Under-21 boss Shannon Ruth believes his team have a never-say-die attitude after they erased a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Aston Villa on Friday.
Late goals from Benicio Baker-Boaitey and Marcus Ifill cancelled out second-half strikes from Kerr Smith and Frankie Ealing in our opening Premier League Cup opener on Friday night at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
While Ruth believed his team did enough to take all three points, he was delighted with the belief his players showed to rescue a point – less than a month after overturning a two-goal deficit against Chelsea’s under-21s in Premier League 2.
“Overall, I am a little disappointed with the result and I felt we did more than enough to win the game, in terms of possession and chances,” he said.
“But one thing this group has shown is going behind doesn’t bother them. They are very good at regrouping, trying to retake control of the game, and starting the process of attacking again.
“The players were in that situation away to Chelsea a few weeks ago, they were two goals behind and came back to win 3-2. So the belief is there the players can do it.
“We felt the momentum was with us, so I am delighted the players were able to come back into the game and have some sort of reward for their efforts.”
The young Seagulls, who have only lost one of their six matches in all competitions this season, made eight changes from the team that beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 earlier this month but despite fielding a new-look side, Ruth felt they were a cohesive unit.
“We have a good-sized group so the competition is strong. The players that have played regularly were playing off the back of four wins in a row so it was an opportunity to give some game time to those who have not played as much,” he said.
“But we also wanted to keep a few key players in there to help the group stay connected and allow us to keep our rhythm.
“The blend was quite nice and not only did we make those changes to the starting XI, more lads came on who hadn’t had too much game time and I was really pleased with their contribution.
“I said to the players at the start of this week that we have got three games in eight days and we would need the full group and I am pleased with how we have started this run of games.”
There is no let-up for Ruth’s players as they take on League One Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night, followed by a clash with Newcastle United’s under-21s four days later.
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Brighton beat League Two Walsall 3-2 in their first match of the competition last month and Ruth is determined to continue their winning run at The Crowd Meadow.
“We are looking forward to it. The EFL Trophy is another important competition for us because I think some of the players are at a stage where the next part of their journey is a loan,” he said.
“I know managers and heads of recruitment will be using these [EFL Trophy] games as ones to gauge whether our young players are ready for senior football, maybe in January or the summer, and then eventually come out of the under-21s group and then move into Gordon Greer’s group, the loan pathway.
“These games are good tests for our players and I know that those who are targeting a loan will evaluate these games. They are fantastic for a player’s development. The crowd, senior football; it gives us a different environment for the players to perform in.”