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The second Championship play-off semi-final first leg takes place this evening as Crystal Palace entertain Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park.
These two sides are of course rivals and with so much at stake in this one, we can expect an electric atmosphere in south London.
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Palace have been in the top six for the majority of the campaign, but they didn’t finish too strongly, whereas Brighton won all three of their final matches in the league, so come into this one full of confidence.
Looking at the home side to begin with, their 3-2 with over Peterborough United on the final day of the season would have given the squad a much-needed confidence boost as they hadn’t won in nine matches before that.
As mentioned, the Eagles have been in the top six for most of the season and as we know, Ian Holloway is an experienced manager when it comes to making play-off finals as he did it two times in three seasons with Blackpool.
In this first leg, the hosts are the slight favourites to take the spoils as they can be backed at 8/5. Selhurst Park is a tough place for away teams to get a result when it is rocking and Holloway will call upon fans to make this a special night.
There is no doubt that the key man for Palace is leading scorer Glen Murray as he managed to score 30 goals in the Championship this campaign. Murray is at the top of the first goal-scorer market as well with odds of 9/2 to break the deadlock.
As for Brighton, they are the form side coming into these play-offs and they haven’t been beaten in their last nine encounters in the league.
The Seagulls play a superb brand of football under Gus Poyet and when you consider they only came up from League One in the 2010/11 campaign, they have done extremely well to make the top six.
Of course, Poyet will want a victory this evening, but as long as his men remain in the tie for the second leg at the AMEX Stadium he is sure to be happy.
You can back the away side taking the spoils in this one at 2/1, which might prove to be decent value when you consider the form and confidence they bring to Selhurst Park.
What Brighton might find strange is that they are the favourites to progress to Wembley and it will be interesting to see how they cope with that tag as up until the final few games of the campaign, not too many expected them to reach the final six.
They have to put in a big performance here, but Poyet will be in good spirits and the away fans are sure to make plenty of noise.
It is tough to see anything other than a scintillating 90 minutes here between two sides that play attacking football and have a big rivalry. Kick-off for this one is at 7.45pm – don’t miss it.