Newcastle United’s 0-0 draw at Reading last night gave Brighton the opportunity to close the gap on the league leaders and the Seagulls duly obliged by taking maximum points at rock-bottom side Rotherham United. This leaves Chris Hughton’s men just three points adrift of Newcastle and they will be confident of closing the gap completely when they welcome Derby County to the Falmer Stadium on Friday evening.
It has been a long slog for Brighton but they have confounded their many critics and remained very much in contention for an automatic promotion to the Premier League. Indeed given their excellent form throughout the season it would be extremely unfortunate were they slip up at this late stage of proceedings. Nevertheless third-placed Huddersfield Town are still breathing down their necks and the six point gap between the side is far from unbridgeable.
Brighton desperately need to string together a few more wins before they can start to breathe more easily and whilst they are very much in the driving seat as far as the Championship automatic promotion places are concerned, they certainly cannot afford to become complacent.
The Seagulls can further cement their place in the top two by collecting all three points at home to Derby County on Friday. The Rams have slipped away from the play-off places due to a drop in form and realistically the best that Steve McClaren’s men can hope for is a mid-table finish. Indeed Derby County are winless in their last eight Championship matches and we don’t envisage them returning to winning ways on the south coast on Friday evening.
At odds of 10/11 there is clearly value to be had in backing the hosts in the outright winner market although with the Rams having few problems in front of goal, we’ll also be backing the visitors to get onto the scoresheet at some point with what will surely be a purely consolatory goal.