Brighton were sent crashing out of the F.A Cup against non-league Lincoln, after a dismal second half performance cost them dear.
After making 9 changes to the side which beat Cardiff, Chris Hughton’s focus seemed to be solely on promotion to the Premier League, giving fringe players like Sam Adekugbe, Niki Maenpaa, Richie Towell and debutant Fikayo Tomori all starts against the National League leaders. Brighton could of taken the lead just minutes into the game when Paul Farman produced a neat save from a Glenn Murray header. Theo Robinson thought he had given Lincoln a shock lead, but he was ruled offside by the linesman. Solly March went close with a long range effort, which cannoned back of the crossbar. Brighton did take the lead not soon after, when a long ball forward was headed onwards by Murray into the path of Towell, who’s first time finish caught out Farman, to score his first senior goal for the club. Nathan Arnold tested Albion back-up keeper Maenpaa with a long range curling effort, which forced the Finnish stopper to tip the ball round the post. Into the second half, and Lincoln were awarded a penalty when Murray was adjudged to have fouled Robinson, when a free-kick was played into the area; in the process Maenpaa fell awkwardly after claiming the ball, and was subsequently substituted for Casper Ankergren. Alan Power stepped up, and slotted the ball home to level the scores. Moments later, the Imps went infront thanks to an own goal from Tomori, after Arnold had whipped in a dangerous ball from the right wing. With time running out for Brighton, they pushed on for a late equaliser, only for Robinson to score a third Lincoln goal, after Uwe Hunemeier had given the ball away cheaply in the defensive third. Final score 3-1 to Lincoln, and while they bask in the celebrations of a potential money-spinning tie in the 5th round, its back to league focus for Brighton and the push for promotion.
Maenpaa (7); Made a couple of neat saves, and was in control of his box much better than previously seen. Forced off with a nasty looking shoulder injury.
Tomori (5); Tough day for the debutant, scored an own goal and was quite shaky against an energetic Lincoln side.
Goldson (6); Wonderful ball forward to find Murray, who then picked out Towell for the goal. Wasn’t the worst performance of his Brighton career, but couldn’t live up to the performances of last season.
Hunemeier (6); One of the better players in a dominant first half, but one of the worst in a disastrous second; mixed day for the big German.
Adekugbe (5); Up against Lincoln’s main attacking threat in Arnold, and never really looked convincing against him. Couldn’t stop the cross coming in for the second goal, when he might of done with a bit more effort.
Skalak (5); Clearly out-of-sorts at the moment, and is struggling to find his form from last season. Slowly starting to fall down the pecking order it seems.
Sidwell (6); Tough day for the stand-in captain; lost the midfield battle on a difficult surface and struggled to link up with Norwood as much as he would of liked to.
Norwood (6); Had a couple of glimpses of his magic, but overall needed to do better that what he gave.
March (6); Some neat play to get away from the Lincoln defenders before crashing his shot against the bar, but hardly featured after that.
Towell (7); Scored his first senior goal, and a well-taken one too. Unfortunately sacrificed for Hemed just as he was starting to link up play after going behind.
Murray (5); A day to forget for the top scorer; should of scored within the first few minutes, and then gave away a second penalty in as many matches.
Ankergren (5); Not much he could of done with either of the 3 goals. Distribution was ok, but not of Stockdale/Maenpaa quality.
Hemed (5); Had an effort saved late on, but didn’t influence the game as much as Hughton had hoped for.
Murphy (5); Had some nice runs, but couldn’t produce when it mattered in he final third.
LCFC - BHAFC ; Power (57pen), Tomori (o.g – 62), Robinson (85); Towell (24);
Att; 9,469 (1,391 Brighton)