Under-23s score five against Seagulls
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-5 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Fri 15 January 2021, 21:37|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s hit the goals trail to register a big win at Brighton in our first Premier League 2 outing of 2021 on Friday night.
George Marsh's stunning 25-yard volley was added to by Kazaiah Sterling's clinical strike and Kion Etete's close-range finish as we surged into a 3-0 lead before half-time, with substitute Dane Scarlett adding a fourth from the penalty spot mid-way through the second period. Jack Spong managed to pull one back for the Seagulls with 10 minutes to go, but we were always in control and full-back Marcel Lavinier made it 5-1 in stoppage time, completing a great night's work for Wayne Burnett's side.
There were starts at Brighton's American Express Elite Football Performance Centre for striker Sterling and goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi following their recently-concluded loan spells at Southend and Maidenhead, and while Sterling showed great composure to score at one end, Oluwayemi was excellent at the other, making a handful of key saves and commanding his area well, benefitting from a number of good blocks from those in front of him too. Under-18s midfielder Nile John rounded off an excellent first appearance at this level with an assist for Lavinier's late goal, while defender Malachi Fagan-Walcott stepped off the bench for his first competitive action of the season in the closing stages after sitting out the first half of the campaign through injury.
Oluwayemi set the tone early on, blocking one-on-one as Stefan Vukoje came surging down Brighton's right channel inside 10 minutes before Marsh fired us ahead in spectacular fashion seven minutes later. Dilan Markanday, filling in at left-back, saw his free-kick come back off the wall but Marsh was first to it with a sweet left-footed volley from distance that fizzed at waist-height through the box and sailed inside the far post, his second goal of the season.
Danny Cashman planted a header just wide at the other end but we soaked up any Brighton pressure well during the first half and always looked dangerous going forward. The second goal duly arrived on 36 minutes, the hard-working Etete benefitting from a slice of fortune to keep possession in the middle before feeding it through for Sterling, who took time to pick his spot before firing across goal and into the bottom corner from the left angle. And our night got even better two minutes before the break as Etete pounced on a mix-up in the Seagulls' defence to convert from close range.
We pushed forward aggressively in the opening exchanges of the second half, Elliot Thorpe unlucky to see his first-time shot sail just wide within two minutes of the restart, but we had Oluwayemi to thank for a fantastic diving save down to his right to tip Andrew Crofts' effort around the post despite seeing it late as we approached the hour mark.
It was 4-0 on 68 minutes as we broke forward three-on-two. A suitable pass didn't open up for Sterling so he continued his run into the box by himself, where he was bundled down by substitute Peter Gwargis, Scarlett confidently dispatching the resulting penalty despite goalkeeper Tom McGill diving the right way.
Oluwayemi denied Cashman again before Spong managed to get a shot away from inside a congested box, the ball going in off the inside of the post as the hosts got themselves off the mark 10 minutes from time. But we continued to control the game and in the second additional minute, John's pass sent Lavinier away down the left, the full-back working his way back inside before drilling right-footed inside the near post.
'We've played better this season and not won'
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was thrilled with the outcome of the game: “It's an excellent result but we've played better this season and not won,” he said. “We were very good in both boxes and I'm really pleased with the goals that we scored but we have played better. We spoke at half-time about trying to dominate the ball. Sometimes the scoreline can have an influence on your emotions and that in turn can affect your behaviour, there were spells when we played some good football and certainly our fifth goal was very good. There were some good individual performances, we've defended our box well and attacked their box well and managed to get five goals, which is really pleasing.”
On the line-up he selected, Wayne added: “Nile John deserves his chance, he's had some really good performances in the Under-18s and when he's trained with the Under-23s, he's excelled at times and it was only right that he got his opportunity. We've got competition for places – Kazaiah is back and challenging the forwards, Josh is challenging the goalkeepers, Nile John is challenging the midfielders, Malachi is on his way back, Dane has scored again tonight so it's healthy and competition for places can only be a good thing. That competition is fundamental in my opinion for successful teams.”
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-5 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Brighton & Hove Albion: McGill, Tanimowo, Sturge (Gwargis 46), Collyer, Turns, Dendoncker, Yapi, Crofts (Ferguson 69), Cashman (c), Vukoje, Spong. Substitutes (not used): Desbois, Eneme Ella, Packham.
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Markanday (Fagan-Walcott 83), Marsh, Lyons-Foster (c), Omole, Pochettino (Bowden 71), John, Etete, Thorpe (Scarlett 63), Sterling. Substitute (not used): Kurylowicz.
Goals: Brighton - Spong 80; Spurs - Marsh 17, Sterling 36, Etete 43, Scarlett 68 (pen), Lavinier 90+2.
Yellow cards: Brighton - Crofts 9; Spurs - Etete 34, John 60.
Referee: Adrian Quelch.
Venue: American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, Lancing.
Weather: Light cloud, fresh breeze, two degrees.