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npower Championship Play-Off semi-final second leg preview

11 May 2013


It's all still to play for in the npower Championship Play-Off semi-final between Watford and Leicester City, with the Foxes holding a slender advantage from the first leg ahead of Sunday's second installment at Vicarage Road.

Both teams were guilty of missing good scoring opportunities in Thursday's first leg at the King Power Stadium but David Nugent's header broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute to give Nigel Pearson's men a 1-0 lead to take to Vicarage Road.

The game certainly remains in the balance and manager Pearson insisted Leicester won't be resting on their laurels; they will make the short trip south aiming for another win.

"It's evenly poised. Both sides will still feel they have a very good chance of progressing," the former Hull City boss told

"I think the game was what you would expect - tight. We started the game very well, and there's always going to be that element that when you don't turn your advantage in terms of possession and so on into goals, that people can get frustrated.

"In terms of how we go about the next game now, we'll try and win that one. Even before we started [the first leg], our approach was always going to be to try and win both games, because I think we are a better team when we are on the front foot playing positive football."

Leicester are likely to find getting the upper hand at Vicarage Road tough, however, with Watford winning four and drawing one of the last five meetings between the two teams in Hertfordshire.

Hornets manager Gianfranco Zola was unhappy that his side failed to make the most of the goalscoring opportunities they created at the King Power Stadium, but strongly believes Watford are not out of the tie yet.

After the first leg, the 46-year-old explained to "We created a lot of chances and I didn't see them scoring that goal. Against teams like Leicester you always have to be aware as they can score a chance from nothing like they did today [Friday].

"We didn't take our chances and that made it difficult for us. Even in the second half we had other chances.

"We still have 90 minutes at our ground, and we're going to try and make the most of it. It is disappointing because we didn't expect to lose seeing how the game was being played.

"No complaints any more though, because we have to pick ourselves up straight away and go into the preparation for Sunday, because there is still a chance to come back from this result."

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Monday sees this season's Football League's Play-Off semi-finals come to a close with Brighton and Hove Albion welcoming Crystal Palace to the Amex Stadium for their second leg.

The two rivals met in the first leg on Friday night and played out a goalless draw in what was a cagey affair at Selhurst Park. The first leg results means the winner of the match on the South Coast will advance to the final at Wembley Stadium on May 27th.

One player who is doubtful for the clash at the Amex is Palace striker Glenn Murray. The 30-goal front man was stretchered off in the second half on Friday night with a knee injury.

And when asked about the extent of the injury immediately after the game, Eagles boss Ian Holloway told "We're not sure at the moment. Doctors have had a good look at him and we'll have to get a scan.

"It could be all sorts of things, we're not sure yet. The doctor feels it might be something wrong with his cruciate ligament so obviously he's going to be out for Monday."

Injury aside, Holloway was pleased with his side's performance, even though they failed to take the initiative in the semi-final in front of a 23,000-strong crowd at Selhurst Park.

And the 50-year-old remains confident his team can upset the odds and pull off a result at a ground where they were beaten 3-0 as recently as March.

"All we didn't do was score [in the first leg]," he added. "Now we have to go there [to Brighton] and they will have to watch us because we aren't bad at counter-attacking.

"Obviously we will have to stop them at their own ground, but this is where the pressure happens, this is where it all starts building.

"It only takes one thing from us and that could upset everything."

The first-leg 0-0 draw extended Brighton's unbeaten record to 10 matches, but they haven't actually lost a match at home since December 29th against Play-Off rivals Watford.

And, with that in mind, Seagulls manager Gus Poyet is positive about his team's chances of advancing to the final.

"If you gave anyone the chance at any level to have the game come down to one game at home, you'll take it. We have a great opportunity," the Uruguayan explained to

"It won't be easy and of course we need to make home advantage count. I'm sure that at home in front of our fans it will be a little bit easier for us to create something."

For all the latest news on Crystal Palace please click here

For all the latest news on Brighton & Hove Albion please click here

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