MX23RW : Tuesday, September 25 01:47:18

Preview: Nottingham Forest vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship final-day meeting between Nottingham Forest and playoff-chasing Brighton at the City Ground.

While Saturday's match between Nottingham Forest and Brighton & Hove Albion will not be the winner-takes-all encounter it once looked like being, events at the City Ground could still play a pivotal role in the Championship playoff race.

Brighton sit just one point behind sixth-placed Reading going into the final day and would finish the campaign in the top six if they better the Royals' result against promoted Burnley.

Both sides are level on goal difference, meaning that a draw coupled with a Reading defeat would see the Seagulls sneak into the playoffs by virtue of what would then be a superior goal difference.

However, their destiny is ultimately out of their own hands, and even a victory on Saturday would not be enough if the Royals also manage a win at the Madejski Stadium.

Brighton will be confident of at least holding up their end of the bargain, however, as they go into the game on the back of a seven-match unbeaten streak.

While remaining undefeated for the entirety of April is an impressive feat, four of those seven games have ended all square against teams below them in the table - representing eight dropped points that could prove vital by 2.15pm on Saturday.

Three of their last four away matches have ended as draws, but overall they have a decent record on the road this season, picking up 32 points and losing just one of their last seven.

Andrew Crofts is now the only absentee for Oscar Garcia, who could welcome player of the year Matthew Upson back into the side.

Forest saw their own hopes of a top-six finish ended in emphatic style last weekend as they were crushed 4-1 by Bournemouth to go into the final day five points off Reading.

Back-to-back victories over Birmingham City and Leeds United had sparked hopes of being able to turn their season around just in time, but ultimately their dreadful form since mid-February has cost them a place in the top six.

They had looked almost certain to reach the playoffs before that 12-match winless streak, but their eyes will now be cast on next season as they embark on a new era under club legend Stuart Pearce.

Caretaker boss Gary Brazil will want to go out on a high, however, and Forest will also be keen to treat their fans to consecutive home victories for the first time since January/February having only won one of their last seven matches at the City Ground.

They remain weakened by injuries, though, with Henri Lansbury, Chris Cohen and Jack Hobbs all unlikely to feature. Kelvin Wilson and Andy Reid are back in full training but may not start.

Recent form

Nottm Forest: LDLWWL

Brighton: DWWDDW

Possible starting lineups

Nottm Forest: Vries; Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Harding; McLaughlin, Vaughan; Mackie, Osborn, Paterson; Derbyshire

Brighton: Kuszczak; Bruno, Upson, Greer, Ward; Stephens, Andrews, March; Buckley, Ulloa, Lingard

Sports Mole says: 1-2

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Gary Brazil of Nottingham Forest looks on during the Sky bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic at City Ground on March 25, 2014
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Preview: Bournemouth vs. Nottm Forest
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds95311971218
2Middlesbrough9531113818
3West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom952222121017
4Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd95131511416
5Wigan AthleticWigan95131411316
6Derby CountyDerby95131310316
7Brentford94321610615
8Bristol City94231411314
9Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest9351119214
10Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds94231414014
11Norwich CityNorwich94231313014
12Blackburn RoversBlackburn93511111014
13Aston Villa93421514113
14Swansea CitySwansea934276113
15Bolton WanderersBolton9333912-312
16Queens Park RangersQPR9315715-810
17Birmingham CityBirmingham916278-19
18Stoke CityStoke92341216-49
19Rotherham UnitedRotherham9306614-89
20Reading92251213-18
21Hull City9216916-77
22Millwall9135713-66
23Ipswich TownIpswich9054612-65
24Preston North EndPreston9126918-95

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