Our U23s came unstuck at Heritage Park tonight as Brighton’s U23s extended their recent run to just one defeat in ten games on a night when the home side were reduced to ten men.
The opening was every bit as lively as could have been expected between two in-form sides separated by a couple of points.
Boro won two corners in quick succession in the opening two minutes. That gave the Brighton defence plenty to think about but brought no further reward.
It was the visitors who swept into the lead with nine minutes played when James Tilley delivered a cross from the left-hand edge of the Boro penalty area. It wasn’t dealt with and Viktor Gyokeres drilled tucked home from close range.
Boro’s response was spirited, more corners, more possession, plenty danger created. But a combination of competent defending and smart goalkeeping kept Mikael Soisalo, Luke Armstrong and Hayden Coulson off the scoresheet.
Adding to that scoresheet, Brighton increased their lead with 29 minutes played when a direct break through the middle. Henrik Bjordal needed no second invitation to become the beneficiary of a collision between Hemming and Enes Mahmutovic.
That took the wind out of Boro’s sails and they weren’t quite the same side approaching half-time.
They began the second half brightly, but again fell foul to a sweeping move that nearly brought a goal, but did lead to a corner that provided Brighton’s third. Gyokeres set up Bjordal who’s on-target shot was turned round for a corner, from which Ben Barclay rose at the back post to loop a header beyond any Boro contact.
Boro nearly pulled one back on 77 minutes when Tom Brewitt rose high but headed across goal and inches wide.
The task of recovery was made all the more difficult just two minutes later when Brewitt caught Aaron Connolly from behind and was, harshly, shown a straight red card.
But for a goalline clearance from Robbie Tinkler, the Seagulls would have added a fourth when Bjordal struck low inside the box.
Scorers Gyokeres 9, Bjordal 29, Barclay 55
Boro Hemming; Hegarty, Brewitt (Capt.), Mahmutovic, Reading, Soisalo (Spence 60), Tinkler, Malley (Walker 78), Coulson, O’Neill (Curry 56), Armstrong. Subs James (gk); Elsdon.
Brighton Sanchez; Mateju, Cox, Sanders (Capt.), Barclay (Moore 67), Dallison, Tilley (Mandroiu 76), Alzate, Gyokeres (Davies 82), Connolly, Bjordal. Subs Collings(gk); Kerr.
Referee Tom Bramall
Red Card Brewitt 79, foul
Boro Mahmutovic 62, foul; Tinkler 67, dissent; Hegarty 90, foul
Brighton Moore 69, foul
Conditions Cool and dry
Reaction: "We played well for the opening ten minutes," lamented Lead Coach Paul Stephenson.
"What happened after that was largely disappointing. We had good width early on, had some good possession and had them stretched.
"But to concede the way we did and to play the way we did, I was very disappointed with that."