• Capital One Cup Preview: Burton Albion v Brighton and Hove Albion

    September has so far been a frustrating and unfruitful month for Albion. One point has been picked up from three Championship games against Brentford, Ipswich and Blackpool, and have failed to pick up a victory in the league in a month.

    In particular the result against the Tangerines was the most worrying, with Sami Hyypia’s men failing to capitalise on their dominance in the 90 minutes over a side that were still struggling after a torrid pre-season build-up.

    The inability to put away chances was something that Seagulls boss Hyypia had bemoaned before the game at the weekend, and on Saturday that was where his team fell short at the Amex.

    They now have a chance to take a short respite from their league woes, as they travel up north to face League Two side Burton Albion in the third round of the Capital One Cup.

    The Brewers have made a strong start in their sixth season in the football league, sitting 2nd in the table after winning six of their opening seven games. And having knocked out higher placed opposition in Wigan and QPR in the previous rounds, they can’t be underestimated going into this evening’s match at the Pirelli Stadium.

    In the last round they saw off Harry Redknapp’s Premier League side 1-0 at home, with Adam McGurk curling in a 20-yard free kick to grab victory for the home side in the 77th minute.

    Ince firing home his sensational volley in the previous round of the competition

    Whilst the R’s featured a heavily changed line-up, it did include a number of players with tons of domestic and international experience, including Adel Taarabt – who spent the second half of last season on-loan at AC Milan - and former England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.

    Since knocking the R’s out, Gary Rowett’s side continued to lead the way in League Two, however they have lost some momentum in the past week after defeats to AFC Wimbledon and leaders Bury.

    With Burton having spent 59 years of their history in non-league football up until promotion from the Conference in 2009, it’s unsurprising that this will be the first meeting between the two sides.

    Whilst Hyypia has said that he will play a side that he believes can win tonight’s game, that doesn’t necessary rule out a number of changes, with some members of the possibly in line for a chance to prove themselves ahead of Saturday’s trip to leaders Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

    In goal Casper Ankergren may feature once again, however a first senior start for Christian Walton could also be on the cards. In defence, any three from Saturday’s back four - Bruno, Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk and Joe Bennett – could be rested.

    Having played in almost every minute in the three games since the international break, Danny Holla has probably earned a rest. After his spectacular volley against Swindon in the last round, a recall for Rohan Ince the holding midfield position is probable. Gary Gardner could also feature in the midfield three in place of Jake Forster-Caskey or Andrew Crofts.

    With Hyypia having admitted that he had fallen down the pecking order of strikers at the club, a return to the matchday squad or starting XI for Chris O’Grady would only be a good thing.

    Fans have been concerned that Craig Mackail-Smith, Sam Baldock and Adrian Colunga are all too similar up front. O’Grady certainly offers an alternative and more physical threat, and could possibly work his way back into featuring in the league with an assured performance tonight.

    Only a couple of familiar names have spent periods of their career at both clubs, however both are well known figures in the game.

    Peter Taylor (the first) began his managerial career with the Brewers after joining the club from Port Vale in 1962, and spent three years in the dugout there before linking up with his old teammate Brian Clough at Hartlepool, which began what is still today one of football’s most famous managerial partnerships.

    Eight years after departing Eton Park (Burton’s former ground) Taylor arrived at the Goldstone Ground as assistant to Clough, and went on to become manager after Old Big ‘ead was offered the chance to manage Division One Champions Leeds in 1974.

    He played for both Albions, but it was at Brighton Peter Ward became a hero and icon

    And it was Taylor who was responsible for bringing the other name associated with both clubs to the Goldstone Ground in 1975, and in doing so helped launch the career of a player who is regarded by most as the greatest to have worn the blue and white stripes for the Seagulls.

    Whilst serving as an apprentice engine fitter for Rolls Royce, Peter Ward played for the Brewers, and it was his performances there that attracted Taylor, infamous for his consistency of spotting talented players.

    Albion offered Burton £4,000 for Ward, with their manager at the time Ken Guttridge also moving to Sussex to become Taylor’s assistant.

    Whilst he didn’t feature much until near the end of his first season, it was in the following season under new boss Alan Mullery that he truly began to flourish, setting a new club record for goals scored in a season with 36. His achievements at the club speak for themselves, and as legends go he is one of the best.

    Ahead of the game, Hyypia has emphasised on the official club website that they cannot travel to the Pirelli and expect to turn their opponents over.

    “We need to make sure we have the right attitude from the start until the end of the game, because if you start the game very well and after half hour you don’t do anything more, then we won't get a good result.

    “If a bigger team takes it easy and they take the attitude that it’s not a very important competition and players say they wouldn’t really like to be on the field to play this type of game, then it all goes wrong.”

    The Finn certainly isn’t wrong when he says that we can’t go in thinking this will be a walk in the park if winning is a serious ambition. In previous rounds the home side have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, and won’t be pushovers in their own back yard.

    Whilst the competition is not a priority in terms of importance, ahead of a tough trip to Forest on Saturday a win – no matter who the opponents are – will do the player’s confidence a world of good going into that game.
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