After the disappointment of the weekend, the Baggies have the chance to get back to winning ways quickly with an FA Cup 4th Round Replay on Wednesday evening against Brighton.
Many fans will have been hoping to get a glimpse of the Darren Moore’s latest trio of loan signings, but FA rules stipulate that because all three were signed after the original tie was played, none are eligible to feature. So while we had a brief look at Murphy on Saturday, we will have to wait to see either of the other new boys.
Furthermore, both Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero played for their parent clubs in this season’s FA Cup so both would be cup-tied anyway – of the three, only Johansen would be able to play in the fifth round against Derby should the right Albion progress.
Both managers have an interesting choice for their selection. With what both will consider a winnable home draw waiting for the winners in round five and in the knowledge that a maximum of two of the current Premier League top six can make the quarter finals, this year’s competition has opened up much like it did in 2008 when the Baggies made it all the way to the semi-final.
However, while their eyes may widen with the prospect of an FA Cup quarter final, both have important league campaigns to consider. Darren Moore’s priorities seem to be fairly clear, and while Brighton are sitting in an apparently comfortable mid-table position, defeat at Fulham and a home draw with Watford since the clubs first met leaves Chris Hughton’s side just five points clear of the bottom three and I’m sure that the former Irish international will be looking nervously over his shoulder.
For that reason, I expect Hughton to field a side similar to the one that the Baggies held at the Amex, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Big Dave did something similar.
One change I expect to see for Albion from the first match will be the return of Livermore to the midfield. Given that he didn’t start at the weekend and both Field and Harper have played the majority of the last three games, I would certainly expect he and Brunt to make up two of the middle three, and perhaps alongside Kyle Edwards once again. However, should one of either Harper or Field start, it could be a sign that Moore may be looking to rest one of them in favour of Stefan Johansen for the trip to Stoke.
Up front, it could well be the same trio as the Amex with Hoolahan as the false nine alongside HRK and Leko. I do wonder whether it may be a better option to play Wes a little deeper and push Edwards into the front three with Robson-Kanu acting as the focal point. I expect the back five, who all played well on the south coast, to be given another chance in the replay.
Assuming similar line ups, it could be a similarly tight game and it wouldn’t have taken too much for either side to have broken the deadlock in the first game. Brighton had the bulk of the possession, and you would probably expect that to be the same at the Hawthorns, but the Baggies stand-ins should take great confidence from the first game and could maybe take the game to Brighton a little more. It should also not go unnoticed that the Seagulls have gone six games without a win in all competitions.
I’ve made it clear on this site that I’d love to see Albion have an extended run in the Cup, but I’m realistic that we won’t see anything like a Baggies first team on Wednesday evening. Nonetheless, it does represent a good opportunity to get to the fifth round, and it’s a chance for the second string to impress on live television.
Having looked at the history of the two Albions in my preview to the first game, I thought I would take a look back at some of the Baggies’ memorable FA Cup replays.
Wednesday will be West Bromwich Albion’s 83rd FA Cup replay and they have won exactly half of their previous replays, two of them on penalties. Of the remainder, nine have been drawn and extended the tie to a further replay, while 32 have been lost, of which just one was on penalties. Of the 39 FA Cup replays Albion have played at home, they have been victorious on 25 occasions, one of which was on penalties.
Albion’s fourth round ties have needed a replay on 14 occasions, and on only four occasions has the second tie been at home. Of those, perhaps the most famous was in 1978 against Manchester United. The first match at Old Trafford had been drawn 1-1 and the teams met on the following Wednesday evening at the Hawthorns.
It was a feisty encounter in which Bomber Brown opened the scoring sweeping home Ally Brown’s knock down from a Willie Johnston cross. Stuart Pearson equalised for United before Cyrille Regis restored Albion’s lead just after half time when he followed in Johnston’s shot as it came off the bar. Shortly afterwards, Joe Jordan was accused of stamping on John Wile, but whatever actually happened, the Baggies’s skipper could not continue and, in the days of just one substitute, Atkinson’s team ended up with a central defensive partnership of Bryan Robson and Mick Martin to finish the game.
Perhaps inevitably, United equalised although it needed thunderbolt from Gordon Hill in the last minute to take the game into extra time. Seconds into the additional period, Albion were back in front and it was another rebound off the crossbar. This time it was a shot from Ally Brown but it was Regis who was on hand once again to poke it home, and the visitors were unable to come back as Albion held out to progress to the fifth round.
In Albion’s last successful FA Cup run of 1968, they needed no less than four replays on the way to the final. Astle may have scored in every round, but he did not score in every game! In the third round, the Baggies travelled to Layer Road to take on Colchester United – that finished 1-1 with Tony Brown scoring Albion’s goal from the spot, but the Baggies cruised through the replay 4-0 with two goals from Astle and one each from Kaye and Clarke.
The fourth round also needed a replay, although this time the first game was at the Hawthorns. Again it finished 1-1 and again it was a Bomber penalty, and at the replay at the Dell, Astle grabbed another brace with Bomber on the mark again as the Baggies won 3-2.
Albion’s other two replays in that season’s competition were both in an epic quarter final tie with Liverpool The first match at the Hawthorns finished goalless, while the first replay at Anfield finished 1-1 with Tony Hateley scoring for the hosts and Jeff Astle equalising for Albion. The second replay took place at a neutral venue, in this case Maine Road, Manchester. Astle opened the scoring for the Baggies and it was Hateley again who scored for Liverpool, but Chippy Clark scored a few minutes after that and Albion held on to progress to the semi final.
Only once has an Albion FA Cup tie gone further than two replays and that was in the fourth round in 1953. Albion were drawn against Chelsea with the first game being played at Stamford Bridge on 31st January. Johnny Nicholls scored the Baggies goal in a 1-1 draw and, by the time the replay was played at the Hawthorns four days later, Albion manager Jesse Carver had been replaced by Vic Buckingham and the new man’s first game in charge ended goalless. Five days later, Villa Park was the venue for the second replay, this one finishing 1-1 with Jimmy Dudley scoring for the Baggies, while the tie was finally settled emphatically at Highbury, north London, as Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners.
It will be a tight match and I wouldn’t surprise if it went to extra time. A tough one to call so I’ll go with my heart and say that the Baggies will progress to round five.
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All competitions; most recent game on the right
26 Jan 2019 – FA Cup 4th Round
Brighton & Hove Albion 0
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
13 Jan 2018 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Evans, Dawson)
Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Albion’s Record against Brighton & Hove Albion