not his fault for the service, he had absolutely nothing to play with all afternoon, both bad chance creation and good defending were factors.
Baldock (6); Looked lively on his return to the side, gave the Hull defenders the run around and had some good chances too.
LuaLua (6); Like Baldock, he looked lively and was always ready to take on defenders; will be a key player if he can stay fit for the rest of the season.
Hemed (6); Gave Davies problems when he came on, and held the ball up well which allowed players to get forward looking for the equaliser.
Hull  –  Brighton; Snodgrass (41 Pen).
Att; 10,706 (390 Brighton)