PREVIEW: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Southampton

By SFC Media time Wed 30 Jul Club

Saints play their final pre-season friendly against domestic opposition on Thursday with a trip to Brighton & Hove Albion – kick-off 7.45pm.

Following last Friday’s 1-0 win over AFC Bournemouth at the Goldsands Stadium, Ronald Koeman’s side take on another Championship opponent as the squad’s pre-season preparations move up another gear.

The Saints squad’s progressive schedule led to a few players getting 90 minutes under their belts at Bournemouth, while a handful also got through over an hour as the team’s fitness continues to build.

Gastón Ramírez returned to action for the first time since representing Uruguay at the World Cup finals in Brazil and he will be looking to add to his 45 minute run-out in Dorset with another run-out at the AMEX Stadium.

Thursday’s opponents Brighton qualified for the Championship play-offs at the end of last season after sneaking into sixth place on the final day of the regular campaign by a point, at Reading’s expense.

They were beaten in the play-offs over two legs by Derby County and parted company with head coach Oscar Garcia later that month, paving the way to former Liverpool man Sami Hyypiä’s appointment as manager.

Hyypiä previously coached Bayer 04 Leverkusen, and the Finn made Brighton his first managerial post in this country.

He played many times for Liverpool against Southampton, notably scoring for the Reds in a 3-3 draw at The Dell during 2000 - a game which Saints came back from 3-0 down in.

Earlier this week, the Seagulls signed goalkeeper David Stockdale from Fulham. The shot-stopper previously worked alongside ex Saints man Antti Niemi at Craven Cottage who is now goalkeeper coach at the AMEX.

Brighton also have former Saints midfielder Dale Stephens in their squad. Stephens had a six-game loan spell at St Mary’s towards the end of the 2010/2011 season.

During the summer, they lost top scorer Leo Ulloa to Leicester City for an undisclosed fee. Ulloa bagged 16 goals, including the winning effort that took Brighton into the top six on the last day of the season.

Brighton have warmed up for the season ahead with wins over Lewes and Partick Thistle, but were defeated 2-1 by Peterborough United at London Road last weekend. Thursday’s game is the Seagulls’ last scheduled friendly before the new Championship campaign gets under way on 9th August.

Saints vs Brighton was a regular fixture over three seasons as the two teams both earned promotion out of League 1 in 2011.

In that year, Saints were dramatic 2-1 winners on their last trip to the Withdean Stadium. David Connolly cancelled out Ashley Barnes’s first half strike on 84 minutes, before José Fonte crashed in a last-minute winner to keep Nigel Adkins’ men in the hunt for promotion.

You can read more on that success in our feature: Four of the best wins over Brighton

Upon promotion into the Championship both sides recorded 3-0 wins over each other. Rickie Lambert’s hat-trick secured a victory for the hosts at St Mary’s, but Albion secured their revenge with a 3-0 success at the Amex after Lambert was sent off for the visitors. Jake Forster-Caskey put Gus Poyet’s Brighton into the lead, before Matt Sparrow added a late double to claim all three points.

A total of 863 tickets have been allocated to Saints supporters for this game, with adult admission costing £14. Tickets are currently available to purchase either online or at the St Mary’s Ticket Office. Tickets come off sale from St Mary’s at midday, but will be able to buy at the AMEX on the day, subject to availability.

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