Under-23s beaten at Brighton
Brighton 2-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Sun 03 February 2019, 16:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Goals either side of half-time from Brighton & Hove Albion's Bojan Radulovic consigned our Under-23s to their first Premier League 2 defeat since the start of November on Sunday.
Despite controlling proceedings for much of the first half at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, we went behind when the Seagulls' centre-forward took advantage of a wicked ricochet following a corner, before firing in a second on the counter just beyond the hour mark.
From our point of view, the game hinged on a big chance in the 32nd minute at 1-0 down. Striker Troy Parrott - one of four starters who also featured for our Under-18s on the same ground just three weeks ago - ran through on goal but was thwarted by goalkeeper Hugo Keto, whose save prevented us from clawing ourselves back level and perhaps being able to push on. As it happened, we created very little in the second period as the Seagulls took the points.
George Marsh and Jubril Okedina tried shots from distance - one was saved, the other blocked - as we made a bright start but it was the hosts who forced their way into the lead on 20 minutes, Radulovic hammering home at the near post as a corner into the danger zone ricocheted back to him.
Tariq Hinds was finding space to accelerate into from left-back and got in behind the Brighton defence a handful of times during the first period, but the only time ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Keto was really troubled was just after the half-hour mark when Shilow Tracey, grafting on the right of our attacking set-up, won a 50/50 ball from Warren O'Hora and it ran kindly for Parrott to burst through on goal, but Keto made himself big to keep his shot out.
We needed a couple of important blocks from centre-half Japhet Tanganga to prevent the hosts from extending their advantage, but you felt better use of the ball in the attacking areas would cause Brighton problems. Sadly, we weren't able to do that as the Seagulls defended their box well and prevented us from having any sight of goal.
Brighton's second goal came from our mistake as Hinds was caught in possession in the opponents' half and they countered three-on-one. Peter Gwargis found Danny Cashman and he in turn played in Radulovic, who set himself up to shoot before pulling the trigger in the box, his effort squirming past Brooklyn Lyons-Foster on the line with 61 minutes on the clock.
Jack Roles had a couple of attempts blocked as we dominated the ball from then on without being able to really test Keto, while Brandon Austin saved well from Jack Spong and substitute Ryan Longman curled wide when free in the box as a couple of chances for Brighton to add a third fell by the wayside.
The save from Brighton goalkeeper Keto to deny Parrott in the first period stopped us from mapping a route back into the game.
We'd looked bright in attack during the first 45 minutes but, at 1-0 down, when Parrott ran through on goal in the right channel shortly after the half-hour mark, the young striker's shot was kept out by the Seagulls' custodian, denying us an equaliser.
Had Keto not produced that save, it might have been a different story for us on a milder-than-expected afternoon on the south coast.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett named a young side, but was disappointed with our endeavours in both penalty boxes.
"When you look at the game, the key is to defend your box well and try to attack the opposition's box better than they defend it - Brighton did that better than us today," he said. "In terms of possession and dominating the ball, we did that in the midfield areas but we weren't effective enough at either end. We tried to get back into the game after going a goal down, we had a lot of penalty box entries but we didn't attack the ball with enough conviction and purpose."
Brighton 2-0 Spurs (Premier League )
Brighton & Hove Albion: Keto, A Davies, Cochrane, Sanders (c), Ostigard, O'Hora, Spong, Roberts, Radulovic (Longman 72), Cashman (Moore 88), Gwargis (Ahannach 61). Substitutes (not used): Collings, Tomlinson.
Spurs: Austin, Okedina, Hinds, Marsh, Tanganga (c), Lyons-Foster, Tracey, Oakley-Boothe, Parrott (Duncan 68), Roles, Bennett (Clarke 63). Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Walcott.
Goals: Brighton - Radulovic 20, 61.
Yellow cards: Brighton - A Davies 90+1; Spurs - Roles 45, Clarke 81.
Referee: Carl Brook.
Venue: American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, Lancing.
Weather: Sunny, gentle breeze, five degrees.