CAMBRIDGE UNITED 4
Simpson (pen) '65
Chiedozie '71, '77
Dale Stephens continued his comeback from a long-term ankle injury during Brighton & Hove Albion under-21s’ 4-1 defeat to Cambridge United in the Final Third Development League Cup.
The 25-year-old played the first 45 minutes against the U’s before being replaced by Cameron Wiltshire at half time in a game the Seagulls finished with nine men.
Albion went 1-0 down inside the opening five minutes of the game when Rory Gaffney was allowed to head home from close range after Jordan Chiedozie’s cross.
The visitors continued their bright start to the match as Chiedozie was played through one-on-one with Harry Doherty but shot just wide of the target.
But Simon Ireland’s side struck next in the 24th minute after a superb passing move involving Stephens and Jason Davis ended with Robin Deen sliding the ball past U’s keeper Will Norris to equalise.
But Cambridge still had chances in the first half with James Akintunde involved in the thick of the action, after heading over the upright after a cross was played to the near post.
Doherty was then called into action moments later after making a fine save from Gaffney’s shot before showing quick reactions to stop Johnny Hunt’s corner from creeping in at the near post.
Albion had the first chance after the interval, as Charlie Harris picked out Davis with an excellent pass, but Norris was alert to the danger and made a crucial interception to deny the forward.
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The U’s then had two chances from two set plays from Bobby Joe Taylor, but Robbie Simpson and Akintunde both fired off target with their respective efforts.
Just a couple of minutes later, Jimmy Muitt reacted quickly to intercept Hunt but shot wide of the target after going through one-on-one with Norris.
The forward had another chance to fire the Seagulls ahead seconds later, but again could not find the target from Davis’s cross.
The visitors began to gradually establish a foothold in the game soon afterwards as two more chances fell to Gaffney before they were awarded a penalty in the 65th minute.
Doherty rushed out of his area and brought down Luke Chadwick in the box and referee Michael Webb subsequently showed the Irish shot-stopper a straight red card.
Simpson coolly converted the spot-kick past substitute keeper Bailey Vose to regain United’s lead.
Bradley Barry could have brought Albion level with 20 minutes remaining after showing some neat footwork on the edge of the box, but shot over the bar.
Cambridge then struck again through Chiedozie a minute later after tapping the ball into an unguarded net from Ayrton Bevins’s cross.
Matters deteriorated for the Seagulls in the 77th minute as Chiedozie grabbed his second and Cambridge’s fourth after slotting the ball past Vose in a one-on-one situation.
Ireland’s side were then reduced to nine men when Danny Pappoe was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Chadwick as Albion were beaten for the first time in the competition.
ALBION: Doherty; Barry, Dallison, Pappoe, Dallison, Hunt; Deen, Rea (Starkey 45), Harris; Muitt (Vose 64), Stephens (Wiltshire 45), Davis. Subs not used: Barclay, Cole.