Match Preview: Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Wolves
Venue: Amex Stadium
For the first time since that significant day back in May 2013, Wolves travel to the south coast to take on Brighton.
As fans take their seats in the Amex Stadium on Saturday many will remember watching Dean Saunders manage his final game for the club, which ultimately resulted in our relegation from the Championship, and commended us to our first season in the third tier since 1989.
The fateful day saw players such as Karl Henry, Roger Johnson, Tongo Doumbia, Stephen Ward and Doris De Vries play their final game for the club and it marked a new era for club under Kenny Jackett with a focus on youth development.
Nearly two years later much has changed with Wolves now sitting just outside the playoffs while Brighton are the ones languishing towards the foot of the Championship table.
Throughout this season Brighton have done little to impress their home crowds but have slowly started to turn things around with three of their six home league wins coming in their previous three home games.
Bakary Sako will be available on Saturday after rightly having his red card against Watford rescinded, although Fernando Forestieri saw no punishment for his act in getting Sako sent off.
Kenny Jackett is hoping the recent combination of Kevin McDonald and Benik Afobe will continue to flourish in this game with the ever present Scot delivering some delightful through balls for the new signing to latch onto.
An aggressive attacking nature is something Jackett wants to continue and with the number of games winding down he is concentrating on keeping vital form and momentum
Jackett has targeted a two point average from the remaining 15 fixtures with a target of gate-crashing the playoff spots.
On paper this game may not look as difficult as upcoming away games against Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest but Wolves will have to continue to be aware of any slips ups to have any hope of reaching Jackett’s target.
However the lure of avenging that day in 2013 and giving the travelling support a reason to go home happy should be more than enough for Jackett’s men.
Liverpool loanee João Teixeira has been aiding Brighton’s struggle to score goals by contributing six goals from midfield since being signed by former manager Sami Hyypiä in August. Teixeria scored on his full debut against Leeds United and the flamboyant midfielder will look to unlock the Wolves defence throughout the match.
If he starts then Greg Halford can expect another hostile reception from the away support after leaving the club under a cloud in 2011. On his departure from Molineux, Halford claimed that he was moving to a bigger club at Portsmouth and that he fell out with then manager Mick McCarthy on numerous occasions.
Kevin ‘King of through Balls’ McDonald looks like he is starting to regain the form that last year won him the Supporters’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards. After coming in for some criticism in the early stages of the season he is winning fans back over with some impressive performances over the past few weeks. Look for him to cap off these performances with his first goal of the season sooner rather than later.
Jack Price scored his first senior goal against Watford and hopefully that will encourage a more attacking side to his play.
Rich: Brighton 0-1 Wolves
Luke R: Brighton 1-2 Wolves
Luke T: Brighton 2-1 Wolves
David: Brighton 1-1 Wolves
Craig: Brighton 1-2 Wolves
Leon Best 11/2
Chris O’Grady 6/1
João Teixeira 7/1
Benik Afobe 11/2
Nouha Dicko 6/1
Bakary Sako 13/2
(Image via birminghammail.co.uk)