First defeat could be a blessing - Stephens

Albion midfielder Dale Stephens  Photograph: Angela Brinkhurst
Albion midfielder Dale Stephens Photograph: Angela Brinkhurst
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Albion midfielder Dale Stephens feels his side’s first Championship defeat could well be a blessing.

Brighton saw their 21-game unbeaten start to the season ended on Saturday when they fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough in a top-of-the-table clash.

That defeat saw Albion slip out of the automatic promotion spots and down into third.

However, Stephens feels the loss has left Albion even more determined to get back on a similar run and he wants them to return to winning ways at Brentford on Boxing Day.

He said: “I think that we can look at the defeat as a little blessing. We have had everything our own way up until this point, so it’s going to be a challenge but it will be one everyone is looking forward to.

“It’s been really good season so far and winning games also makes things a lot easier for any side but it’s important we carry this form through until the end now.

“I think the good start that we had initially gave us the confidence going forward and all of the team began to believe we can do this.

“But we know we have to carry this sort of form over into the second part of the campaign.”

The Albion midfielder is under no illusions Saturday’s clash will be easy, though, as Brighton come up against a manager who has already got one over on them this season.

The Bees recently appointed former Walsall boss Dean Smith as their new boss and he guided his old team to a 2-1 Capital One Cup second-round success back in August.

Stephens feels his side will be out to make sure Smith does not secure a second success over Albion this season.

He said: “Dean Smith was the manager at Walsall when we played them in the Capital One Cup earlier this year and they were a good side. We will be expecting some of the same of what we faced there but we’re looking forward to a tough game.

“They have been going really well of late. It’s a difficult place to go but we are looking for a reaction on the back of the loss to Middlesbrough.”

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