Albion's under-23 team secured an impressive victory.
- Albion beat Reading in a behind-closed-doors friendly
- Joe Ward, Jesse Starkey, Vahid Hambo and Reece Meekums all on target
- Jake Stacey and Axel Anderson score for Reading
- Simon Rusk’s side begin their season away at Middlesbrough on 15th August
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23 team beat Reading 4-2 in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
Goals from Joe Ward, Jesse Starkey, Vahid Hambo and Reece Meekums secured victory for Simon Rusk’s side, in an entertaining match.
The game began with chances for both sides, as Starkey found Will Collar at the far post, but Royals keeper John Bond tipped away the latter’s effort.
Seagulls goalkeeper Robert Sanchez had to be alert to keep out Shane Griffin’s cross, while at the other end, Jonah Ayunga saw his effort saved after Sam Adekugbe’s cross.
Griffin provided the assist for Reading to take the lead in the 34th minute, as his cross caused havoc in the Albion defence and Jake Stacey fired the Royals in front.
But their lead lasted barely a minute, as Adekugbe’s cross was met by Ward, and his deflected strike beat Bond to make it one a piece.
Ward then linked up well with Ayunga to set up a chance for Starkey, but his curling effort went wide of the right-hand post.
Starkey tested Bond with another shot from distance which Bond tipped behind for a corner.
Despite Brighton’s pressure, the visitors re-took the lead three minutes after the re-start, as Axel Anderson’s low strike beat Sanchez and nestled in the far corner.
Ward then made a surging run down the right-hand side, but Connor Tighe saw his header saved after Ayunga failed to make a decent connection with the cross.
Reading still carried a threat going forward, as goalscorer Stacey’s cross went right across the face of goal.
Rusk’s side had a golden opportunity to make it 3-2 after Ward made another driving run forwards, but shot straight at Bond with Ayunga waiting to tap the ball home.
Two substitutes combined to give Albion the lead for the first time in the game, after Jack Harper found Hambo and the Finn coolly slotted the ball home from close range in the 76th minute.
The victory was sealed with one minute left on the clock thanks to Meekums, who ended a lovely move involving Hambo and Harper by finishing well into the bottom corner.
ALBION: Sanchez; Hornby-Forbes (Hutchinson 71), Hall, Barclay, Adekugbe; Ward, Collar, Molumby; Ayunga (Harper 63), Starkey (Hambo 63), Tighe (Meekums 76).
SUBS NOT USED: Vose (GK), Cox, Barnett.