ASTON VILLA 0
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-21s began 2015 on a winning note as goals from Jimmy Muitt and Charlie Harris secured a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.
Both strikes came either side of half-time to complete an accomplished victory for Simon Ireland's side.
Albion started the game brightly and had an opportunity to break the deadlock inside the opening 10 minutes when Jason Davis latched onto a superb ball from the left, but fired just over the crossbar.
Harris started the game in a lively fashion and after some neat footwork, his strike was saved by Villa keeper Craig Hill.
He was involved in the thick of the action again just a minute later as his corner was met by Robin Deen, whose glancing header drifted just past the post.
Harris then found Glen Rea inside the box with another dangerous delivery only for Hill to save the Albion skipper’s header.
Villa rarely threatened the Albion goal in the opening 45 minutes with their only chance of note falling to Henry Cowans, whose free-kick went straight through the box before falling just wide of Christian Walton’s near post.
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The Seagulls were rewarded for their fine first-half performance when Muitt broke the deadlock nine minutes before the interval.
Nzuzi Toko raced down the right-hand side and played in a perfectly-weighted cross for the striker to head past Hill.
Villa could have levelled in first-half stoppage time as a rasping effort from Jerell Sellars forced a fine fingertip save from Walton.
The Seagulls made the perfect start to the second half as Harris doubled the advantage with a superb solo effort after 55 minutes.
The midfielder waltzed his way through the Villa defence and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed drive past Hill to increase Albion’s grip on the game.
It could have been three just moments later when Deen audaciously flicked the ball across the box but did not find a blue-and-white-striped shirt and Villa cleared their lines.
The visitors made greater in-roads with more possession during the final 20 minutes, but Courtney Wildin’s off-target strike from distance was their only meaningful chance as the Seagulls secured an impressive win.
ALBION: Walton (GK); Hunt, Dallison, Pappoe, Barnett; Toko, Rea, Harris (Starkey 76); Davis (Maguire-Drew 65), Deen, Muitt. Subs not used: Doherty (GK), Barclay, Wiltshire.