• Championship Preview: Brighton and Hove Albion v Cardiff City

    After a promising result on Saturday saw them pick up a well-deserved point at Nottingham Forest, Albion will be aiming to finally get back to winning ways in their midweek Championship game at the Amex tonight.

    Sami Hyypia’s men showed grit and determination in holding off against the then-league leaders attacking onslaught at the City Ground, however the number of goal scoring chances – or lack of - being created is still a worry for The Seagull’s boss, and going six games without a win reflects this issue that the strikers in particular are facing.

    They will have the chance to prove themselves once again tonight as for the first time this season they will face off against one of the sides recently relegated from the Premier League.

    Having been widely tipped to make an immediate return to the top flight in the summer, everything has gone wrong so far for Cardiff City in their return to the Championship. After picking up eight points in the opening seven games of the new season, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left the South Wales club nine months after arriving.

    Since then the saga over who will replace him has had many twists and turns. Owner Vincent Tan’s first choice to replace the Norwegian is both a surprising and familiar name to Brighton fans.

    Hyypia looking for first league win since August 23rd

    Former Seagulls boss Russell Slade is all but set to take over at the Cardiff City Stadium, with many having expected him to make be in place for their trip to Sussex tonight.

    However his departure from Leyton Orient has been less than simple, and having resigned from his post both sides are trying to broker a financial settlement before he can officially become their manager, meaning that joint-caretaker bosses Danny Gabbidon & Scott Young will take charge of the side in this evening’s match.

    The two sides have faced off over 60 times in league and cup, and the honours are split fairly even between them in previous games, with Albion holding a one game advantage over the Bluebirds with 22 wins, whilst 18 of the matches have been drawn.

    Since their return to the Championship in 2011, Brighton have had Cardiff’s number, being undefeated in the past four encounters.

    Whilst games at the Amex have tended to be very tight, the games in the Welsh capital have tended to be more open. One of the most memorable in recent years was the Seagull’s last trip to Wales before City were promoted to the Premier League in 2013.

    Gus Poyet’s side went into the game as underdogs, with Cardiff on a nine-game unbeaten run and having only lost once at home all season, however goals from Andrea Orland and Leo Ulloa coupled with a dominant goalkeeping display from Tomasz Kuszczak between the sticks meant that they sealed a deserved 2-0 victory that evening.

    Having put on a great defensive display against Forest on Saturday, it’s unlikely that Hyypia will change any of his six defensive players in ‘keeper David Stockdale, the back four of Bruno, Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk and Joe Bennett, and defensive midfielder Danny Holla.

    With the game against Watford on Saturday in mind, rotations in other areas of the pitch are possible, but up to this point have been highly unpredictable under Sami. Jake Forster-Caskey and Andrew Crofts started up in Nottingham, and either could make way for Gary Gardner to play.

    In the more advanced midfield role, Joao Teixeira didn’t feature at all on Saturday, therefore he is a fresh option to consider starting in place of either Kazenga Lua Lua or Adrian Colunga. With the former’s previous issues with injuries and playing consecutive games in a week, he is the most likely to make way.

    Sam Baldock was rested over the weekend after a calf strain late last week, and is still a doubt for today’s game. Therefore Craig Mackail-Smith will certainly lead the front line again, with Chris O’Grady’s future at the club in doubt after newspaper reports suggesting he is no longer in Hyypia’s long-term plans surfaced this week.

    Both managers and players have come and gone between both clubs over the years, as well as having represented both.

    Welshman Kurt Nogan was a goal-scoring machine for much of his three years at the Goldstone Ground in the ‘90s, however it wasn’t until the turn of the new millennium that the striker turned out for his hometown club.

    Albion club legend Charlie Oatway was given his first crack at league football at Ninian Park in 1994, however he spent only a season there, and would end up at the Withdean Stadium. The man who brought Oatway to Sussex, Micky Adams, would later see his assistant Alan Cork depart the club in October 2000 to take up the vacant managerial post at Cardiff, with both sides getting promoted from what is now League Two that season.

    Former Albion fan favourite Noone is likely to feature for Cardiff tonight

    One player who has represented both clubs and will get a great reception if he makes his return to the Amex tonight is Craig Noone.

    Signed in January 2011 as Albion cantered towards the League One title, the winger quickly became a fan favourite not only for his performances on the pitch, but also for his personality off of it. Whilst his crossing ability at time left much to be desired, the Scouser’s tricky runs were a sight to behold at times, and his ability to cut inside from out wide often lead to him having a chance on goal, and like Lua Lua, when in full stride he had the ability to get the crowd on their feet in anticipation of making something happen.

    After 18 months the opportunity to link up with the Cardiff side seemingly ahead of the Seagulls in their chances of reaching the top flight was too hard to turn down for Noone in the summer of 2012.

    It’s been over a month since Albion last won in the league, and over 270 minutes have passed since they scored a goal in the Championship. Hyypia will be hoping to see both of those issues resolved tonight, however that won’t be easy.

    Despite their poor start, the Bluebirds possess a squad full of quality from top to bottom, and have responded well to what caretaker bosses Gabbidon & Young have been doing since taking over from Solskjaer.

    With Slade’s appointment only a short time away, they will want to make the best impression possible ahead of his arrival at the club, as will the players. As always in this league, if we’re to win tonight we’ll have to do it the hard way.
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