Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton Hove Albion face each other in the first leg of their Championship play-off at Hillsborough this Friday evening, as they battle for promotion to the Premier League
The home outfit, led by manager Carlos Carvalhal, finished in a healthy sixth position with 74 points, however recent form of one win in five matches does not bode well for the Owls coming into this clash.
However, a storming mid-season run which saw the Owls lose only three times in 17 games meant the Hillsborough faithful will be now welcoming a shot at the play-offs.
The partnership of Gary Hooper and Fernando Forestieri has propelled Wednesday to the brink of a Premier League return, with the dynamic duo scoring 28 league goals between them this campaign.
After a long and gruelling 16 years away from England’s top tier, the club could pay back some of the despair that the supporters have had to suffer since the millennium.
A disappointing final performance of the season – a 2-1 loss against mid-table Wolves was not the ideal result leading into the huge crunch match on Friday night.
Chris Hughton’s Brighton side have enjoyed a fabulous campaign – they were unlucky to miss out on automatic promotion after finishing behind second-placed Middlesbrough on goal difference after failing to get the win they needed at the Riverside Stadium last Saturday.
To finish on 89 points and not seal promotion to the top-flight will be a kick in the teeth for a team who flirted with relegation last season, but they will be in confident mood as they are currently on a 20-game unbeaten run.
Historically, the Seagulls fail at this hurdle – they have twice been defeated in the play-offs, three years ago against Crystal Palace, then again a year later by Derby County.
Not a single goal was scored in the two previous league encounters between the two teams in November and March – nevertheless Brighton’s recent form makes them the favourites to get to Wembley.
There are no new injury concerns for Carlos Carvalhal’s side, however both Will Keane and Liam Palmer are still sidelined.
The travelling Brighton side will be without the suspended Dale Stephens after his sending off against Boro last weekend, however, the Seagulls have no fresh injury concerns.
League Position: Sheffield Wednesday – 6th (74pts); Brighton – 3rd (89pts)
Previous Meeting: Brighton 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday (March 8, 2015)
Form: Sheffield Wednesday – LDDDWL; Brighton – WWWWDD
Key Men: Sheffield Wednesday – Gary Hooper; Brighton – Anthony Knockaert
Shoot Says: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Brighton