A group of Uplands Community College students reported on Brighton & Hove Albion under-18’s FA Youth Cup third round defeat to Derby County on Monday night.
The students, along with headteacher Liam Collins, viewed the game from the press box before attending a post-match press conference with under-18 coach Simon Rusk.
The match report below from Jake Clifton was judged to be the best from the evening.
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Derby dominate but Brighton boys keep their heads up
The air was bitterly cold as Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-18 team made their way on to the grass of the Amex stadium. Releasing pangs of icy breath, the boys were not bothered by the winter weather.
If anything, it gave them an incentive to keep moving. Despite Derby’s 2-0 win, the early stages of the game were arguably very even. The echoing structure of the stadium surrounding them and the bright floodlights would have intimidated most, but it was clear that these boys were no strangers to playing at the high level of football that can be witnessed at any FA Youth Cup match.
With pacey striker, Offrande Zanzala dominating the majority of Derby’s offence throughout both halves, Brighton’s defence remained strong and did extremely well to reduce Zanzala’s goal opportunities. And some of the more accurate shots, floated by Derby’s attack, were impressively saved by keeper Bailey Vose, who swiftly claimed ownership of the ball as soon as it entered the box.
Another example of superb play from Brighton in the second half was captain Jordan Maguire-Drew’s spectacular run up the left wing. After a swift turn back inside he curled the ball from the edge of the box, narrowly missing the crossbar, a place the ball seemed to end up several times throughout the match. This included an impressive volley from the edge of the box by Zanzala.
Both of the away team’s goals came in the second half. The first was from Zanzala, who scored a sliding shot in the 18 minutes after the restart. Although not the most exciting piece of play in the game, it was certainly deserved by the hard-working striker. Six minutes later, Tom Mellor claimed the second goal, winning the ball in mid-air with a superb header, making things extremely difficult for the keeper.
Despite Derby’s increasing dominance towards the latter part of the second half, the level of Brighton’s stamina proved to be up to the same standard. Not once did the players fail to keep up their pressure on the opposition.
Brighton manager Simon Rusk acknowledged the fact that the Derby County were a physically stronger team – as many teams are in this age group – but in no way did he use this as an excuse for the loss. The players were sent away to reflect on their own personal performances but they should not let this loss affect the team morale, according to Rusk.
It is arguable that this is the best instruction to give to a group of players who clearly work strongly as a team and are very talented footballers, but will not be advancing to the fourth round of the cup.
With only one fairly insignificant booking against Brighton and one unfortunate ball-to-the-face incident for Derby player Ben Guy, the match went smoothly and the level of football truly was outstanding. It would have been hard to tell the difference between the boys and the famous football players they look up to.