Both sides made changes, as is the rule rather than the exception these days. Wednesday manager Garry Monk made six to the side beaten by Hull City but the Sunday Telegraph suggested that “the seven changes that Brighton made seemed to affect the home side far more, with the leadership of rested captain Lewis Dunk badly missed.
“Wednesday had the first strike at goal, Adam Reach’s low cross from the left met first-time by Jacob Murphy, whose shot curled over the crossbar.
“Brighton’s first attempt came from Gaetan Bong’s looping header after a high cross by Steven Alzate after 15 minutes, finger tipped over the bar by Cameron Dawson. But Dawson was lucky three minutes later when he came out of goal but was beaten to a long ball by Neal Maupay. However, instead of shooting at the empty goal, the Brighton top scorer overelaborated and allowed Dominic Iorfa to clear.”
The Sunday Mirror took up the tale. “Brighton had plenty of the ball but wanted too many touches and too many passes. And in first-half added time they almost paid as Fletcher caught Dale Stephens in possession and shot for the top corner, David Button denying him the opener with an acrobatic leaping save to his right.”
The Observer carried a Press Association report, written by Ed Elliott, who described the winning goal thus, “Massimo Luongo, who wasted a chance moments earlier, was fouled by Steven Alzate on the edge of the box and [Adam] Reach drilled home from the resultant free-kick via a heavy deflection after the ball was touched to him by the substitute Sam Winnall.”
As Albion tried to force a replay at Hillsborough, the Sunday Times reported that “Brighton substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh tried a reprise of his bicycle kick goal against Chelsea but this time the ball went wide off his shin and that more or less summed up the difference between the Brighton side that has performed well in the Premier League recently and this FA Cup version.
“’We didn’t play well,’ Brighton head coach Graham Potter said. ‘We lacked cohesion. It was a flat performance. We had some chances in the first half but they deserved to go through. Today collectively we weren’t good enough. There is not that much distance between the teams. We are not so good that if we didn’t play well we couldn’t get into trouble’.”
Nathan Salt of the Mail on Sunday felt that Albion had paid for disrespecting the so-called magic of the FA Cup in making so many changes. He wrote, “The silence from the home support was deafening. The cheers from the away end pierced through the sky.
“While the away fans chanted about 'the greatest team that the world has ever seen' this was a winnable tie for Potter and his players, an opportunity missed. Ultimately, Potter simply couldn't grasp the magic of it all - and it is not often we get to say that.”