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Rusk: We Got Our Reward

By Kieran Cleeves • 21 August 2018

Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk felt his players fully deserved a share of the spoils at the Emirates Stadium last night, as Aaron Connolly struck late to earn his team a 1-1 draw against Arsenal.

Connolly’s stoppage-time equaliser cancelled out Reiss Nelson’s opener for the Gunners, and Rusk was pleased to see his side rewarded for another hard-working display in the Premier League 2 Division 1.

He said, “The game came alive in the second half and we knew that with how Arsenal were going to play, we needed to be good defensively.

“They caused us some problems in the first half hour of the game, with how they wanted to attack, but once we got to grips with that, we started to cause them some problems too.

“In the end, when we went a goal down late on, it would have been cruel - but I was absolutely delighted with the players’ mentality to keep going and get themselves back to 1-1.

“We almost nicked it right at the end, and on another day we win the game - but over the balance of play, it was a fair result.”

Albion backed up their opening-day goalless draw against Liverpool with another hard-earned point, and Rusk highlighted the increase in quality his team are facing in their new division.

“We’ve had two really tough games - Liverpool and Arsenal to start, and with Tottenham and Manchester City coming up as well, it was always going to be difficult.

“We have to be pleased that we’re undefeated and had chances in both games to win them.

“There are lots of areas for us to improve on - it is a step up in quality and athleticism, and we’ve had to work hard for our two draws.”

Connolly came off the bench in the 76th minute and fired his first goal of the season, and Rusk praised the Irishman for his hard work, patience and professionalism.

“When you’re a striker, you want to be starting games. The players will be desperate to play in these types of games at places such as the Emirates.

“I’m sure it was a disappointment for him to not start the game, but he came on and showed a great attitude.

“He got his reward - he’s been in the right areas over the last few games and hasn’t had the rub of the green, so I’m really pleased for Aaron that he got his goal.

“But overall, I’m delighted for the team that we’ve got something to show for a lot of hard work.”

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