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Match Reports

U23 REPORT: ALBION 2 CRAWLEY TOWN 1

9 May 2018

Stuart Butcher
Albion under-23 captain Dessie Hutchinson lifts the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup at the Amex Stadium.
  • Albion win Parafix Sussex Senior Cup after late comeback
  • Josh Kerr scores the winning goal for the Seagulls
  • James Tilley nets the equaliser in the closing stages
  • Crawley Town take lead through Kerr's own goal


Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s produced a stunning late comeback to beat Crawley Town in the Parafix Sussex Senior cup final for the second year in a row, as they won 2-1 at the Amex Stadium.

Crawley looked to have won the game when Josh Kerr turned a cross into his own net midway through the second half, but Tilley equalised in the 82nd minute before Kerr headed the winner with six minutes remaining.

Simon Rusk made wholesale changes to the side that defeated Middlesbrough 3-0 last time out, with an eye on Albion’s Premier League 2 Division 2 Play-Off Final with Aston Villa on Saturday.

Crawley started the game well, controlling the ball in the midfield and around the defence, but Harry Kewell's team couldn’t muster any clear-cut chances on Albion's goal.

The Seagulls had their first opportunity of the game in the 11th minute when Ryan Longman produced an enticing cross into the box, however Jonah Ayunga couldn’t quite reach the winger's delivery.

Albion found themselves growing into the game and moments later Ayunga had another chance, this time heading wide after David Ajiboye clipped a smart ball into the penalty area.  

Moussa Sanoh was heavily involved in Crawley’s next attack, showing pace and skill before his cross was expertly caught by Billy Collings.

It was an unconventional long ball that produced the game’s next chance, when Ayunga found himself beating the offside trap to square the ball to an onrushing Tilley, who missed the ball, before it fell to Alex Cochrane, who fired over.

In the 31st minute, Crawley midfielder Josh Payne came closest to breaking the deadlock when his audacious 25-yard volley flew just past Collings’ post.

The game needed a goal and just before the hour mark, Longman barged his way through the Crawley defence and into the box, but he could only fire his fierce effort just over the bar.

Longman looked a lively outlet for the Seagulls down the left and nearly laid on the opening goal when his cross was headed just over by Kerr.

Tilley then began to show his pace when he turned Cedric Evina before having his shot tipped over the bar by Yusuf Mersin.

The 20-year-old then came agonisingly close to putting his team in front, but his long-range effort cannoned back off the bar.

The Seagulls were left to rue this chance as Crawley, in their next attack, opened the scoring.

Enzio Boldewijn got down the right before crossing and seeing the ball turned into the net by Kerr - and Crawley nearly put the game to bed 15 minutes before the end, as Lewis Young's shot sailed just wide of the target.

But with eight minutes to go, Rusk’s side got their reward when Tilley pounced on a defensive error in the box before firing home. Tilley then had the chance moments later to put Albion ahead from the penalty spot after Mersin brought down Stefan Ljubacic.

Tilley saw his effort saved and scrambled for a corner, only for Cochrane to whip the ball into Kerr, who headed into the top corner unmarked to ensure Albion held onto the trophy and completed a brilliant comeback.

ALBION: Collings; O’Sullivan, O’Hora, Kerr; Ajboye (Lubacic 77), Meekums, Cochrane, Hutchinson; Longman, Tilley, Ayunga (Radulovic 51)

Subs not used: Vose (GK), Tutt, Weaire

Attendance: 1503


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