The 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park on Friday night was Brighton’s tenth game unbeaten, a run that begun with a 3-0 victory over Palace at the Amex Stadium back in March. If they can repeat that feat today, they will seal a place in the play-off final against Watford.
Gus Poyet’s men are the bookies’ favourites to reach the Wembley showpiece following their late surge into fourth place and last week’s Selhurst stalemate.
Despite playing a fluid, attacking brand of football, Brighton boast the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 43 goals in 46 league games this season. The Eagles’ front three – minus their injured talisman Glenn Murray – will need to be at their best against a back line including the Premier League experience of Matthew Upson, Wayne Bridge and Tomasz Kuszczak.
At the other end, Leonardo Ulloa will be the Seagulls’ main goal threat, having found the net nine times since his January move from Spanish side Almeria.
No team that has finished fourth in English football’s second tier has been promoted in the past 15 years. The last team to reach the Premier League after finishing in that position was Charlton in 1998, following their dramatic penalty shootout win over Sunderland.
Crystal Palace: 30-goal striker Glenn Murray is not fit to return to his former club after being stretchered off with a suspected cruciate knee ligament injury in the first leg. Jonny Williams, who was also substituted in the game at Selhurst, should be named in the squad. On loan midfielder Stephen Dobbie is ineligible to play against his parent club, while Jonny Parr and Paddy McCarthy remain long-term injury absentees.
Brighton: Scotland international striker Craig Mackail-Smith is still out of contention after suffering an Achilles tendon injury against Bristol City in March. Fellow front man George Barker has been ruled out by Gus Poyet, because he is currently in court at The Old Bailey on a charge of sexual assault. Another striker, Will Hoskins, remains sidelined with knee ligament damage, while Spanish full-back Bruno is also out with a calf problem. The Seagulls have no fresh injury concerns after the first leg.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistants: Steve Child and Gary Beswick
Fourth Official: Paul Tierney
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS AT BRIGHTON
Palace’s first visit to the Goldstone Ground ended in a 2-0 win for the visitors in the old Third Division, back in December 1920. The Eagles had to wait eight years for the next away win over Brighton though, which came in a resounding 5-1 triumph as Third Division South opponents. That signalled the start of a five-game unbeaten run for Palace at the home of the Seagulls, which stretched over 16 years.
That run came to an end in March 1934, as Brighton won 4-1 – and they would win five of their next six meetings with the Eagles on the south coast as Third Division South adversaries. It wasn’t until the 1962/63 season that the teams met in a higher tier, as Palace won 2-1 in the old Third Division. Brighton were relegated to the Fourth Division that season.
They clashed as second tier opponents for the first time in 1977, as Palace earned a 1-1 draw at the Goldstone Ground, and they drew 0-0 there the following season, as both sides earned promotion to the First Division.
The Eagles lost both of their trips to Brighton as First Division opponents – the first of those coming in a 3-0 defeat on Boxing Day 1979. Palace lost their last seven trips to the Godstone Ground, before Brighton infamously sold their stadium.
Palace won one and drew one of their two visits to Brighton’s temporary home, the Withdean Stadium, before running out 3-1 winners on their first trip to the new Amex Stadium, in September 2011. But they lost 3-0 there in March, as Leonardo Ulloa bagged a brace either side of half time.
HEAD TO HEAD (home and away)
|Palace wins||Draws||Brighton wins|
Away fans are housed in the South East corner of the Amex Stadium. This area not only includes the corner section but also part of the East and South Stands’ lower tiers. Around 3,300 fans can be accommodated in this area. Food available inside the stadium includes cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, and homemade pies.
There are not many pubs in the immediate vicinity around the stadium, with the Swann Inn, which is around a 15 minute walk from the stadium, only admitting home fans on matchdays. There are however a number of pubs outside Brighton Mainline Station.
The stadium is located at Falmer on the outskirts of Brighton, very close to the University of Sussex. At the end of the M23, continue onto the A23, heading towards Brighton. At the roundabout which is the junction with the A27, take the A27 towards Lewes. After around four miles you will see the stadium on your right hand side.
There is no parking at the stadium for away fans, with the club encouraging fans to use the park and ride services located at three different locations: Mill Road (BN1 8ZF), Brighton Racecourse (BN2 9XZ) and Mithras House at Brighton University (BN2 4AT).
The nearest railway station is Falmer, which is situated right by the stadium, with Brighton Central Railway Station around four miles away.
Tickets for tonight's match are now sold out. Please do not make the trip to the Amex Stadium unless you have a ticket.
If you do not have a ticket to the game, it will be screened live at Selhurst Park, with the stadium open from 6.30pm. Entry costs £10 per person, which includes a £5 drinks voucher on arrival that can be redeemed at the bar.
Brighton win: 10/11
Palace win: 7/2
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