AFC WIMBLEDON 1
Beram Kayal scored on his first appearance in a Brighton & Hove Albion shirt as the under-21s drew 1-1 with AFC Wimbledon at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
The Israeli international capped off an encouraging second-half display when his deflected free-kick beat Wimbledon keeper Joe McDonnell after 82 minutes to earn the Seagulls a share of the points in this Final Third Development League Cup match.
Dale Stephens and Kazenga LuaLua also continued their recoveries from ankle and knee injuries respectively, as Stephens played the first hour against the South Londoners, while the Congolese winger made his first appearance since late November.
The first half was a rather cagey affair with few chances for either side, but the visitors managed to create the first opportunity of the game inside the opening five minutes, as Mark Phillips headed the ball over the upright from Chace Jacquart’s free-kick.
Jesse Starkey then created the first meaningful opening for Simon Ireland’s team after showing some neat footwork on the edge of the box before threading in Glen Rea, but the linesman had raised his flag.
Egil Kaja also came close for the away side after bringing the ball down on the turn, before shooting narrowly past Harry Doherty’s near post.
LATEST NEWS FROM SEAGULLS.CO.UK
- REPORT: BLACKPOOL 1 ALBION 0
- HUGHTON APPOINTS NEW ASSISTANT
- THE MONTH AHEAD: FEBRUARY
- LUALUA POISED FOR FOREST RETURN
- JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW: INS AND OUTS
Kayal then entered the fray for his first Albion appearance after the restart, but Ireland’s side made a poor start to the second half, as Dan Agyei broke the deadlock after being played through-one-on-one with Doherty and slotted the ball into the net.
Wimbledon had limited chances to extend their advantage with Beere’s strike from distance being the extent of their goalscoring opportunities before Kayal really took hold of the game.
The midfielder showed glimpses of his talent with some superb touches on the ball and could have levelled the scoreline even earlier after reacting well to Jason Davis’s cross into the box, but the Israeli slipped just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Davis was involved in the thick of the action just moments later when he managed to find Jimmy Muitt deep inside the box but the forward couldn’t apply the necessary finish.
Albion then netted the equaliser with eight minutes remaining after being awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area and Kayal saw his powerful strike deflect off a Wimbledon defender before hitting the back of the net.
The Seagulls could have snatched the points late on as Kayal showed some more outstanding skill while under pressure from three Wimbledon defenders before firing the ball straight at McDonnell.
ALBION: Doherty; Barry, Dallison, Barclay, Hunt; LuaLua (Kayal 45), Rea, Starkey; Deen (Muitt 70), Stephens (Fenelon 61), Davis. Subs not used: Smith (GK), Harris. Subs not used: Smith (GK), Harris.