Rob Elliot

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

The first goal was crucial in Newcastle's FA Cup with Budweiser third round tie with Brighton according to goalkeeper Rob Elliot - but unfortunately there was nothing he could do to stop it from going to Brighton.

Andrea Orlandi's hooked finish after a great piece of control left the 26-year-old shot-stopper with no chance after 32 minutes and Will Hoskins added a second in the closing stages to end United's interest in the competition for another year.

Elliot felt that it could have been a different story at the Amex Stadium had the Magpies' young side taken the lead, while he insisted that Shola Ameobi's second-half dismissal was another key factor in the 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Championship promotion-chasers. 

"You've got to give credit to Brighton - they played well and they've got a great style of football," the former Charlton number one told nufc.co.uk. "But I think the first goal was important today with our team being inexperienced.

"I don't know if it was a good touch or a lucky touch but it was a great finish - but we've got to defend better from those situations. It was just a big switch, they put it into the box and he was free to take a touch and turn.

"There's things you can always do better but I don't think we were playing a young team through choice - it was literally all we had left and I think the fans appreciated that at the end. They were excellent as usual.

"The effort was there, it was just inexperience against a top Championship team and obviously the sending off didn't help us.

"Towards the end they just stretched us so 2-0 probably flattered them a little bit but you've just got to hold your hands up and say well done.

"Gaps appear unfortunately. It's the FA Cup, you can't sit back and try and take a point - you need the win or at least the draw so you have to go for it because it's a one-off. Unfortunately Brighton picked us off and they're very good at that. It was hard with 11 and going down to ten, they're going to get opportunities."

However, Elliot was full of praise for 21-year-old defenders James Tavernier and Paul Dummett. Tavernier started at right-back but switched to centre-back at half-time when James Perch limped off to be replaced by Dummett, who impressed at left-back on his Newcastle debut.

"Tav did well in second half at centre-half and so did Dummy when he came on for his first game. It's hard for them - they shouldn't all be getting chucked in together but with injuries and the heavy Christmas period we've had to put out the team. "The effort was fantastic but we just lacked that little bit of quality in the end.

"But it's all a great experience. It hurts now but in the long run they will learn something from it, just like the Bordeaux game. The defeat hurts at the time but in the long run it will work out beneficial."

After the game, Elliot - himself making only a fifth start of the season - threw his gloves into the crowd to show how much the fantastic away support meant to him.

Despite the long distance, lunchtime kick-off and the game being televised, 1,978 supporters made the journey and the keeper said: "It's fantastic.

"Everyone's been brilliant to me. I've never had anything said, even after the Forest game - my first game - when I didn't do great, the fans were brilliant. So it was just a way of saying thank you when I chucked my gloves in.

"You don't appreciate it until you're in it. If there had been 500 here you'd have said 'that's good' but they sold out their allocation, they were singing, they were chanting and they didn't turn on us at all. They kept with us and not many sets of football fans would do that.

"I think they can see what we're trying to do and the unfortunate circumstances we were in with injuries and suspensions. It's a hard period but going forwards hopefully we'll get two or three of our players back for Norwich and kick start our season.

"With the players coming back we're only going to get back each week from now on. You could argue that we're at our bare bones now so every time a player gets back fit, we'll get stronger and stronger.

"(Mathieu) Debuchy was excellent in training on Friday so just from the first look we're bringing in top players and I think things will only improve from here."

Click here to buy a Newcastle United shirt with Elliot's name and number on the back