Europa Conference League final previewMay 24 | 4 min read
Graham Potter: Chaotic West Brom defeat may be key part of Brighton journey
The Seagulls endured a frustrating trip to The Hawthorns last season and meet West Brom in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Graham Potter believes last season’s farcical defeat at West Brom may have proved beneficial for high-flying Brighton as the clubs prepare to lock horns in the FA Cup.
The Seagulls return to The Hawthorns on Saturday for the first time since missing two penalties and having a goal ruled out in bizarre circumstances during a painful 1-0 Premier League loss last February.
Referee Lee Mason initially disallowed Lewis Dunk’s first-half free-kick, before awarding a goal and then eventually chalking it off after a VAR check amid chaos and confusion.
The contentious episode came during three successive defeats for Brighton, but they recovered to comfortably avoid relegation, while West Brom went down to the Sky Bet Championship.
Seagulls head coach Potter has attempted to forget the unpleasant experience but also feels it could have positively contributed to his side currently sitting ninth in the Premier League.
“We were in the middle of a period where we were scratching our heads, playing quite well but not getting the points,” said Potter, ahead of this weekend’s third-round tie.
“It accumulated in that game – I’ve tried to blank it out of my mind! That’s the beauty of football as they say, but it was not our finest moment.
“There is a danger that you can feel sorry for yourself and let things get on top of you, so credit to the players at the time and everybody around that we didn’t let that happen.
“You have moments in seasons when your character gets tested.
“We came through, so that’s positive, and maybe that’s why we are in the position where we are now because of that part of our journey.
“Sometimes you have days where it just doesn’t go your way and you have to accept that, even though you don’t like it. But at the time when it’s happening to you it isn’t pleasant.”
Brighton captain Dunk – who is out injured on this occasion – described Mason’s decision as “horrendous” and claimed the match official lost control of the game.
The Seagulls had major chances to avoid a controversial defeat, but Danny Welbeck later fired a penalty against a post after Pascal Gross had earlier hit the crossbar from the spot.
Former Swansea boss Potter, who has only once progressed beyond the third round of the cup as a manager, is eager to avenge the defeat on Saturday.
“I grew up watching the FA Cup final, it’s a special competition and I understand everything about it and how important it is,” said Potter, who was a West Brom player between 1997 and 2000.
“And that’s why we’ll go and do our best to get through. It’s as simple as that. We are facing a strong opponent at The Hawthorns and it’s a tough game.
“But we want to go through because the FA Cup is important for us.”