- Albion open Checkatrade Trophy account with defeat to MK Dons
- Gboly Ariyibi breaks the deadlock for the hosts
- Aaron Tshibola adds with a second-half penalty
- James Tilley hits the post with a 25-yard free-kick late on
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-21s were beaten 2-0 in their opening Checkatrade Trophy fixture this evening, as MK Dons claimed all three points at Stadium MK.
Simon Rusk’s young team were undone by goals either side of half time, as Gboly Ariyibi slotted home from close range, before Aaron Tshibola’s penalty rounded off a comfortable win for Albion’s League One opponents.
The Seagulls made an encouraging start to the game and enjoyed a fair share of possession inside the opening stages, with Aaron Connolly firing his team’s first effort at goal over the crossbar from long range.
Dons winger Ariyibi then replied with a ferocious effort from 25 yards, but his ambitious strike sailed high and wide of Robert Sanchez’s goal.
The Albion shot-stopper found himself stranded off his line after 23 minutes, and with Brandon Thomas-Asante looping a shot over the Spaniard, Josh Kerr raced back to brilliantly head off the line.
But as the hosts continued to apply pressure, they got their reward in the 32nd minute, when Brandon Thomas-Asante pounced on defensive error and slotted into an empty net to give his team the lead.
Max Sanders picked George Cox’s surging run down the left wing, and after finding Connolly at the back post, the forward’s first-time header sailed straight into the hands of Dons goalkeeper Wieger Sietsma.
Ariyibi went in search of his second goal shortly before the break, but the winger’s low-driven effort was comfortably saved by Sanchez.
James Tilley had Albion’s opening effort after the break, as he rose to meet Rian O’Sullivan’s pin-point cross to the back post, but the Albion winger glanced his header wide of the target.
Kerr then played a risky pass back to Sanchez just short of the hour mark, and after doing his best to control the ball inside the six-yard box, the Spaniard raced off his line to clear the danger with a perfectly-timed sliding challenge.
Sam Nombe came close to extending his team’s narrow lead when he crashed a header against the crossbar from a matter of yards, before Thomas Asante’s deflected effort was stopped low down by Sanchez.
The League one side continued to threaten in the final third and were awarded a penalty when Sanchez brought down Thomas-Asante inside the box, and Tshibola stepped up to convert with confidence to make it 2-0.
Tilley almost pulled a goal back for Albion in the closing stages, as his 25-yard free-kick curled over the wall and cannoned back off the post, but MK Dons held onto their clean sheet and took all three points.