Evan Ferguson shows all the hallmarks of a natural finisher

Irish teenager scores twice for Brighton during their FA Cup quarter-final win over Grimsby Town

If Evan Ferguson’s second goal for Brighton during Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Grimsby Town was the hallmark of a natural finisher, the first is a collector’s item.

A scooped pass by World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister presented the teenager with a high degree of difficulty to retain possession, never mind score. With his back to goal and both Grimsby centre halves in close proximity, Ferguson killed the ball with two light touches, while twisting his hips to slide a shot past Max Crocombe.

“I think it was more instinct,” he told the BBC. “It just came to me and I tried to swivel round and I tried to get a shot off and luckily it went in.”

Too hoarse to present Match of the Day but well enough to endorse the Republic of Ireland’s rising star, Gary Lineker tweeted: “I see a real centre forward before my eyes.”


Lineker should know. Before becoming the BBC’s highest paid freelancer, he bagged the Golden Boot at Mexico ‘86 with six goals and there were 31 in 40 games for Everton before another 109 goals across 208 appearances for Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur.

Ferguson has yet to enter the realm of English football’s most prolific scorers but the 18-year-old has only needed 984 minutes since New Year’s Eve to register seven goals.

When Brighton face Manchester United in a Wembley semi-final next month, the rest of the football world might know his name. Now certain to feature against Latvia on March 22nd and France in the opening European Championships qualifier on March 27th at the Aviva stadium, the same cannot be said for Adah Idah.

“Adam has a foot injury and he’ll be out for a few weeks,” said Norwich City manager David Wagner. “How many exactly? We can’t say at the minute. It doesn’t look like a break. His foot is still swollen so we must wait what it will look like next week.”

Idah could be replaced in the Ireland squad by a Sammie Szmodics, who scored in Blackburn Rovers’ dramatic quarter-final loss to John Egan’s Sheffield United. The 27-year-old Colchester native recently secured an Irish passport.

Sheffield United face Manchester City in the last four after Pep Guardiola’s men devoured Josh Cullen’s Burnley 6-0 at the Etihad on Saturday.

Stephen Kenny’s 25-man squad gathered in Dublin on Sunday night ahead of the new campaign.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent