Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk highlighted the game management his team showed at 2-0 down against Peterborough United, as they recovered to level the game and win the penalty shootout for an extra point last night at the ABAX Stadium.
The Seagulls got off the mark in the Checkatrade Trophy against their League One opponents thanks to goals from Aaron Connolly and Jordan Davies, and Rusk applauded his players for showing their quality when it mattered.
He said, “Credit to the players, they showed a lot of character. Peterborough had a lot of experience on the pitch and managed to get the second goal just after half-time, which we were disappointed with.
“We held on and scored two goals that had lots of quality about them. Overall, we didn’t deserve to lose the game. It was a good contest for us and I’m delighted with the character shown by the players.
“I knew it was going to be an important five or ten minutes after the second goal, because in games like this you don’t have the experience on the pitch that would perhaps know how to manage that situation in a first-team environment.
“You just have to hang in there and get a moment of quality — it’s a great goal from Aaron Connolly that gets us back in the game. The players deserve credit for the way they managed the game at 2-0.”
Albion are enjoying their third straight season in the competition, and Rusk stressed how much he values his players being tested against EFL opposition.
“From my point of view it’s about developing the players. Coming in against a League One side who are flying at the moment, it’s brilliant to get our players in that environment.
“We enjoy the tournament and the penalty shootout offers something different for the fans. There were a lot of kids at the game and I’m sure they would have enjoyed that aspect of it.
“From our point of view, it’s another situation where our players are put under pressure. They’ve got to cope with that pressure and deliver a bit of quality.
“We’re delighted with what we got out of the game and the players will have learned a lot from playing against a good Peterborough team.”
The Seagulls scored all five of their penalties to secure an additional point, which moved them level on points with Peterborough and MK Dons, and Rusk assessed his team’s chances heading into their final group fixture.
“That’s the beauty of the extra point you get from the penalty shootout. It’s levelled everything out.
“Going into this tournament as a younger team, we just want to be in it going into the last game and we’ve managed to get to that situation.
"We’re delighted from that point of view and it will be an interesting last day.”