Albion are still unbeaten in Premier League 2 after a superb first-half display set up a comfortable win over Blackburn Rovers at the Amex on Friday.
In front of head coach Graham Potter, Andrew Crofts' side put the game to bed inside 32 minutes thanks to Marc Leonard’s penalty, a brilliant volley by Lorent Tolaj and a spectacular effort from left-back James Furlong.
Blackburn were more threatening in the second half and pulled a goal back through Sam Burns but substitute Evan Ferguson got a fourth for Albion in the closing stages.
Two goals in the opening 20 minutes set the tone on a comfortable night for the home side.
Tolaj had already seen a shot cleared off the line when his pass played in Cameron Peupion in the inside-right channel and when he was pushed over by Rovers’ captain Louie Annesley the referee pointed to the penalty spot and Leonard drilled the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Albion doubled their lead with a fine goal in the 20th minute. The impressive Peupion won the ball off defender George Gent as Albion pressed high and his pass found Tolaj, who controlled it with his right foot before turning and firing a powerful volley into the top corner with his left.
It was the first time the under-23s had played at the Amex in front of fans and they clearly relished the occasion.
Blackburn fired a warning when Burns couldn't quite keep Gent's driven cross from the left on target before the hosts made it 3-0 with another spectacular goal on 31 minutes, when Furlong’s deep cross from the left was misjudged by Rovers’ keeper Jordan Eastham as it sailed over him into the top right-hand corner. The 200 or so Albion fans in the East Stand lapped it up.
Jeremy Sarmiento was next to threaten after concerted Albion pressure but his hit from the edge of the box took a deflection before Sam Packham crashed a drive from 30 yards against the base of the right-hand post at the end of a first half dominated by the home side.
Andrew Moran came on for Jeremy Sarmiento at the break and Rovers pulled one back in the 56th minute when striker Burns dispossessed Ed Turns on the right and curled his shot inside Tom McGill’s near post.
Peupion fired just wide of the left-hand post after a great passing move before the Australian began a move with a wonderful piece of control which ended with Andrew Moran’s volley going narrowly wide after taking a deflection.
Albion made it 4-1 with eight minutes to go. Peupion was again involved and when the ball feel into the path of substitute Ferguson 15 yards out he stroked it home with aplomb to round off an impressive team performance.
Albion: McGill, Packham, Furlong, Dicker, Turns, Offiah, Peupion, Spong (Miller 65), Tolaj (Ferguson 75), Leonard, Sarmiento (Moran 45).
Subs not used: Desbois, Hinchy.