• Championship Preview: Nottingham Forest v Brighton and Hove Albion

    After getting back to winning ways in the Capital One Cup against Burton, Sami Hyypia will be hoping his side can pick up a similar result on their return to League action against Nottingham Forest this weekend.

    The Seagulls last win in the Championship came over a month ago, and up until Wednesday evening had endured a torrid September that has seen one point earned in three games.

    However it won’t be an easy task for Albion to gain all three points at the City Ground this afternoon. Their opponents have been on song so far this season under Stuart Pearce, who took over the managerial hot seat in the summer at the club he spent 12 years as a player with.

    Forest are unbeaten in the league so far this year, having picked up five wins and three draws, topping the table at this early stage. After a disappointing campaign that saw them miss out on a place in the top six despite being one of the favourites for promotion, owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi will be expecting a place in the Premier League next season.

    The two sides have met on 31 occasions in the past 65 years, primarily facing each other in the top two tiers of the football pyramid. The two-time European Champions have the edge over Brighton statistically by 14 wins to eight, with another nine games having been drawn.

    Last season both teams managed to come away from the others backyard with all three points. In October 2013 three second half goals saw Forest to come away with victory from the Amex after Andrew Crofts put the home side ahead on 31 minutes.

    However it’s the tie in Nottingham that is the most memorable. On the final day of the season Albion knew that if they could better Reading’s result against already promoted Burnley, a place in the play offs would be theirs.

    Leo Ulloa celebrates scoring his now infamous winning goal at Forest last season

    Matt Derbyshire capitalised on an error from Tomasz Kuszczak in goal to put the home side up, however the Seagulls rallied in the second half, with Stephen Ward equalising from a corner, setting up a tense final few minutes with the other games also tied.

    With time running out, Craig Mackail-Smith swung a cross into the box, which Leonardo Ulloa got his head to, putting the ball in the back of the net and sending both the away fans and dugout into jubilation as they secured a place in the top six.

    With a number of players having been rested for the trip to the Pirelli Stadium three days ago, and with a shorter break between games, a line-up similar to that which started against Blackpool last weekend should be expected.

    In the back four, Bruno, Gordon Greer and Joe Bennett are all likely to return to the starting XI in place of the suspended Inigo Calderon, Aaron Hughes and Adam Chicksen.

    Despite having netted once again in the League Cup, Rohan Ince is likely to make way for Danny Holla in the holding midfield role. However with Paddy McCourt having impressed in his last two games, he could hold onto his place in the side ahead of either Andrew Crofts or Jake Forster-Caskey, with Gardy Gardner more likely to make way for either of the pair.

    A return to the starting line-up should be straightforward for Joao Teixeira, but after scoring in midweek Mackail-Smith could retain his place in the side ahead of Adrian Colunga and Kazenga Lua Lua.

    Having been cup tied for the trip to Burton, recent signing Sam Baldock should regain his place leading the line for Albion in place of Chris O’Grady.

    In recent years a number of players have played for both sides. After periods playing at the Withdean, both Joel Lynch and Dan Harding went on to represent Forest, with the latter becoming infamous in recent years for his inability to defend against former Albion winger Will Buckley.

    However, there are three names that are associated with both clubs, with two of them having already ironically being covered in the preview for the Burton match.

    McCourt could make his first league start at the City Ground this afternoon

    After five years establishing himself as a legend at the Goldstone, including helping us get promoted to the top division, Peter Ward made the move to the City Ground in 1980. However in his three seasons there he only made 33 appearances, and spent time on-loan back at Albion, along with two loan spells with Seattle Sounders in the NASL. He would eventually move permanently to the US and now lives in Tampa.

    The men who brought him to Forest are the aforementioned pair with links to Albion. After their dramatic departure from Derby County, it was the ambition of then Seagulls chairman Mike Bamber that convinced Brian Clough and Peter Taylor to drop down two divisions into the third tier of English football to manage Brighton.

    Clough’s time at the club was short and remembered for two embarrassing defeats. A 4-0 loss to Walton and Hersham in the FA Cup, and an 8-2 drubbing in the league from Bristol Rovers.

    After eight months League champions Leeds came calling, however Taylor stayed put, and whilst the highest he guided the side in his two years in charge was 4th, he is widely credited with setting the foundations for Alan Mullery to lead the side on the charge up to the First Division. He left the club in 1976 to link up with Clough once again when he joined Forest.

    Albion will certainly go into this game as the underdogs, with the home side no doubt confident that they can extend their unbeaten run in the league to nine games this afternoon.

    Hyypia’s men have hit a bad spell since returning from the international break, however despite what the results might say they have showed promise in each of their games. What’s the difference right now is that they haven’t been taking their chances when presented with them, something Forest haven’t had an issue with.

    If they can address that problem and keep the home side’s attack at bay, there’s every chance they can come away with a result. They’ll have to do it the hard way, but having failed to score past one of the divisions whipping boys last weekend, it would sup up life in the Championship if we were to follow that by beating the league leaders.
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