Johnny Cantor: Five wins and Albion will be in the Premier League

There has certainly been some late drama this week which as a football commentator is of course very exciting.

Steve Sidwell. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst
Steve Sidwell. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

Steve Sidwell’s dramatic late winner at Forest conjured up lots of memories from two years ago when Leonardo Ulloa lifted the Seagulls into the play-offs and in the process denied Reading a place in the top six. And yes match summariser Warren Aspinall did nearly break my jaw as he punched the air/face in celebration!

However, it was Reading who failed to capitalise on a late chance to beat Middlesbrough and then conceded with the last touch of the game to allow Albion’s rivals from the North East to go four points clear.

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Despite the disappointment of that goal there is plenty for supporters to feel positive about. The team is on an excellent run. Coming good at the right time has been successful for many teams over the years and it could all culminate in one last hurrah at Boro on May 7.

This week could also end on a dramatic note. As they approach tonight’s game at home to Fulham, they can be reminded of the euphoria after Tomer Hemed’s penalty in injury-time at Craven Cottage. However, within these brief moments that can decide the teams’ fate there is also careful planning.

On Monday, the inspiration came from January signing Anthony Knockaert and loanee Steve Sidwell. Back in West London at the start of the campaign it was the Israeli Hemed, a summer signing.

As one contributor on BBC Sussex quite rightly pointed out on Monday night, the strength and depth of the squad is now coming to fruition. The club’s recruitment team, headed up by Paul Winstanley, deserve a huge amount of credit. Not only have they brought in quality, they have added players that can provide something different, another dimension.

All five wingers, LuaLua, March, Murphy, Skalak and Knockaert have vastly different attributes and give defenders something different to think about. It is that variety that can break down stubborn sides who decide to sit behind the ball. They also win you matches.

It looks like the Seagulls will have to win plenty of their final five games to achieve automatic promotion but they may well have the armoury to do so.

The equation is simple, win all five and you are in the Premier League.

Yes, I may well have failed O level (I’m that old) maths but it applies to all three sides. If Albion, or Middlesbrough or Burnley win the remaining five games, they will make it to the top flight.

The game between the Seagulls’ two rivals on Tuesday could prove pivotal but it truly is in Albion’s hands. Five wins. It’s easier said than done but you just never know.

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