Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk highlighted the impressive team work shown by his players as the key behind their promotion to the Premier League 2 Division 1, following Saturday’s Play-Off Final victory against Aston Villa.
The Seagulls won 2-0 at Villa Park to seal promotion, thanks to goals from Henrik Bjordal and Aaron Connolly, and Rusk was quick to single out the team’s dedication to work for one another, both on and off the pitch.
“What they’ve done well, particularly in this second half of the season, is be willing to work hard for each other, and that’s a key ingredient if you’re going to have a successful career.
“It’s a fantastic achievement from the players. It came down to one game, so obviously there was pressure on them.
“But I’m delighted that they were able to get the win that finished off all their good work throughout the season. I’m really proud of the players and I think they deserve it.”
Albion ended the campaign with 13 clean sheets in all competitions, following another shutout against the Villans, and Rusk praised his team’s defensive work through the season.
“We’ve been scoring lots of goals, but we’ve also been a very hard team to score against - and that’s what a good team is.
“I’m very pleased with the back five, in fact I’m very pleased with the defensive work of the entire team.
“The wingers had a lot of work to do, because Villa have pacy, talented players in those wide areas - but credit to everyone that delivered.
“Games like this can be painful if you don’t get the win. It’s development football, we know that, but part of developing is actually going out and putting your name on a win.”
Saturday’s opponents finished one place above the Seagulls after 22 games of the regular season, but Rusk was delighted with his team’s performance, as they limited the Villans to few chances and secured victory.
“Aston Villa are a very well-organised team that have good individuals and they’re well coached, so we knew it was going to be a tough game.
“I thought Villa made a bright start to the match, but overall we contained them quite well. We brought the things to the table that we’re good at, and that’s why we won the game.”