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    Brighton & Hove Albion vs Newcastle United *** Official Match Thread ***


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    Brighton v Newcastle


    Sky Bet Championship

    Venue: The American Express Community Stadium
    Date: Tuesday 28th February 2017
    Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
    Referee: Robert Madley
    Assistants: Marc Perry, Adrian Holmes
    Fourth official: Lee Probert



    Championship leaders Brighton host second-placed Newcastle on Tuesday in a match which could prove crucial in the race for automatic promotion.

    Rafael Benitez's Magpies are a point behind Albion, with both teams likely to name unchanged teams.

    The Seagulls have the best home record in the division, having lost just once at the Amex this season, while Newcastle have the best away record.

    "It's important for the message we can send out," Benitez told BBC Newcastle.

    "But I still feel that April will be the crucial month. We have to do well but after we have Huddersfield, Reading and Fulham, and we have to approach every game with the belief we can win."

    Top scorer Dwight Gayle (hamstring), whose 20 goals in 24 league games have played a key role in the Magpies' promotion push, is still sidelined for the visitors.

    His absence has been covered by Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ayoze Perez and Daryl Murphy, who have 11 Championship goals between them so far this season.

    "Dwight has been training a little bit but still has no confidence [in the hamstring]," said Benitez, whose side are five points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.

    "It is true we are missing him and his goals and characteristics, but we have players that score goals and create chances."

    Newcastle are eight games unbeaten in the league but the trip to the south coast starts a run of away fixtures against their promotion rivals.

    United go to Huddersfield on Saturday, followed by a journey to fifth-placed Reading on Tuesday, 7 March.

    Brighton boss Chris Hughton, who led Newcastle to the Championship title in 2009-10, is aware of the significance of the match.

    "There is no doubt it is a big game because of where we are in the division," said the 58-year-old.

    "I've been asked about pressure but I don't think Newcastle are under any more pressure than we are. It is the sort of pressure you want, at this end of the table.

    "But because of what Newcastle are and the squad they have, their expectations to win the league are greater than ours."

    Albion left-back Sebastien Pocognoli is fit to start after being withdrawn in the second half of Saturday's 3-0 win over Reading to protect a groin strain.

    Full-backs Gaetan Bong (knee) and Liam Rosenior (ankle) are out, along with centre-back Connor Goldson (heart).

    MATCH FACTS

    • Brighton's only defeat in their last seven matches against Newcastle in all competitions (W4 D2) came earlier this campaign in a 2-0 loss at St. James' Park.
    • The Magpies have never scored a goal at the Amex Stadium in two previous games there, both in the FA Cup.
    • The Seagulls have lost one of their last 19 home league games on a Tuesday (W14 D4), losing 1-0 to Ipswich in December 2015.
    • Newcastle, meanwhile, haven't lost an away game on a Tuesday since going down to Spurs in December 2010, winning four and drawing three since.
    • Magpies striker Daryl Murphy has scored in each of his last four Championship appearances against Brighton (four goals).
    • Murphy is the highest scoring Championship opposition player at the Amex (since 2011-12), netting four goals in five previous appearances.
    • The Magpies are yet to win a Championship game in which they've conceded the first goal this season (D1 L6), while Brighton have won 18 out of 18 games in which they've scored first.


    The Big Match Preview: Spotlight on Newcastle United

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