Simon Ireland praised the battling qualities of his Brighton & Hove Albion under-21 side, despite a 3-1 defeat to an experienced Newcastle United team on Monday.
Albion took the lead in an eventful match thanks to Shamir Fenelon’s 20th minute strike, but the Magpies hit back through Ryan Taylor’s penalty and a strike each from Haris Vuckic and Dan Barlaser.
The Seagulls ended the match with nine men, as Glen Rea was sent off for a deliberate handball which led to Newcastle’s penalty, while Danny Pappoe was shown a straight red for an off the ball incident.
Ireland told seagulls.co.uk, “In the first half we played very well against an experienced Newcastle under-21 side which had Ryan Taylor and possibly four or five other members of their first-team squad.
“I felt we had the better of the first half and deservedly went 1-0 up after a good finish from Shamir [Fenelon].
“We possibly could’ve had another couple of goals and if we had gone in two or three nil up at half time, then it would have been a fair reflection of the game.
“We finished the game with nine men as Danny Pappoe got sent off after an altercation off the ball, and we’ve had a look at the DVD and it’s very difficult to see what went on. It looked to be a very harsh decision and neither ours nor their bench saw anything, but the linesman gave it.
“But we battled and battled where other teams might’ve lost four or five one against an experienced team like that.”
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The defeat leaves Albion bottom of the Premier League Division Two table, but Ireland feels this is not a fair reflection of their performances to date and challenged his side to cut out their individual errors.
“We’ve done well against an experienced team, but we’ve just got to cut out the individual errors which affect the overall team performance.
“There’s a fine balance between performances and results, but we’re bottom of the table and I was saying to the lads that too often we’ve come in disappointed with the outcome of the game.”
ALBION: Walton (GK); Hunt, Dallison, Pappoe, Starkey; Rea (c), Harris; Trialist, Fenelon, Cole; Trialist (Muitt 67).
Subs not used: Davis, Smith, Wiltshire.