FA Cup 2011: Brighton and Hove Albion Away Days to Stoke 5th-Round Proper

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FA Cup 2011: Brighton and Hove Albion Away Days to Stoke 5th-Round Proper
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Northampton away - not one of the best away games ever!

An away day—no matter the opposition—is always a great day. You can be 20 minutes late, grumpy on the trip up when you realize you're going to be late, miss both goals that you concede, see your team's reserves slump to a 2-0 loss and watch a key player get a horrific injury. And yet the day out was still a great day out!

All of that happened against Northampton in a League Cup tie. Navarro was injured badly and has just started training again now! The match was poor and we were late in—it wasn't exactly the perfect match of football.

Southampton in the 2010/2011 season was a 0-0 draw in which we looked lucky to get the point despite a Chris Wood penalty that was saved.

This time a walk from college to Withdean then on the coach to St. Mary's with a nice early arrival was the order of the day.

An OK trip down with nothing special and the football wasn't exactly beautiful. El Abd picked up a nasty cut too. The photo made me ill. 

But there was still something special about the game. It was away.

The final example however is one huge away game. Aston Villa, FA Cup fourth round, January 2010. 

One goal down early on. 

On the stroke of halftime, Brighton and Hove Albion fans entered what could be argued to be the best feeling we'd have that season. Tommy Elphick pulled us level. 

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Forsters goal just gets sucked in to the net by the Albion fans behind

Gus Poyet had been training and preaching his short passing and possession football philosophy since his arrival in November 2009 and it was working. 

We sat about and played our game—not theirs. 

Then Villa went 2-1 up and shortly after 3-1 up. 

Nicky Forster's goal on full time to put the match to 3-2 however left the fans feeling proud at their team's effort and buzzing from the last goal. 

Great football, but it wasn't that football that made the day (even if it did have the five goals!). It was the passion. Fans standing and singing for 90 minutes and even pulling the ball into the net for Albion's second goal. 

So this year, for the first time since 1985, Brighton are in the fifth round of the oldest football tournament in the world.

A chance to test our style against a solid (and higher placed than Villa) Premiership opposition for the first time since over a year ago.

The team has changed so much since the Villa game. No more Forster. Elphick has to fight for his place and isn't as favoured and the Gordon Greer/Adam El Abd partnership.

Kuipers/Brezovan as competing keepers is replaced by Ankergren with Brez as a more-than-worthy backup. 

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Could Stoke prove to be better than Villa? Elphick may disagree if he isn't picked!

We've got Noone, Sandaza, Holroyd, Wood and Painter is our player now, not a loaned player with Sparrow, Kish, Baz and Dunk all in and around the team. 

Reaction to drawing Stoke City, however, was poor. Only 1,000 tickets sold by the end of the season ticket holder (gold membership) priority. Following that, though, it did pick up and we have sold our allocation out but 1,000 week in, week out season ticket-holding faithful? That's low.

Every single gold member bought a ticket to Villa. Yet only 1,000 to Stoke? Two games away from a semifinal at Wembley? Crazy.

Travel is only £25 for a child or £34 for an adult—London Midland do a £10 unlimited train travel offer, which is the most expensive part.

Personally, I don't get how Stoke isn't going to be a great away day and why we didn't sell our allocation out earlier and get at least 1,500 sold before that gold priority ended. 

But each to their own. Just bring on the beers and the train up and down and the rest will follow!

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