- Albion seal impressive 5-1 win over Stoke City
- Aaron Connolly fires brace for the Seagulls
- Henrik Bjordal, Danny Mandroiu and Viktor Gyokeres add goals
- Saido Berahino replies for the visitors
Brighton & Hove Albion secured back-to-back 5-1 victories in the Premier League 2 Division 2, as they confidently beat Stoke City at the Checkatrade.com Stadium this evening.
Aaron Connolly's brace and a goal each for Henrik Bjordal, Danny Mandroiu and Viktor Gyokeres stunned the visitors, who pulled a goal back through Saido Berahino, but lacked the quality needed to get the better of Simon Rusk’s in-form side.
Bjordal had Albion’s first chance of the game after Rusk’s team made a positive start, but the Norwegian’s powerful shot from inside the box was parried away from goal, following a delightful pass from Max Sanders into George Cox.
But just a minute later, Connolly handed his team the lead when he stretched to meet Cox’s inviting cross into the penalty area, and the Irishman picked out the bottom corner to break the deadlock.
Another three minutes passed and Albion’s lead was doubled. Bjordal received the ball outside the penalty area and shifted it onto his right foot, before the winger’s powerful effort deflected on its way into the bottom corner.
Gyokeres came close to adding a third for the Seagulls when he latched onto a perfectly-weighted pass over Stoke’s defence, but the Swede’s ferocious drive with the outside of his right foot cannoned back off the post.
However, in the 27th minute the lead was extended again. Albion won a free-kick just outside the penalty area and Mandroiu got the ball up and over Stoke’s wall to find the bottom corner, which made it 3-0.
Steven Alzate, Mandroiu and Sanders continued to pull the strings down the middle of the park for the Seagulls, while Connolly’s pace in-behind caused problems for the visitors, who struggled to find any rhythm in the game.
Mandroiu almost bagged his brace on the stroke of half-time, when Sanders picked out the Irishman inside the area, but Stoke goalkeeper Mitch Allen made a fantastic save at full stretch from the midfielder’s header.
The visitors made a confident start to the second half and managed to reduce Albion’s advantage just three minute after the re-start.. Berahino received the ball inside the penalty area and powered home into the top corner to make it 3-1.
Robert Sanchez was then forced into a fine stop from Jordan Greenidge’s low-driven effort, as the Potters began to feel their way back into the game and put the Seagulls under pressure.
But Albion’s three-goal advantage was restored when Connolly got on the end of Ales Mateju’s powerful cross to volley home his second goal of the evening from close range.
Rusk’s side comfortably saw out the remainder of the contest, with Sanchez making a couple of routine stops - and Albion leapfrogged Middlesbrough into third position in the league table.
ALBION: Sanchez; Mateju (Moore 75), Barclay, Dallison, Cox; Bjordal, Alzate, Sanders, Gyokeres; Mandroiu (Tilley 75), Connolly (Radulovic 85).
Subs not used: Collings (GK), Kerr.