U23s report: Albion put to the sword by United

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A 5-2 loss at home marks back-to-back defeats for Simon Rusk's side.

By Luke Nicoli • 06 November 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
Peter Gwargis battles for the ball against Manchester United.
  • Christian Walton returns to action
  • United take a commanding 3-0 half-time lead
  • Jensen Weir nets a quickfire second-half double
  • Simon Rusk’s side lose their second successive game

Goalkeeper Christian Walton made a welcome return to action for the Seagulls on what proved to be a chastening afternoon for Albion’s under-23 side.

Walton was back in action having recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the first-team’s pre-season game against Chelsea at the Amex, and was certainly kept busy against a potent United side.

By Paul Hazlewood
Christian Walton made his first Albion appearance since an ankle injury in pre-season.

The visitors set their stall out from the first whistle and took a deserved lead on eight minutes when Hannibal Mejbri stole in to poke the ball beyond Walton.

It went from bad to worse just eight minutes later when Walton came under pressure from an unwanted backpass and Shola Shoretire dispossessed the keeper before tapping home.

Albion responded positively from those early setbacks and a dangerous Sam Packham cross flashed across the face of goal before being cleared for a corner.

Skipper Teddy Jenks, having already blazed an effort over the bar, then showed great feet before curling a 20-yard effort narrowly over the United upright.

Like their first-team counterparts, the United forward line looked particularly dangerous on the break, with Mejbri next to test Walton with a low effort from the edge of the box.

Mark Helm also fired over the bar when it looked easier to score while at the other end, Reda Khadra cut in from the right flank only to see his fierce effort deflected away for a corner.

United continued to push forward with purpose and netted a third goal in the 36th minute when Helm calmly tucked home a pin-point Arnau Puigmal cross.

The impressive Puigmal then brought another save out of Walton while Anthony Elanga flashed an effort wide.

Albion did have the ball in the net shortly before half-time when Jensen Weir volleyed home an in-swinging Jenks cross at the far post, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

By Paul Hazlewood
Andrew Crofts in action against Manchester United.

The half-time break gave the Seagulls time to regroup with forward Ulrick Eneme Ella replacing Andrew Crofts.

Albion started the half on the front foot, with Khadra sending a cross into the box which the onrushing Ella narrowly failed to connect with. Young defender Antef Tsoungui also went close with a header from Jason Molumby’s deep cross.

The hosts’ efforts were rewarded with a penalty, after Helm had brought down Jenks, and Weir stepped up to drill the 58th minute spot kick past keeper Paul Woolston.

By Paul Hazlewood
Jensen Weir bagged a brace, but it wasn't enough as Albion were beaten by United.

Weir then doubled his account a minute later when he met a Khadra cross at the far post to leave United clearly rattled.

Albion looked the more likely of the sides to score again yet against the run of play, United re-established a two-goal cushion on 70 minutes when Alvaro Fernandez crashed home a long-range effort.

It gave the visitors a firm foothold in the game once again and they netted a fifth on 83 minutes when Puigmal latched onto a ball on the right before firing across Walton and into the far corner of the net.

It’s now back-to-back defeats for Simon Rusk’s side, who will be looking to bounce back against Blackburn after the international break.

Albion: Walton, Packham, Tanimowo, Crofts (Ella 45), Dendoncker, Tsoungui, Weir, Molumby, Gwargis (Yapi 84), Jenks, Khadra.

Subs not used: Desbois, Vukoje, Leonard.