- Albion under-23s record their first pre-season victory
- James Tilley scores either side of half-time
- Max Sanders finds the top corner with a 25-yard free-kick
- Bayan Fenwick (pen) and Billy Collings (OG) for the hosts
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s recorded their first win of pre-season, after sealing a hard-fought 3-2 victory over National League South side Whitehawk at the Enclosed Ground this evening.
The Seagulls twice came from behind to secure the win, as James Tilley scored a brace and Max Sanders found the back of the net with a delightful free-kick, after the Hawks took a 2-1 lead through Bayan Fenwick and an unfortunate own goal from Billy Colllings.
Aaron Connolly had the first opportunity of the game after pulling away from his marker to find space inside the penalty area, but the striker dragged his first-time effort wide of goal from George Cox’s low cross.
Tilley was next to threaten Whitehawk’s goal, as he picked up the ball outside the box and weaved his way past three defenders before pulling the trigger, but Patrick Ohman made a smart save to keep the scores level.
Albion continued to dominate possession and it was Connolly that caused the hosts further problems, when his close-range shot was blocked in front of goal, before the striker hit the post with a powerful effort from 20 yards.
Will Collar then took advantage of some slack defending from the hosts, as he skipped past his marker and fired a low shot towards goal, but Ed Wakley was on hand to rescue his team-mates and block in front of goal.
Despite Albion’s dominant start, Whitehawk took the lead against the run of play, and it came after Ben Barclay was penalised for a high foot inside the penalty area, which left Fenwick the job of beating Sanchez from the spot.
Former Albion player Connor Tighe almost doubled Whitehawk’s lead moments later, but Sanchez pulled off a brilliant save at full stretch to push the winger’s effort wide of the top corner.
Albion got their reward in the 39th minute when Tilley received the ball in space inside the penalty area, and the winger opened up his body and found the far corner with a delightful effort.
Jordan Davies had two chances before the break, but his first effort rolled narrowly wide of the far post, before Ohman pushed the winger’s long-range strike to safety.
Collings replaced Sanchez at half-time and after just seven minutes of the second half, the goalkeeper found himself very unfortunate, as Romone Rose’s ferocious long-range half-volley struck the foot of the post, before hitting the shot-stopper and going in.
Hawks striker Pape Gueye almost extended the lead when he raced through on goal, but with just Collings to beat from inside the box, the striker’s fierce shot sailed over the crossbar.
Dessie Hutchinson and Tilley both went in search of a second equaliser, but the Irish midfielder dragged his effort wide of goal from outside the box, before Albion’s goalscorer saw his dipping shot drop just wide from 25 yards.
Tighe then came close to scoring against his former club, when he raced to the from post and met Tom Cadman’s perfectly-weighted cross, but the winger’s header cleared the crossbar for a goal kick.
But with time running out, Sanders drew the Seagulls level with a sublime free kick from 25 yards, as he calmly lifted the ball over the wall and into the top corner.
Four minutes later, Albion’s late turnaround was complete, and it was Tilley who drifted across the penalty area and fired a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-2 and secure Albion’s first victory of pre-season.