NIKE ACADEMY 2
Andrew Crofts made his first Brighton & Hove Albion appearance in over nine months, after playing for the under-21s in their 2-1 defeat to the Nike Academy.
The Welsh international produced a solid display in the heart of Albion’s midfield, as the Seagulls were narrowly beaten in an entertaining contest at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
The game ebbed and flowed from the beginning with chances for both sides; Owen Moore creating the first opening for Albion when he played in Connor Tighe and the latter forced a save from Aleks Gogic, although the linesman had his flag raised.
Benjamin Da Silva then showed some neat footwork to cut inside the Albion defence, only to see his shot rise over the crossbar.
Ben Barclay was next to come close for Simon Rusk’s side, but he headed a corner wide at the far post.
The Nike Academy continued to look threatening on the counter-attack and Seagulls shot-stopper Josh Smith had to be alert to push away Jurien Reinita’s goal-bound strike.
Jordan Maguire-Drew was a constant threat for Albion down the left-hand side and saw his shot saved by Gogic after weaving inside the box.
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The deadlock was eventually broken seven minutes after the restart when half-time substitute Reece Meekums was played through one-on-one with Gogic and the 16-year-old kept his composure to fire the ball home.
The visitors still carried a threat going forward and almost levelled the scores through Sean Clare, but his free-kick went over the bar.
Meekums continuously harried the Nike defence in the second half and could have scored again after being played through by Jesse Starkey, but this time he shot over the bar.
Albion were left to rue the missed opportunity, after Bilal Sayoud levelled the scores with a low, driven strike past Smith in the 70th minute.
The visitors then grabbed a second decisive goal just two minutes later through Dominic McGiveron’s close-range strike, which came just seconds after Meekums had a golden chance to give Albion the lead.
George Cox almost claimed a draw for Rusk’s side late on as he showed good pace down the left-hand side, but his curling shot went narrowly past the left-hand post.
ALBION: Smith (GK) Moore (Molumby 45), Barclay (Ajiboye 61), Cadman (Cox 45), Barnett; Tighe, Harris (Mandroiu 61), Crofts (Meekums 45) Starkey; Akindayini (Hunt 45), Maguire-Drew (Davies 84). Subs not used: Doherty (GK), Garcia, O’Sullivan.