12 min: McNeil curls the free kick long and deep. It’s only half cleared by Brighton, and Hendrick, coming in from the right, meets the ball with a fierce low drive. It pinballs away from danger, but that was an extremely sweet strike. He’ll be bemoaning the thicket of players he was forced to shoot through.
11 min: Duffy barges into the back of Barnes, as the pair contest a high ball down the Burnley right. That’s a fairly clumsy challenge, and a free kick to the visitors in a very dangerous position. They load the box.
9 min: Thankfully Bong is soon up and about. He looks a little groggy, but a shake of the head later, he’s cleared to continue.
8 min: Bardsley bombs forward down the inside-right channel. He shows a little bit too much of the ball to Bong, who is able to come in and make a block tackle. But Bardsley is going at full pelt, and the two come together in a sickening but totally accidental and fair clash. Bardsley gets up quickly enough, but Bong is still prone. The ref immediately stops the game.
6 min: Well, this is a bright, open start. Some head tennis in the Burnley box, Gross having hit a diagonal free kick into the mixer from deep on the right. Murray makes a nuisance of himself, and the ball nearly drops to Locadia at the right-hand post. But Taylor sticks a leg out to divert, just as the Brighton man was preparing to tap in. It’s a corner, which comes to nothing.
4 min: Space for Gross down the right. He slams a low cross into the area. It hits Taylor in the seat of his pants, but Gross claims for a penalty kick anyway. He’s not getting it.
3 min: … Gross chests down, 12 yards out, a little to the right. He creams a rising shot towards the top left. Heaton’s behind this one as well, turning it away from danger! We might get our goalfest after all, if the teams keep this up.
2 min: And now it’s Brighton’s turn to contribute to this fast start. Locadia sends a ball into the Burnley area from the left. March, coming in from the other side, guides a fine header towards the top left. But it’s tipped over by Heaton for a corner. From which …
And we’re off! Burnley get the evening’s entertainment underway. And they immediately win a corner down the right. Tarkowski rises highest to meet it, but the ball only skims off the top of his head and away from danger.
Kick-off in a minute. First some warm applause in memory of Emiliano Sala, and then the teams take to the field of play. Brighton in their blue-and-white stripes, Burnley in alternative black. “I have to agree that this fixture doesn’t have Goalfest! written all over it, but fingers crossed Brighton-Burnley burns brightly,” quips Peter Oh, albeit slowly, taking great care over each syllable.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton talks to BT Sport! “We’re on the back of a very good performance against Watford, even if we didn’t get the win we wanted. And it was good to get through in the FA Cup. It’s been a good week. At the moment from an injury point of view we’re in good shape.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche adds! “We’ve got back to being ourselves. We’ve found a relentlessness in how we play, including a last-minute goal in our last game, and that attitude is growing all the time. But it was unlikely that we’d be up and down all season, I thought we’d come into form at some point, thanks to the work our players do on the training ground. Now it’s about finding and maintaining consistency.”
A big result in the 3pm kick-offs. Cardiff City were leading 1-0 at Southampton through a Sol Bamba volley as the game moved into added time. Then Jack Stephens scored with another volley, earning Southampton an equaliser they barely deserved. But it wasn’t over: Kenneth Zohore restored Cardiff’s lead even deeper into injury time, and it ended Saints 1-2 Cardiff. That’s a huge three points for Neil Warnock’s side. It takes them up to 15th spot … and pushes Burnley into the bottom three. But anything for Burnley in this match will send the Clarets into 15th themselves, knock Cardiff down a spot … and send Southampton into the bottom three tonight. It’s awfully tight at the bottom.
Brighton make one change to the team named in the Premier League last weekend for the goalless draw against Watford. Dale Stephens comes in for Yves Bissouma, who drops to the bench.
Burnley are unchanged. It’s the same XI who earned a draw against Southampton last week, with veteran newboy Peter Crouch once again given the role of supersub.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Gross, Stephens, Propper, March, Murray, Locadia.
Subs: Kayal, Bissouma, Knockaert, Jahanbakhsh, Button, Bernardo, Burn.
Burnley: Heaton, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Wood, Barnes.
Subs: Lowton, Gibson, Crouch, Hart, Ward, Vydra, Long.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).
We’ll be straight with you: this fixture does not scream GOALFEST!!! The Seagulls and the Clarets have met each other in the top flight of English football on three previous occasions. The classified scores: 1-0, 0-0, 0-0. And neither team have been banging them in much this season; they’re both scoring at a rate of one a game, give or take a couple of hundredths here and there. You’ll thank me for tempting fate when this ends 4-3.
But both sides will nevertheless be in a reasonable state of mind. Brighton have only won once in their last ten Premier League games, but they’ll be buoyed by their fourth-round FA Cup victory over West Bromwich Albion in midweek. Burnley meanwhile were in a little trouble for a while back there, but an unbeaten run of six games in the league, coinciding with Tom Heaton’s return in goal, has extricated them from bottom-three bother.
Nobody’s safe from the drop yet, of course. Far from it. Which makes the three points on offer this evening oh-so-precious. Can Brighton notch their first victory since putting away Everton at the Amex over Christmas? Or will Burnley follow up their draw at Manchester United with another big result away from Turf Moor? Will it end 4-3? Or 0-0? Let’s find out. Here’s to a scintillating scrap on the south coast. It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm GMT.