Match Reports

U23 Report: Albion 2 Blackburn Rovers 1

By Bruce Talbot • 19 October 2018

  • Albion come from behind to defeat Blackburn Rovers
  • Okera Simmonds opens the scoring for the visitors
  • Aaron Connolly scores equalising goal in the second half
  • Ben Barclay heads the winner in the closing stages

Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at the Amex Stadium on Friday evening thanks to a late winner from Ben Barclay.

Blackburn played their part in an entertaining game, taking an early lead through striker Okera Simmonds.

Albion equalised 11 minutes after the break through Aaron Connolly’s header and the striker nearly added a second when his shot from outside the box hit the crossbar with four minutes remaining.

But just when it looked as if the Seagulls would have to settle for a point, skipper Barclay headed in the winner in the final minute of normal time.

The visitors made the perfect start when they went ahead in the third minute.

Simmonds was brought down on the edge of the box and took responsibility for the free kick himself, curling a right-foot shot over the wall and into the top left-hand corner.

The goal filled Rovers with confidence and Albion goalkeeper Jason Steele made an excellent save to deny Danny Butterworth from doubling their lead in the 27th minute.

Albion gradually worked their way back into the contest and created their best first-half chance in the 39th minute when Connolly’s chip beat keeper Andy Fisher but just cleared the crossbar as well.

At the other end Rovers created another good opening two minutes later. Midfielder Jacob Davenport’s pass found Butterworth in space but his shot lacked sufficient power and Steele made a relatively easy save.

Albion made two changes at the break, introducing Max Sanders and Viktor Gyokeres and they drew level in the 56th minute with a fine goal. Left-back George Cox made a terrific break and delivered a cross which Connolly attacked at the near post ahead of his marker and guided a close-range header past Fisher.

The hosts should have taken the lead in the 65th minute. Blackburn keeper Fisher spilled Cox’s cross but Anders Dreyer steered the loose ball wide when anything on target would have given the Seagulls a second goal.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes both sides pushed for a winner. Rovers displayed their prowess from free-kicks again when John Buckley met Butterworth’s delivery and Steele had to push his header away and Butterworth had another chance in the 77th minute but his angled effort flew wide of the far post.

At the other end Jordan Davies stung Fisher’s palms with a drive from the edge of the box before Connolly had his head in his hands in frustration after seeing his curling effort from 20 yards hit the crossbar with four minutes to go.

It looked as if Albion’s best chance of claiming three points had gone but in the final minute of normal time Barclay’s glancing header from J.Davies' left-wing corner beat Fisher and flew inside the right-hand post.

There was a stoppage-time scare for Albion when Mitchel Candlin’s header landed on top of the net with Steele beaten but Simon Rusk’s men hung on for three hard-earned points.

Albion line-up: Steele, Davies (Moore 57), Cox, Barclay, Normann, Dreyer, Ostigard, Davies, Gwargis (Gyokeres 45), Connolly, Ljubicic (Sanders 45).

Subs not used: O’Hora, Keto.