Steve Bruce's side can continue their promotion push at Brighton's expense, says Andy Tongue...
"Having ground out a vital win last week, I fancy Hull to do the same here"
Brighton v Hull
Saturday 9th February 17.20 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Two
Two of the sides very much involved in the promotion race meet at the AMEX in an intriguing tea-time Championship clash on Saturday as the long run-in to the season finale begins.
A disappointing 3-1 reverse at Sheffield Wednesday last week reinforced the suspicion that their exciting FA Cup run may have drained Albion of vital energy and whether they can gather themselves for the last three months of the season in the league has to be a question mark. They are now five points off sixth place, albeit with a game in hand on most sides, but desperately need three points here to keep in touch with those in the play-off spots.
Just five wins from 14 home games this season illustrates that Gus Poyet's men are far from an invincible force on their own turf. They haven't won any of their last four though admittedly two were draws and one was the defeat at home to Arsenal in the cup. Having kept things tight at the back earlier in the season they conceded nine goals in those four games.
The Tigers have kept in touch with the leading pack all season and Bruce's side is a strong all-round outfit that gives little away defensively. Having stumbled a little in recent weeks, last Saturday's hard-fought 1-0 win was a return to the performances and form of the pre-Christmas period, which lifted them up to second in the table at one stage.
Sone Aluko is top scorer with eight so the rest of the team need to chip in and ensure the goals are spread around (they have scored less than anybody else in the top ten). Ahmed Elmohamady has returned on loan from Sunderland and his form could be a key determinant in Hull's fortunes until the end of the season.
Both sides are available to back at attractive prices given their mixed recent form but the momentum is with the visitors and at 3.211/5 they are the recommended bet. Having ground out a vital win at the Den last week, I fancy them to do the same and keep the pressure heaped on second-placed Leicester.
Under/Over 2.5 goals
The price for over 2.5 goals is bigger than might have been expected, probably as a result of Hull's statistics. With the home side needing the three points they will have to attack, which should leave them open to the counter-attack and lead to an open game with chances at both ends.
Best Bet: Back Hull to win at 3.211/5
Back over 2.5 goals at 2.26/5