Championship play-off semi-finals – Sheffield Wednesday v Brighton & Hove Albion
Could Brighton & Hove Albion be destined to stay in the Championship?
They have not played in the top flight since 1982-83 and automatic promotion was denied to them on the final league game of the season when they drew with Middlesbrough.
So, they travelled tonight to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday, who finished sixth in the table and are hoping to return to the Premier League for the first time since suffering relegation in 2000.
This is leg one of two; the winning team over both legs will head to Wembley to play either Hull City or Derby County in the play-off final on 29th May 2016.
Brighton manager, Chris Hughton told BBC Sussex before the game:
You have to look at the game as two cup finals. One can affect the other.
We are talking about three days between the two games, but we play in a league where we are used to playing on a Saturday and a midweek.
They are a very good side and certainly have goals in them.
I expect it to be a tight affair.
The game kicked off at 7.45pm with a full stadium and two full benches.
However, Brighton’s top scorer Tomer Hemed and centre-back Connor Goldson were both substituted due to injuries just before half time.
Closely following the substitutions were cheers erupting around Hillsborough, as Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri appeared to fire the hosts in front; yet much to the home-side’s annoyance, the referee disallowed the goal following consultation with the linesman.
This didn’t put the Wednesday off and after Forestieri’s goal was ruled out for offside, Ross Wallace then scored from 25 yards in the 44th minute.
Sheffield Wednesday 1 – 0 Brighton & Hove Albion
In the second half, Brighton’s midfielder Steve Sidwell and winger Anthony Knockaert were also taken off the pitch prematurely, injured.
This meant Brighton were down to ten men by the 59th minute and their Chairman, Tony Bloom was seen in the crowd, shaking his head in disbelief at his crumbling side.
Then came the 73rd minute and Kieran Lee managed to slot the ball smartly past Brighton keeper, Stockdale.
Sheffield Wednesday 2 – 0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton defended brilliantly once they were two nil down, but were unable to change the score-line and walked from the pitch after a string of injuries, somewhat deflated.
The Seagulls have lost in the Championship play-off semi-finals twice in the past three seasons, first to rivals Crystal Palace in 2012-13 and then to Derby County in 2013-14.
And tonight, with four injuries and a two nil score line, it was definitely unlucky Friday the 13th for Brighton.
But the sea-siders’ fingers are tightly crossed this year will be different, after they’ve hosted the return leg on Monday 16th May 2016.
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