- Pigott and Appiah fire home side into half-time lead
- Knockaert rattles the post after the restart
- Norwood notches second-half penalty
- Albion lose their first game during pre-season
Brighton & Hove Albion fell to a 2-1 defeat against AFC Wimbledon at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Goals in the first half from Joe Piggot and Kwesi Appiah handed the hosts an advantage at the break, before Oliver Norwood’s penalty halved the score with 30 minutes to play.
Chris Hughton gave a first start to David Button following his summer move from Fulham, and Shane Duffy made his first start of pre-season on a warm day in south-west London.
The first opportunity of the game went to the visitors after nine minutes, and it fell to Jurgen Locadia.
Dale Stephens produced a floated pass over the top of the home defence to find the run of the Dutch forward, and his effort on goal was deflected behind by Tom King in the home goal as the hosts’ stopper did well to thwart the effort.
AFC Wimbledon soon had their first opportunity of the game, as Appiah worked his way into the area – but Ben Barclay showed good composure to block the shot and Albion cleared their lines.
But the home side would take the lead soon after through Pigott on 14 minutes, as the forward latched onto a knockdown from Liam Trotter and turned sharply before firing low across goal to give the hosts an early advantage.
Locadia then saw a snapshot fly over on the 20-minute mark after a header back into the area from March, before Duffy had to withdraw through injury and was replaced by Ben White.
The home side then doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark courtesy of Appiah, as Pinnock’s cross to the far post was knocked down by Pigott and the forward beat Button to the ball inside the six-yard box to poke home.
King then saved well from Locadia once more as the forward found himself through on goal on the left-hand side of the area, and then the keeper did well to keep hold of Anthony Knockaert’s effort from inside the box.
Locadia fired wide nine minutes before the break as Hughton’s side continued to look dangerous going forward, but that was the visitors’ last chance of the half as they went in behind at the break.
The Seagulls applied pressure at the beginning of the second half and Knockaert struck the post four minutes in.
Locadia showed good strength and intelligence to find the Frenchman on the far side, and the midfielder cut inside before letting fly, but his curling effort cannoned back off the upright and away from danger.
Locadia then picked up an injury and was replaced by Aaron Connolly four minutes before the hour-mark, and Albion then made a double change as Hughton introduced Oliver Norwood and Richie Towell in place of Stephens and Pascal Gross.
Connolly had an immediate impact soon after, as he was brought down by home defender Will Nightingale to earn the Seagulls a penalty, and Norwood stepped up to convert past King and half the deficit.
Hughton made a further five changes with just under 20 minutes left to play as James Tilley, Owen Moore, Jordan Davies, Danny Mandroiu and Viktor Gyokeres replaced Solly March, Ezequiel Schelotto, Gaetan Bong, Beram Kayal and Knockaert.
With all ten outfield players having changed since the beginning of the afternoon, the final 15 minutes saw Albion enjoy the majority of possession inside the home half.
Connolly brought down a long ball from Mandroiu well and forced King into another stop, and Button did well to parry James Hanson’s effort in the closing stages of the game as the referee brought the afternoon to a close.
Albion line-up: Button; Schelotto (Moore 70), Barclay, Duffy (White 21), Bong (Davies 70); Knockaert (Tilley 70), Kayal (Mandroiu 70), Stephens (Norwood 61), March (Gyokeres 70); Gross (Towell 61); Locadia (Connolly 55).
Subs not used: McGill, Radulovic.
AFC Wimbledon line-up: King; Watson (Thomas 61), Nightingale, Oshilaja, Meades (Sibbick 61); Pinnock, Hartigan, Trotter (Wordsworth 45), Wagstaff (Soares 61); Pigott (Barcham 61), Appiah (Hanson 45).
Subs not used: McDonnell (GK).