Sunday 22 July 2018

Marriner chooses to go it alone with late goal which sees Seagulls oust Eagles

Brighton's Glenn Murray was the late match winner
Brighton's Glenn Murray was the late match winner

Video Assistant Referee technology remained unused on its introduction to English football - but there was a hint of controversy as Brighton eliminated Crystal Palace from the FA Cup.

VAR was available for the first time in a competitive fixture in England, but despite suspicions of handball in Glenn Murray's late goal against his former club, was not called upon.

Bakary Sako's fine second-half strike had brought Palace level after Dale Stephens had given the hosts the lead at The Amex Stadium.

With a replay looking increasingly likely, and as he once did against Brighton for Palace, substitute Murray then ensured a fourth-round trip to Championship Middlesbrough with his goal three minutes from time.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton has made no secret of the fact that preserving their Premier League status remains the club's priority, and he made eight changes from the team that last week drew 2-2 with Bournemouth.

Only Ezequiel Schelotto, Stephens and Jose Izquierdo were retained in his starting XI, and Roy Hodgson similarly made four to his following their 2-1 victory at Southampton, resting Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha.

Hodgson has recently faced the loss of numerous first-team players to injury, and it will have discouraged him further when he was forced to substitute Jeffrey Schlupp in the 13th minute after he was hurt in a challenge with Izzy Brown.

Solly March and Tomer Hemed had already threatened with headers when, in the 25th minute, Stephens gave his team the lead.

In space on the right wing Schelotto cut the ball back towards the edge of the area to Stephens and, gifted too much time and space by Palace's defence, he ran through on goal and shot under goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

It was the midfielder's first since December 2016, and could have been followed by another from Hemed - but the striker instead headed harmlessly over from in front of goal.

Even while Brighton continued to waste chances they again appeared the likelier goalscorers, until from nowhere in the 69th minute Palace unexpectedly drew level.

What looked an innocuous block bounced kindly near Sako and, from 30 yards, he turned and struck first time beyond Tim Krul and low into the back off net off the far right post.

Lifted by his goal, Sako then broke down the left before shooting into the side-netting and Brighton similarly responded by going even closer.

The dangerous Solly March ran down the right and cut back to Sam Baldock, who from inside the area curled against the post. When March again had possession on the right, he then found Beram Kayal in the area with time and space - but the midfielder struck wastefully over the crossbar.

The Seagulls were controversially rewarded for their perseverance when - from a free-kick - March crossed to Uwe Huenemeier, who headed across goal for Murray to finish at the back post via his knee.

The former Palace player's arm was close to making contact a split second later and t elevision replays were inconclusive - but referee Andre Marriner allowed the goal to stand without requesting the use of VAR, meaning Palace were eliminated by their rivals.

Press Association

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