The year is 1902, Edward VII was sat on the throne, Newton Heath change their name to Manchester United and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles is published for the first time.

It is also the last time that Lincoln City reached the last sixteen of the FA Cup.

That is until now.

Roared on by the fierce Sincil Bank faithful, motivated by the inspirational Cowley brothers and, in Danny Cowley’s own words, with “the football gods smiling upon us”, Lincoln City dumped Championship high-fliers Brighton and Hove Albion out of the FA Cup.

They did it after going a goal down to a smart finish from Seagulls youngster Richie Towell midway through the first half.

Minutes after Solly March has cracked a twenty five yard effort of the Imps crossbar, a long ball down the middle by Connor Goldson was flicked on by Glenn Murray and that allowed Towell to race in on goal.

He neatly flicked the ball over the advancing Paul Farman and into the net before celebrating with nearly 1,400 Seagulls supporters that had made the long trip to Lincoln.

The Imps came back with a measured response.

This was no panic-stricken, gung-ho approach. It was a systematic, cool, calm and collected plan that worked to perfection.linolcn pen

Nathan Arnold, the Imps last-minute hero in their Third Round replay win over Ipswich Town, forced Niki Maenpaa into a fine stop as the Finnish keeper tipped his curling twenty yard effort just around the far post.

That stop meant that the Seagulls took their lead into the half time interval, although the home faithful wouldn’t have to wait too long to see their side get back on level terms.

There was a slice of luck in their equaliser, with referee Andrew Madley pointing to the spot after seeing a Glenn Murray pull on Theo Robinson. “Soft” according to Seagulls boss Chris Hughton, his Imps counterpart Cowley found it hard to disagree.

After a long delay for an injury to Albion keeper Niki Maenpaa and the subsuquent substition, Imps midfielder Alan Power kept his nerves and sent substitute stopper Caspar Ankergren the wrong way to send the majority inside Sincil Bank into wild celebrations.

Those scenes were replicated minutes later as those Football Gods played their next trick.

A sublime cross from the right hand side by Imps winger Nathan Arnold seemed harmless but Albion debutant Fikayo Tomori unexpectadly turned the ball into his own net.

Passion, belief and wild celebrations were unleashed on and off the pitch as a major cup upset and a place in history beckoned for the Imps.

Sincil Bank became a cauldron of noise and the visitors were rocking.

That said the hosts were gratful to defender Luke Waterfall and goalkeeper Paul Farman for two smart stops that denied their visitors a route back into the game.

Reinvigorated by Hughton’s introduction of Jamie Murphy and Tomer Hemed the Seagulls put their National League opponents under pressure.

With thirteen minutes left former Crystal Palace striker Murray was given a sight of goal and looked set to volley home from a tight angle but was denied by a sensational block by Waterfall.

Minutes later Farman denied the impressive Solly March as he held on to a bouncing volley by the Seagulls midfielder.

Then with five minutes left came the killer blow, and sadly for Hughton and his side it was self-inflicted.

cowley 1Not that those of a red and white persuasion were complaining.

Ankergren rolled a ball out to a defender but his attempted pass into midfield was cut out by the alert Arnold. He played a measured pass to Theo Robinson and the former Derby County and Doncaster Rovers striker made no mistake, calmly rolling the ball past a wrong-footed Ankergren.

The upset, the giantkilling, the place in history was complete.

Or was it?

There were audible gasps of disbelief as fourth official Mark Brown signalled eight minutes of injury time, with referee Madley factoring in the long delay in the treatement and substitution of Seagulls keeper Maenpaa.

The Imps kept their cool and despite Farman pulling off a fine stop to deny Hemed, their visitors seemed resigned to their fate.

The final whistle blew, the Cowleys embraced each other and some Imps supporters made their way on to a pitch as they celebrated their remarkable history makers.

Not even Arthur Conan Doyle would need to have Sherlock Holmes investigate why they produced such a fine display to take their place in the history books.

Lincoln City: 1. Farman, 2. Wood, 3. Habergham, 5. Waterfall, 8. Power (27. McCombe 90+8), 9. Rhead (12. Long 88), 11. Hawkridge, 25. Raggett, 28. Arnold, 30. Woodyard, 31. Robinson (7. Muldoon 87) Subs not used: 10. Marriott, 14. Miles, 35. Moyses, 23 Walker (GK)

Manager: Danny Cowley

Goals: Power 57 pen, Tomori 62 pen, Robinson 85
Yellow Cards: Power 35, Wood 41
Red Cards: None

Brighton and Hove Albion: 1. Maenpaa (16. Ankergren 56), 4. Huenemeier, 8. Skalek (15. Murphy 68), 14. Sidwell, 17. Murray, 18. Goldson, 20. March, 21. Norwood, 27. Tomori, 29. Towell (10. Hemed 68), 44. Adekugbe Subs not used: 5. Dunk, 7. Kayal, 24. Ince, 43. White

Manager: Chris Hughton

Goals: Towell 24
Yellow Cards: Tomori 37, Murray 54, Norwood 90
Red Cards: None

Referee: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 9,469 (1,391 visiting supporters)

Report: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)

Images: Reuters Media (Action Images)

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