herald

Wednesday 20 June 2018

No video issues as Brighton book clash at 'Boro

Brighton 2 C Palace 1

Brighton goalscorer Glenn Murray applauds the fans after
the FA Cup win over Crystal Palace. Photo: PA Wire
Brighton goalscorer Glenn Murray applauds the fans after the FA Cup win over Crystal Palace. Photo: PA Wire

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 it was not called upon by referee Andre Marriner, even though Glenn Murray's arm was suspiciously close to the ball in the late goal against his former club which sealed a 2-1 home win.

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. Roy Hodgson similarly made four to his following their 2-1 victory at Southampton, resting Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha.

The Video Assistant Referee, pictured before the game. Photo: PA Wire
The Video Assistant Referee, pictured before the game. Photo: PA Wire

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.

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.

Brighton were controversially rewarded for their perseverance when, in the 87th minute and from a free-kick, March crossed to Uwe Huenemeier, who headed across goal for Murray to finish at the back post via his knee, although the former Palace player's arm was close to making contact a split second later.

Television replays were inconclusive and Marriner allowed the goal to stand without requesting the use of VAR, meaning Palace were out.

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