- Albion draw 2-2 with Blackburn Rovers
- Max Sanders scores twice to put Albion 2-0 ahead
- Jack Vale and Harry Chapman hit back for the hosts
- The Seagulls trail Everton by four points with three games remaining
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s remain four points behind league leaders Everton, after Blackburn Rovers came back from 2-0 down to claim a point against the Seagulls at the Leyland County Ground.
Max Sanders scored a brace on his return to the starting line-up to put Albion ahead at the break, but Jack Vale and Harry Chapman hit back for the hosts to prevent Simon Rusk’s side from closing the gap on Everton.
Despite letting go of maximum points, the draw extended Albion’s unbeaten run in the Premier League 2 Division 1 to seven matches, ahead of their final three matches of the season — Swansea City, Everton and Chelsea.
Albion almost found themselves behind inside the opening minute of the contest when Daniel Butterworth latched onto a ball inside the box, but thankfully the Rovers forward dragged his shot wide of the target.
Viktor Gyokeres then weaved his way inside off the left wing and looked to test Charlie Albinson in the Rovers goal, however the Swede’s rising effort sailed over the crossbar from a tight angle.
But it wasn’t long before the Seagulls got their noses in front — Gyokeres delivered a teasing cross towards the back post and Sanders arrived just in time to chest the ball home to break the deadlock.
A feisty period of play followed, which involved yellow cards for both number eights, as Jayson Molumby and John Buckley were both penalised for strong challenges in the middle of the park.
However, Albion were able to keep their cool and double their advantage on 28 minutes, and it was Sanders again who showed brilliant composure to guide his curling effort past Albinson into the far corner.
Rovers went straight up the other end and should have halved the deficit, but Joe Rankin-Costello somehow pulled his shot wide of Robert Sanchez’s left-hand upright when it looked tougher to miss.
Albion got to the break with their 2-0 lead intact, but inside one minute of the second half, Rovers pulled a goal back — Vale’s powerful volley deflected off Leo Ostigard and flew into the back of the net.
The momentum swung in Blackburn’s favour and they almost drew level on the hour mark, but Albion had Sanchez to thank after the Spaniard produced a smart save to deny Butterworth’s low-driven effort.
Five minutes later, the Seagulls had the ball in the back of the net for a third time, after Ahannach and Gyokeres combined to find Radulovic, but the forward’s composed finish past Albinson was ruled out for offside.
The hosts continued to press for an equaliser and managed to break down Albion’s resolve in the 71st minute — Chapman surged forward and drilled a powerful shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Neither side looked content with just a point heading into the closing stages, with Gyokeres seeing a fierce shot deflected behind for a corner, but the referee soon blew the final whistle and the spoils were shared.
ALBION: Sanchez; A.Davies, Ostigard, O’Hora (Collar 80), Cochrane; Sanders, Molumby (Longman 85), Roberts, Ahannach; Gyokeres, Radulovic (J.Davies 69).
Subs not used: Collings (GK), Moore.