Champions Brighton arrive at U’s with dented pride

COLCHESTER United beware, runaway champions Brighton & Hove Albion are going to be desperate to put on a show for the television cameras this lunchtime (12.15pm).

Gus Poyet and Mauricio Taricco’s team may have already secured the League One title and promotion to the Championship, but their pride was dented on Saturday as south coast rivals Southampton became the first team in just over a year to win a League One fixture at The Withdean Stadium.

After the Saints scored twice late on to secure victory and put themselves in pole position for the second automatic promotion spot, Poyet’s praise was clearly begrudging.

“Southampton have good individuals and they were individually stronger and better than us,” said the Uruguayan.

“But when you look back in 10 years time at who won the championship this year it was Brighton playing football and passing the ball – not kicking it into the box.”

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Now, less than 48 hours later, the Sussex outfit – who won all eight of their games in March – have an opportunity to take out their frustrations on Colchester in a Sky Sports televised fixture.

“It’s a massive ask for us,” admitted U’s boss John Ward. “But we’ll try and make life difficult for them on our own pitch.

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“We’re going to have to give them the respect they deserve, but we’ll be positive and try to give them something to think about like we did down at their place (a 2-0 defeat for the U’s in January).”

Colchester’s chances aren’t aided by the fact that they are without their biggest goal threat after striker Steven Gillespie – who has scored nine goals since the turn of the year – fractured his arm in last Friday’s 1-1 draw at Brentford.

Today’s game also comes just too soon for midfielder David Perkins who is recovering well from a hamstring injury.

As a result, Ward may consider promoting youth teamers Jordan Sanderson and Craig Arnott to his first team squad.

“They (Brighton) have been an absolute joy to watch – we know the game has been chosen for TV because of them, not us,” admitted Ward.

“It’s a little moment in the spotlight for us though and a chance for us to see how close we can get to a team that is going a league higher and looking to maybe go further than that in the next year or so.”

– For team news, report and reaction keep an eye on this website.

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