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Sometimes, you just have to accept it’s not going to be your day.

The moment Brighton appointed Chris Hughton as their new manager in the final hours of 2014, I had a sneaking feeling that the Bees would not be having a Happy New Year.

Not being negative. Not in the least.

It’s just one of those things.

For most fans, the skeleton of ‘old Brentford’ has well and truly been packed away in the closet as comeback wins agains Fulham, Derby and Millwall recently showed that temporary setbacks and the ‘big game occasion’ doesn’t seem to phase us as much as it used to back in the day.

However, there is still belief that superstition has it’s part to play … sometimes. And the ‘new manager’ scenario may have had a bit-part in Brighton’s victory today. Even if it was merely for the fact that ex-Irish international Hughton bought the rub of the green to Brighton with him as Bees fans were left perplexed as to how such a one sided contest saw their team knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle.

Listening to the post-match podcast from the pub, some fans were just lost for words. The general consensus was we didn’t play badly. In fact our approach play was excellent. What let us down was our finishing. Badly.

Mark Warburton made four changes from the side that lost at Wolves. In came Bonham in goal – Button earning himself a day off to hit the New Years sales with Richard Lee, who announced his end-of-season retirement this week, on the bench. Harlee Dean came on in place of Tony Craig – pairing up with Tarkoswki at the back. Jon Toral and Smith took the places of injured Douglas and Pritchard

However, it will be Andre Gray will put this match down to a ‘bad hair day’. To be fair he did everything right but put the ball in the back of the net  – sending three headers wide in a frantic spell after the hour and blasting wide early on when he really should have scored. Other than that, he timed his runs well. He picked the ball up deep. He shrugged off defenders with ease. He did all the difficult things perfectly. It was just his composure in front of goal which cost him getting a hat trick – if not more.

But as Mark Warburton pointed out in his post-match comments, it’s not fair to single out one particular player. This is a team game. And in a team where goals come from all over the pitch – in particular from our attacking midfield – you could point the finger at any of our attacking players and say they failed to deliver when it really mattered.

Whilst the attack was misfiring, defensively the Bees were also not on the money. Warburton described the defence as “taking liberties”. Time after time they were un-necessarily caught in possession in dangerous positions. Brighton hit the post more than once as our defenders went to sleep in the second half. Luckily Brighton’s inability to make the possession count ensured that the Bees were always in with a shout of winning this cup tie .. up to the final 5 minutes anyway.

Brighton ironically were a pale imitation of the team we beat at Griffin Park earlier this season. By the 2nd half they were holding for dear life but smelt blood as the Bees missed more and more opportunities. And it was from a needless foul given away by Toumani that the ball was flicked in and by Lewis Dunk to give Brighton the lead – just as fans were pencilling a play into their diaries.

And Chris O’Grady, who was recently emergency recalled from Sheffield Utd due to a strike crisis, scored in extra time to put the tie beyond doubt.

On the flip side lets give credit where credit is due. Bonham had a good game and could not be faulted for any of the goals. His distribution from the back was confident, he was (surprisingly … most fans remember him from the 4-0 hammering by Bradford don’t forget) dominant in his box. And one the few occasions that Brighton actually got a shot in, he saved the day.

It’s been argued by some that teams now have worked out how to play Brentford. Knowing we will play attacking football, some teams just sit back and allow us to take them apart. If we have an off-day in front of goal, they then hit us on the counter when we blow out. That’s what Charlton did at the beginning of the season. That was Norwich’s game plan. Ipswich took that tact as well … as did Wolves. And Brighton were no different .

Houghton said: “At half-time I told the boys to be aware about Brentford carving you open because they are a good side, but said that if they are too expansive we could catch them on the break and we will have opportunities.”

Disappointing as it may be being dumped out of the cup, some fans have seen this defeat as a blessing in disguise. It has given us opportunity for to rest up important players like Pritchard and Douglas before knuckling down to the spit and sawdust of the league next week with no distractions.

It also highlighted the fact that, as beautiful as our flowing football may be, we still have a number of key elements we need to deal with if we are to consolidate our place in this division or dare I say it, climb higher.

Word on the street is another striker is being currently touted. And defensively, we are also looking to tighten up in that area too – giving us strength in depth to see the season out.

All in all, I’m not too despondent. Looking on the plus side, we can now concentrate on putting things straight after a slightly iffy Xmas and New Year.  We haven’t quite been the same since Douglas come off at half-time against Cardiff. Hopefully, with the team back to full strength next week and a few new signings in the offing, we’ll get ourselves back on track.

Plus I’ve heard Norwich is a particularly lovely place to go January .With train fares at only £5 each way on Anglia Rail, it would have been a real shame to miss out.



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