The Albion coach praised his team after winning the trophy.
Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s’ coach Simon Rusk applauded his team for overcoming an experienced Crawley Town side in last night’s Parafix Sussex Senior Cup Final, as the Seagulls sealed a 3-0 victory after extra time.
Goals from James Tilley, Richie Towell and Joe Ward wrapped things up after the game finished goalless after 90 minutes, and Rusk was proud of the way his players performed against League Two opposition.
He said, “It was tough for us, we’ve got a young side and Crawley have done well this year. They’ve got some experience on the pitch and some younger players as well.
“The balance of the game was always going to be a tight one, but in the end I have to be pleased and proud at how the players conducted themselves through the 90 minutes and extra time.
“We stuck at it and eventually got the win. It’s a couple of quick goals but it’s a tight game that could have gone either way, especially against experienced players.
“You’ve got the likes of [Matt] Harrold on the pitch. The ball comes into the box and our centre-halves had to be aware of that aerial threat. So overall, I’m delighted with the win.”
Rusk was pleased with how his team matched the Reds, with and without the ball, and felt that his side's free-flowing style of play reaped dividends on the night.
“When you’re playing a senior team, we know that physicality can be an area which can have an influence.
“But we put a lot of our priorities on moving the ball quickly and making sure the game was technical, rather than a physical battle.
“Of course there’s going to be a physical element, with set pieces and balls coming into the box, and that’s the area of the game that our academy players have got to step up to.
“But overall, they did that very well tonight. It was a tough game, but we deserved the win.”
Albion’s cup victory was the last game of the season for Rusk’s side, and with the club’s first team playing in the Premier League next campaign, the Seagulls boss challenged his players to embrace the opportunity in front of them.
“I’m sure that as a club we’re always evolving, looking to progress, and hopefully if we stay in the Premier League over the next couple of seasons, I’m sure the club will evolve in all different areas.
“How we would judge success as an academy, is how many players get into our first team. It’s a very big task ahead, because Chris [Hughton] and the recruitment side of the club have recruited well.
“But that’s the challenge we want. You want the challenge of getting into a Premier League squad. It’s tough, but the players have got to push themselves to achieve that success.
“Anything worth having is tough, it’s as simple as that. They’ve got the challenge and they’ll need to embrace it.”