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REPORT: BRIGHTON U-23s 2 CRAWLEY TOWN 1

9 May 2018

Two goals in two minutes ends Reds hopes of lifting Sussex Senior Cup

Reds have one hand on the Sussex Senior Cup before they were sunk by a late Brighton comeback in Wednesday night's final at the Amex.
Leading through Josh Kerr's own goal midway through the second half they were pegged back with eight minutes to go by James Tilley's equaliser.
A minute later Yusuf Mersin saved Tilley's penalty but from the resultant corner Kerr rose unmarked to head home and the Seagulls had retained the trophy they won against Reds last season.  
With eight players ruled out by injury, four of them having picked up injuries since the final League 2 game at Mansfield last Saturday Harry Kewell was only able to name two subs, including goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
Enzio Boldewijn was employed as the lone striker with Lewis Young and Moussa Sanoh providing support from the flanks. Having recovered from an ankle injury, there was a recall in midfield for Billy Clifford. 
Brighton also made changes to their regular under-23 side with Saturday's Premier League 2 promotion play-off against Aston Villa in mind. 
Brighton striker Jonah Ayunga had a couple of sights of Mersin's goal in the opening 15 minutes before Clifford forced home keeper Billy Collings to turn his right-foot drive from 12 yards wide of the post after good work by Moussa Sanoh.
Reds began to dominate possession without matching some of the quality in their build-up play with their final ball and the hosts had the best chance of the opening half-hour when Ayunga's cross was missed by Tilley and Cochrane fired the loose ball well over.
Josh Payne wasn't far away with a swerving effort from 25 yards that flew wide of the right-hand post then just before the break Boldewijn's pass seemed to have set up Clifford but Rian O'Sullivan got across to clear the danger.
Both sides needed to up the tempo and Brighton responded quickly when Tilley curled a 20-yarder just wide of the left-hand post moments into the second half. At the other end Boldewijn linked up with Sanoh and his fellow Dutchman fired a well-struck effort into the side netting.
Ryan Longman curled a shot from the left over the bar in the 57th minute but with an hour gone there was little to choose between the teams. Kewell made his only change at that point with Djalo replacing Billy Clifford and Joe McNerney moving up front shortly after Kerr headed over from a right-wing cross.
Brighton threatened again when Tilley turned inside the six-yard box and forced Mersin to push his shot over and the striker went even closer in the 68th minute, ghosting forward before hitting the bar from just outside the box.
The home side had looked more likely to score but it was Reds who broke the deadlock a minute later. Boldewijn created space on the right and his low cross was turned into his own net by Kerr.
Boldewijn was inches away from applying a decisive touch to Young's excellent cross in the 74th minute then Tajbakhsh stung Collings' palms from inside the box as Crawley looked to kill the game off.
Instead the game was turned on its head in the space of two minutes.
Brighton levelled in the 82nd minute. Djalo's attempt to clear fell at the feet of Longman who laid it on a plate for Tilley who slammed a low shot on the turn into the corner of the net.
A minute later Albion missed a penalty after Mersin brought down Lubajic as he tried to control and clear the ball in his six-yard box. The keeper made amends by pushing Tilley's spot-kick around the post but Reds' relief was short lived.
From the resultant corner no one picked up Kerr and he headed home Cochrane's corner to complete the turnaround. Two entirely prevetable goals had been conceded by Crawley.
Reds threw caution to the wind in the closing stages and McNerney had a shot blocked in stoppage time then with the last kick Sanoh blazed over when a simple pass would have set up a far easier chance for McNerney. Brighton held on and Crawley's wait for silverware goes on.
Reds: Mersin, Young, McNerney, Yorwerth, Evina, Tajbakhsh, Clifford (Djalo 65), Bulman, Payne, Sanoh, Boldewijn.
Attendance: 1503

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