The thought that FC United of Manchester might participate in the same round of the FA Cup as the behemoth they broke away from five years ago was lost in the mist and frost last night. Portsmouth, who have less money than either of these supposed minnows, will at least be spared the expense of a journey to Bury for the third round in January.
Had Jake Cottrell not driven a penalty against the post midway through the second half, FC United might have taken this match into extra time, although fittingly it was Elliott Bennett, the man of this particular match who broke away to put the tie out of reach of an upset, although the sight of Matt Sparrow rolling the ball into the net in the final seconds of normal time was rather too cruel.
Sir Alex Ferguson might regard them as a footballing SDP but when their supporters split from Old Trafford they brought the great stadium's voice to Gigg Lane. Unlike Old Trafford, FC United's was a crowd that remained noisily to the bitter end.
Britain's new ice age had ensured that neither of these sides had played since the 1-1 draw 11 days before. And although 112 places separated a side at the top of League One from the team third bottom of the Evo-Stik Premier, Gus Poyet, the Brighton manager, wanted the odds shortened, selecting a stronger side than he had in the rather more genteel atmosphere of the Withdean Stadium.
As well as FC United played, Brighton were sharper and better and in the shape of Bennett, Poyet possessed a player who created both goals, cutting in from the left flank. The first was turned in from close range by Fran Sandaza, the second came in similar fashion but this time it was Inigo Calderon, the full-back signed from Alaves, who found the net with his head.
Although Nicky Platt led something of a fightback, that was pretty much that in the first half. The remarkable atmosphere, however did not fade, although the choice of songs did. Before kick-off, they demanded that Manchester United be brought on; as the tie wore on it was"Sloop John B" with its poignant line about wanting to go home. They would leave with honour.
FC United of Manchester (4-4-2): Ashton; Jacobs, Munroe, Parker (Battersby, 77), Quistin (Tierney, 90); Roca, Platt, Cottrell, Deegan; Ovington (Wolfenden, 59), Norton. Substitutes not used: Hibbert (gk), Holden, Carden, Ayres.
Brighton & Hove Albion (4-4-2): Brezovan; Calderon, El Abd, Greer, Painter; Bennett (Baz, 88), Bridcutt, Kishishev (Smith, 75), Murray (Hart, 72); Sandaza, Sparrow. Substitutes not used: Poke (gk), Elphick, Battipiedi, Dunk.
Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).Reuse content