- Albion secure two points following penalty shootout win
- Goals from James Tilley and Danny Mandroiu level the game
- Gino Van Kessel scores a brace to put Oxford 2-0 up
- Robert Sanchez saves from Joe Rothwell in 5-4 penalty triumph
A Brighton & Hove Albion under-21 side came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Oxford United in the Checkatrade Trophy, before winning the following penalty shootout 5-4 for a bonus point.
After Gino Van Kessel scored two-first half goals at the Kassam Stadium, the Seagulls hit back through James Tilley and Danny Mandroiu, and then secured another point by dispatching all five of their penalties.
Simon Rusk made two changes to the team that beat Sunderland 5-0 on Friday evening, as under-18 full-back Hamish Morrison and Mandroiu came into the side.
Albion enjoyed a large share of the possession inside the opening stages of the game, with Mandroiu almost finding Steven Alzate with a low cross, before the Irishman shot over from George Cox’s fine cross.
Van Kessel almost put the hosts in front with a wonderful strike from the corner of Albion’s penalty area, but the striker’s powerful effort hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced just in front of the goal line.
But the striker wasn’t to be denied in the 21st minute, as he turned inside the box and drilled a low shot past Robert Sanchez into the bottom corner to put the hosts in front.
Seven minutes later, Albion’s task became even more difficult as Van Kessel notched his second of the game, finishing past Sanchez from a tight angle after Xemi Fernandez had found the forward with a neat through-ball.
Despite going two goals behind, Albion continued with their expansive style of football and got their reward on 36 minutes, when Tilley found the bottom corner with a brilliant effort from 25 yards, following a tidy one-two with Mandroiu.
Sanchez made an important save just before the break to deny Alex Mowatt, as the Oxford midfielder’s fierce drive from inside the box was parried away from goal by Albion’s shot-stopper.
After a quiet opening to the second half, Albion restored parity to the scoreline thanks to Mandroiu’s low-driven effort into the bottom corner from 25 yards - a deserved reward for the Seagulls’ positive reaction.
George Cox then made a vital clearance off the line to prevent Ryan Ledson’s header creeping in at the front post, before Alzate’s shot from close range was blocked in front of goal, after good work from Soufyan Ahannach out wide.
The U’s almost stole the three points in the closing stages, as Joe Rothwell’s low strike from a tight angle deflected onto the post, but the Seagulls held on to take the game to penalties.
Cox, Tilley, Max Sanders, Mandroiu and Alzate all converted their penalties, and Sanchez made the all important penalty save from Rothwell to earn Albion a bonus point, as they won the shootout 5-4.