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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Brighton must work hard to break down improving QPR

Don't expect lots of goals

Brighton's Glenn Murray (right) and Anthony Knockaert
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports 2, 7.45pm Friday

Brighton have been powering towards the finishing line in the race for promotion but will have to work hard for anything they get from a tricky Sky Bet Championship clash against QPR at Loftus Road.

The Seagulls travel to London high on confidence after four wins in their last five games (three of them by more than one goal) but they could be drawn into a tight contest by improving QPR and the safest punting strategy is to side with under 2.5 match goals.

QPR's future looked bleak earlier in the season with a few under-performing high-earners on their books and a lack of desire being shown in some matches.

They needed someone to reduce the wage bill and increase the level of performance and experienced gaffer Ian Holloway has done just that during an impressive start to his second spell at the club.

Sixteenth-placed QPR are only one place higher than when Holloway was appointed in November but the fans appreciate the job he is doing. Tjaronn Chery, Sandro and Sebastian Polter were all moved on in January and Holloway has plugged the gaps by promoting younger players.

Ryan Manning, Darnell Furlong and Olaminde Shodipo (currently on loan at Port Vale) were all brought in from the cold as Holloway sent out the message that he would be going forward with a younger, hungrier group.

And after a very shaky start – six defeats in Holloway's first seven games – there has been substantial progress.

Talk of a playoff push next season might be overdoing it but the outlook is brighter than a few months ago and QPR will look upon the televised match with Brighton as another opportunity to show what they are capable of.

Brighton need to be switched on and highly motivated but those are qualities which can normally be relied upon by any team managed by Chris Hughton.

The Seagulls were unlucky not to go up last season but have dusted themselves down and come back stronger.

Glenn Murray's arrival from Bournemouth has made a huge difference although he has made more of an impact in home games, scoring 18 of his 20 league goals at the Amex.

Murray may find it difficult to find space against a well-organised QPR defence and the key to an away win could be a moment of magic from winger Anthony Knockaert, who has come up with eight assists and 13 goals.

Defensively, Brighton need to be alert to the movement of Conor Washington and the aerial prowess of target man Matt Smith.

But their powers of resistance are boosted by the availability of key central defender Lewis Dunk, who has recovered from the illness which forced him to be substituted during the first half of Tuesday's 3-1 win at home to Birmingham.

It could boil down to a highly competitive affair with chances at a premium and a quiet night for the goalkeepers.

Under 2.5 goals
1pt 4-5 Betfred, BoyleSports, Sky Bet

Bet on this game at

Team news

Jordan Cousins (thigh) has been ruled out for the season and James Perch, Matt Smith, Pawel Wszolek and Conor Washington could earn recalls after being rested in midweek.

Lewis Dunk (illness) was substituted during Tuesday's 3-1 win at home to Birmingham but should be okay. Sam Baldock (hip) is a doubt and Shane Duffy (foot) and Connor Goldson (heart surgery) are out.

Key stat
Three of Brighton's last four games have featured fewer than three goals.

Talk of a playoff push next season might be overdoing it but the outlook for QPR is brighter than it was a few months ago
E.W. Terms
Sky bet