Mar 29, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​Falmer Stadium
BrightonBrighton & Hove Albion
FT(HT: 0-0)
Adomah (65'), Graham (86')
Whitehead (28')

Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Middlesbrough

Oscar Garcia of Brighton looks on during the FA Cup fifth round match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Hull City at Amex Stadium on February 17, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between playoff-chasing Brighton and mid-table Middlesbrough at Amex Stadium.

Brighton & Hove Albion's playoff hopes have been left hanging by a thread following a damaging week that saw them lose to both Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday.

A third straight loss at the hands of Middlesbrough at the Amex on Saturday could all but end their top-six aspirations, with the teams above them beginning to find form.

As things stand, the Seagulls are still very much in the race, sitting three points behind sixth-placed Reading with a game in hand over the three teams directly above them in the table.

However, manager Oscar Garcia will not need reminding that they cannot afford many more slip-ups in the remaining nine games of the season, and a return to winning ways this weekend is a must.

Brighton's lack of goals has been a worry all season, and back-to-back matches without scoring have only served to deepen the problem that leaves them with the worst attacking record in the top 17 of the table.

It is a different story at the other end of the pitch, however, as no side has conceded fewer goals than the Seagulls' 31 in 37 games this season.

Garcia will once again be without Andrew Crofts and Craig Mackail-Smith for the match, but he has no new injury concerns as he looks to get his side's playoff charge back on track.

Middlesbrough have no such ambitions this season and can turn their attention to the next campaign now having gone four games without a win to leave them almost equidistant between the top six and the bottom three.

Draws have been a biggest harm to any potential playoff charge for Middlesbrough, with Aitor Karanka's side sharing the spoils a league-high 16 times, including in three of their last four matches.

Turning one point into three points will be high up on the agenda for the Spaniard, who has seen his side win just once in their last 12 outings, scoring just six goals in that time.

Away from home, they are without a win in six and have failed to score in five of those matches, with the 2-2 draw against Huddersfield Town on Tuesday the only exception.

Middlesbrough could be unchanged from that draw with Jonathan Woodgate still a doubt and Mustapha Carayol out for the rest of the season.

Recent form

Brighton: WDWWLL

Middlesbrough: LWDDLD

Possible starting lineups

Brighton: Kuszczak; Bruno, Upson, Greer, Ward; Forster-Caskey, Andrews, Ince; Buckley, Ulloa, Lingard

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Varga, Omeruo, Gibson, Friend; Whitehead, Chalobah; Adomah, Butterfield, Ledesma; Graham

Sports Mole says: 2-0

Oscar Garcia of Brighton looks on during the FA Cup fifth round match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Hull City at Amex Stadium on February 17, 2014
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