We've still got a great opportunity '“ Hughton

Albion boss Chris Hughton believes his squad will use the disappointment of missing out on promotion at Middlesbrough to their benefit in their play-off ties with Sheffield Wednesday.

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Chris Hughton. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)Chris Hughton. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)
Chris Hughton. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)

The Seagulls travel to Hillsborough for the first leg of the Championship play-offs tonight, before they host the Owls in the return leg on Monday.

A 1-1 draw on Saturday saw Boro clinch the second automatic promotion spot behind Burnley, when Albion needed all three points to leapfrog the Teeside club.

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Hughton said: “They are a very spirited group of lads and the disappointment that they showed after the game on Saturday shows how close we’ve come, how motivated they are and, probably, it’s a good thing.

“We came very close and the players were fairly distraught after the game but that’s something they will use to their benefit.” Hughton does not feel any team has an advantage going into the play-offs and said: “When you go into the play-offs, I almost don’t think there are any favourites. It’s a very tough call between all four teams.

“We have a great opportunity now, as do the other three teams. The only way you can guarantee getting to a final is to make sure you get the correct results in the next two games.”

Hughton admitted his disappointment that the club’s appeal against Dale Stephens’ red card at Boro was not upheld and said: “We’re very disappointed – everybody I have spoken to saw a competitive player going for the ball, winning the ball in full control of his actions and perfectly balanced.

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“I find it astonishing that we have a system in place that sees somebody in that position receive a three-game ban, the exact same as somebody would have got if we saw a reckless red card, a two-footed challenge with both feet off the floor.”

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