We focus on our next opponents, Brighton Hove & Albion, ahead of our Carabao Cup tie...
After successive home League victories, Bristol Rovers look forward to entertaining Brighton & Hove Albion in a Carabao Cup Round 2 fixture at the Mem this evening. Those two victories have put the Gas in a much healthier League position and will now face their Premiership opposition with a greater degree of confidence than they would have a few weeks prior.
Meanwhile, Brighton are now under the managership of Graham Potter, who replaced Chris Hughton at the end of May. Hughton had faced increasing criticism of his safety-first attitude, meanwhile, Potter had earned plaudits for the work he did turning around a Swansea City team who seemed to have lost their way under a quick succession of Managers.
Having won their opening day fixture 3-0 at Watford, the Seagulls were disappointed to only draw with West Ham at the Amex last week and then lose 2-0 at home to Southampton in the South Coast derby this weekend.
The home team had the better of the limited early chances against Southampton, with Neal Maupay and Martín Montoya each going close with headers. But their task became more difficult after half an hour when the Romanian forward Florin Andone raked his studs down the leg of Saint’s Yan Valery and received a deserved red card.
Seven minutes before the break VAR disallowed a Brighton 'goal' for the second successive week. The captain Lewis Dunk powered home a header following a corner from the right but the celebrations were cut short by a review, which ruled that his fellow defender Dan Burn was in an offside position as he challenged keeper, Angus Gunn.
After 55 minutes Malian winger Moussa Djenepo, newly on for Valery, collected the ball wide on the left during a Southampton counterattack and advanced to whip his shot home to make it 1-0. Southampton dug in resolutely and doubled their advantage with Nathan Redmond scoring a late goal from close range.
After the game, Potter said, "It didn't look like a great tackle. That's not a tackle we want to see. I don't think he's meant to do it, but it's one we can't defend.”
"We tried to be positive with 10 men, but it was a tough task against a good Southampton team. We're at the start of this process together. It's about how we react to these moments and situations."
Looking at the history of games between the Gas and the Seagulls there have been a remarkable total of 141 fixtures between the two sides, amazing considering that there has been no fixture since Brighton beat Rovers 4-2 on 5 February 2011. Of those 141 games, there are 59 wins to each team and 35 draws. Some of the more remarkable results are; Brighton 2-8 Rovers (1973), Brighton 6-1 Rovers (1960), Rovers 4-5 Brighton (1959), Rovers 7-0 Brighton (1952), Rovers 5-0 Brighton (1951), Brighton 1-6 Rovers (1946), Brighton 3-4 Rovers (1945), Brighton 6-3 Rovers (1939), Rovers 5-3 Brighton (1932) and Brighton 7-0 Rovers (1927).
The highest-scoring game between the teams was that remarkable 8-2 away win for Rovers at a frosty Goldstone Ground on 1 December 1973. Rovers’ Don Megson joked with the media afterward that he was annoyed that his team had let in two goals for the first time that season. It was a game that introduced the dynamic ‘Smash and Grab’ duo of Warboys and Bannister to the nation as the match was covered on national TV.
At the time Brighton was managed by Brian Clough and with him on the bench that day, was his young son, Nigel.
The last time the teams clashed was on 5 February 2011, the Seagulls were behind after just 2 minutes when Will Hoskins fired Rovers ahead from 25 yards, but a rasping drive from Ashley Barnes gave Gus Poyet's side a 38th minute equalizer.
Elliott Bennett then slotted home from a Barnes pass after 51 minutes, then a 74th-minute own goal from Cian Bolger and a header four minutes later from Glenn Murray put the visitors in command.
Bolger then set up Hoskins to score his second of the game to take his goal tally for the season to 17, but the damage had already been done. Rovers hit the post through a long-range effort from Gavin Williams and had another Hoskins strike ruled out for a marginal offside decision.
Brighton showed plenty of quality throughout the game and had the ball in the net twice more themselves only to be denied by a linesman's flag.
The most astonishing thing about the fixture is the number of goals it’s produced, averaging over four per game from those 141 meetings.
It is likely that Aaron Connolly, Tudor Baulta and Taylor Richards will all be given a start tonight. Adam Webster and Aaron Mooy are also likely to feature. Webster has been an unused sub in all three of Brighton’s Premier League matches so far this campaign. Graham Potter has favored the three at the back formation with Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and Dan Burn all performing well.
Webster expects his Brighton debut to be a “physical” encounter as he prepares for a potentially hostile reception having joined Albion from our cross-city rivals for a reported £20million at the start of the month.
The 24-year-old is keen to avoid a shock result against the Gas, “The gap between the Premier League and the Football League is getting smaller, I know exactly what’s coming. It’s a passionate footballing city; it’ll be a physical game. Cup games are always big occasions, they’ll be eager to cause an upset. We have to know that and make sure we’re ready and prepared.”
Speaking ahead of tonight’s game Potter said, “For us, tomorrow is an important game, it’s a chance to learn more about one another and it’s a game we want to win. They’re an effective side who’ll give us a tough game at their stadium.”