Newcastle United's long wait for a major trophy will continue for at least one more season after Brighton completed a cup double over the North East. Having knocked Sunderland out of the Carling Cup in August, they ended that team's neighbours' interest in the FA Cup thanks to a boyhood Newcastle fan, Will Buckley, whose 76th-minute shot was deflected in by Mike Williamson.
It was a game of few chances, most of them made by the Premier League side, but Brighton took the one that mattered. After last season's 3-1 defeat away to Stevenage in the third round, the Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, has now suffered two eliminations from the FA Cup at the hands of opponents from lower divisions. Brighton, 10th in the Championship, are unbeaten in 2012; following the 5-2 defeat at Fulham eight days ago, Newcastle are passing through a difficult period.
The first incident of note came after 10 minutes, when Leon Best collected a long, high ball from the right and although there seemed too many defenders around him managed a shot on the turn, his effort passing inches wide of the far post. A minute later, when Shola Ameobi nodded the ball across goal, Best found himself unmarked but could only head weakly over the crossbar.
Little was seen of Brighton in attacking positions until Buckley tricked his way between Davide Santon and Danny Guthrie after 15 minutes and charged into the penalty area. His final effort was halfway between a pass and a shot and did not succeed as either.
Newcastle attempted to outplay Brighton at their passing game but Brighton's central defenders, Gordon Greer and Lewis Dunk, closed the forwards down quickly. Tim Krul had to be alert when Buckley outpaced Santon to reach Inigo Calderon's clipped pass and crossed low from the right. The home side fashioned another chance when the ball was worked quickly from left to right to give Craig Mackail-Smith a chance but the Scotland forward put his angled effort wide.
The best chance of the first half came from Newcastle after 34 minutes, when Hatem Ben Arfa spotted Danny Simpson's forward gallop from the right-back position. Simpson's run took him into the Brighton penalty area and a low shot looked likely to open the scoring, until Dunk threw himself in the way. Buckley launched a similar run early in the second half but chose to pass rather than shoot and the chance was snuffed out.
Newcastle still seemed to have more options. Ameobi showed his quality when he rounded Dunk and played a precise pass into the path of Best on the left. His shot was low but lacked power and Peter Brezovan, the Brighton goalkeeper, was able to block with his feet. The ball dropped for Danny Guthrie to volley but it was deflected over the crossbar.
As the match passed the hour, Adam El Abd and Yohann Cabaye went down as they challenged for the ball and the Brighton players claimed the Frenchman had aimed a kick at their team-mate. Replays seemed to bear them out but the referee, Lee Probert, took no action.
What the match needed more than controversy was some good finishing, and Mackail-Smith did his best to deliver it after 70 minutes. Brighton's record signing jinked past two men into space and hit a rasping left-foot shot that was on target, but too close to the centre of goal. Krul was able to parry.
Six minutes later Brighton were ahead, and Buckley was involved. He attacked down the left, shrugging aside Simpson and going past Cabaye before hitting a left-foot shot that struck Williamson on its way past Krul.
Brighton (4-1-2-3): Brezovan; Calderon, Greer, Dunk, El Abd; Bridcutt; Sparrow (Navarro, ht), Forster-Caskey (Harley, 65); Buckley, Mackail-Smith (Hoskins, 90), Barnes.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Santon (Ferguson, 83); Cabaye, Guthrie (Gosling, 83); Ben Arfa (R Taylor, 83), Gutierrez, Best; Ameobi.
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Buckley (Brighton)
Match rating: 6/10
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