- Karly Akehurst gives the hosts an early lead
- Henrik Bjordal levels before the break
- Jordan Davies scores the winner to cap a brilliant team move
- The Seagulls now face Whitehawk in the quarter-finals
Brighton & Hove Albion's under-23s came from behind to seal their place in the quarter-finals of the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup this evening, as they overcame a battling Haywards Heath Town side 2-1 at the Hanbury Stadium.
Simon Rusk’s team conceded early on and it wasn’t until Henrik Bjordal’s equaliser late in the first half that they started playing more comfortably. A much-improved second half was capped off with a well-taken goal from Jordan Davies, which booked Albion's place in the next round.
Following a scrappy opening on a pitch which had been waterlogged the evening before, Haywards Heath broke the deadlock in the seventh minute. Trevor McCreadie earned a corner down the left side, and Jamie Weston’s delivery was headed in by Karly Akehurst, who was left unmarked on the penalty spot.
Steve Alzate fashioned Albion’s first chance ten minutes later, when he proceeded on a mazy run past three defenders, but his off-balance effort from 18 yards sailed over the bar.
Half an hour in, neither side looked in control, both struggling to maintain possession on the bobbly turf. It was more headers, slide-tackles and fouls, than interceptions, tricks and flicks.
Despite the scrappiness, it was one moment of quality which got Albion back in the game. Striker Henrik Bjordal latched onto a through ball, strode into the penalty area and struck powerfully past The Blues’ goalkeeper Simon Lehkyj to level things going into the break.
Bjordal had a golden chance to give Albion the lead in the 61st minute when he rounded the Haywards Heath goalkeeper, but a firm shot towards goal was blocked on the line.
Substitute Archie Davies almost made an instant impact minutes later, when his neat cut-in and shot was parried for a corner, from which he had another close-range effort saved.
Albion need not have worried though, as in the 73rd minute they put together a swashbuckling move to take the lead. Max Sanders surged down the left wing and cut back the ball to Bjordal, who had great vision to backheel it into the path of Davies, with the winger curling it first time into the corner.
Haywards Heath almost nicked an equaliser in the 75th minute with a testing free-kick from 25 yards, but Billy Collings’ outstretched arm tipped it around the post.
He preserved Albion’s lead once more ten minutes later, keeping strong wrists to palm away Abedola Sotoyinbo’s rising drive.
Simon Rusk’s side managed to resist the late pressure to book a quarter-final date with Whitehawk.
ALBION: Collings; Mateju (A.Davies 61), Moore, Hall, Cox; Sanders, Hutchinson; Davies. J, Alzate, Ahannach (Longman 61); Bjordal.
Subs not used: McGill, O’Sullivan, Ajiboye