- Albion open the season with victory at Norwich City
- Michee Efete breaks the deadlock for the hosts
- Dessie Hutchinson levels after the break
- James Tilley nets the winner with a fantastic free-kick
Brighton & Hove Albion opened their Premier League 2 Division 2 account with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Norwich City.
After Michee Efete emphatically gave the hosts the lead in the first half, Dessie Hutchinson drew Albion level soon after the break, before James Tilley scored the winning goal with a wonderful free-kick.
Simon Rusk gave a league debut to summer signing from Celtic, Josh Kerr, and handed Aaron Connolly the role of leading the line for the Seagulls, after making the transition from the under-18s.
Albion’s first opportunity came inside the opening minute, but after receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area, Max Sanders took aim and fired over the crossbar.
George Cox then won a corner for the Seagulls after causing trouble down the left wing, but Hutchinson’s set-piece delivery was headed over by Ben Hall, who stretched to meet the ball.
Rusk’s team held their shape well and restricted the hosts to minimal chances, with Tilley next to try his luck as he cut inside and fired wide from 25 yards.
But the Canaries broke the deadlock with their first notable effort on goal, as central defender Efete beat Robert Sanchez with a stunning scissor-kick from Glenn Middleton’s corner.
Aaron Connolly came close to levelling soon after, but the Irishman’s clever hooked effort looped just over from close range.
Sanchez then produced a brilliant save at full stretch to deny Todd Cantwell, diving to his left to catch the Norwich striker’s curling, goalbound effort.
Albion made a confident start to the second half and got their reward in the 48th minute when Hutchinson tapped home from close range after Tilley’s cross was squared across goal by Henrik Bjordal.
Cantwell looked set to put his team back in front on the hour mark, but the forward sliced his effort wide of the target after surging into the centre of Albion’s penalty area.
Hutchinson looked to turn provider when he cut back onto his right foot and delivered a dangerous cross into the six-yard box, but the midfielder’s ball went untouched as it zipped across the face of goal.
But after winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, the Seagulls took the lead in the 72nd minute thanks to an individual moment of brilliance from Tilley, who stepped up and bent a sublime effort into the top corner from 25 yards.
After completing the second-half turnaround, Rusk’s team looked well organised all over the pitch and restricted their opponents to few chances in the closing stages.
Indeed, Albion held on to their narrow lead as the referee blew the full-time whistle, which secured an opening day victory after a well-drilled performance in Norfolk.