U23 Report: Three points and three goals at the King Power

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It wasn’t just an impressive result for Albion’s under-23s at Leicester City this evening, the performance at the King Power Stadium was equally as eye-catching, as Simon Rusk’s side showed maturity and composure to deservedly seal a 3-0 victory in the Premier League 2.

By Kieran Cleeves • 23 August 2019

By Paul Hazlewood
Bojan Radulovic concludes the scoring at the King Power Stadium
  • Albion seal 3-0 victory over Leicester City
  • Aaron Connolly opens the scoring with his third goal of the season
  • Peter Gwargis doubles the lead after the break
  • Bojan Radulovic comes off the bench to conclude the scoring

The game was dictated from start to finish by Rusk’s side, as goals from Aaron Connolly, Peter Gwargis and Bojan Radulovic led the Seagulls to a convincing victory at the home of the 2015/16 Premier League champions.

Rusk recalled Connolly to the starting line-up after the forward missed last week’s defeat at Arsenal, while Romaric Yapi made his Albion debut and first-team goalkeeper Jason Steele came into the side.

Albion made a positive start to the contest, with debutant Yapi creating an early chance for Connolly after the former PSG full-back raced to the byline and delivered — but after the striker got across his man to meet the ball, Viktor Johansson saved well in the Foxes goal.

There was a sense of confidence and control inside the opening quarter of an hour, as Haydon Roberts regularly showed composure at the back and midfield pairing Max Sanders and Alex Cochrane pulled the strings in the middle third of the pitch.

By Paul Hazlewood
Archie Davies in action against Leicester City

On his first appearance of the 2019/20 campaign, Steele showed his first-team quality to pick out Cox with a 50-yard searching pass down the left flank. The full-back found Connolly inside the box, who then rolled back for Gwargis, but the Swede was unable to beat his compatriot, Johansson, with a low-driven effort.

Albion were untroubled until the 20th minute when Leicester worked the ball into the penalty area, but thanks to Sanders and Cox, who produced brilliant blocks after diving in front of the ball, the hosts were unable to break the deadlock against the run of play.

Chances continued to fall for Albion, particularly Connolly, who stretched to meet a teasing delivery from Cox shortly before the half-hour mark, but the Irishman was unable to add a third goal of the season, as the ball bounced wide of the target.

However, just when it looked like the game was heading for half-time on level terms, that man Connolly showed his quality and opened the scoring.

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion celebrate after Connolly's opener

Cochrane slipped a brilliant pass into Jordan Davies, who then played in his Irish team-mate, and with a Leicester defender backtracking, the forward shifted the ball onto his right foot and bent a sublime effort beyond Johansson into the far corner.

There was no change after the break, the tempo remained high and Albion’s high press reaped its reward. The hosts gave away possession, Davies thought quickly to tee up Gwargis inside the box, and the Swede delicately chipped beyond Johansson to extend the lead.

After doing his damage in the opening half, Connolly’s night’s work ended just after the hour mark and Radulovic was introduced up front. The forward offered a different dimension to Albion’s attack as they looked to kill off the game.

The hosts continued to probe for a route back into the contest, but Steele was quick to react to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s low-driven free-kick, which fizzed towards the bottom corner, before surging off his goal line to claim the ball after Admiral Muskwe raced free.

As the match entered its final ten minutes, Gwargis was presented with an excellent chance of notching his second and Albion’s third of the game, following some neat build-up play in and around the penalty area, but Johansson stepped forward to smother the Swede’s powerful shot.

By Paul Hazlewood
Bojan Radulovic after adding a third for Simon Rusk's side

The game became very stretched in the closing stages, and on a clinical night for Rusk’s side, three points were matched with three goals, and the third one was arguably the pick of the bunch.

Substitute Ryan Longman raced clear, held the ball up and rolled back for Radulovic, and the forward caressed a half-volley into the far corner to make it 3-0 and conclude a stunning evening at the King Power.

ALBION: Steele; Yapi, A.Davies, Roberts, Cox; Sanders, Cochrane; Gwargis, J.Davies (Richards 68), Tilley (Longman 83); Connolly (Radulovic 61).

Subs not used: Desbois (GK), Freestone.