- Solly March scores 77th minute winner
- Six first-teamers named in the starting line-up
- Albion under-21s record their first win of the season
- Simon Rusk’s side next face Blackburn on Monday 28th September
Solly March’s late goal against Stoke City earned Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-21s their first win of the season.
March’s strike was enough to claim all three points against the Potters in a cagey 1-0 win at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
Under-21 coach Simon Rusk named a very strong line-up for the match, with a total of six first-team players in the squad.
Finnish international goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa started between the sticks, while Danny Holla, Rohan Ince, Solly March, Jake Forster-Caskey and Elvis Manu were also included.
In the swirling wind and rain, neither team managed to create any clear-cut opportunities during the first ten minutes.
Forster-Caskey carved out Albion’s first opportunity when his free-kick was cleared at the near post.
The Potters came close to breaking the deadlock moments later, as Sergio Molina’s free-kick was headed towards goal and forced a fine one-handed stop from Maenpaa.
Dylan Barnett made a driving run down the left-hand side and the ball fell to Forster-Caskey inside the box, but he lost his footing and Stoke were able to clear the danger.
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Forster-Caskey was involved in the thick of the action again when he fed in Rob Hunt down the right-hand side; and the latter’s cross went straight across the face of goal without finding an Albion shirt.
Winger Joe Ward was next to try his luck for the Seagulls after the interval, as he cut inside from the left flank and sent a looping drive over the crossbar.
The summer signing from Chelmsford then delivered a dangerous ball into the box that was narrowly missed by three oncoming Albion players.
Stoke still carried a threat going forward and Maenpaa showed his quality with another fine save to keep out a close-range strike.
March scored the decisive goal of the game 13 minutes from time when he fired home from close range, after an excellent delivery by substitute Jesse Starkey.
The Seagulls pressed forward again in a bid to kill off the game and Daniel Akindayini laid the ball off for Starkey, but the latter’s cross drifted wide of the far post.
The visitors did not leave without creating a couple of nervy moments for the Albion defence, as Dominic Telford’s diving header at the far post went wide, before Maenpaa produced another tremendous save in stoppage time to deny Stoke a point.
ALBION: Maenpaa; Hunt, Barclay, Dallison, Barnett; Ward (Starkey 61), Holla. Ince, March; Forster-Caskey; Manu (Akindayini 45).
SUBS NOT USED: Smith (GK), White, Tilley,