• Championship Preview: Millwall v Brighton and Hove Albion

    After a stalemate at home to Wolves at the weekend, Albion will be looking to put more distance between them and the sides below them when they travel to face relegation-threatened Millwall this evening.

    With a number of chances having gone missing earlier in the game, Albion took the lead with 20 minutes remaining as Bruno rifled home a shot underneath former Seagulls ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak to put the home side ahead.

    However the visitors were only behind for four minutes, as David Stockdale misjudged Rajiv Van La Parra’s cross from the right and palmed the ball into the back of his own net.

    The former Fulham shot stopper has had his critics this season, with some fans wanting 19-year old Christian Walton to be given a more long-term period between the sticks this season. However the28-year old redeemed himself with a late save from Bakary Sakho’s shot, with Brighton’s goalie also having made a number of crucial saves earlier in the match.

    Whilst it was a frustrating way to drop two points, the teams in and around Chris Hughton’s side in the table were unable to capitalise on this. With a distance of seven points still separating them from the bottom three, Albion need to continue to pick up as many points as possible to ensure their safety in The Championship next season as soon as possible.

    Tonight’s trip to the Den offers them a chance to do just that, as they take on a Millwall side who will be an unpredictable prospect in Neil Harris’ first home game in charge of The Lions.

    Having both played and coached the Under 21 side at the South-East London club, the 37-year old has been charged with the unenviable task of trying to steering Millwall clear of relegation after the sacking of Ian Holloway a week ago.

    The Lions looked like dropping into League One under the management of the former Crystal Palace and Leicester boss, having only won three games since October, and at the time were eight points away from safety.

    After defeat to Bolton on Saturday that gap has increased to nine points, making the task of keeping them up even harder. However the appointment of a popular club figure like Harris could be what’s needed to galvanise the team to make a fight of it in the closing stages of the campaign.

    The meeting between the sides earlier in the season was during a period where it was Albion who were struggling at the deep end of the table, as they were unable to muster many chances as the away side picked up a 1-0 win at the Amex.

    It was a game that many felt would and should have been the last game of Sami Hyypia’s tenure at the club, however the Finn took charge of one more match before handing in his resignation.
    The Seagulls will be confident of coming away with something from tonight’s clash, as they are unbeaten in their last five visits to the Den, and have picked up all thee points on three occasions in that time.

    The last meeting in South-East London in March 2014 saw the game decided by a spot kick, as David Lopez’s 39th minute penalty decided the tie in a tight contest between the two sides.

    Albion boss Hughton will be forced into at least one change this evening after the suspension of one of the team’s most consistent performers this season.

    Having picked up his tenth booking of the season against Wolves on Saturday, Lewis Dunk will miss the next two league games, and won’t be able to feature for The Seagulls until the visit of Norwich City on Good Friday.

    Skipper Gordon Greer is also one booking away from a two-match suspension, and with the cut-off for previous bookings being rescinded not coming up until April 12th, there is every chance he may also have to watch on from the stands for a few games.

    One of Aaron Hughes or Greg Halford will start tonight’s game at the Den, with Hughton saying at the pre-match press conference that it will be a tough choice to make due to what they both bring to the table.

    Dunk is suspended for tonight's game and the trip to Blackburn on Saturday

    Emmanuel Ledesma could also be making his last appearance for the side tonight, with the one-month loan deal for the Middlesbroguh winger expiring in a few days, with no word yet as to whether it will be extended.

    The 26-year old has only featured three times for the Seagulls since making the move down south, with his only start coming against Reading last week. With Sam Baldock out for the season and Solly March yet to recover from a calf problem, there is every chance that the Argentine’s loan deal will be extended to the end of the season.

    Speaking on the club website ahead of today’s game Hughton believes that whilst it’s an important game for them, they can’t put any more priority on getting points today than on any of the other games against sides in and around them still to come.

    “It’s quite an intimidating place to play and you have to make sure you’re brave and bold enough to go and play there.

    “We accept and know that it is a big game but it’s one of numerous big games that we have left. We have still got to go to Rotherham and to Wigan, so it’s about getting the points when we can. When you have got nine games to go and you’re in the position we’re in then every game becomes a big game and the points become even more valuable.”

    With good results still needed to ensure survival this season, there’s no place for complacency when Albion take to the field this evening.

    Whilst tonight’s opponents have struggled this season, there is every chance that the fresh change in the dugout could see a change in fortunes, and we’ve been on the wrong end of that enough times to be wary of it.

    Away from the Amex we’ve struggled in recent games, and there is a need for consistency to be found in our performances to ensure we pick up as may points as possible.

    A win this evening would put many peoples fears of dropping back into the relegation mire to rest, however with another tough trip to Blackburn coming up before the international break, there’s a real sense that if we are going to pick up three points anywhere in the next tow games, then it should be at the Den.

    Click here for the NSC Match Thread
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