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Submitted by on November 30, 2010 – 12:39 am2 Comments

give me a 'b'...

In what some speculate might be the longest FA Cup tie in history, the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club versus Football Club United of Manchester fixture was played out in front of the straining eyes of a distant crowd at Brighton’s Withdean athletics stadium on Saturday. Both clubs were in poor recent form, but the pressure was on Albion manager Gus Poyet, who knew he may be for the high jump if his team were to fall at this hurdle.

The apprehensive home support were joined by a boisterous away following from Manchester, and while on paper there was an expectation of at least a battering being dished out, FC United showed – both on grass and on wobbly makeshift terrace – a determination to prove a point to any doubters that may still be out there.

Brighton were quick out of the blocks, and after weathering a fair amount of first half pressure, FC amazingly gave the travelling reds the moment for which they barely dared dream, when Nicky Platt’s shot put the non-league side in front. By the time the sight of the bulging net had reached the disbelieving eyes of the away support, standing a full pitch, a hop, skip and a jump, and 8 lanes of running track away, there were already tables and pint pots flying back in Manchester, where ticketless fans watched via a satellite relay.

The second half went as expected in the circumstances, with Brighton pressing for the face-saving equaliser against the part-timers. FC though didn’t look unduly troubled until darkness started to fall over the freezing stadium. Following an off-the-ball and off-the-camera incident, United defender Scott McManus was shown the red card, and from that moment the match was always going to be played mainly a Fatima Whitbread throw away from the FC fans.

After a spell of pressure from the home side, which seemed to consist of fifteen crosses from both wings in about a minute, substitute Francisco Sandaza turned in Mauricio Taricco’s well directed header to deliver a hammer blow to the reds. The seagulls were back on track. The equalizer seemed much later in the game than it was, and as the clock ticked slowly down (we can start going on about Fergie time now we’re underdogs) there was an air of inevitability about the sight of the ref pointing to the spot in the final few seconds of injury time.

This was probably because we’d just seen Karl Munroe clumsily bundle Sandaza to the ground. With most reds already mentally writing the obituaries for FC’s (brave, heroic etc.) cup run, Sam Ashton was recalling the observations of assistant manager Roy Soule, who had cannily noted the penalty-taking habits of the Brighton players on a visit to see their shoot-out win over Woking in the previous round. FC’s clever players have been careful not to give any such information away when taking penalties this season.

So, Ashton’s dive to the right and out-stretched hand sent the ball around the post, and secured at least one more burst of energy for FC fans to savour in their very own club’s remarkable cup marathon. A day later they’d see the name they voted in take its place in the same third round draw as the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and yes, Manchester United (not supposed to mention this).

What a difference you have made

The winner of the replay will take on Portsmouth at home, whose fans would no doubt prefer a south coast derby as they seek to start a run towards a third final in four years. If debt-ridden Pompey play up north though, their noisy fans will get to see first-hand that a different kind of owner is possible. They can send that bell to the athletics stadium though, it’s got no place at a football ground. If it does end up at Gigg Lane, hopefully it won’t signal a last lap for FC’s cup run.


  • souldanista says:

    Another great triumph on and off the pitch for fc united in the pub before the game talking to some brighton fans they said the game was made category c because of all the trouble at rochdale to which i replied “what trouble” first i`d heard of it i`ve since found out a lot of bullshit was spread on fan`s forum`s from rochdale and bury fan`s about us fc united fan`s punching little kid`s and stabbing old folk the mind does boggle (nowt strange as folk as they say).
    So i need not mention the game as you all will know how it went but if you haven`t checked out the brighton NORTH STAND FAN`S FORUM you must (leed`s and milwall have a song about how no one like`s them but they don`t care) well as the banner say`s make friends not millionairs we do care and some of the thing`s the brighton fan`s are saying are very nice indeed they have even started a thread on the forum about how they need more song`s as they are envious of fc`s eclectic mix (sex pistols,beach boys,carpenters).
    Also one brighton fan say`s we are the first supporters not to sing an homophobic song at the withdean (not a surprise to us)as we are not a bunch of dicks.
    My personal highlight of the day has to be how we turned the category c tag on it`s head now someone please let the american military know that`s how you change heart`s and mind`s.

    all the best – kj etheridge.

  • The Real Roxanne says:

    Shouldn’t that pic have been a composite of Brendan Foster and Steve Ovett? (I once saw Ovett jogging round the very Seven Dials roundabout where Saturday’s Boogie Buses made their fateful wrong turn).

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