• Capital One Cup Preview: Walsall v Brighton and Hove Albion; Tuesday 25th August 2015

    After securing their fourth win of the season against Blackburn at the weekend, Albion are in League Cup action tonight as they travel to face League One Walsall in the second round of the competition.

    Kazenga LuaLua struck his third goal of the season after 35 minutes in a narrow contest between Chris Hughton’s side and the former Premier League champions. Rovers were a constant threat throughout the game, and David Stockdale was on form as he made crucial stops to deny Craig Conway and Nathan Delfouneso in one-on-one situations.

    Of the five games Albion have played so far this season, this was probably the closest in terms of which team performed the better on the day. It was a dogged and tight affair throughout, and an argument could be made that the visitors were worthy of a point.

    The momentum Albion have built up with their strong start of this season may have played a part in them having the confidence and determination grinding out a victory without performing great. That was something they rarely achieved last season, and highlights the progress that has been made under Hughton over the summer.

    With two more games until the first international break of the season, Brighton will be hoping to keep that form going into the two-week respite. They will be confident of being able to do so when they head to the Bescot Stadium this evening, to face a Saddlers side whose start to the season in the division below has almost been an exact reflection of theirs.


    Kaz finds the back of the net against Rovers to make it five unbeaten for Albion (Image: Paul Hazlewood)

    Walsall sit second in League One on nine points after four league games – the same record as Albion have. Both sides have saw off Nottingham Forest in the opening week of the season, with Dean Smith’s side’s 4-3 victory over Forest coming in the first round of the League Cup two weeks ago.

    Whilst the Saddlers will be weary of LuaLua, who could start tomorrow night’s game, Albion will have to watch out for Tom Bradshaw. The Welsh Under-21 international put three past Forest, and has scored five in total so far this season. After putting the two-time former European Champions to the sword in the last round, the 23-year old and his teammates will be looking to cause another cup upset tonight.

    Albion fans will have fond memories from their last trip to the West Midlands to face the Saddlers four years ago. Having already secured their promotion to the Championship under Gus Poyet at home to Dagenham and Redbridge earlier that week, Albion clinched the League One title with a 3-1 victory at the Bescot Stadium. Inigo Calderon, Glenn Murray and Elliott Bennett found the back of the net, with the latter scoring a stunning goal off the underside of the bar to round off the victory.

    Only one of that trio of goalscorers remains at the club now, and Calderon is one of many players likely to get a start this evening, with Hughton likely to rotate the line-up ahead of the trip to Portman Road at the weekend. Niki Maenpaa, Liam Rosenior, Glen Rea and Rohan Ince are among a number of players who could also be recalled to the starting XI for the game. Albion’s most recent signing, Connor Goldson, won’t be able to feature due to having already appeared in the last round of the competition for former club Shrewsbury.

    One player who may also make a comeback after a period of uncertainty is Lewis Dunk. The defender has been the subject of four rejected bids from Fulham over the summer, and is believed to have been fined for refusing to play in the 1-0 win over Southend in the last round of the cup competition.


    Dunk could make his second start of the season after signing a new deal with the club (Image: Paul Hazlewood)

    The arrival of two new centre backs in Goldson and Uwe Hunemeier had already thrown Dunk’s future at the club into question, however last night the saga came to a close, as the 23-year old agreed a new deal at Albion until 2020. Whether he remains at the Amex for the duration remains to be seen, but any clubs who want to prise him away from Sussex in future will likely have to pay a hefty fee to do so.

    Albion unsurprisingly go into the game as the bookie’s favourites, priced at an average of 13/8, with a shock win for the Saddlers on average at 2/1, with the draw after 90 minutes and extra time at 12/5. The odds will vary depending on whom you bet with, but for an overall comparison you can go to oddschecker.com.

    Whilst the focus of this preview has been on tonight’s game, it would be remiss of me to not touch on the awful scenes that occurred in Shoreham at the weekend. So many profound and meaningful words have already been spoken by so many on this forum and elsewhere. It’s hard for me to add any more to what has already been said, other than that I am proud to be part of so many communities - Sussex, Albion, NSC and football in general - that have banded together in support of one another in what has been the hardest of times for so many over the past four days.

    Rest In Peace Matthew Grimstone, Jacob Schilt and all those whose lives were so tragically cut short. Our thoughts are with you, and your loved ones.
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