As we count down the days to Brighton and Hove Albion’s last home game of the season (hopefully) on Monday afternoon, the tension is beginning to rise.
Two back to back draws for promotion rivals Middlesbrough, 0-0 at home to Ipswich last week and 2-2 at Birmingham has left it incredibly tight at the top of the table with just one point separating Middlesbrough, Burnley and Brighton. Brighton will travel to Boro for the last game of the season in a weeks’ time, in what will be their most important fixture for 37 years, the last and only time the Seagulls were promoted to the top flight.
But first up for Hughton’s men is a tough test against 5th placed Derby. The West Midlands outfit were assured of a play-off place with a 3-2 win over Bristol City a fortnight ago but arguably didn’t play to their full potential in a 1-1 draw on Saturday against fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday.
After their 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy told Sky Sports: “If I’ve done one person a favour it’s Chris Hughton, because he’s a mate and he’s such a wonderful guy. So Chris, that’s a point for you. I hope we’ve helped him get promoted.”
Hughton’s team, buoyed by Boro’s last two results, will be confident of getting a win on Monday to set up for a grand stand finish.
James Wilson looks set to return to the starting line-up after picking up a slight knock in the win against QPR last Tuesday. Sam Baldock came in for the Manchester United loanee and scored early on. Giving Hughton something to think about.
The rest of the side looks set to remain unchanged, with Murphy again set to miss out over Jiri Skalak, who has been of outstanding recent form.
The game on Monday afternoon at the Amex is a sell-out but the Seagulls could do with your support, so take a little break from that dissertation you’ve been writing or that important exam you’ve been preparing for, and head down to your local boozer, watch the game and pray for 3 points.
By Robert Bishop