Gary Hobson wants to wipe away the pain of his first own goal with a victory over Albion.

The former Seagulls skipper leads his new club Chester into Saturday's crucial battle against his old one at the Deva Stadium. Hobson knows how important the result is to rock-bottom Chester's survival hopes.

And he is desperate to make amends for an unfortunate o.g. in last Friday's clash at Swansea. Chester were 1-0 up against the second-placed Welshmen and on course for a shock win which would have lifted them off the bottom when Hobson put through his own net six minutes from time.

As if that wasn't bad enough Steve Watkin struck again for Swansea deep into stoppage time. "It was one of those things," Hobson said. "The ball was in-between me and my keeper and I was running back towards our goal with a Swansea lad behind me.

"I stuck a leg out, got a toe to it and it went under the keeper. That was the first own goal I have ever scored and it was even more disappointing when they scored a second. We would have been grateful for three points or a point, but that won't affect me at all."

Hobson captained Albion when Steve Gritt and Brian Horton were in charge. Chester boss Ian Atkins handed him the armband as soon as his loan move became permanent a couple of weeks ago and he has been relishing the prospect of Saturday's showdown against his old team-mates ever since.

"I've been playing at leftback for the last four or five games," revealed the former Hull defender. "That probably means I will be marking Darren Freeman. I've been thinking about that and I'm quite looking forward to it.

"I've got a bit of a groin strain, but I think I'll be all right. I felt it after the Swansea game and I was sore for a couple of days, but it's not so bad now. I'll play no matter what."

Repeated injury problems restricted Hobson, 27, to 98 League appearances in four years with Albion. He is a veteran of several relegation scraps with the Seagulls, most notably that great escape three seasons ago, when Gritt's side recovered from a seemingly impossible plight to send Hereford down on the final day.

Hobson finds himself in very similar circumstances. Albion were three points adrift at the corresponding stage in 1996-97 and had played a game more than nearest rivals Doncaster. Chester go into Saturday's game two points below Carlisle, who have two matches in hand and entertain fellow toilers Shrewsbury.

"Although Carlisle have two games in hand at the moment they don't look like winning," Hobson said. "They've signed a few players though and we have got to start putting a run together now. It was the same at Brighton. Every time we played at home we dragged ourselves a little bit closer to safety.

"We did it without winning away, so we have got a chance at Chester if we can win at home. We are still fairly optimistic and a win against Brighton could take us above Carlisle.

"Points are more important than games in hand. I learnt that a couple of years ago, because the pressure builds even more when you are bottom. Irrespective of who we are playing we need three points on Saturday. In our last four or five games we have played quite well and should have got something from all of them.

"I know Brighton are going through a patch of form which has not been so clever, but I understand they played well at Northampton and I know what they are capable of. When a team goes on a run like they've had you know it is going to change. I just hope it's not against us."

Albion winger Rod Thomas is ruled out against his old club by the second of a three-match suspension. But Andy Crosby makes a nostalgic return to the Deva Stadium for the first time since his £10,000 summer switch to the Seagulls.

Crosby, 27 next week, was Chester's captain and penalty taker last season, missing just five matches after joining them on a free transfer from Darlington. The central defender was in the starting line-up while Hobson was on the bench for Albion's shock 3-2 defeat by the relegation favourites at Withdean in September.

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