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MIXED EMOTIONS FOR WALTON AFTER FA CUP EXIT

19 March 2018

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Christian Walton saves from Manolo Gabbiadini.

Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Christian Walton reflected on Wigan Athletic’s impressive run to the quarter-finals of the Emirates FA Cup, which ended in defeat to Southampton, despite the 22-year-old’s man-of-the-match performance.

The Latics beat AFC Bournemouth, West Ham United and Manchester City en route to Saturday’s game against the Saints, and although the club’s FA Cup journey came to an end at the DW Stadium, Walton took positives from the experience.

He said, “I’ve got mixed emotions really. I’m obviously gutted that we didn’t go one step closer and get to Wembley, but we can take massive confidence from all four games in the FA Cup.

“All four matches were against Premier League opposition, and we can take that into our league form now, finish the season strongly and get the promotion that everyone wants.

“Some people have said the FA Cup has been a distraction, but I think it can work in a positive way. Hopefully we can go into Wednesday night’s game [v Walsall] feeling strong after yesterday’s performance.

“The chances of us winning the FA Cup were small, even though it would have been nice to get to Wembley - but the league is the most important thing for Wigan.”

The Albion loanee made a string of brilliant saves to keep Wigan in the game, including a penalty save from Manolo Gabbiadini, but Walton was frustrated that his efforts in goal were unable to provide a platform to succeed.

“It was nice to make a few saves, especially the penalty save. Ultimately, it was just a guess really. Gabbiadini hadn’t scored of late, so I thought the natural side for a left footer was the side he went.

“We get the highlights reel of their previous penalty takers and what side they’ve gone, but it was a mixed bag. [Dusan] Tadic and Gabbiadini had gone both sides - but I’m glad I guessed right and made the save.

“We were losing at the time, but I think if we were drawing still, and I made that save, it could have changed the game.

“We had numerous chances in the first half and then one after that penalty save in the second half, so I think moments like that can sometimes change a game.”

With Walton set to return at the end of the season, the shot-stopper commented on Mathew Ryan’s form for the Seagulls this season, and highlighted his desire to build on his positive loan moves and break into Albion’s first team.

“I’ve only been looking in from the outside, but he’s made a number of good saves to keep the team in games, which is good for him and it’s good to see a goalkeeper doing well for the club.

“Obviously my aim is to get in that team, so I’ll be putting as much competition on Maty for the next 12-18 months to get into the Brighton first team.

“There’s nothing like playing games week-in week-out and having that Saturday feeling. You learn so much from making errors in games and dealing with different atmospheres.

“Playing in the FA Cup, testing yourself against Premier League opposition, it’s a really good learning experience and all my loan moves have been beneficial in different ways.”


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