Middlesbrough v Brighton: Captain Leadbitter's aiming for promotion with final-day victory
Captain Grant Leadbitter insists that Middlesbrough will not play for a draw in tomorrow's Sky Bet Championship promotion decider '“ even though a point against Brighton would take Boro up.
Boro’s incredible home record – 15 clean sheets and only seven goals conceded in 22 league games – must give the Teessiders confidence going into their must-not-lose Riverside showdown.
Former Sunderland midfielder Leadbitter insisted: “We look to win games and that’s what we’ll do on Saturday. Winner takes all.
“A draw isn’t enough but credit to our back four, credit to our goalkeeper, they’ve kept lots of clean sheets.”
Boro and Brighton are locked together on 88 points, but the Teessiders’ superior goal difference gives them the advantage going into the 12.30pm kick-off.
The tension has built since Boro were held to a 2-2 draw at Birmingham last Friday night, but Leadbitter is taking the big game in his stride, looking to add to 16 home wins already this term.
“At this football club we do what we do, we train every day and look forward to the game at the weekend,” said the 30-year-old from Fence Houses. “I think we have done what we’ve done all season and deserve to be where we are.
“It’s not a normal game but we’ll treat it as a normal game.”
Boro could have a psychological advantage, having outgunned Brighton 3-0 away in December, wrecking the Seagulls’ unbeaten 21-game start to the season.
Meanwhile, defender Ben Gibson is relishing the occasion, saying: “This is why I dreamed of playing for Middlesbrough when I was a young lad, to be involved in games like this.
“We’d have snatched your hand off for this chance at the start of the season.
“Win your last home game and be promoted? Of course you would take that chance.
“We have a chance to make history by doing what we’ve done all season. Do that and have the best day of our lives.”
“Brighton, obviously, are a top class team at this level, but we’re due a win after three draws and this should be some match.”
Boss Aitor Karanka is eager to clinch a place in the Premier League, seven years after relegation. He said: “The players, fans and chairman deserve promotion – that’s the most important thing.”