Brighton promise to counter Stoke's power by 'passing them off the park'
Saturday 19 February 2011
Sussex has never exactly been regarded as a footballing hotbed, but this afternoon for the first time in the competition's history they will have two sides in the FA Cup fifth round.
Crawley Town may be attracting most of the attention this weekend, but Brighton, the leaders of League One under the blossoming stewardship of Gus Poyet, are better placed to create an upset against Premier League opponents.
"It's brilliant for the county really," said Tommy Elphick, the Brighton defender. "Not only [Crawley's] FA Cup run but also how well they're doing in their league. To have two Football League sides in Sussex would be a major boost. I'm sure they'll get a good following at Old Trafford. Good luck to them."
Poyet's side face a tough – and surely extremely physical challenge – against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, but their league form has instilled confidence throughout the side. "We're going to try and pass a Premier League team off the pitch like we do against a League One team," asserted Elphick.
Brighton's striker Chris Wood, the teenage Kiwi international on loan from West Bromwich Albion, is well aware of what is coming their way. "We've been training to cope with them and how they play. It's going to be a big occasion for the lads and a big crowd which is something we've got to overcome," said Wood. "Any team can beat any team on the day as we have proved by beating two Championship sides, and now we have to beat a Premier League side."
Brighton have already beaten Portsmouth and Watford and are now one win from getting through to the quarter-finals for only the third time in their history.
Poyet, who is quickly making a name for himself in management, said he was prepared for what Stoke – and Rory Delap in particular – could "throw" at them but insisted that he had no intentions of adapting the way his team play.
The Uruguayan, an FA Cup winner with Chelsea in 2000, said: "I'm expecting them to put us under pressure and to use their strength. They are very powerful and difficult to deal with, not only with the balls into the box and throw-ins, but in general they are powerful players. They are quick and good technically.
"We need to deal with that because there is a big difference between the two teams. We are going to play our game, we are not going to change at all."
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