Thursday 18 January 2018

Chris Hughton: Brighton will go to Middlesbrough with a winning mentality

Chris Hughton hopes Brighton can rise to the challenge of winning at Middlesbrough on Saturday
Chris Hughton hopes Brighton can rise to the challenge of winning at Middlesbrough on Saturday

Chris Hughton is backing Brighton to handle the pressure when they face Middlesbrough in a final-day promotion decider at the Riverside.

The outcome of the clash will determine who goes up to the Barclays Premier League and a Seagulls victory would ensure a return to the top flight after a 33-year absence.

A stoppage-time equaliser from substitute James Wilson extended Brighton's unbeaten run to 13 games by securing a 1-1 draw with Derby, who had gone ahead when Andreas Weimann came off the bench to score 19 minutes from time.

Hughton admits that Boro will start as favourites on the day but insists that, although it is a "big task" for his side to win, it is not an impossible one.

The former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss said: "We will be going there with a winning mentality and we need to show enough quality.

"There`s no doubt Middlesbrough will be the favourites and they'll be pleased with our result, but we've given ourselves every chance.

"We have been good away from home for the majority of the season and we haven't lost today. It is a big task but not one that is impossible.

"You don't have it all your own way over the course of the season... you have to take some blows and you get used to bouncing back."

Hughton had no complaints about the late dismissal of defender Lewis Dunk, who saw red following two bookable offences and will be suspended for the Boro game.

"Lewis came through a difficult period and has been outstanding for us," added Hughton. "We were up against a very good side in Derby and although we were not at our best we didn't lose."

Derby, now unbeaten in six games, will face Hull in the play-offs and head coach Darren Wassall believes they are building vital momentum.

Wassall felt his men handled the occasion, before a record crowd of 30,294 at the Amex Stadium, "magnificently".

He admitted he would have taken a point before the game, saying: "Brighton are having a magnificent season but our performance spoke volumes.

"We came and put on a fantastic display. We handled the occasion magnificently and I'm proud of the team.

"We want to keep momentum going into the play-offs and, credit to the squad, we have continuity building."

Wassall is eager to keep performance levels up ahead of two clashes with Hull.

He added: "We have got to keep performing as well as we have been doing in the last few weeks... it's all about us.

"Why not get to promotion via the play-offs? We have as good a chance as anyone.

"We have beaten Hull twice already this season but Steve Bruce is a wily old fox and will have them ready. We are ready and we can't worry about anyone else."

Press Association

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