Brighton boss Chris Hughton has challenged his players to channel the frustration of a narrow defeat at Old Trafford into getting the better of rivals Crystal Palace.
The Seagulls saw a five-match unbeaten run brought to an end by Manchester United on Saturday, but only after Ashley Young’s shot deflected in off defender Lewis Dunk to secure a 1-0 home win.
Hughton’s side have little time to regroup, with tonight’s visit of Palace continuing a testing run of fixtures to end 2017.
The Brighton boss, though, sees no reason why the players cannot produce the required response.
“I thought we were very positive in the way we played (against United), we certainly didn’t go there to just sit behind the ball and try and play on the counter-attack,” Hughton said.
“We had some really good periods ourselves. The big disappointment is the frustration of the goal — it is one of those very unusual deflected goals that goes against you.
“But the level of performance was good and we will need to take that forward against a very good Crystal Palace team.”
The visit of Palace has been eagerly awaited by the Amex Stadium faithful, with the ‘local’ rivalry of the M23 derby having its roots back in the mid-1970s when the clubs were battling for promotion back up through the divisions.
Hughton hopes to be able to give the Brighton fans some bragging rights.
“I have certainly been made more aware of it since I have been here, and it is only when you are here that the reasons for it become more apparent,” said Hughton, who took charge at the south-coast club on December 31 2014.
“It is very much one for both sets of supporters, as with any derby game you play, and it is one you want to win for them.”
For his part, Roy Hodgson has vowed Palace will avoid the derby day “hype” tonight.
Manager Hodgson insisted the Eagles fully appreciate the fervour around the Brighton-Palace rivalry — but vowed his side will not let their hearts rule their heads at the Amex Stadium.
Hodgson believes the intensity of derby games is over-sold in English football, but insisted his players know full well the importance to Palace supporters.
“As far as derbies are concerned, the guys hear enough from the fans and externally around all that,” said Hodgson. “So it’s important as a manager and coach that you don’t add to that hype.
“Players have to play more with their head than their heart, so you don’t want to have players playing too much with their heart and losing that focus.
“Brighton and ourselves are both football teams, who don’t base our game on intimidation or a gung-ho style of football.
“Derby games here are much hyped, you couldn’t turn on the TV last week without hearing constantly about Arsenal and Tottenham, but once the game starts, it’s all what you’d expect.
“Every club has its classic derbies, but this is regarded as the most important for Palace fans.
“All managers, coaches, players understand there’s a fierce rivalry where fans care that extra bit about the result. We know our fans think this is the most important one.”
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