Albion secured a narrow victory in the Checkatrade Trophy.
- Albion reach the Checkatrade Trophy southern quarter-finals
- Elvis Manu and Richie Towell put the Seagulls in front
- Tyrone Barnett scores a consolation
- Kazenga LuaLua is sent off late on
Brighton & Hove Albion progressed to the Checkatrade Trophy southern quarter-finals with a 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon at the Cherry Red Records Stadium this evening.
The Seagulls led 2-0 at the break through Elvis Manu and Richie Towell, and although Tyrone Barnett pulled a goal back for the hosts, Albion held on for a well-deserved victory.
Simon Rusk included a number of first-team squad players in the starting line-up, as Niki Maenpaa, Rohan Ince, Towell, Kazenga LuaLua and Manu all featured for the Seagulls.
The Dons had the first clear-cut chance of the game as Dominic Poleon’s close-range effort was deflected behind for a corner, before Barnett’s tame header was cleared away from danger.
Albion enjoyed long spells of possession inside the opening half an hour but found it hard to break down their opponents, with Towell shooting wide of the target from 25 yards.
Barnett came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock, but Rob Hunt did enough to make contact with the ball and divert the striker’s header wide of Maenpaa’s right-hand upright.
LuaLua picked up the ball inside Wimbledon’s half and drove towards goal, but the winger failed to hit the target with a powerful effort from long distance.
The Seagulls took the lead after 37 minutes, as Will Collar raced to the byline and crossed low for Manu, who stroked the ball past Wimbledon goalkeeper Joe McDonnell.
Maenpaa pulled off a brilliant save shortly before half-time to deny Poleon, before Albion were awarded a penalty when Ben Hall was tugged down inside the box.Towell confidently stepped up to roll the spot-kick into the bottom corner of the Dons' net.
Rusk was forced into a change soon after the restart, as Jayson Molumby replaced Jesse Starkey after the midfielder pulled up with an injury as he sprinted towards goal.
LuaLua found himself in space 30 yards out and unleashed a fierce effort on goal, but his ambitious effort fizzed inches over the crossbar.
Maenpaa kept Albion’s two-goal advantage intact moments later, as he tipped Alfie Egan’s shot onto the crossbar following a deflection off Ince in front of goal.
But the hosts pulled a goal back in the 68th minute through Barnett, who tapped in at the back post from Tom Elliott’s pass across the face of goal.
Collar then raced forward but his cross was only cleared as far as LuaLua on the edge of the box, but the winger’s first-time effort was deflected narrowly wide of the target.
Albion were reduced to ten men late on when LuaLua was dismissed after referee Charles Breakspear was notified by his linesman about a gesture made towards the home crowd.
Barnett had a late chance to level the scores with a right-footed half-volley from inside the box, but his effort sailed wide, and Albion sealed their progress to the next round.
ALBION: Maenpaa; Collar, Ince, Hall, Hunt; Hutchinson Starkey (Molumby 59), Towell; Bjordal (Ward 74), Manu (Tilley 77), LuaLua.
Subs not used: McGill (GK), Barnett, Tighe, Harper.