Match Reports

Brace for Enciso as under-21s brush-off Blackburn

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Shannon Ruth’s team returned to winning ways with a 4-2 romp over Rovers.

By Charlie Hanson • 20 February 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Julio Enciso was a threat all evening for Albion, going onto score our second of the night.

Julio Enciso netted twice as our men’s under-21s ran out 4-2 winners over Blackburn Rovers in a thrilling affair in Lancing on Monday night.

The Paraguayan appeared to be on a one-man mission to break the deadlock in the Premier League 2 contest as he tested the Blackburn defence with four efforts in the opening 24 minutes.

He gave a taste of what he had to offer when he went on a mazy run down the left, dancing away from his markers before laying it to the edge of the box for Jack Hinchy who sliced it well over.

Harley O’Grady-Macken had a golden opportunity to put Rovers in front after 17 minutes as the ball was given to him 20-yards from the Albion goal with Tom McGill well off his line, but the midfielder bent his effort wide.

By Paul Hazlewood
Luca Barrington's wonderful free-kick set Albion on their way to their first win in Premier League 2 this month.

Enciso then saw a deflected effort well saved by the diving Aidan Dowling before having a few similar efforts blocked.

In the midst of those efforts, Ethan Walker must have been convinced he’d scored when his thumped effort from 25-yards was heading in, but McGill pulled off a wonderful one-handed save to push it onto the crossbar and behind for a corner.

Enciso was at the centre of the opening goal of the night though. Having been brought down 22-yards from goal, he was desperate to take the resulting free-kick, but Barrington insisted he was on set-piece duties.

Julio trudged off, only to run back over to Barrington with a big grin when his teammate whipped the ball beautifully into the top right corner after 35 minutes.

Rovers were back on level terms though in what can fairly be described as controversial circumstances. Striker Harry Leonard ran into Tom McGill, forcing the keeper to the ground and appeared to catch him in the face with his arm, but after consulting his assistant, referee Gary Parsons gave a penalty against Albion.

Leonard squeezed the ball under McGill’s fingertips and into the bottom right corner to equalise from 12-yards at the end of an entertaining 45 minutes.

We restored our lead ten minutes after the restart when Imari Samuels’s pullback was side-footed home by Enciso, before Cam Peupion’s wonderful cross was nodded back across the goal by Jack Hinshelwood, with Offiah there to poke home just six minutes later.

By Paul Hazlewood
Luca Barrington's free-kick opened the scoring.

A Blackburn battering appeared to be on the cards when Barrington’s delicate chip from 25-yards evaded Dowling, but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.

The former Manchester City man curled another free-kick, this time from 25-yards, into the side-netting, before Jay Haddow was sent off for a second bookable offence with 15 minutes to go.

Shannon Ruth’s team made their extra man count as Enciso calmly curled the ball into the bottom right corner from just outside the box to give his team a three-goal cushion.

Walker pulled one back in the second minute of injury time, but the well-placed header was nothing more than a consolation.

Wolves’ win earlier on in the evening had put them above us in Premier League 2, but the win at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre restored our place in ninth, while also putting four points between us and the relegation places.

Albion line-up: McGill, Nilsson, Offiah (Kavanagh 87), Jackson, Samuels, Hinshelwood, Hinchy, Peupion (Everitt 80), Barrington (Mullins 69), Enciso, O’Mahony (Ifill 69).

Unused sub: Talley.