- Albion begin pre-season with a 5-2 win
- Dunk, Murray and Locadia on scoresheet in first half
- Trossard and Andone then on target after the break
- The Seagulls next face Crawley Town on Friday 19th July
The Graham Potter era at Brighton & Hove Albion began just as some supporters may have predicted, based on the new head coach’s footballing CV and his exploits at Ostersunds and Swansea City.
The small band of noisy Albion supporters would certainly have been encouraged as they saw two separate elevens show a real attacking intent throughout; enjoyed a game with plenty of goals; and witnessed impressive displays from two of Albion’s under-23 squad.
Goals from Lewis Dunk, Glenn Murray, Jurgen Locadia, debutant Leandro Trossard and Florin Andone gave Potter a 5-2 debut win over FC Liefering, at the Sportzplatz in the picturesque town of Bischofschofen, set in the Austrian Alps, less than an hour’s drive from Salzburg.
In the second half fans also got their first glimpse of new arrivals Trossard and Matt Clarke, signed from Genk and Portsmouth respectively; while youngsters Steven Alzate and Max Sanders, two of six under-23 players who’ve been with the squad in Austria, didn’t look out of place.
Albion took the lead in the 11th minute. Pascal Gross’s dangerous ball into the box picked out Dunk, and the skipper’s looping header was perfectly placed, giving keeper Daniel Antosch no chance. The same pair almost created a carbon copy five minutes later, this time from a corner, but Antosch was on-hand to save.
Albion had looked lively in the opening 20 minutes with Solly March a constant threat on the right wing, Locadia a menace on the left, and Alzate calm and composed in a midfield three, with Gross and Dale Stephens; while Murray went close to a second as central defender Dan Burn turned left winger to deliver an inviting cross into the six-yard box.
So it was somewhat fortunate and certainly against the run of play that Liefering levelled the scores from a set play. A free kick from Jungmin Kim out on the right and Sebastian Aigner, jumping with Dunk, connected with the ball to head past David Button.
Buoyed by their goal, ten minutes later the young Liefering side were ahead, as Junior Adamu took advantage of a touch of hesitancy in the Albion defence and curled a brilliant shot past Button into the top corner.
Albion weren’t behind for long and got back on terms within less than minute, and it was that man Murray, thanks to a wonderful piece of skill by Locadia. The former PSV man’s clever back heel left Liefering on the back foot and put Murray through to finish well at the near post.
Potter will no doubt have been well aware of Murray’s clinical abilities in front of goal, long before his arrival at the club, but the Seagulls’ leading marksmen in the last three seasons wasted no time in reminding his new boss and levelled the scores with his first real opportunity.
It wasn’t long before Albion were back in front as Marcus Suttner popped up on the right wing, and cleverly picked out Locadia in plenty of space at the back post; the Dutchman took a touch to steady himself, before rifling home back across the face of goal and into the opposite corner of the net.
There was still time for Button to make two impressive saves, flying high to his left to push away from Nicholas Seiwald, before getting down low to his right to push away Nikola Stosic’s drive.
The goals continued to flow as Albion extended their lead two minutes into the second half following some great work by Sanders deputising at right-back. Showing the confidence to skip past a couple of challenges, he fed the ball into Alireza Jakhanbash.
The Iranian international sprayed a long ball cross field to Trossard, who brought the ball down, took a couple of touches to work an opening, and drove the ball low past Adam Stejskal.
Albion almost got their fifth on the hour mark as Knockaert burst clear and fed a perfect pass to the feet of Trossard; the Belgian international opted to pass square to Andone, who didn’t quite make the connection he wanted, but recovered well to get a second shot away, which went just wide of the left post.
After both Knockaert and Beram Kayal had stung the hands of Stejskal with long range efforts, Jakhanbash capped an excellent half with an exquisite cross.
His ball to the far post was met by Andone, who launched himself to power a diving header into the net with six minutes of normal time left to play and put the seal on a successful afternoon.