The third round of the FA Cup is one of the most eagerly-anticipated dates in the football calendar, with 64 teams left in the competition dreaming of a run all the way to Wembley.
In 1987/88, our relegation to Division Three meant we had already played twice in the competition. In the first round, we beat Brentford at Griffin Park, thanks to an absolute screamer from Garry Nelson. Northampton Town were next and goals from Kevin Bremner with another from Nelson, set up a third round clash with Bournemouth.
The Cherries were a second division club at the time. They had been promoted as champions the previous season, but were struggling to get a foothold in the second tier. Managed by an up-and-coming young manager called Harry Redknapp, it was going to be a tough test for the Seagulls.
Manager Barry Lloyd did not have the luxury of being able to rotate his squad, so the team was similar to that which had played the previous match, a 1-1 draw against Aldershot.
John Keeley continued in goal, behind a back four of Kevan Brown, Keith Dublin, Steve Gatting and skipper Doug Rougvie. In midfield, Johnny Crumplin, Dean Wilkins and Mike Trusson were alongside Alan Curbishley. Up front, Bremner partnered Nelson.
In his programme notes, Lloyd welcomed Bournemouth and promised “a super-charged atmosphere this afternoon”. He pointed to the two previous FA Cup-ties where, “in contrast to our sometimes sporadic league form, we took both games by the scruff off the neck and played really well”. He signed off by hoping for “another sparkling FA Cup performance today and a home draw in the fourth round”.
The game itself wasn’t quite the classic that Lloyd was hoping for, but the biggest crowd of the season so far, 14,411, witnessed an excellent performance by Albion.
Both sides created chances in the first half but neither side showed enough composure in front of goal and they went in level at half-time.
It was a different Albion in the second half and skipper Rougvie put us ahead, sliding the ball underneath Gerry Payton in the Bournemouth goal. Albion were attacking the South Stand, not our preferred option, but we were not deterred. Rougvie was getting forward at every opportunity and his ‘combative’ style led to a further injury to the nose he had broken a few weeks previously. Bournemouth pressed for an equaliser, urged on by a large contingent but it was Albion who scored the decisive goal, through that man again, Nelson.
A 2-0 victory was well-deserved and although the game wasn’t the ‘sparkling’ performance he was hoping for, he did get his wish for a home draw in the fourth round, as we were paired with Arsenal.
Back to league matters, our consistency did improve and we ended the season second, behind Sunderland, which meant promotion back to the second division.
It is unlikely that Chris Hughton will choose our strongest line-up for Saturday’s game, but a repeat of the 1987/88 scoreline will do very nicely.
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