- Albion seal impressive 2-0 away win over Blackburn Rovers
- Viktor Gyokeres and James Tilley score the goals
- The Seagulls make it six straight victories and four successive clean sheets
- Simon Rusk’s team move into the play-off positions
Brighton & Hove Albion produced a stunning performance to record their sixth consecutive victory against the Premier League 2 Division 2 league leaders, as they ran out 2-0 winners at the Leyland County Ground.
An audacious strike from Viktor Gyokeres gave the Seagulls an early lead, before James Tilley doubled his team’s advantage from close range, which provided the platform for a commanding display in Lancashire.
Simon Rusk’s side also made it four consecutive clean sheets, a hat-trick of league victories and moved into the play-off positions on a positive evening against David Dunn’s high-flying team.
Rusk made two changes to the side that beat Aston Villa last time out, with Gyokeres and Aaron Connolly coming into the side for Alex Cochrane and Max Sanders.
Connolly almost found himself through on goal when Steven Alzate threaded a pass into the striker’s feet early on, but the Irishman’s first touch got away from him and Rovers goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler came to sweep up.
The hosts recorded their first effort of the game when Willem Tomlinson drilled towards goal from 25 yards - and with the midfielder’s strike heading towards the far corner, Robert Sanchez leaped across his goal to make a fine stop.
Then came the game’s first moment of real quality, and it was Gyokeres who took hold of the ball and whipped a majestic effort into the top corner from 25 yards to give Albion the lead on 15 minutes.
Things got even better for Rusk’s young side seven minutes later - Tilley found himself on the end of Henrik Bjordal’s excellent cross, and the Albion winger fired home from close range to double his team’s advantage.
Joe Nuttall attempted to halve the deficit soon afterwards, when the ball fell kindly for the striker inside Albion’s penalty area, but his ferocious strike was blocked by Tom Dallison, who dived in front of the shot.
Tomlinson and Daniel Butterworth then wasted opportunities for the Lancashire side, before Tilley’s dangerous ball across the face of goal went untouched on the stroke of half-time.
Rovers defender Joe Grayson tested Sanchez at the beginning of the second period, as he curled a free-kick at goal from 25 yards, before Nuttall fluffed his lines to roll just wide of the target from close range.
Tilley came agonisingly close to securing a brace just after the hour mark, but the 19-year-old’s powerful shot from Jordan Davies’s square pass was brilliantly diverted over the crossbar by Leutwiler.
Owen Moore swapped his defensive duties for a rare strike at goal from long distance, but Leutwiler pushed his effort wide of the target and then watched Tilley blaze wide after being played in by Gyokeres.
Play was then paused after Sanchez was involved in a collision inside the penalty area, and after receiving treatment, the Spaniard left the field of play and was replaced by Billy Collings for the final stages.
The Seagulls switched to five at the back for the remaining minutes, with Josh Kerr slotting in alongside Moore and Tom Dallison, as Rusk looked to sure things up and see out the game for a deserved victory.
The hosts pushed for a late consolation but were unable to break down Albion’s stubborn defence, and the referee blew the full-time whistle to make Rusk’s side only the second team to beat Rovers in the league this season.
ALBION: Sanchez (Collings 81); Forbes, Moore, Dallison, Cox; Tilley (Kerr 87), J.Davies, Alzate, Bjordal; Gyokeres, Connolly.
Subs not used: Mateju, Cochrane, Cashman.