Under-23s win opening pre-season friendly

Ben Wilson's first-half goal seals 1-0 win over Whitehawk.

By Bruce Talbot • 19 August 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
Ben Wilson (10) celebrates his goal against Whitehawk.

Albion under-23s kicked off their preparations for the new Premier League 2 season with a 1-0 win over Whitehawk in a pre-season friendly at the American Express Elite Performance Centre on Wednesday evening. 

An early goal from Ben Wilson settled a competitive contest with head coach Simon Rusk fielding two separate XIs against the Isthmian League side with summer recruits Lars Dendoncker and Jensen Weir among those who got some minutes under their belt.

Marc Leonard had an early chance for Albion when his angled shot was blocked but the hosts did go in front in the ninth minute when Danny Cashman took advantage of a mistake in the Whitehawk defence to pick out Wilson, who was unmarked and fired home from ten yards.

Cashman had a goal disallowed for offside but neither goalkeeper was tested too often in the first half although Whitehawk should have equalised just before the break when Lucas Rodrigues slalomed past three challenges and only had goalkeeper Carl Rushworth to beat but side-footed his shot wide of the far post.

By Paul Hazlewood
Lars Dendoncker challenges for the ball on his Albion debut.

Rusk changed all 11 players at the break and the second half was largely dominated by Albion, who had some good chances to extend their lead after Rodrigues had tested Adam Desbois in the 54th minute with an effort which the keeper got down well to save.

Five minutes later Ryan Longman’s shot was pushed away for a corner then Weir directed a free kick from 20 yards just over the target after Peter Gwargis was brought down.

Jack Spong nearly diverted the ball inside the right-hand post after good work down the right by Romaric Yapi, who then fired over after a surge into the Whitehawk box.

Gwargis, whose pace and power down Albion’s left often unsettled the visitors, saw a shot saved near the end and although they couldn’t find a second goal it was still a deserved win for the Seagulls.

Albion 1st half: Rushworth, Tanimowo, Trialist, Crofts, Tsongui, Dendoncker, Everitt, Leonard, Cashman, Wilson, Leahy.

Albion 2nd half: Desbois, Yapi, Furlong, Packham, O’Hora, Turns, Vukoje, Weir, Longman, Spong, Gwargis.