• Championship Preview: Brighton and Hove Albion v AFC Bournemouth

    After back-to-back defeats over the Easter Weekend, Albion will be hard pushed to get back to winning ways this evening, as they play host to league leader Bournemouth at the Amex.

    It turned out to be a long afternoon for the 982 travelling Seagulls supporters at the New York Stadium, as they saw there side concede within the first ten minutes of the game, and fail to put together much of a fight back as they were beaten 1-0 by Rotherham.

    Beram Kayal looked to have the best chance for Chris Hughton’s side in the second half, however those were far and few between for the visitors as they came away from South Yorkshire empty handed.

    With Millwall not set to play their game in hand on the sides above for another few weeks, it’s hard to tell how much recent results will affect Brighton’s chances of survival in the Championship, with nine points still separating them from the relegation zone.

    However wins in the next two games would put them pass the 50 point mark, and ensure that they don’t have to worry about that game in hand at all.

    If Albion are to come away with all three points then they will have to earn it this evening when they take to the field against the Cherries, who have defied the expectations of most supporters across the country as they lead this season’s race for a spot in the Premier League.

    Eddie Howe’s men are the division’s top scorers on 87 goals, and with five games to goal there’s every chance that they can make it past the 100 mark with their fast flowing, attacking football.

    Their strengths up front are also built off of a mean defence, spearheaded by two former Albion men in Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook. However the Dorset side have only conceded five less times than the Seagulls have in the Championship this season, which says a lot for their attacking prowess and not giving up when it comes to pulling the trigger on opposing sides.

    The last game between the two sides earlier this season saw five goals put away, as individual errors from the Albion defence ultimately cost them a share of the spoils, as they headed home from Dean Court empty handed after the 3-2 defeat.

    An own goal from Gordon Greer handed Bournemouth the lead after 25 minutes, with Yann Kermorgant sealing the result for the home side from the penalty spot on 76 minutes after Lewis Dunk clumsily gave away the spot kick.

    If Bournemouth do manage to come away with all three points this evening, it would have been the first time they’d have done so away from home against Albion in over 20 years, with their last victory in Sussex coming at the Goldstone in September 1988.

    Hughton is unable to welcome back any players from injury, and will have to do without his skipper Greer at the heart of the defence once again. The Scot serves the final game of his two-match suspension for picking up ten yellow cards this season, with Greg Halford expected to remain in the starting line-up after impressing in the defeat at Rotherham.

    The only slight injury concern going into the match was goalkeeper David Stockdale, who looked visibly hurt in the closing stages of Monday’s game. The former Fulham shot stopper is believed to have picked up a dead leg, and is likely to shake the knock off in time for kick-off today.

    Speaking on the club website ahead of today’s game, Hughton has said he’s made it clear to his players that their job is not done until the end of the season, and expects them all to put all their effort into the final five games of the campaign, not matter what’s at stake.

    “There’s no danger of that in the players’ minds because we’ve continued to make them aware that our objective is to finish this season as strong as possible.

    “There have been some ups and downs in the period of time I’ve been here, but what we have managed to do is create a gap between ourselves and that bottom three.

    Stockdale has only been absent between the sticks for three league games this season

    We know that it can change quickly over a couple of games and we need to get back to winning ways.”

    One train of thought amongst some Albion fans now is that the end of the season is now a waiting game until Millwall lose enough games to make our place in the Championship secure for next season.

    Whilst there’s every chance that in their predicament that may happen to Millwall, we can’t simply rely on that because they may find some form and put us in a tricky situation come the final games of the season.

    We’re better off taking things into our own hands, going out to try and win at least two of the next three games, which would all but make us safe.

    Of all sides to try and rediscover that winning factor against, you wouldn’t have picked the likes of Bournemouth to play in the next game. With the top end of the league even tighter than the bottom, they can’t afford to slip up if they want to reach the top flight for the first time in their history, and will be going all out to come away from the Amex victorious.

    However we gave a good account of ourselves against them earlier in the season, with only individual errors costing us a point on the night – possibly even three. When you take into consideration our performances at home against the likes of Derby and Ipswich since Hughton’s arrival, there’s no reason to suggest that we couldn’t cause a shock tonight, but it won’t be an easy feat to pull off if we do.
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