Albion's under-23s secured all three points against West Ham.
Connolly 7, 74
WEST HAM 0
- Albion secure an impressive 3-0 win over the Hammers
- Aaron Connolly bags a brace on debut for under-23s
- Declan Rice’s own goal doubles the lead
- Liam Rosenior completes 60 minutes
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s returned to winning ways with a convincing 3-0 victory over West Ham United at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre this evening.
Under-18s striker Aaron Connolly scored a brace on his debut for the under-23 side, either side of Declan Rice’s own goal, as the Seagulls secured all three points against the Hammers.
Simon Rusk included first-team defender Liam Rosenior in the starting line-up after making his return at Coventry City last week, and also called upon Connolly to lead the line.
The visitors had the game’s first opportunity through Antonio Martinez, but the striker’s low shot after cutting inside was comfortably dealt with by Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
The Seagulls took the lead after just seven minutes when Connolly latched onto Tom Dallison’s lofted pass forward, and the young striker dispatched into the bottom corner with ease.
Albion almost doubled their lead in fortuitous fashion as George Cox’s cross from the left wing was sliced narrowly wide of the target by a West Ham defender.
Martinez then tried his luck again from long distance, but the Spaniard’s tame effort ended up in the hands of Sanchez after taking a deflection en route.
Sanchez then did exceptionally well to deny Moses Makasi at the back post, following the full-back’s fierce effort from a tight angle.
Ben White then came to the rescue of Albion’s shot-stopper as he blocked Ashley Fletcher’s powerful shot when the goal was gaping, after Sanchez mis-hit his attempted clearance.
Danny Mandroiu found himself in space just inside West Ham’s penalty area, but the Irishman’s goal-bound effort was blocked on the stroke of half-time.
Tom Dallison headed wide of the target from Mandroiu’s corner after the break, before Henrik Bjordal’s dangerous cross from the right wing was cleared from danger.
Rusk reshuffled his pack following the second goal, as Jesse Starkey and Jordan Davies came on to freshen things up, with Liam Rosenior going off after completing 60 minutes on his second game back.
Davies had an immediate impact after coming on to make his debut for the club, as he set the ball back for Connolly, and the striker bent his effort into the far corner to secure his brace, and Albion’s third, on 74 minutes.
Dallison was then denied by West Ham goalkeeper Nathan Trott, who gathered the defender’s downward header at the back post, before Marcus Browne volleyed narrowly wide of the target at the other end.
The Hammers pressed for a late consolation goal but couldn’t break down Albion’s solid defence, as they sealed another clean sheet and maximum points.
ALBION: Sanchez; Rosenior (J Davies 60), Dallison, White (Starkey 70), Cox; Hutchinson, Barclay; Tilley (Barnett 53), Mandroiu, Bjordal; Connolly.
SUBS NOT USED: Vose (GK), Hall.