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Less than two weeks ago, as Brighton kicked off their final home league game against Derby, they must have fancied themselves for automatic promotion with Middlesbrough having dropped points at Birmingham, but they are now close to another Championship season after a disastrous play-off semi-final first leg at Sheffield Wednesday.

A home draw against Derby was followed by a draw at Middlesbrough and in both games they had players sent off earning them three match suspensions. Lewis Dunk was dismissed, and rightly so, against Derby. He would be available for the final if Brighton should win through but that won’t be the case for Dale Stephens who was sent off at Middlesbrough. He’ll serve a three match ban after Brighton lost their appeal.

Last night they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Hillsborough against Sheffield Wednesday and it could have been an even bigger defeat. Ex-Claret Ross Wallace got the first goal with Kieran Lee, who scored in our 1-1 draw there this season, getting the second. Worse still for Brighton is that they left the match with four injuries and manager Chris Hughton suggesting none of them are likely to be fit for the second leg.

Tomer Hemed and Connor Goldson came off at the same time just a few minutes before half time and Steve Sidwell was the third player to be substituted just five minutes into the second half. They then played the last half an hour with ten men after losing Anthony Knockaert to an ankle injury.

It was noticeable in the 34,000 plus crowd that home fans were in the Leppins Lane lower tier with the Brighton fans occupying the upper tier. Sheffield Wednesday did charge just £20 adult admission but, to help home advantage, gave Brighton just 2,000 tickets. That’s the number we’d have got had it been us finishing in third place.

Wednesday take a two goal lead into the second leg with attention turning today to Pride Park and Derby v Hull.

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