- Albion take 2-1 lead into half-time
- Max Sanders sent off after third Albion goal
- Blackburn Rovers score four second-half goals to win 5-3
- Albion play AFC Wimbledon in the Leasing.com Trophy on Tuesday night
Goals from Max Sanders, Taylor Richards and Bojan Radulovic opened up a 3-1 lead for Simon Rusk’s team, but after Sanders saw red in the 55th minute, four second-half goals for the visitors from Lancashire followed to complete a tough evening for the Seagulls.
It took Albion just four minutes to continue their clinical run in front of goal, following last week’s 3-0 win at Leicester City, and it was captain Sanders who made the most of Ryan Longman’s half-cleared cross, bending the ball beyond Joseph Hilton from 20 yards to break the deadlock.
Tudor Baluta started the contest, and the Romanian made a vital clearance after Rovers forward Dominic Samuel spun cleverly inside Albion’s penalty area soon after.
Jordan Davies cut inside his marker and looked to replicate what Sanders had done to put Albion ahead early on, but the Welshman’s curling effort lacked the placement required to beat Hilton, who gathered comfortably, from long distance.
Despite looking in control for long periods, a quick foray forward from the visitors led to Harry Chapman bearing down on Tom McGill’s goal, but the Rovers forward dragged his shot just wide of the target when a shot on target looked imminent.
After playing in central midfield at the King Power Stadium last week, Alex Cochrane reverted to his usual position at full-back, and the 19-year-old showed his defensive nous to slide and clear the ball moments before Samuel Hart was about to unleash an effort on goal.
Cochrane was then busy in the attacking third — his delivery into Radulovic put the forward into a position where he could square for summer signing Richards, and the former Manchester City man rolled home to put Albion two ahead in the 37th minute.
It could have been three when Ryan Longman raced through on goal and had Hilton to beat, but the Rovers shot-stopper got an important touch to deny the winger, and it proved vital for the visitors, who went on to halve the deficit on the stroke of half-time.
Chapman set off on a solo run and opened up his body to pick out the bottom corner from inside the box, which would no doubt have altered the team talk for both managers at the break.
The sides returned for the second half and Richards had the Amex crowd cheering early on, but this time for a sublime piece of skill on the left wing, as he spun his marker with an audacious drag-back.
Albion’s confident start to the second half continued and their two-goal cushion was restored when Longman picked out Radulovic inside the box with a fine cross, allowing the Serbian to power a header beyond Hilton.
But two minutes later, in the 55th minute, Albion’s lead looked less favourable after Sanders received a second yellow card for a challenge in the middle of the park, leaving his team-mates with 35 minutes to play with ten men.
Inside six minutes of him leaving the field, the visitors clawed their way back into the game, making it 3-3 thanks to a brace from Samuel, who proved to be a physical presence for Rovers all evening and cancelled out Albion’s work.
Blackburn made the most of their numerical advantage and prevented Albion from rediscovering their rhythm, and the visitors completed an impressive turnaround when Samuel Barnes headed a fourth goal following a well-worked corner.
There was controversy in the fourth minute of stoppage time when referee Carl Brook turned down calls for a penalty, following a tackle on Jordan Davies, and the visitors added a decisive fifth a minute later through Chapman, as the forward rounded off the scoring on an eventful evening at the Amex.
ALBION: McGill; Cochrane, A.Davies, Roberts, Cox; Sanders, Baluta (Yapi 60); Longman, J.Davies, Richards (Gwargis 65); Radulovic (Tilley 77).
Subs not used: Desbois (GK), Freestone.