Match Reports

O'Mahony strikes again as Albion edge past Valencia

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Striker scores his eighth goal of the season in 3-2 win in our Premier League International Cup opener.

By Nick Szczepanik • 04 October 2023

By Simon Roe
Pointing the way: Mark O'Mahony and Casper Nilsson celebrate O'Mahony's winner.

Albion men’s under-21 side set an excellent example for Roberto De Zerbi’s team on the eve of the Europa League match in Marseille with a battling victory in European competition.

Their 3-2 victory over Valencia in the Premier League International Cup provided a measure of revenge for their elimination by the same opponents and the same score last season.

Jamie Mullins gave Albion the lead after 32 minutes with a spectacular flying volley. Former Chelsea and Aston Villa academy winger Declan Frith levelled seven minutes later, but Valencia defender Carlos Aleman put Albion ahead again with an own goal.

Shannon Ruth’s side were then unluckily pegged back once more by Ismael Santana’s header before Mark O’Mahony made it 3-2 with his eighth goal of the season to settle an increasingly feisty encounter in which referee Farai Hallam shared out eight yellow cards.

Albion had to be patient as the visitors sat back and offered few opportunities for Ruth’s team to play through them. it took 22 minutes for them to muster a shot at goal, when Benicio Baker-Boaitey’s left-footed effort found the side-netting.

By Simon Roe
Jump for joy: Jamie Mullins celebrates after putting Albion in front.

The chance had come because Luca Barrington had won the ball high up the pitch and Albion continued to press the Spanish team. But they also had to be wary of the visitors’ speed on the break, and Baker-Boaitey launched a lung-busting recovery run to catch Santana as he threatened to reach a long through pass.

But after 32 minutes it was Albion who made the breakthrough and it was well worth the wait as Mullins launched himself between two defenders to volley in Casper Nilsson’s cross from a horizontal position.

Five minutes before half-time, though, Valencia were level. The dangerous Santana twisted cleverly into the penalty area and although Albion prevented him from getting a clear shot at goal, the ball fell for Frith to hit it low past Killian Cahill.

Nine minutes into the second half Albion were back in front. Nilsson charged forward and released O’Mahony down the right. The Irish striker’s cross looked likely to reach Baker-Boaitey until Valencia right back Aleman’s attempt to intercept re-diverted the ball into his own net.

By Simon Roe
Luca Barrington tries to find a way through Valencia's defence.

O’Mahony could have made the game safe only to put a side-foot volley wide two minutes before Valencia’s freak equaliser, Santana heading in from close range after a deflected cross had looped crazily over Cahill.  But he made no mistake whatever as he restored Albion’s lead with an emphatic first-time shot from Baker-Boaitey’s hard low cross from the left.

Valencia pressed hard and substitute Marco Camus looked certain to make it 3-3 only for Ruairi McConville’s sliding challenge to divert the ball onto the post. Tempers were fraying on both sides and nearly boiled over in eight minutes of added times, but the high fives and roars of delight at the final whistle made the Albion players’ feelings very clear.

Albion: Cahill; Nilsson, McConville, Jackson (sub: Kavanagh 45), Samuels (Slater 45); Hinchy, Chouchane; Baker-Boaitey, Mullins (Flower 76), Barrington (Duffus 66); O’Mahony.

Substitutes not used: Reid, Ifill, Peart.