Canvey Island 2 Brighton 2
A desperate finger-tip save from his goalkeeper, Nicky Rust, kept Liam Brady's Brighton team in the FA Cup at a packed Park Lane ground yesterday. The Second Division club, finalists in 1983, were grateful to take their humble hosts, playing in the first round for the first time in their history, back to the Goldstone Ground for a replay tomorrow week to decide who visits Fulham in the next round.
The struggling Sussex side were clinging on to their 2-1 interval lead when Canvey Island equalised for a second time eight minutes from the end. Two minutes later Alan Harding, fresh off the bench, embarked on a thrilling run from the half-way line which took him through the Brighton defence. His shot was hard and true, but Rust flung himself down to make the save and was relieved to see the loose ball just evade the onrushing Glenn Pennyfather.
It was that close - and Brighton could not have complained too much if they had been beaten, for they were second best throughout a pulsating second half. "I thought they might tire, but they didn't," a tetchy Brady said. "At least we're better off than we were last year." At this stage 12 months ago, his team were knocked out by another Icis (Isthmian) League club, Kingstonian.
"Once we adjusted to their pace, we matched them," Canvey's manager, Jeff King, a portly local night-club and holiday camp entrepreneur, said. "We won't catch them by surprise next time, but we'll do our best. We're enjoying ourselves."
The early play suggested the visitors would be celebrating at the end, though, and it was no surprise when Brighton took the lead in the 16th minute. Dean Wilkins whipped in a free-kick from the left flank and Junior McDougald headed high into the net, the ball brushing John Keeley's gloves on the way.
John Byrne, a Cup finalist with Sunderland in 1992, hooked a shot just wide in the 31st minute, but two minutes later Canvey were level. After the ball was worked across the penalty area, the right-back, Wayne Joscelyn, swung over a cross which was met by a decisive diving header from the burly centre-half, Steve Porter. Six minutes before the interval, though, the Seagulls were ahead again, McDougald pouncing on a slip by Kevin Lee to shoot low past Keeley, a former Brighton goalkeeper.
McDougald missed a great opportunity to complete his hat-trick in the 55th minute, slicing wide from a Peter Smith cross, but that was Brighton's last real chance. Canvey surged forward for the rest of the game, and were rewarded at last when a throw-in from Joscelyn was flicked on by Porter for Alan Brett, who works at the Watford printing firm which produces the Mirror and this newspaper, to head home with unrestrained glee.
Canvey Island (4-4-2): Keeley; Joscelyn, Lee, Porter, Martin (Blakebrough, 81); Brett, Britnell, Pizzey, Pennyfather; Jones, Mahoney (Harding, 67). Substitute not used: Desborough (gk).
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-2): Rust; Smith, McCarthy, Osman, Myall; Mundee (Munday, 71), Minton, Parris, Wilkins; McDougald, Byrne. Substitutes not used: Tuck, Andrews.
Referee: M Bailey (Impington, Cambs).Reuse content