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Match Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion FC v Reading FC

This years Boxing Day game sees Reading travel to the south coast to face manager-less Brighton; Phil Owtram rounds up all the action ahead of the game.

Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Brighton & Hove Albion FC v Reading FC
League Championship
Friday 26th December 2014, KO 3PM
The American Express Community Stadium
Referee: Graham Salisbury

Reading (17th)

Form (all comps): LLDWL
Reading v Watford: 0-1
Birmingham v Reading: 6-1
Reading v Bolton: 0-0
Norwich v Reading: 1-2
Cardiff v Reading: 2-1

Manager: Steve Clarke

So his first game didn’t go quite as planned, well not in terms of the result anyway. Steve Clarke’s first experience of managing at Madejski Stadium ended in defeat as a 6th-placed Watford left with all 3 points thanks to an Almen Abdi strike 20 minutes from time. The new manager had only had a couple of training sessions to get his points across but he made the call to bring back Alex Pearce to the starting line up as captain despite Nigel Adkins’ chosen stand-in club captain Chris Gunter also starting. With a weeks preparation, a Christmas party and some supposedly easier opposition - in Brighton – up next Steve Clarke will be hoping he can get off the mark on the South Coast on Boxing Day.

Brighton (22nd)
Form (all comps): DLLLD
Wolves v Brighton: 1-1
Brighton v Millwall: 0-1
Derby v Brighton: 3-0
Brighton v Fulham: 1-2
Norwich v Brighton: 3-3

Manager: Nathan Jones (caretaker)

Caretaker manager Nathan Jones will have to pick up a Brighton side languishing in 22nd position in the table and without a win in 6 games. Former manager Sami Hyypia resigned on Monday after a dismal start to the season that has seen them register only 5 wins, of which 3 were in August and were followed by runs of 8 and 6 games without a win. Confidence is at an all time low and is a stark contrast from last season when they beat Reading to the final play-off spot in the dying seconds in May. Reading will be hoping to get one over tomorrow’s opponents as compensation for last seasons near miss.

Last five meetings
08 Mar 2014 Brighton v Reading D 1-1 League Championship
04 Jan 2014 Brighton v Reading L 1-0 FA Cup
15 Sep 2013 Reading v Brighton D 0-0 League Championship
10 Apr 2012 Brighton v Reading W 0-1 League Championship
26 Dec 2011 Reading v Brighton W 3-0 League Championship

Head to Head
This will be the 94th meeting of these two sides and it is the Royals that hold the better record winning 34 times to Brighton’s 29 with 30 ending in a draw. Last season both matches end in stalemate, they played out a 0-0 draw at Madejski Stadium in September with the game at the Amex ending 1-1 with Royston Drenthe getting the goal for the Royals. They also met in the third round of the FA Cup last season, which Brighton won 1-0. The two sides previously met on Boxing Day during the 2011/12 season although this time it was at Madejski Stadium and Reading won 3-0.

Team News
Reading: Danny Guthrie could feature now he has overcome a calf injury that has kept him out of most of this season. Jem Karacan is back in training but will not be thrown back into action until the New Year. Hal Robson-Kanu, Jamie Mackie (both hamstring), Pavel Pogrebnyak, Anton Ferdinand (both calf) and Hope Akpan (shoulder) are all out.

Brighton: Spanish full-back Bruno starts his first of a three-game suspension against Reading for his sending off in the 1-1 draw at Wolves on Saturday. Captain Gordon Greer is touch and go as to whether he will be fit as he tries to overcome a knee injury, while striker Sam Baldock is close to being fit after a thigh problem. Craig Mackail-Smith has been recalled from a loan spell at Peterborough but winger Kazenga LuaLua is side lined with a knee injury, while midfielders Dale Stephens (ankle) and Andrew Crofts (cruciate) are long-term absentees.

Prediction: Brighton 0-1 Reading