Johnny Cantor: It could be a record-breaking season for Albion
Three games to go and Albion are still in the race for automatic promotion.
Three games to go but the target remains the same. It could be a record-breaking season for the Seagulls if they achieve promotion.
It has, of course, already been a season when many have thumbed through the almanacs, clicked through the websites and called the historians to see whether an old record has been surpassed.
The unbeaten run at the beginning of the campaign was the foundation for this remarkable season in the Championship. Beram Kayal sent everyone checking their stopwatches after his explosive goal seconds into the game at Huddersfield.
This week, as Chris Hughton’s side romped to a 4-0 victory over QPR, hot on the heels of the 5-0 defeat of Fulham, they took their tally to 17 clean sheets for the league season.
When Hughton came to the club, many Norwich fans were rather disparaging about the style of football fans in Sussex could expect, citing a defensive obsession.
However, he has not only established a settled back five but also instilled a confidence in his defenders. I’ve mentioned the youthful partnership of Goldson and Dunk, now they are scoring goals as well.
Nine goals in two games is not a bad return. Those who went to Bristol City will also have enjoyed that showing.
The midweek win against Rangers also showed the importance of consistency. Consistency of play but also of selection. It was the 11th time Hughton had named the same back five, and Scottish international Gordon Greer and former Champions League defender Gaetan Bong remain on the bench.
As well as the goals, the clean sheets have contributed to a huge swing in goal difference for the Albion. Both the leaders Middlesbrough and Burnley have plus-32, while the Seagulls are now just four behind on plus-28. It may be immaterial but you never know. It could be close, it may be level after May 7 on points and goal difference but it is just too close to call.
In fact, no team have scored more goals than Brighton & Hove Albion so far (Burnley also have 67 goals). If Hughton’s team do squeeze into the top two spots and secure promotion, they may pass two of his former clubs, Newcastle and Norwich, on the way down.
He is too decent to do it but Hughton could be forgiven for allowing himself a wry smile. Some of those Canaries fans may not be quite so chirpy as before.
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