Discussion: Should the Play-Offs be revamped or even scrapped?

It has always been a burning question, when fans of teams who don’t get promoted, call for the play-offs to be scrapped or adjusted to help them achieve promotion, even more so this season when Brighton missed out on promotion automatically by goal difference, before being dumped out by Sheffield Wednesday at the semi-final stage. But the question is, are the play-offs a fair way of deciding who the promoted 3rd team (4th in League 2) will be. That is the question I have set myself to find out.

For the first time in the play-off’s 24 season history, not 1 of the highest finishing play-offs teams from the Championship, League One and League Two will be in the final, with Brighton, Walsall and Acrrington Stanley all falling short after missing out on promotion, ironically all on the final day of the season. All 3 teams can count themselves extremely unlucky, they all missed out by the narrowest of margins; Brighton missed out on goal difference to Middlesbrough by 2 goals, Walsall were a point worse off from promoted team Burton Albion, while Stanley suffered the same fate as Brighton, missing out by 5 goals to Bristol Rovers. But does finishing 3rd (4th L2) actually give you the upper hand?

In the 24 seasons on the play-offs, out of the 72 teams which have finished in the top play-offs spot, 46 of them have gone on to the final while 26 have not, giving the success rate of 64%. Break that down into the separate divisions, Championship teams make the final 62% of the time, as too do League One sides, whereas League Two make it 66% of the time. The thing that makes it even worse for Brighton and Walsall, is that they are only the 2nd team in the last 10 seasons not to make it; Nottingham Forest failed to make it into the Championship play-off final of 2009/10, and so did MK Dons in the 2008/09 season in League One. The has been a number of suggestions, too many to sit and discuss each one, but the one’s that I have listed are the more credible ones I’ve heard.

Award goals based on how many points ahead you are;

It’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve heard of, but there maybe some sense to it. If, like Brighton this season for instance, you are ahead of your opponents by 15 points or 5 wins, you feel like there should be a slight advantage, rather than having it at a ‘level playing field’. Even if they were to consider such a option, I would even begin to know how they would system it, but awarding goals based on how many points in front you are is complete bonkers; it will take intensity and the atmosphere away from the play-offs if such a thing was brought in.

Decision; A complete no from me.

One leg semi-finals;

Something already previously discussed, was to play a one-legged semi final with the winner going straight to the final. Again it boils down to ‘is there actually an advantage?’, as the team you are facing might have beaten you twice in the season. Yes you have home advantage but again, it’s a 1 off match where form and previous results go out the window. It also doesn’t give the chance for teams to overturn a deficit like Brighton, Walsall and Stanley all endured in their 1st legs. As much as it isn’t as footballing issue, you’ll also lose revenue from ticket sales. It’s something to consider, but it would be a 3rd or 4th sort of option.

Decision; Something to consider, but there are better options out there.

3rd goes straight to the final;

A idea which has been floating around quite a lot recently, especially from football pundits and ex players. They way it would work will be 6th plays 5th away, with the winner playing away to 4th, then the winner of that game playing 3rd at Wembley in the final. This idea is probably the fairest way, as it rewards the team that finished 3rd with a straight route to the final, while 5th and 6th must fight their way for a place in the final. While it’s a slight disadvantage to the team’s finishing 5th and 6th, as they have to play extra games, it gives teams more incentive to try and finish higher when they know a play-off place is guaranteed.

Decision; An idea which I think most FL clubs would back. I like the idea and would be my first option if there was a reshuffle in the play-off picture.

Relegation Play-Offs;

Most major European league already have this implemented, so why don’t England? Pretty simple idea, their bottom 2 clubs go down automatically to make way for the 2 promoted teams, while the 3rd bottom team has a chance to fight for their survival. The 3rd bottom team would play 5th in the league down, while 3rd would play 4th over 2 legs. The winners of the ties meet in the final, and if the 3rd bottom team loses at any stage of the play-offs, then they will be relegated and replaced by the victor of the final. The likes of Germany, Holland, Scotland, Norway and Russia already do this, and have had great success.

Decision; It gives the relegation-threatened team hope of staying up, and makes them fight for their survival, which can only be a good thing from a neutral’s point of view. Defiantly worth considering.

Scrap the Play-Offs all together, and the best 3 teams go up;

Probably the idea which most will want, but it gives teams that are mid table halfway through the season little chance to play for anything; you would need to be in and around the top 7 to have a serious shout for promotion. You will also lose the excitement of the play-offs, which have brought us tears, joy and memories as well as bringing extra revenue to clubs and trips to Wembley, so it would be hard to get rid of them.

Decision; I think the play-offs are here to stay, but they definatly need to think about a reshuffle of some sort.

Leave a comment below as to where you stand on this subject, and which idea seems to be the most fitting. 

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BHAFC v SWFC (16/5/16) Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg | Review

It’s so hard to swallow, but words haven’t been invented to tell you how proud I am of Brighton’s achievements this season, so much so we are sitting here disappointed of not going up, when 12 months ago we only just survived. Watching the players reduced to tears on Monday made it harder to take, but it will only add fuel to make them achieve promotion next season. Some are saying that the play-offs need changing, that it doesn’t fairly reflect a team’s performance over the season; and Brighton unfortunately fall into that category. Brighton haven’t been outside the top 7 all season, and spent the most days at the top of the league, but won’t be gracing the pitches at Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford next season, due to the lottery of the play-offs. I could be here all week discussing the play-off picture, but I’ll leave that for another day; lets just focus on how fantastic it has been to be a Brighton supporter this season.

It took only 3 minutes for Brighton to create a chance or 4 even; a Jiri Skalak corner was block on the line from a Lewis Dunk header, before Steve Sidwell’s effort was blocked, then too was James Wilson’s effort, before finally Skalak sliced the ball wide. Anthony Knockaert struck the inside of the post just 6 minutes later, but instead of going in, it only rolled across the line and went out for a goal-kick. Knockaert had another free-kick in a dangerous area, and this time Kieran Westwood was forced to save it, when he took the low route to goal hitting it under the jumping wall. Knockaert had a deflected effort nearly catch Westwood out, after the Irish international slipped leaving the ball to go helplessly over him, but it hit the side netting much to his relief. Sam Baldock broke the offside trap, and forced Westwood into a fingertip save as he pushed the Albion striker’s effort over the bar. Knockaert was at the centre again of a chance, this time he header wide when it looked easier to miss when Skalak crossed the ball in and Wilson flicked it onto the back post where Knockaert was waiting. It took numerous good chances, but Brighton finally did get their goal, when Knockaert’s powerful free kick evaded everyone but Dunk at the far post, as he stabbed the ball home. The lead didn’t last long, as Wednesday with their first chance of the game scored, when Ross Wallace’s attempted cross missed everyone and nestled into the far corner; Dunk would have cleared it had it not been for the blatant push on him by Gary Hooper, but neither the referee or his linesman gave anything and the goal stood. Wilson was given a glorious chance to restore the Albion lead, when Beram Kayal played him in but Westwood intervened with a lovely save. Skalak then tested Westwood from a free-kick, but it went just over the bar. The ball was cleared off the line in added time, when Dunk’s header from a miss hit Gordan Greer shot fell to him; in the same swift move Wednesday counter-attacked and a fantastic outside foot cross from Fernando Forestieri was met by the head of Hooper, who forced David Stockdale into a magnificent save, which kept Brighton still in the tie. However, it just wasn’t Brighton half, it could have been 6 or 7 had their chances gone in, but instead it was only 1-1. Into the 2nd half, and Brighton started just like the 1st; with chances. Skalak and Wilson both tested Westwood with low, hard-driving shots before Wednesday had a chance themselves when a Wallace shot was spilled by Stockdale, but nobody could react to it. Dunk had a chance in injury time to make it a nervy last 2 minutes, but Westwood made a great save. The game finished 1-1 with Wednesday going through on aggregate 3-1, but the score line doesn’t show just how lucky Wednesday were.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (6); Nothing he could do about the goal, but pulled off a tremendous save from Hooper, but also spilled a relatively easy shot from Wallace which would have gifted Wednesday a goal, had somebody been gambling.

Bruno (6); Looked content in supporting Knockaert rather than overlap his runs, but made his presence known when defending.

Greer (6); What looks to be his last Albion game, hardly put a foot wrong, but wasn’t involved in the game enough but to make an impact at both ends.

Dunk (7); Scored the goal, but will be fuming that the foul wasn’t given on him for their goal. Solid again, and will prove very useful next season, if we keep him.

Bong (6); Good last couple of game has shown his early season form regenerating. Was happy to sit behind Skalak most of the time, but got forward when he could.

Knockaert (7); Should of had a hat-trick of goals in the first 20 minutes; his dead ball abilities, like Skalak’s are out of this world, that it’s quite scary at times.

Kayal (6); Commanded the midfield well, and was a threat going forward, less so in the 2nd half when Wednesday got a grip of the game.

Sidwell (6); Shook off his hamstring injury from Friday to play Monday, at first it looked like a bad decision, but he grew into the game and looked comfortable.

Skalak (7); Unlucky not top have a few goals himself, but it wasn’t to be for him. Going to be a key player next season.

Wilson (6); Good couple of chances for the on loan Manchester United man, but good block from the Wednesday defence meant he didn’t finish his time in Brighton with a goal.

Baldock (6); Classic Baldock game, would happily run it his heart’s content, but he got tired and there was nobody to replace him, basically became ineffective during the last 15-20 minutes.

Subs;

LuaLua (5); Some say his last Brighton game, and if it is he will be disappointed, as he didn’t affect the game Hughton would have been hoping for, and has look out of touch since his injury.

Rosenior (5); On for Greer to make it 3 at the back, when Dunk was given orders to go up top. No real worries, just a couple of times when Wednesday counter attacked.

BHAFC [1]-[1] SWFC; Dunk (19); Wallace (28);

Att; 27,272

MOTM; Knockaert

BHAFC v SWFC (16/5/16) Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg | Preview

Brighton need to set history to get them to Wembley, as they must overturn a 2 goal deficit against Sheffield Wednesday. No Championship team has recovered from 2 goals down in a play-off semi final, but Brighton will be looking to re-write the record books Monday night.

Wednesday News;

Carlos Carvahal may re-name the same squad from Friday night, as the Owls look to book their place at Wembley. Ross Wallace scored his 5th of the season Friday while Kieran Lee netted his 6th, still some way behind leading scorer Fernando Forestieri, who has 15.

FACT; Wednesday have only won 6 games away from Hillsborough all season.

Brighton News;

Connor Goldson, Steve Sidwell, Anthony Knockaert and Tomer Hemed are all set to miss out the game Monday through injuries picked up Friday night. Dale Stephens remains suspended, but Lewis Dunk is back after serving his 2 game ban. 

FACT; Brighton are unbeaten in 10 home games, winning 7.

Earlier In The Season: SWFC [0]-[0] BHAFC (3/11/15), BHAFC [0]-[0] SWFC (8/3/16), SWFC [2]-[0] BHAFC (13/5/16);

After goalless league meetings, Wednesday scored the first goals of the fixture Friday night in the first leg; Wallace and Lee on target for the Owls.

H-2-H;

In the 17 games played between the 2 sides, Brighton have only won 3 games, while Wednesday have won 7. Brighton haven’t beaten the Owls in the previous 8 games, and have only scored 2 goals in that period.

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale;

Bruno, Greer, Dunk, Bong;

Rosenior, Kayal, Towell, Skalak,

Baldock, Murphy;

Prediction;

Brighton 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

SWFC v BHAFC (13/5/16) Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg | Review

Friday the 13th lived up to its name for the Albion, after Wednesday took full advantage of the 1st leg at Hillsborough. It was a slightly harsh result on Brighton after losing FOUR players to injury during the match, but the scoreline doesn’t flatter Wednesday at all, playing fluid football and punishing a very poor Brighton side. It means Brighton have it all to do on Monday night, to stop them going out of the play-offs at the semi final stage for the 3rd time in 4 years. 

Brighton had the first chance of the game when Anthony Knockaert kept the ball in play and flicked it onto Bruno, who cut it back to Sam Baldock with the striker’s shot being deflected wide for a corner. From the resulting corner, Jiri Skalak whipped in a fantastic ball, and Tomer Hemed rose highest to head the ball onto the post leaving Kieran Westwood stranded in his goal. Hemed and Connor Goldson were soon forced off with injuries, Hemed with a suspected back problem and Goldson with a hamstring injury. Ross Wallace had a long range effort terrifically tipped round the post by David Stockdale, before Fernando Forestieri though he had put the Owls in front, only for the referee Andre Marriner and his linesman to give the Italian offside, which was the correct decision. Wallace had another long range effort on target, but this time it did find the net, after it went through Beram Kayal and Gordan Greer’s legs. Daniel Pudil had another long range effort go narrowly wide just after half-time,  before Sidwell and Knockaert were forced off through injuries; another hamstring problem and a twisted ankle respectively. Skalak went close for the Albion from a dipping free-kick which went just over, before Kieran Lee made it 2-0 after Forestieri picked him out with a delightful through ball, which Lee then kept his cool when 1-on-1 with Stockdale. Skalak had a beautiful volley go just over too, but it wasn’t to be for Brighton, who will have to make history to make it to Wembley on the 28th May.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (6); Made a good save from Wallace, rarely called into much action.

Bruno (6); Good spell at right-back before coming into the middle to cover Goldson. Looked a little out of his depth, but kept at it.

Goldson (5); Unlucky night for the young centre-back, looked as if he was going to have a big game too after keeping Gary Hooper quiet.

Greer (5); Struggled against the pace of Forestieri, and looked a little out of place, but I guess that’s what happens when you have only played 2 games this year.

Bong (6); Played one of his better games since his injury, but still doesn’t look as threatening as he did before.

Knockaert (6); Harsh on the Albion play-maker who worked hard for so long, and looks as if he won’t be avaliable to turn it around.

Kayal (6); Made to work a little harder without his usual midfield partner, made a little easy when Richie Towell came on with fresh legs.

Sidwell (5); Struggled to make an impact in the game, and had to come off early in the 2nd half.

Skalak (6); Fine game from the Czech, his dead ball qualities are going to be a real threat on Monday night, after causing the Owls a few problems.

Baldock (6); Run his head into the ground, and was unfortunate not to give Albion the lead with a good effort early on.

Hemed (6); Fantastic header from him which hit the post, but looks as if his departure was only precautionary. 

Subs;

Wilson (6); Worked as hard as he could, but for obvious reasons he struggled to win many aerial battles.

Rosenior (6); Hughton clearly benched him to give his a breather ready for Monday, but that never happened. Worked well with Knockaert, then Skalak when he came off.

Towell (6); Not the way he would of wanted his league debut, but took it well and sharpened up the midfield.

SWFC [2]-[0] BHAFC; Wallace (45), Lee (73);

Att; 34,260

MOTM; Skalak

SWFC v BHAFC (13/5/16) Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg | Preview

With the disappointment of the result last Saturday, Brighton have a quick turnaround, as they travel to Yorkshire to take on Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship play-offs. Both teams will feel they have a real chance at progressing to Wembley on the 28th May, with Wednesday’s end of season surge helping them gain a place in the top 6, while Brighton can use the disappointment of losing out on automatic promotion.

Wednesday News;

Ross Wallace is available after serving his 3 match ban, while Atdhe Nuhiu is set to return from injury. Carlos Carvahal rested key players in the defeat away to Wolves, and is set to re-call them to the starting XI tomorrow evening. Fernando Forestieri is the leading Owls scorer with 15, while Gary Hooper is 2 behind him on 13.

FACT; Wednesday have only lost twice at home all season (Middlesbrough and Rotherham)

Brighton News;

Dale Stephens will miss the entire play-offs after failing in his appeal to get his red card overturned. Lewis Dunk will serve the last game of his 2 match ban, but Chris Hughton has no other issues, other than long term absentees; Uwe Hunemeier, Solly March and Bobby Zamora. Tomer Hemed is the leading Albion scorer with 17.

FACT; Brighton haven’t kept a clean sheet in the past 5 away games.

Earlier In The Season: SWFC [0]-[0] BHAFC (3/11/15), BHAFC [0]-[0] SWFC (8/3/16);

Both game finished 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday the better of the 2 sides on both occasions.

H-2-H;

In the 16 games played between the 2 sides, Brighton have won 3 games, while Wednesday have won 6. The Owls are unbeaten against Brighton in the past 7 games, and have only conceded 2 goals in that time. The last 3 games have all ended in a 0-0 draw.

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale;

Bruno, Goldson, Greer, Rosenior;

Knockaert, Kayal, Sidwell, Skalak;

Wilson, Hemed;

Prediction;

Sheff Wed 1-1 Brighton

MFC v BHAFC (7/5/16) | Review

It’s so hard to swallow; so close but yet so far as Brighton couldn’t manage the win, which would guarantee they play Premier League football next term. Although they have to go through the dreaded play-offs, there is still hope that they can gain promotion, maybe more so now as they fell short by goal difference. Fair play to Middlesbrough, other than their anti-sportmanship behavior of going down when ever possible, they were robust and it’s easy to see why they have only conceded 8 goals at home this season. But unfortunalty they were given a huge slice of luck, when experienced and level-headed referee Mike Dean, sent off Dale Stephens just as Brighton looked like turning the tide, and going down to 10 men scuppered any chance of scoring a goal.

The game started the opposite of what most thought; fast-paced and both teams looking to attack each other to try and get the first goal to give them the upper hand. Stephens had the first meaningful chance of the game, when his pile-driving free-kick was deflected wide from the Middlesbrough wall, but it was Boro who took the lead when Gaston Ramirez whipped in a deep free-kick, and unmarked David Nugent was on hand to play the ball back across goal, to the equally unmarked, Cristian Stuani to tap the ball in. Stuani nearly made it 2 for Boro soon after, when Albert Adomah’s cross picked him out and his goal-bound volley was block on the line by Connor Goldson. Goldson was nearly a villain though, when a poor back pass to David Stockdale allowed Ramirez to sneak in, and try to chip the Albion stopper, but it went just over. Adam Clayton had a long-range shot go just wide of Stockdale’s post, which he seemed to have covered. Anthony Knockaert, who was quite quiet in the first half, had a chance in first half added time, but he snatched at the shot and it went hopelessly wide. The second half started much better for the Seagulls, and they were soon level, after Knockaert’s free-kick was met by Stephens at the back post, and his header lifted over Dimi Konstantopoulos to nestle in the far corner of the Boro net. The celebrations didn’t last long though, when Stephens was given the red card by Dean, just 3 minutes later. The controversy was that Dean had originally had a yellow card out, and was waiting to give it to Stephens while the players dispersed, but during that time Ramirez slammed the card out of Dean’s hand and showed him his leg, before changing his mind and giving Stephens his marching orders, much to the fury of the players and the bench. From then on, it was quite a sour affair, any tackle which was 50/50 was given in favour of Middlesbrough, and they went to the floor like they had been shot every few minutes; to say it was unsportsmanlike is an understatement, but you got to do what you gotta do to get the £170 million prize on offer. The final whistle was greeted by huge cheers and celebrations from the home supporters, while the 2,570 away fans watched on.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (6); Little to do, but made a fantastic save from Adomah from 6 yards out, even if he was offside.

Bruno (6); Struggled to find any rhythm in the first half, but grew into the game when Brighton looked dangerous.

Goldson (7); Solid defensively, almost taking on Dunk’s responsibilities as well as his own. Other than a few little ‘heart in mouth’ moments, he didn’t put a foot wrong.

Greer (6); Obviously not being match fit, it was going to be difficult to mark such a striker in Nugent, but did enough to stop him being a threat.

Rosenior (6); Hardly in the game first half, and struggled to get forward in the second, before eventually moving to centre back to cover Greer’s departure.

Knockaert (6); Fabulous free-kick, but had a frustrating afternoon with Boro constantly doubling up on him.

Kayal (6); Only bright spark of a poor first half display, and continued to do so in the second; looked a little out of place when Stephens went off.

Stephens (6); Harsh call by ref Dean, it other than the dubious call, his goal was well-taken and he looked firm in midfield with Kayal.

Murphy (6); Had a good couple of runs at Nsue, but lack of match time has caught up with him it seems.

Baldock (5); Not much he could do up front, with the ball not coming into the 2 strikers in the first half. Worked hard however.

Hemed (6); When he had the chance, his hold up play was good, but he got increasing frustrated when Ayala kept going down from 50/50 headers.

Subs;

Wilson (6); Changed the game, with his direct running and ability to work off the ball, but still think his match fitness it well below what it should be.

Sidwell (6); On to take Stephens place in midfield, and looked comfortable and might of had a chance if he had connected better with a overhead kick ion the Boro box.

LuaLua (N/A); Little time to make an impact, as Hughton pressed for a winner.

MFC [1]-[1] BHAFC; Stuani (19); Stephens (55)

Att; 33,806 (2,570 Brighton)

MOTM; Goldson

MFC v BHAFC (7/5/16) | Preview

1 game, £170 million, and only 1 goal; promotion. It’s a winner takes all game this weekend as Middlesbrough and Brighton do battle for football’s ultimate prize; a place in the Premier League. Stakes couldn’t be higher, a win for either side sees them up, with the draw being favourable to Middlesbrough, but this is the type of game where form, stats and previous results go out the window, it just comes down to who has the bottle to get the job done. So sit back and try to enjoy it, as Brighton try and seal a place in England’s top flight since 1983.

Middlesbrough News;

George Friend will have a late fitness check ahead of the game ,as he recovers from a groin injury which has kept him out since the Burnley game 2 weeks ago, however Aitor Karanka had no other injury concerns. Jordan Rhodes lead the way in terms of most goals (16), but 10 were for Blackburn, otherwise David Nugent is top scorer with 8.

FACT; Boro have won 14 of their 22 games this season and have kept 15 clean sheets.

Brighton News:

Lewis Dunk is unavailable after being sent off on Monday, so Gordan Greer is set to replace him and skipper the side. Chris Hughton will look to keep the same team, but might revert to 4-5-1 to not get caught by Boro’s offensive power. Tomer Hemed looks set to fall short of scoring 20 this season, he is still stuck on 17.

FACT; Brighton have won 5 of their last 6 away games, but they have conceded in their last 4.

Earlier In The Season: BHAFC [0]-[3] MFC (19/12/15);

It was a painful end to a great run, the unbeaten run was crushed and blown up by Middlesbrough after a expert display. Goals from Kike, Albert Adomah and Cristian Stuani sealed the 3 points which sent them clear at the top of the table.

H-2-H;

Boro have won 8 of the 15 games played between the 2 and haven’t lost in the last 4 (3W, 1D). Brighton last victory over Boro was at the Riverside back in December 2013, but have since struggled against them only scoring once in the last 4 games, and conceding 7.

Likely Line-Up:

Stockdale;

Bruno, Goldson, Greer, Rosenior;

Knockaert, Kayal, Stephens, Skalak;

Wilson, Hemed;

Prediction;

Middlesbrough 1-1 Brighton

BHAFC v DCFC (2/5/16) | Review

We already knew it was going to the last game of the season, but we now know that only a Brighton win would be good enough to secure promotion to the top flight of English football, for the first time since 1983. It was after a stoppage time equaliser from James Wilson salvaged a point against a resilient Derby side, who were determined not to lose the game, setting them in bad stead for the upcoming play-off games with Hull. With Burnley winning yesterday evening and securing a return the Premier League at the first time of asking, it’s a straight out dog fight between Middlesbrough and Brighton for the remaining promotion place, with Middlesbrough going up with a win or draw, and Brighton going up with a win only.

Beram Kayal was first to have a chance in the game, when he picked up a loose ball from Johnny Russell, his deflected shot whistled just wide of Scott Carson’s post. Carson was at the centre of the next chance, when his quick releasing ball sent Craig Bryson away down the wing, and after hitting a first time cross-pitch pass to Tom Ince, the latter hit his shot into the side netting. Anthony Knockaert was lively, and had an absolute glorious chance to give Albion the lead, when his curling free-kick was blocked on the line by Jason Shackell, who had tracked back from the wall; Carson was rooted to the spot. As half-time approached, Lewis Dunk had a header deflected wide from a Jiri Skalak corner, which looked certain to nestle in the corner of the net. After little chances in the opening 25 minutes of the second half, it sprung into life when sub Andreas Weimann struck for the Rams no less than 2 minutes after coming on. Will Hughes lobbed the ball over Connor Goldson, and sent Weimann through, although his initial effort was saved by David Stockdale, the rebound fell kindly for him and tucked it away in the corner; it was no more than what they deserved to be honest, they looked far more dangerous than Brighton did in the second half. Things went from bad to worse for the Seagulls, when Dunk was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow for a reckless challenge on Bryson. It was his second red of the season after being sent off at QPR in December. Just like that game, he will not be avaliable for the Middlesbrough game which follows. However, it wasn’t all drab as sub Wilson popped up in the Derby box in the 95th minute to volley home an equaliser, after a corner wasn’t cleared properly by Derby. The goal itself doesn’t matter, as it still means Brighton must win to go up, but it gives the players a confidence boost with them knowing they won’t give up until the end.

Line-Up;

Stockdale (6); No real saves to make, couldn’t react in time to save Weimann’s follow-up which he maybe dissapointed in.

Bruno (6); Tough game for the captain, who looks set to relinquish the armband on Saturday. Not much joy on the offensive side, and had to work hard to stop Russell getting the better of him.

Goldson (7); One of the best players on the pitch; looked confident and handled Chris Martin well (can’t recall him having a shot)

Dunk (5); He knows he has screwed up big time, but it’s most certainly not the time to be criticizing anyone. He look relatively untroubled for most of the afternoon, but two poor challenges has brough back ther Dunk from 5 months ago.

Rosenior (6); Like Bruno, he rarely had the chance to go forward, especially when marking a tricky customer like Ince.

Knockaert (7); A certain goal saved on the line, and numerous half-chances prove that he is a Premier League player in waiting, if not with us then with someone else, as he it far too good to be playing Championship football next season.

Kayal (6); Hard battles in midfield when playing against 3 centre midfielders, but did well enough to not let them settle into the game.

Stephens (6); Seemed to struggle at the start of the game, but grew into it and made it difficult for Derby to have time on the ball.

Skalak (6); A quiet game for him; rarely had the ball and when he did he couldn’t make the magic happen.

Baldock/ Hemed (5); Hard to mark the strikers down when they haven’t had anything to do, but they whole idea of playing 2 upfront if for them to work together, which they didn’t. When 1 was in the game the other was out of it, and it made it difficult for supporting midfielders to contribute to the attacks.

Subs;

Wilson (6); Cahnged the dynamic of the game when he came on, work across with Hemed, which Baldock didn’t and got the late equaliser.

LuaLua (5); Not much for him to do, had a couple good dribbles but nothing to really excite the crowd.

BHAFC [1]-[1] DCFC; Wilson (90+5); Weimann (71);

Att; 30,292 (New AMEX Record)

MOTM; Knockaert

BHAFC v DCFC (2/5/16) | Preview

Possibly the biggest game ever played at The AMEX will take place tomorrow, as promotion-chasing Brighton take on a Derby side, who have already secured a play-off place, but will want a win to help secure a home 2nd leg against Hull. With Middlesbrough slipping up on Friday night away at Birmingham, Brighton know a win would take them top, and give then the upper hand going into the crunch game next weekend on Teeside.

Derby News;

Bradley Johnson will be assessed ahead of the game, but Jeff Hendricks and Lee Grant are both definatly out. Interim manager Darren Wassall may name an unchanged side, from the team that drew 1-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.

FACT; Derby have lost 3 of their last 6 away games, but they have won their last 2.

Brighton News;

Liam Rosenior should be fit to play, after coming off with a injury last time out against Charlton. Chris Hughton has no other injury worries, and is expected to name the same side if Rosenior is declared fit. Tomer Hemed scored in the last game and has now taken his tally to 17 goals this season.

FACT; Brighton are currently unbeaten in 12 games, winning 9 of them ( 7 in the last 8 games)

Earlier In The Season: DCFC [2]-[2] BHAFC (12/12/16);

It finished level earlier in the season between the 2, after Brighton took the lead twice. James Wilson put Brighton in front,  before Bradley Johnson levelled. Rajiv van La Parra restored the lead, before a late Chris Martin penalty shared the points.

H-2-H;

Derby have won 10 of the 20 games played between the 2, including winning 4 in 1 season (back in the 2013/14 season). Brighton won the last game at the AMEX last March, which severely dented Derby’s promotion hopes. Derby’s last win at Brighton was in the first leg of the play-off semi-final back in May 2014, however they also won the league game too that season back in August. 

Likely Line-Up;

Stockdale;

Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Rosenior;

Knockaert, Kayal, Stephens, Skalak;

Baldock, Hemed;

Prediction;

Brighton 2-1 Derby