- Albion claim their third league win of the season
- Aaron Connolly fires the winning goal after coming on
- Jan Bednarek receives a red card early on
- The Seagulls move level on points with Southampton
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s returned to winning ways in the Premier League 2 Division 2, as they overcame ten-man Southampton 1-0 at the Staplewood Training Ground tonight.
After a frustrating first half, which saw Saints defender Jan Bednarek sent off inside the opening quarter of an hour, substitute Aaron Connolly produced the goods with a fine finish to seal all three points for the Seagulls.
Simon Rusk included four first-team players in the line-up, with Niki Maenpaa, Uwe Huenemeier, Connor Goldson and Beram Kayal all featuring, while Jayson Molumby returned to captain the side.
It was a quiet start to the game from both sides, with neither able to break down their opponents, as Henrik Bjordal’s dangerous low delivery fizzed across the penalty area to no avail.
The game took a big swing in Albion’s favour after just 14 minutes, when referee Richard Hulme brandished a straight red card to Bednarek for a late challenge on Soufyan Ahannach.
Rusk’s team enjoyed plenty of possession after the surprising dismissal of Bednarek, with Bjordal having a shot deflected just wide, before Goldson scooped an effort over the crossbar.
The hosts struggled to keep hold of the ball after losing Bednarek early on, and it continued to be Albion that caused the problems, but Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy saved well from James Tilley’s well-struck free-kick.
Shortly before the half-time whistle, Maenpaa came to the rescue of his team-mate Goldson, after he lost possession out wide, but the Albion shot-stopper produced a fine save from Sam McQueen’s stinging effort.
Connolly was introduced for the second half, with Steven Alzate making way, and it didn't take the Irishman long to stamp his mark on the game, as he gave the Seagulls the lead after 56 minutes.
The ball dropped to Connolly inside the penalty area, and after composing himself for a shot on goal, his beautifully-struck half-volley sailed into the top corner, giving McCarthy no chance in the Southampton goal.
After also coming off the bench, Max Sanders went in search of a second goal for Albion, but the midfielder lifted his first-time effort over the crossbar after Ales Mateju’s cross was only half cleared.
The Czech full-back then went close to getting on the scoresheet himself, but after Ahannach’s corner was flicked on, Mateju’s connection from a matter of yards looped up and just over the crossbar.
With just a couple of minutes on the clock remaining, George Cox made a vital clearance from a Southampton cross, before McQueen’s follow-up effort sailed over the crossbar from close range.
The hosts piled on the pressure in stoppage time, but Albion defended well to keep a clean sheet and move level on points with Southampton in the Premier League 2 Division 2.
ALBION: Maenpaa; Mateju, Goldson, Huenemeier, Cox; Tilley, Molumby, Kayal, Ahannach; Bjordal (Sanders 61), Alzate (Connolly HT).
Subs not used: Collings (GK), Dallison, Collar.