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RUSK PRAISES TEAM FOR SECOND-HALF REACTION

14 September 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk.

Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 coach Simon Rusk praised his players for their second-half reaction against West Ham United, as the Seagulls came from behind to win 2-1 at the Amex Stadium.

Viktor Gyokeres and Aaron Connolly fired home to seal all three points and continue Albion’s unbeaten start in the league, and Rusk assessed his team’s performance which improved as the game continued.

He said, “It was a really tough game. West Ham played some great football at times and they’ve got some talented individuals that caused us some problems in the first half.

“Our standards in the first half weren’t where they had been for the last few weeks. Maybe with the international break - we just didn’t start well, we were second best in the battle.

“We lost possession too easily and we couldn’t complain at being 1-0 down at half-time. But credit to the players in the second half, it was a good reaction.

“I thought we were more competitive, and in the last 20-25 minutes we showed our quality and probably could have won it by a couple more goals.

“It was a good win, probably a better win than performance overall, so credit to the players for delivering on that."

It looked as if the points were heading back to east London before Albion’s late comeback, and Rusk highlighted his team’s ability to deal with pressure while taking advantage of their own opportunities.

“We want to impact the game ourselves with what we do on the ball. We’re finding that the quality of player this year is certainly better, both individually and collectively.

“We’re going to have some moments in games where we have to absorb some pressure. I think the centre-halves did really well - Warren O’Hora and Ben Barclay with some good defending.

“We needed to withstand some pressure, and whether that’s good defending or good luck, I’ll have to watch the game back.

“But to come from behind against a good team, win 2-1 and remain unbeaten, there’s lots of positives to take from that.”

Aaron Connolly fired the winning goal, taking his goal tally to five for the season, and Rusk applauded the Irishman for his performance, before challenging his players to continue improving.

“Aaron did great for us tonight and we created some clear chances in the second half. We’ve shown that we’re a hard team to beat, and individually we’ve got players that can score.

“We have to make sure that we continue to try and improve. I said to the players at the end of the game, it’s about how much we want to commit to our standards.

“It’s also about how much they want to improve as both individuals and as a team, and that’s the challenge for the players.

“They want to be first-team players, so they have to work hard to improve their game individually and remain a strong team at the same time."


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