It felt like a case of "after the Lords Mayors parade" at home on Monday night when the Whites hosted Fulham. Leeds season being almost over after the FA Cup exit last Saturday, it unexpectedly came back to life in the shape of a rare goal for Leeds United via Lewis Cook. A 35 yard thunderbolt acting as a defibrillator gave fans hope if not for this season then next.
Brighton meanwhile will be hoping for fireworks of their own as they continue their promotion push in front of a TV audience. The Seagulls currently soaring high are only 4 points off automatic promotion. It will be Leeds United Head Coach Steve Evans’s job to mastermind the snuffing out of any bright sparks present in the Brighton attack. With Brighton hammering 4 passed Bristol in their last fixture, Leeds’ back line may have some fire-fighting to do.
United have seen more blank sheets than thunderbolts this season, as Matt Robinson described in his article on Saturday, and whilst Evans says his team are heading south with victory in mind, he also asks fans to keep their powder dry until the summer when he expects to build a top 6 team.
Houghton has promotion credentials, gained with Newcastle, but has yet to prove himself as a Premier League Manager. With a point to prove, a draw will not be enough: he will demand an explosive performance akin to a pyrotechnic display to light up the Sky at night.
It's well documented this game has been rescheduled for the sake of TV. Both Sky TV and Massimo Cellino are blaming the other for the late change that may dissuade fans from attending. Some of the 2,300 tickets allocated to traveling Leeds fans were still unsold on Saturday. We would normally sell out this allocation, and the figure is well down on last season’s overall average away attendance of 2775. I blame the day of the fixture and not our form or the fact its on TV at all. It’s the fact it is a Monday evening and there’s an obvious difficulty in getting to the South Coast on a Monday night.
Brighton moved to into their new home just shy of 5 years ago in May 2011. The Falmer (Amex) Stadium has a capacity of 30750 and despite their league position, tickets were still available. This could change as kick off approaches and the home fans get behind their promotion push.
Leeds fans had already bought transport and accommodation for the original fixture. Ten fans from the Scarborough Supporters branch forked out £1,300 in transport and accommodation for the original Brighton date only to find the game moved. Not an isolated incident, 100 Leeds fans from Norway did similar for the Forest game before that was changed by Sky. My view is "yes televise the event, but don't change the date of the event." The Norwegian fans were grossly out of pocket and a crowd funding appeal has been launched to help them cushion the financial loss. Have Sky contributed? Doubtful.
The Football League should push Sky TV to avoid messing with fixture dates and offer fans direct compensation for expenses lost due to date changes and perhaps offer subsidized transport to make it easier to attend on days such as Monday. Or don’t Fair Play rules apply to Sky? I wonder what would happen should fans change the date they are to pay for their Sky TV subscriptions at the last minute?
Brighton and Hove Albion started 2016 badly, losing at home to Wolves and away to Rotherham, but have since recovered, losing only once in their last 5 games: a defeat away at Cardiff, 4-1. Their remaining 4 games include 1 draw and 3 wins. They have scored 11 whilst conceding 6.
Leeds United accidentally lost away to Watford in the FA Cup, but their last 5 league appearances reads 3 draws, 1 loss and 1 win. They have scored 3 and conceded 3... in five games. There's an eye-popping statistic for you.
Head to head
Leeds have faced the Seagulls 21 times at Brighton. Drawing 5, Brighton have won 9 of the clashes and Leeds 7.
Leeds United players to watch
Alex Mowatt made a rare start since injury lay off v Fulham and may be edging back to the form he showed last season. Mowatt held the wonder goal reputation until his former academy teammate Lewis Cook's stole the limelight v Fulham last Monday. Mowatt will be eager to reclaim the hotshot reputation. He's due a goal and may just provide Monday evening.
Stuart Dallas has been an ever present for Leeds and Northern Ireland this season but his form had dipped recently, culminating in Evans resting him. However, he influenced from the bench on Monday and Evans claims the rest helped him come back to his best. Dallas is also overdue a goal but he's been Leeds’s best provider so far this season with 4 assists.
Brighton players to watch
The Seagulls top scorer, Tomer Hemed is an Israeli international who has featured in La Liga for Mallorca and Almeria. He scored 28 goals in La Liga and has 12 international goals.
Once coveted by Leeds, Anthony Knockaert was a January signing and has impressed the home fans. Signed from Standard Liege for a rumoured 2.5m, the attacking midfielder has scored once in his first 5 appearances.
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Leeds United
Football League Championship
Falmer Stadium, Brighton
SKY TV, BeIN Sports
Monday, February 29, 2016
11:45am PT / 2:45pm ET / 7:45pm BT
Silvestri, Wootton, Cooper, Bamba, Taylor, Coyle, Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Cook, Mowatt, Doukara
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Adeyemi, Murphy, Carayol, Erwin, Antenucci
Stockdale, Bruno, Dunk, Goldson, Rosenior, Knockaert, Stephens, Murphy, Kayal, Baldock, Hemed
Subs: Mäenpää, Greer, Calderon, Wilson, Zamora, Sidwell, Skalak
I can be excused for going for a draw again. One thing Evans seems to have got right is the defence and barring errors we don’t concede many. In their attempts to get goals, Brighton’s defence has been on the leaky side. I’m going for 1 -1 (again).
Evans is confident he will be backed in the transfer market in the summer. That’s when he predicts doubters will eat humble pie. But will he be here next season? Vote in our poll below. And don’t forget, you can sign up for SB Nation and leave a comment below, as well as follow us live throughout the game on Twitter at @ThruItAllLIVE. Thanks for reading.