Brighton’s FA Cup adventure continues after conquering Coventry
Albion are through to the last eight of the FA Cup for the first time since 1986.
Jurgen Locadia scored a debut goal as Brighton ended their 32-year wait to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals by comfortably beating Coventry 3-1.
Record signing Locadia, a £14million arrival from PSV Eindhoven, swept his new team into an early lead against the League Two Sky Blues, before defender Connor Goldson headed a second before half-time.
Albion, who last reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1986, sealed a convincing victory through Leonardo Ulloa’s first goal since he returned from Leicester, prior to Jonson Clarke-Harris claiming a late consolation for the visitors.
The Premier League Seagulls – playing at home to the lowest-ranked team left in the competition – looked to have been handed the most favourable draw of the fifth round and so it proved.
Manager Chris Hughton, with one eye on top-flight survival, made nine changes for the tie, including partnering Locadia and fellow January recruit Ulloa in attack.
After kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to transport problems outside the Amex Stadium, Locadia – who arrived in England four weeks ago carrying a hamstring injury – was clearly keen to make up for lost time as he hooked against the woodwork inside five minutes.
Coventry began the day 63 places below their opponents in the football pyramid and they almost went in front when Clarke-Harris powerfully headed against the crossbar from a Jordan Shipley corner.
It proved to be a significant chance squandered from which Mark Robins’ men never really recovered.
Locadia opened the scoring 15 minutes in, converting a first-time effort into the bottom left corner after Anthony Knockaert had scuffed a cross from the right.
The lively former Holland Under-21 international could easily have claimed a first-half hat-trick.
He missed his kick when picked out by Solly March, narrowly failed to connect with a Markus Suttner cross, and, later, fired straight at City goalkeeper Lee Burge.
Albion were well on top and they deservedly doubled their lead 11 minutes before the break.
Austrian left-back Suttner swung in a corner from the right and centre-back Goldson climbed highest at the back post to nod in his first goal since undergoing heart surgery last year.
City, backed by around 4,500 noisy travelling fans, have reached the last eight of the competition twice since winning it in 1987.
Any hope of them improving that record was extinguished 16 minutes after the restart when on-loan Argentinian striker Ulloa emphatically headed in Bruno’s first-time cross.
City forward Clarke-Harris then struck the woodwork for a second time when he flicked Tom Bayliss’ centre against the left post.
The Rotherham loanee, starting for the first time since joining City last month, eventually put his name on the score-sheet 13 minutes from time, pouncing on a loose ball to fire home.
Coventry were spurred on by the goal but they could not find another to set up a tense finish, before Seagulls substitute Sam Baldock struck the crossbar at the other end in the final minute.