It was a mouthwatering prospect when the play-off line-up was confirmed as it served up two clashes from a heated rivalry, Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.
As with many ‘derbies’ though, the first leg was a tight and tense affair devoid of the quality that the two teams are capable of and they could not be separated during a goalless draw.
After a slow start, Palace upped their game in the second half, but were devastated to lose 31-goal striker (and former Brighton man) Glenn Murray to a knee injury for the crucial second leg on Monday evening.
Ian Holloway will be reliant on Wilfried Zaha to fire his team to glory, though the fact that Zaha will be joining David Moyes at Manchester United next season means that, even if subconsciously, there will be a part of him that knows he will be Premier League football no matter what the outcome at the Amex Stadium.
Albion showed their mettle to keep the score level, and Gus Poyet will see this as a great chance to book their place in the play-off final.
The Sussex side won the home league fixture against the Eagles in March with a comfortable 3-0 dispatching, which was the start of Palace’s poor end of season form.
However, this is the play-offs and traditionally, form is fairly irrelevant.
The London outfit have produced some fine football this season with Zaha and Yannick Bolasie terrorising defences, while Murray has fired the goals, although it is almost certain Holloway will have to turn to Aaron Wilbraham to lead the line on the south coast.
The visitors will be hoping their skillful duo of Zaha and Bolasie will make the difference here and can be found at a generous 7/2 to win in normal time, or 2/1 to get through the tie at any point.
With the two sides being bitter rivals, the old cliché of the form book going out of the window must be remembered, but what chances on a draw?
With away goals having no impact in play-off games, there is a very real chance that this potentially hot-tempered affair could head to extra time.
Brighton drew 18 of their 46 regular season games, while Palace gained a solitary point in 15 outings.
Sheer nervousness often leads to stalemates (see the first leg) and knowing that there is always extra time and penalties to fall back on could ensure that this one remains level after 90 minutes, so you might just be tempted by the 5/2 on offer for a draw.
However, my humble opinion is that Brighton will have too much for their rivals after they ended the season with three straight wins, while Palace’s narrow victory over Peterborough on the final day was their first victory in ten games.
Their emphatic win in the league fixture at the Amex will also fill them with confidence, as will the absence of Murray, and so I would highly recommend the 3/4 on Brighton to triumph in normal time.
If you’re a little more pessimistic and think it might take extra time or even penalties for Poyet’s men to book their Wembley place, then bwin is offering 21/50 on the Seagulls to get through this tie at any time.
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Follow David on Twitter @whichdave