Brighton face unwanted replay as new-look Baggies hold their own

Brighton face an unwanted FA Cup fourth-round replay after failing to break down stubborn Sky Bet Championship opponents West Brom in a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium.

The Seagulls, whose main priority is Premier League survival, struck a post through Dale Stephens but were unable to capitalise on their 24 attempts at goal.

An inexperienced Baggies side played their part in a competitive cup tie and almost sprung a surprise when Tosin Adarabioyo headed against the crossbar with 18 minutes remaining.

Last January’s Premier League meeting between the sides was marred by an ensuing racism row involving Seagulls defender Gaetan Bong and Baggies striker Jay Rodriguez.

The allegation against Rodriguez was found “not proven” by the Football Association and neither player was involved on Saturday as both managers made multiple changes.

Brighton handed a debut to centre-back Dan Burn as one of six alterations, while only Hal Robson-Kanu and 18-year-old midfielder Rekeem Harper were retained from the Baggies’ win at Bolton on Monday.

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton received an honorary degree from the University of Sussex on Thursday in recognition for ending the club’s 34-season absence from the top flight in 2017.

He saw his team edge a scrappy and disjointed opening to the game in which Baggies goalkeeper Jonathan Bond saved comfortably from recalled pair Yves Bissouma and Florin Andone.

Referee Lee Mason was later uninterested when Seagulls winger Anthony Knockaert fell to ground inside the box when challenged by Kyle Bartley. Bond then spilled Beram Kayal’s powerful drive from distance before Bissouma fired narrowly over moments later.

The visitors’ experimental starting XI had managed just seven goals between them in all competitions this season, with stand-in captain Robson-Kanu claiming three of those.

They were restricted to few forays forward in the first half and 19-year-old forward Jonathan Leko wasted their only attempt at goal with a wayward finish after creating space in the box.

Darren Moore’s side, backed by more than 3,000 travelling fans, began the second period in positive fashion, but, after Harper sent a stinging effort whistling past the right post, they almost fell behind in the 58th minute.

Seagulls midfielder Stephens took aim with a curling attempt from around 30 yards out which brushed the fingertips of Bond before striking the left upright.

West Brom also hit the woodwork in their attempts to break the deadlock when Manchester City loanee Adarabioyo directed a towering header against the crossbar from Wes Hoolahan’s inviting free-kick.

Brighton substitute Viktor Gyokeres, off the bench in place of fellow forward Jurgen Locadia, was then denied his first senior goal after his low effort at the end of jinking run was repelled by Bond.

Sweden international Gyokeres then saw his blushes spared by an offside flag after missing a gaping goal on the rebound following Glenn Murray’s initial effort as both sides were forced to settle for a second meeting next month.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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