SUCH is the sense of relentless corrosion at Brighton that it counts as a major triumph for them to beat non-League opposition in the FA Cup first round. Last year they went out at the same stage to Kingstonian and this time it took two goes to shake off Canvey Island.
The gulf in ability that was concealed on a bumpy pitch in Essex 10 days ago finally showed at the Goldstone Ground last night. Canvey Island brought 1,000 supporters for what could be described grandly as a return seaside derby, but in this second match Brighton finally discovered their survival instinct.
Brighton's seagull emblem has been a tattered flag, flapping in a perpetual gale of trouble. They have lost their last six League games, are £6 million in debt, without a venue for next season and on Monday night lost their manager, Liam Brady. Last night's victory was a first for the new manager, Jimmy Case, who carried on playing for Brighton into his 40s.
The first match had contained all the ingredients of a rollicking early FA Cup tie: spectators spilling out of every window and crevice, two plucky equalisers for the non-League team.
This time, though, Canvey's performance lacked conviction and the visitors were 2-0 down within 47 minutes after John Byrne and Junior McDougald had scored for Brighton. Perhaps they were still subdued after playing the Metropolitan Police on Saturday.
For Brighton, facing an FA inquiry into the club's finances, this win provides minor relief during a week in which they have been described as Britain's most troubled club. Their reward is a second-round tie with another faded power, Fulham, at Craven Cottage on Dec 2.
Canvey Island: John Keeley, Kevin Lee, Wayne Joselyne, Chris Blakebrough, Steve Porter, Alan Brett, Glenn Pennyfather, Wayne Pizzey, Tony Mahoney, Andy Jones, Alan Harding. Subs: Micky Hall, Ricki Finning, Eddie Martin
Brighton: Rust, Peter Smith, Myall, Parris, Osman, McCarthy, Mundee, McDougald, Minton, Byrne, Wilkins. Subs: Storer, Andrews, Munday
Ref: M C Bailey (Impington,Cambridge)
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