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RUSK: CLEAN SHEET EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT

24 April 2018

Paul Hazlewood

Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk praised his team’s solid defensive display against Wolverhampton Wanderers last night, as five goals handed the Seagulls another impressive victory on the road.

Aaron Connolly’s hat-trick and goals from Viktor Gyokeres and Danny Mandroiu sealed a 5-0 win for Rusk’s side at Molineux, but the Albion coach was quick to highlight his team’s refusal to concede.

He said, “As much as we’re scoring goals at the minute, we want to make sure that we’re getting our clean sheets as well.

“We weren't at our best in the first half. Credit to Wolves, they’ve got some talented players and it was a tight game in the opening period.

“At half-time we had to address one or two things, because we knew we had more in our locker, both in and out of possession.

“But I thought some of our football in the second half, and our ruthlessness in the final third of the pitch, was really impressive.”

It was a fourth successive league victory away from home for the Seagulls, also without conceding a single goal, and Rusk commented further on Albion’s resolute performance.

“I thought the back four and Robert [Sanchez], when the game was tight, had to do some really good defending.

“There were some good performances from the back four in the first half - Tom Dallison did well for us and Warren O’Hora made his under-23 debut.

“The forwards are scoring the goals, but we do work hard on defending from the front and credit to the back four in the first half.”

The Seagulls also struck five goals for the third game in a row, and Rusk spoke about the confidence his players are currently showing in their performances, ahead of the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-offs.

“What we have at the minute is a lot of lads that are high on confidence. With that you’re often thinking about the next goal. They believe they can score goals.

“It would be wrong to hold the boys back from that point of view, but in the same token, we still need that element of professionalism and game management about us.”

Albion will now play Middlesbrough in the play-off semi-finals, and Rusk believes the team must move quickly to focus on their next game, after recording a string of impressive results to end the regular season.

“It’s about momentum, but it’s also about not being complacent. The play-off games are one-off games, and in the most healthy way possible, the last few games become irrelevant now.

“We have to tackle what’s in front of us, not the games that are behind us.

“There’s a quick turnaround, but as a footballer, your next game is always your biggest one. We need to quickly prepare for Middlesbrough now - whenever that is.”


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