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Club News


14 November 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Simon Rusk on the touchline at Stadium MK.

Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk was left weighing up the pros and cons as his side were squeezed out of the Checkatrade Trophy last night, despite an impressive 3-2 win at promotion-chasing League Two side MK Dons.

Aaron Connolly fired a hat-trick as Albion’s youngsters battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to secure the win on the night, but they couldn’t quite force a fourth goal, which would have taken them above League One Peterborough United in the group and into the next round.  

Rusk said, “It was both a frustrating night and a pleasing night. Now, it’s about weighing up the positives and negatives, and trying to put certain things right.

“The goals we conceded were poor and I was disappointed with that, but overall some of our play was excellent and we were worthy winners in the end.”

Connolly took his season tally to 15 with his three-goal haul, but Rusk still believes there is more to come from the young Irishman.

He added, “He’s got that finishing instinct, and he is in a confident place and has that radar for the back of the net at the moment.

"But I am always reminding players that form comes and goes. So we are working with Aaron, focusing on all aspects of his game and his ability to be a team player.”

Rusk’s charges faced a tough trio of games - away to Luton Town, Peterborough and MK Dons - but bagged five points against three sides each enjoying good seasons in their respective EFL divisions.

“They have learned that League One and League Two are tough divisions, with a lot of good players, a lot of experience and a lot of football nous. They have been great games for us, and it was a really hard group.

“We were a young side for the Luton game, but we dug in and albeit against the run of play could have nicked a point on the night.

“We were excellent in the Peterborough game and showed great resilience and character to come back to 2-2, and against MK Dons we have come away from home and beat an experienced side 3-2.

“There are loads of positives for the players to take from all three games, both individually and as a team.”

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