Close call will haunt Brighton, says ex-Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws

Ex-Owls boss Brian Laws
Ex-Owls boss Brian Laws
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Former Owls manager Brian Laws claims Brighton and Hove Albion will struggle to shake off the mental scars from missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season.

The Seagulls travel to Hillsborough for the first leg of their Play-Off Semi-Final on Friday, having agonisingly been pipped to second spot by Middlesbrough on goal difference.

All smiles two goal Gary Hooper against Cardiff...Pic Steve Ellis

All smiles two goal Gary Hooper against Cardiff...Pic Steve Ellis

Brighton, seeking a return to the top-flight for the first time since 1983, were held to a draw at the Riverside Stadium last weekend, meaning Chris Hughton’s outfit ended up third in the standings.

Laws, who spent just over three years as Owls boss between 2006 and 2009, said: “Considering the Middlesbrough game was Brighton’s last opportunity to go up automatically, they were very disappointing.

“The players would have gone back into the dressing room after the game feeling so low and disappointed. It is hard to snap out of that.

“There will be some people who will say they have got another bite at the cherry, but I think Wednesday are in a very, very strong position. I’m not just saying that because they are the team I want to win. I think most neutrals would probably say Wednesday have got the edge.”

In the two-legged duel, Laws fancies the Owls to come out on top.

“Brighton are going to be missing a couple of key players and they will be very fearful of Wednesday and I think most teams are because Wednesday have got goals in them,” said Laws, who now works as a summariser for BBC Radio Sheffield.

“Fernando Forestieri brings a lot of energy to the team and Gary Hooper has also added goals.

“Brighton are a good, well-organised side but they don’t have a cutting edge like Wednesday do. I think Wednesday are the better side and will create more chances.

“Wednesday are a good footballing side. Their attitude is to attack teams. I don’t think they have gone into any game defensively.”

Owls officials are expecting a crowd in the region of 34,000 to witness Friday’s televised contest and Laws believes that could help swing things the team’s way.

“When you talk about a 12th man, they (the fans) will suck that ball into the back of the net,” he said. “It is all set up for Wednesday.

“They will want to get at least one foot on the ladder and I think they will.

“The ideal scenario is they take a lead to Brighton. It could be a real tough ask to go to Brighton with no advantage.”

Whatever happens over the coming days, Laws is happy the club is on the up and mounting a serious promotion challenge.

Laws, who has been involved in the Play-Offs four times in his career, said: “They have surpassed what I thought they would do.

“The new owner only arrived a year or so ago, Carlos [Carvalhal] came in just before pre-season got underway and the club signed 15 new players in the summer. It was a massive ask to get them all settled and blended in, but I’m hugely impressed with what the manager, the coaching staff and players have done.

“They seem to have all gelled and it is very evident on the pitch that they are in it together.”