• Hughton Pleased With Pre-Season Opener Despite 1-1 Draw

    Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton has insisted that he was pleased with his side’s 1-1 draw with FC St. Gallen in their first match of pre-season.

    The end of the World Cup has signalled the start of the regular football season with the opening match of the 2018/19 Premier League season less than four weeks away.

    Brighton & Hove Albion spent last week away at a pre-season training camp in Austria ahead of their first match of the summer against Swiss side FC St. Gallen.

    The Seagulls were without a host of first-team players for the clash. New recruits Florin Andone and Jason Steele travelled with the group but were not risked, neither was Shane Duffy who is returning from groin surgery. Also missing was the trio of Mat Ryan, Jose Izquierdo and Leon Balogun who have been given additional time off after their involvement in the World Cup.

    Still, it was a relatively strong starting lineup for Albion who started the half well. Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray both missed decent opportunities in the first-half before Nassim Ben Khalifa went down the other end to give St. Gallen the lead.

    Plenty of changes were made at half-time as Brighton came out for the second-half with an almost unrecognisable team. One of those players who came on was forward Tomer Hemed and he climbed higher than anyone to head home from a fine out-swinging corner from Oliver Norwood.

    Both sides created late chances but things finished level at Kybunpark, the home of the Swiss side.

    The side which finished fifth in the Swiss Super League last season were always going to be tough opponents, especially considering they are far further along in their pre-season recuperation.

    St. Gallen were playing their last of four pre-season matches ahead of their opening league match against last season’s runners-up, FC Basel and for Chris Hughton, the 1-1 draw was well received.

    “I was pleased with the result given the respective stages of pre-season that both sides are in, and that was probably reflected in the game,” the Seagulls boss said after the match.

    “The intensity of their game showed at the start, but I thought we grew into the contest and ultimately, in the end, we had the better chances to go and win it.

    “But it was a good run-out for us given the fact that they start their season next week and at this moment we’ve come through it well.”

    “You want to perhaps see some of the things we’ve been working on in training, but the main thing is getting through unscathed and looking forward to the next game.”

    The match signals the end of Brighton’s pre-season tour camp in Austria and for Hughton, it was a successful trip. “It’s been a very good week and the weather has been very hot – as it has been pretty much everywhere else.

    “The facilities were excellent, and we were really well looked after. You want to try and do as much as you can and in each of the four days we’ve managed three sessions per day – although the players had some downtime on Wednesday.

    “It’s our normal pre-season camp and you always judge it as having gone well once you get through the work.”

    Preparations now begin for Brighton’s next pre-season fixture, a friendly against AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow on Saturday 21 July.

    Pre-season will only get tougher for the players now as Chris Hughton and Brighton look to build on last season and establish themselves in the Premier League.

    There’s a feeling that things could be even tougher this year given the quality of the sides which have been promoted. Cardiff City are strong and both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham have some players who could fit into almost any side in the league.

    Indeed, this is reflected in the odds for relegation next season. Brighton are the fifth-favourites to be one of the three sides heading for the Championship at 9/4 on Betway as of 16 July.

    As the sides around them continue to strengthen, the onus is on Brighton to follow suit ahead of what will be another hugely competitive Premier League season which, in many ways, began with this promising 1-1 draw last Saturday.
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