Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dale Stephens challenged his team-mates to reach the same level of performance that saw the Seagulls run Manchester City close, when Chris Hughton’s side welcome AFC Bournemouth to the Amex Stadium this weekend.
Despite narrowly losing at Wembley Stadium, Albion’s hard-working display against Pep Guardiola's team drew a standing ovation from the 33,000-plus supporters that travelled to the capital for the club’s second-ever FA Cup semi-final.
The Seagulls now turn their attention to back-to-back Premier League matches against AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City at the Amex, and Stephens urged his team-mates to replicate the effort shown at Wembley last weekend.
He said, “We matched Manchester City for large spells and we take credit from that — we’ve got a big finish to the season and there’s still a lot of work to do.
“We’ll take confidence from the semi-final, and there’s no reason why we can’t play like that every week. That can be the benchmark from now until the end of the season.”
Hughton’s team find themselves five points outside the relegation zone in 16th position, but Albion possess at least one game in hand over every Premier League team.
Shortly after Bournemouth’s visit, Cardiff City, who occupy the final spot in the relegation zone, head to the Amex for Albion’s second match in four days, and Stephens is focused on edging away from danger.
“There’s a lot of quality in our squad and we feel that we should be better positioned in the league table.
“But we’re not and we’ve got a lot of work to do — we certainly take belief from matching a very good team on Saturday.”