• Championship Preview: Blackburn Rovers v Brighton and Hove Albion

    After a goalless draw at Millwall extended their run on the road without a win in the week, Albion will be hoping to turn their fortunes away from home around ahead of the international break, as they travel to Ewood Park to face Blackburn.

    Neither side provided many chances in the stalemate at the Den, with both having to settle for a point at the final whistle, though of the two managers Chris Hughton would probably have been the happier with that outcome.

    The result means that the gap between the Seagulls and the bottom three is eight points, with eight games still to play between now and the beginning of May.

    With their place in the division yet to be secured, there is a need for Brighton to rediscover the winning touch away from the Amex, having not taken all three points from another side’s ground in over two months.

    They will be hoping to begin that turnaround this afternoon as they travel to Lancashire to take on former Premier League champions Rovers.

    After a number of years of instability in the dugout that also saw them lose their place in the top flight in 2012, Albion’s opponents look to have settled down under the management of Gary Bowyer.

    The side have been spearheaded by a striking pair that rivals the best that any other team in the division offers. Between them Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes have fired in 30 league goals this season.

    However sloppiness at the back has cost them this season, as they have only conceded two goals less than they have scored. Whilst they sit comfortably in tenth place knowing that they are as good as safe from relegation, they have an 11 point gap to make up in the remaining eight games of the season if the are to make the play-offs.


    They will find themselves hard pushed to do so against Albion, having not beaten the Seagulls for over 23 years, with Rovers’ last victory coming in a 3-0 win at the Goldstone Ground in March 1992.

    The two sides shared the spoils earlier in the season at the Amex back in November, with both teams finding the back of the net either side of half-time.

    Brighton went into the break on a high as Gary Gardner struck with only three minutes remaining in the half from a corner.

    However they lead for just over ten minutes into the second half, as Gestede’s powerful header from the edge of the box was enough to beat Seagulls’ ‘stopper David Stockdale and rescue a point for the visitors.

    Four of the last five meetings between the teams have finished all square, with the meeting at Ewood Park amongst them, with the contest being a six-goal thriller.

    After taking the lead through David Rodriguez after 17 minutes, Oscar Garcia’s side conceded twice before half time to go a goal down into the break. Gordon Greer levelled things up with just over ten minutes to play, however both sides struck again in the final ten minutes as they played out a 3-3 draw.

    With the situation regarding players’ fitness having not changed much since Tuesday’s game in South-East London, Hughton will be able to field an almost unchanged starting XI this afternoon.

    The only absentee from the draw at the Den will be Leon Best, who is ineligible to play today due to being on-loan at Albion from Blackburn, with the former Newcastle striker yet to score for the Seagulls in his eight appearances since arriving in January.


    Best joined on-loan from Rovers until the end of the season in January

    If Hughton chooses to continue to experiment with a 4-4-2 formation as he did in the week, then Chris O'Grady is likely to come back into the starting line-up.

    Lewis Dunk serves the second game of his two-match ban, so Greg Halford is likely to deputise for Albion’s top scorer in the back four.

    The only slight injury concern is for midfielder Beram Kayal, who picked up a slight knock at the Den in the week, however he is likely to be fit for the game.

    Speaking to the club website ahead of the game, Hughton believes that despite seemingly not having much to play for in the league, they can’t expect today’s opponents to make it any easier for them when they take to the field at Ewood Park.

    “I don’t think there’s ever complacency – certainly not at this stage of the season because everybody’s fighting.

    “Irrespective of where you are and an irrespective of the fact that they’re middle of the table, they will still want to finish as high as possible.

    “I don’t expect them to ease up but I expect it to be as tough game as any game at this stage.”

    With eight games to go and many points still on offer this season, this is far from a dead rubber of a game for either side, with Brighton still not safe from falling back down the table towards the relegation zone.

    Whilst Blackburn do have their FA Cup Quarter-final replay against Liverpool on the horizon, they will also fancy their chances to make a late push for a place in the top six come the end of the season, and won’t let up if they think they can achieve it.

    Therefore we will have to step up our own game if we are to compete against them on their own turf. Our performances away from home recently haven’t been great, and it’s something we need to improve on quickly.

    We can’t rely on picking up the odd draw in the last few games as we did at Millwall in the week. Sometimes we may have to be willing to take the risk of conceding if it means we may come away with all three points.

    It’s a mentality we’ve found at the Amex since Hughton’s arrival, however it’s come at the price of our form on the road – where we had previously been better than at home – dropping off.

    With the international break coming up, it’s the first chance for Hughton to have some extended time without a match to work with most of the squad, and to o into that period on the back of a win would give everyone a boost going into the final month of the campaign.

    TEAM NEWS

    Blackburn midfielder Ben Marshall (leg) will face a late fitness test.
    Full-back Markus Olsson (hamstring) will be assessed but Craig Conway (hamstring), David Dunn (calf), Josh King (hamstring) and Grant Hanley (calf) remain out.
    Brighton's on-loan defender Greg Halford will continue to deputise as Lewis Dunk completes a two-match ban.
    Sam Baldock, Andrew Crofts (both knee), Kemy Agustien (thigh) and Solly March (calf) remain on the sidelines.


    MATCH FACTS

    Head-to-Head

    The earlier meeting this season ended as a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium in November.
    Four of the last five meetings have been drawn, with Brighton winning the other. Blackburn's last win was 3-0 at Brighton in the old Division Two in March 1992.
    Blackburn are unbeaten in the last three meetings at Ewood Park, winning one. Brighton's last win there was 2-1 in the old Division Two in September 1990.


    Blackburn

    Blackburn lost 3-2 against Brentford at home on Tuesday - their first defeat in six games in all competitions.
    Blackburn have won only one of their last four home games. Their only win at Ewood Park since mid-February was 1-0 against Bolton on 11 March.

    Brighton

    Brighton have not won any of their last three games, losing one. Their last win was 2-0 against Derby at home on 3 March.
    Brighton have not won any of their last six away games, losing three. Their last win on the road was 1-0 at Charlton on 10 January.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mowgli37's Avatar
      Mowgli37 -
      Good article but it was Walton between the posts earlier this season, not Stockdale.
  • Advertising