A 1-0 home defeat to arch-rivals Newcastle United took the gloss off an encouraging second-half performance in Sunderland’s opening game of the season.
The Black Cats came from behind to secure a draw against Liverpool at Anfield and looked particularly impressive after the interval, offering hope that it could be a strong year for Steve Bruce’s men.
Sunderland will therefore be looking to show that the Newcastle result was a blip, although their cause has not been helped by being given one of the toughest possible draws in the Carling Cup second round.
They travel to the south coast to take on Brighton as 7/5 favourites to win in 90 minutes, although odds on a Brighton victory of 17/10 illustrate how this game is far from a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, Brighton looks to be the most likely location for a Carling Cup second-round shock.
Promoted to the Championship last season after topping the 2010-11 League One table, Brighton have quickly adapted to life in English football’s second tier.
They have recorded three wins and a draw from their opening four games, scoring eight goals and letting in four.
Another cause for concern for Sunderland is Brighton’s impressive home record last season, with just two league games lost and more than two goals a game scored on average.
However, with the Seagulls scoring 14 more goals after half time than before the interval and only letting in seven before the break, any Brighton victory is likely to be secured in the latter stages of the match.
As such, betting on the match to be level at half time and Brighton going on to win at odds of 11/2 could pay dividends.
A successful £25 free bet on a draw/Brighton win in the halftime/fulltime market, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £162.50.
Of course, Sunderland should have enough quality in their ranks to beat a team a division below them, and with Craig Gardner and David Vaughan among the players expected to make their debuts for the club they will arrive on the south coast motivated to do well.
But with Brighton riding the crest of a wave, they could yet leave the Black Cats with yet more wounds to lick.
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