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Opposition watch: Brighton

Posted: Thu 13 Mar 2014
Author: Theo Squires

The low-down on this weekend's opponents from the Amex Stadium

A fixture that has been played out only 15 times in the history of either side, this season marks the first time that Bolton and Brighton have been in the same division in successive seasons with their rare meetings often proving to be close affairs.

With five wins apiece, it is perhaps little surprise that the three clashes between the two sides over the last two seasons having seen Bolton and Brighton both claim a win, with the other encounter ending in stalemate. 

It is Brighton who hold the upper hand in league competition however, with all of their victories coming in division football as opposed to Bolton’s two.

The Seagulls won the last time the two sides played as strikes from Inigo Calderon and Will Buckley, as well as a Jay Spearing own goal helped secure Brighton a 3-1 win.

However, it is Wanderers who were victorious in the only meeting between these two sides to be played at the Reebok Stadium just over 12 months ago. Marcus Alonso’s 20th minute strike wrapped up all three points for the Whites that day, as Brighton had Ashley Barnes sent off late on.

As the Trotters chase a third successive home win and clean sheet, a maximum three points for Brighton is just as vital with the Seagulls still challenging for a play-off place.

Currently two points outside the top six, Brighton have found their feet in recent weeks, losing just one of their last seven league matches.

Late goals from Leonardo Ulloa and Stephen Ward ensured they were victorious against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday, extending their unbeaten run to three matches heading into Saturday’s tie.

Ulloa has been the Seagulls’ star-man this season, registering 12 goals from just 25 appearances already this year, despite a foot injury ruling him out for two months earlier in the campaign. 

That sided with the prolonged absence of Craig Mackail-Smith has left Seagulls fans wondering if Brighton could even be challenging for automatic promotion had the pair had been available all season long.

With Ulloa scoring six goals in his last eight appearances they may have a point, especially since before the Argentine’s recent run he had scored just twice since the end of August – both strikes coming in a Boxing Day clash with basement club Charlton Athletic.

Looking to compete in the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history, Brighton are also seeking to end a 31-year absence from the top flight.

Having last featured in the First Division in 1983, in a season remembered more for the Seagulls’ FA Cup final heartache at Wembley, Brighton will be longing their season ends with a more successful return to the home of English football in May.