- Albion’s under-23s end pre-season with a 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth
- James Tilley struck early for the Seagulls
- Matt Butcher levelled the scores with a free kick
- Anthony Knockaert and Glenn Murray featured for 45 minutes
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s ended their pre-season preparations with a 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth this afternoon, with first-team players Anthony Knockaert and Glenn Murray both completing 45 minutes.
James Tilley gave Albion the lead in the opening stages at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, but Matt Butcher’s second-half free kick drew the Cherries level.
Simon Rusk named both Knockaert and Murray in the starting line-up, and there was also a first Albion appearance for summer signing Ales Mateju, who joined from FC Viktoria Plzen.
Tilley broke the deadlock after just three minutes when he found the top corner from George Cox’s low cross, with Murray playing a key role in the build-up, as his clever back heel found Albion’s onrushing full-back.
Aaron Connolly came close to doubling Albion’s advantage moments later, but the striker’s dipping effort from 20 yards dropped just over the crossbar.
Robert Sanchez produced a fantastic reaction save to protect Albion’s slender lead midway through the first half, when the Spaniard pushed Mikael Ndjoli’s ferocious drive onto the post, before Ollie Harfield rolled the follow-up just wide.
Knockaert showed his desire to get on the ball and make something happen, but the Frenchman could only find the side-netting after gliding past his marker and drilling a low shot just wide.
The Cherries had a fine opportunity shortly before the break, as Harfield’s free kick was deflected into the path of Ndjoli, but Sanchez reacted quickly to smother the striker’s low effort at the back post.
Henrik Bjordal and Steven Alzate replaced Murray and Knockaert at the break, with the Albion pairing collecting 45 minutes in preparation for Saturday’s Premier League opener against Manchester City.
There was little in terms of clear-cut chances at the beginning of the second half, with Dessie Hutchinson unable to produce a shot after Bjordal found space inside the box with a clever Cruyff turn.
The visitors got the reward for their persistence in the 60th minute, when Butcher’s free kick from 25 yards caught Sanchez by surprise and found the bottom corner to level the scores.
Max Sanders then worked space for himself to shoot, after being surrounded by Bournemouth defenders just inside the box, but the midfielder’s curling effort was tipped around the post by Cherries shot-stopper Jordan Holmes.
Albion survived a succession of dangerous chances for the visitors, as Sanchez saved low down from Miwai Dobre, before Ben Hall blocked Jaidon Anthony’s tame half-volley on the line.
After racing into the penalty area, Bjordal had a chance to pull the trigger, but decided to set the ball back for Alzate, whose first-time shot was blocked in front of goal.
The Seagulls pushed for a winning goal in the closing stages, but it ended all square as their attention turns to next Monday’s trip to Norwich City.