Ruth: Under-21s showed their mettle in win at Everton

Our men's under-21s made it three away wins in a week.

By Nick Szczepanik • 28 August 2023

By Craig Galloway
Shannon Ruth's team have won two of their three opening Premier League 2 matches.

The 288-mile journey from Southport’s Big Help Stadium, where Albion’s under-21s played their Everton counterparts on Friday evening, back to HQ in Lancing, takes around five hours.

But head coach Shannon Ruth admitted that a 4-0 victory made the trek seem less arduous - even after a third match on the road in just over a week, following the away wins at Chelsea and Walsall. 

“It does, and that was one of the tools I used to motivate the lads, on the back of three away games, to make sure we went home with something,” he said. “And they certainly did that and put in a positive performance.”

After a slow start to the game, Samy Chouchane and Jamie Mullins scored following Everton mistakes. As Albion grew more comfortable, Mark O’Mahony notched two more.  

By Craig Galloway
Samy Chouchane opened the scoring against the Toffees.

“The game lacked a little energy, which was understandable on our part, with three away games in seven days,” Ruth said. “We started a little slowly, which suited Everton. They were quite happy to let us have the ball and try to frustrate us. Through our lack of intensity, we found it hard to get a rhythm.  

“Nonetheless we scored a good goal after winning the ball high up and capitalising on an error from them with a good finish from Samy Chouchane. That was something to hold onto and gave us a bit of life. We pushed on in the second half and were far brighter.”

He had made a number of changes, with Noel Atom, Jacob Slater, Josh Duffus and Benicio Baker-Boaitey coming into the side, and Jack Hinchy and Jack Hinshelwood restricted to 45 minutes each.  

“I was conscious that we had to add some freshness to the group,” Ruth explained. “We wanted to give opportunities to players who had not had as much game time earlier in the season, and give Jack Hinchy and Jack Hinshelwood a half each. They had both come off two 90-minute games in the space of four days. Tonight was a good night to do that and I was pleased with everyone’s contribution.”

By Craig Galloway
Mark O'Mahony has scored four goals in the first three games of the new Premier League 2 season.

Among some familiar names missing was that of Andrew Moran ahead of a loan spell with Blackburn Rovers of the Championship. The Irishman will hope to be as successful at Ewood Park as Jan Paul van Hecke, who was Rovers’ player of the season when on loan there in the 2021/22 season.

“Andy really deserves that opportunity and we are delighted for him that Blackburn are taking him,” Ruth said. “For his first loan to be in the Championship shows where he is at, the type of lad that he is, and that our academy is attracting loans at the upper levels of the football pyramid. He is a talented young player and it will be fantastic for his development.”

Regulars Cam Peupion and Imari Samuels were also absent because they were with the first team squad for the home game against West Ham United. 

“If you are a Brighton under-21 player, the message is always to be ready,” Ruth added.

“The pathway for young players is something that we are really proud of and the club works hard in giving them chances. You could be called upon at any moment. The manager has shown that he believes in young players and he will play them.

"An opportunity can come quickly here and it is our job to make sure they can meet the demands of the Premier League.”