Teesiders promoted to Premiership – Sea-siders settle for Wembley

Middlesbrough v Brighton & Hove Albion. Three young Seagulls keeping their fingers crossed. Image: @OfficialBHAFC

Brighton & Hove Albion made the long trip north to face Middlesbrough in a win or bust race for automatic promotion to the English Premier League.

Several thousand Seagulls’ fans followed their team to the Riverside Stadium, knowing that only a win would see them leapfrog their opponents into second place.

This season’s success of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club and its imminent tournament challenge has been decorated across the city of Brighton and Hove.

Major buildings and landmarks – such as the new i360 tower and The Town Hall – have been adorned with Seagulls’ colours and flags.

Many children across the city dressed in Blue and White at school the day before, in support of their city’s team.

Children supporting Seagulls at Middle Street Primary School, Brighton. Image: Julie Aldous

Children supporting Seagulls at Middle Street Primary School, Brighton. Image: Julie Aldous

Albion’s home ground, The Amex, hosted a big screen televisation of the match for a few thousand who were not able to make the trip up North, but craved  the pitch-side atmosphere.

In a tense afternoon of football, it was the home side that seemed more comfortable early on.

Middlesbrough controlled possession in the first half and took a deserved lead when Cristhian Stuani turned from 6 yards; he couldn’t miss as David Nugent’s header across goal from a free kick presented the centre forward with an open goal.

Neither Beram Kayal nor Anthony Knockhaert could get a foothold in the game for Brighton and the visitors were lucky to go into half time only one down.

Seagulls’ fans were ever hopeful.

The second half proved to be much more competitive.

A ‘Boro foul ten minutes after the interval gave Albion a free kick in a dangerous area and defender, Dale Stephens, headed the ball in over the keeper into the far corner of the net.

Stephens went from hero to villain just five minutes later though, as a harsh tackle on Middlesbrough’s Gaston Ramirez saw him receive a straight red card.

Ramirez was stretched off the pitch and replaced by returning local hero, Stewart Downing.

Albion fought on with ten men but were unable to break down a determined Middlesbrough defence.

The Tee-siders held on for a one all draw, so will take their place once again at football’s top table after a seven year wait while the sea-siders will have to settle for a place in the play-offs.

Coming so close only to miss out, there is no doubt there will be disappointment for Brighton & Hove Albion, but manager Chris Hughton was full of pride for his team’s efforts.

Jerry, a Seagulls fan of over three decades is positive for the game(s) ahead:

If they can see off Sheffield Wednesday in the coming week, they will get another chance to reach the Premier League in the play-off final.

The Wembley showcase is rightly described as the most valuable football match in the world; For the winners, the TV rights alone next season will be worth £10.2m per game.

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