It is amazing what can happen in 10 seconds, isn’t it? The mother of one of my exes used to say “Be careful, 10 seconds can change your life”. We also now know that it can cause Brighton to lose 1-0 to Leicester City and bow out of the FA Cup at the fifth round stage.
For 93 minutes and 50 seconds at the King Power, there was much to like about the way the Albion played. A young and inexperienced team had given a good account of themselves against the Foxes and looked set to earn another 30 minutes in which to try and book a quarter final place.
And then it all went pear shaped. Christian Walton made a decent stop from Youri Tielemans, who raced over to take a quick short corner. Walton spotted the danger and began screaming at the nine teammates who were within 18 yards of him to switch on. Yeah, just the nine.
It was as if the Brighton goalkeeper had turned into Corporal Jones. “DON’T PANIC! DON’T PANIC MR DUNK! DON’T PANIC!” All that did of course was spark sheer panic.
Dunk, Jakub Moder, Joel Veltman, Yves Bissouma, Michal Karbownik, Pascal Gross, Alexis Mac Allister, Andi Zeqiri and Dan Burn all turned their attentions to what Tielemans was up to.
Not one of the nine Brighton players or Walton had spotted Kelechi Iheanacho completely free at the back post, leaving him with the simple task of heading home Tielemans’ cross whilst completely unmarked.
Let us just run through those numbers for you again. Two Leicester players stood over the corner, one in the box, nine Brighton players plus goalkeeper in the box, 1-0 to the Foxes. In its own way, to concede in such circumstances with 10 seconds left to play was bloody impressive.
Any neutrals watching were probably thanking their lucky stars that they were not going to be subjected to another 30 minutes of a tie which had yielded only four shots on target and none noteworthy.
For Brighton supporters though, there was enough going on in the Albion ranks to keep things interesting in spite of the lack of the goalmouth action.
Much of that interest was spurred by Graham Potter’s fashion and team selection. Fashion-wise, Potter controversially ditched his unbeaten old lady’s scarf, which you could argue was as much to blame for Brighton losing 1-0 to Leicester as the schoolboy defending.
Potter’s team selection was certainly better than his fashion choice. He struck just the right balance between resting players, giving some of the recent arrivals to the Amex game time and sending out a side which could compete against an in-form Leicester who had lost just once in 13 coming into the fixture.
Both sides made seven changes so in effect, it became a test of which club currently has the deeper squad. Brighton being the better side for much of the 90 minutes suggests that it is the Albion who possess better backup players than Leicester, something which is hugely encouraging given that the Foxes are on course for a top four finish in the Premier League this season.
The selection headlines came from our first look at Polish duo Jakub Moder and Michal Karbownik, signed for a combined £14.5 million from Lech Poznan and Legia Warsaw.
Moder showed glimpses of ability alongside Gross and Adam Lallana in midfield. He is remarkably good when running with the ball for a giant and he showed decent vision when attempting to thread a couple of through balls into dangerous positions to Zeqiri and Percy Tau.
Karbownik started at right wing back with Steve Alzate on the left, something which came as a bit of a surprise as the assumption when the teams were announced was that those two would be the other way around.
We know though that Karbownik is versatile. He has drawn comparisons to Philipp Lahm for his ability to play on the right, the left and as a defensive midfielder.
Against Leicester, he looked almost Tariq Lmaptey-esque; comfortable on the ball charging forward, a good decision maker and a player with pace to burn. The prospect of Lamptey tearing down one flank and Karbownik down the other in the not-too-distant future is tantalising.
Zeqiri too gave a good account of himself. A 21-year-old striker coming from the might of the Swiss second tier was never likely to be Premier League ready and it would be a bit of a surprise to see him playing too much top flight football between now and the end of the season.
What Zeqiri does have is a lot of raw talent. There was a touch of the Glenn Murrays about his movement, his aerial ability and the fact he was offside around 15 times in the 90 minutes.
On one of those occasions, he put the ball in the back of the net with a calm and clinical finish past Danny Ward which Murray would have been proud of. That it came from the sort of opportunity we have seen too many Brighton strikers miss this season was noteworthy.
Lallana was at the heart of most of the good things the Albion did once they established a foothold in the game after a fast Leicester start.
The person controlling the crowd noise seemed to be drunk as a couple of Alzate throw-ins were greeted by wild cheers, but not even the trigger-happy injection of artificial sounds could drown out Lallana’s encouragement for his young teammates.
When Lallana arrived in the summer from Liverpool, we said that his signing was about so much more than what happened in the Premier League.
He is exactly the sort of individual you want young players like Karbownik, Moder, Zeqiri and to a lesser degree, Alzate and Tau to be learning from. He was excellent in that senior pro role against Leicester.
It was Lallana who had the best two chances of the first half via a couple of long rangers. Unfortunately, his finishing was more in keeping with nearby Welford Road than the King Power Stadium and Danny Ward in the Leicester goal remained unworked.
Walton made a fine save at the feet of Ayoze Perez in his first piece of action of the night on the hour mark. Jamie Vardy was then withdrawn having struggled to make much headway as Dunk, White and Burn did an excellent job of marking him out of the game.
Within a minute of Zeqiri’s offside goal, the wonderfully named Cengiz Under thought he had given Leicester the lead but eagle-eyed assistant referee Darren Cann spotted Iheanacho was offside in the build up.
That was not Mr Cann’s only impressive work of the day. He had also appeared on an episode of Pointless earlier in the evening, winning the £1500 jackpot by supplying a pointless answer about Olympic sailing.
With Rebekkah Vardy currently competing on Dancing on Ice and Holly and Phil interviewing Jamie by video link every Sunday night to see what he made of his wife’s triple Axel into a Lutz with a toe loop, there were a lot of Olympic boxes being ticked in Leicester 1-0 Brighton.
Both teams seemed to be even less enthusiastic about the prospect of extra time than Vardy is talking about a Salchow jump on ITV. That meant a flurry of activity in the final 10 minutes, mainly from the Albion.
Karbownik rampaged forward down his flank to cross for Zeqiri who fired wide. Alzate then went tearing down his flank but Tau could not quite stretch to turn home. Another chance fell to Zeqiri which Ward was equal to in what turned out to be Brighton’s only shot on target of the evening.
That extra 30 minutes was beckoning right up until the final seconds when Brighton switched off, Leicester struck and suddenly the Foxes had a 1-0 win and a place in the FA Cup quarter finals.
The ridiculous finish should not detract from what was otherwise a good evening for Brighton. We saw promising signs from new faces, the back three pocketed Vardy, Lallana got 80 minutes under his belt and the Albion’s weakened team is as good as Leicester’s second string.
Comparing how these ‘reserves’ competed against Leicester in contrast to the terrible performance a full strength side put in last time Brighton visited the King Power and lost 3-0 in the Premier League in December, you could see signs of real progress over the past two months.
Leicester have been FA Cup bridesmaids four times before, a record for a club who have never won the competition. Nobody would begrudge them going onto lift the trophy this season as they play good football and it would make a refreshing change to see someone outside the big six get their hands on silverware.
As for Brighton, it is back to concentrating on the league. Better dig out your lucky scarf again, Graham.