U18s defeated at Brighton
Alan Connell's side suffer defeat in friendly game away at Brighton.
AFC Bournemouth Under-18s fell to a 3-0 defeat away to Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday afternoon.
Brighton opened the scoring after half an hour against the run of play with a brilliant goal from their number 10.
Bournemouth stayed in the game but had a mountain to climb when Brighton went two goals up with 20 minutes to go, before number 7 made sure of the win close to full-time.
The Cherries began the game looking the stronger side at the category one academy, enjoying the most of the ball for 15 minutes after kick-off.
The first chance fell to Harvey Bertrand, his header from Tom Hanfrey’s corner going wide.
Brighton’s number 7 blazed a shot over from outside the box, before a similar attempt from Ryan Glover met the same outcome moments later. Jake Scrimshaw managed Bournemouth’s first shot on target 28 minutes in with a left-footed strike directly at the ‘keeper.
Continuing to look more likely to open the scoring, Bournemouth carried out a tidy corner routine via Tom Dinsmore, Jake Cope, and Scrimshaw, before the ball fell to Cope whose first-time strike drifted narrowly wide.
Brighton’s goal came against the run of play, number 10 picking the ball up 25 yards out on the 33rd minute before picking his head up and caressing a shot right into the top corner, out of Cameron Plain’s reach.
The lead was almost doubled when Brighton’s number 9 charged through the Bournemouth defence and fired a low left-footed shot onto the post five minutes before half-time.
The second half was void of any real chances for either side until the 69th minute, when Brighton did manage to double their lead. Plain made a good low save to deny Brighton’s number 9, only for an opposing attacker to convert the rebound.
Plain kept his team in the game with 13 minutes remaining, making himself look big and preventing number 16 from netting a brace after Albion had countered with three on one from a Bournemouth corner.
The Cherries did play some good football in parts. A great move involving link-up play between Dinsmore and Connor Kurran-Browne gave Glover the chance to drill a cross in for Scrimshaw, but the latter’s flick didn’t hit the target.
Moments later, Kurran-Browne - who had come on as a substitute - weaved in and out of three Brighton defenders in the box and was brought down. No penalty awarded, he got up and managed to get a shot away, but the ‘keeper dived low to his right to hold onto the clean sheet.
Bournemouth are known for their late comebacks, but any hope that there would be another faded away when Brighton’s number 12 capitalised on a defensive error to put the ball across the face of goal for number 7 to poke in for 3-0.
A disappointed Under-18s manager, Alan Connell, reflected on the defeat with afcb.co.uk to discuss the following points.
“We started okay but I was a bit disappointed with the intensity of our play. We started a bit slow in passing the ball. When we had the chance to play forward we turned it down a couple of times.
“We had a couple of half chances and a couple of well-worked set-pieces that almost led to goals but it was a bit of a flat game in the first half. Brighton scored a great goal towards the end of the half which set us back a little bit.
“We didn’t really lift the tempo in the second half like I had wanted. We didn’t have enough forward runs or forward passing – the stuff that usually works well for us. I don’t know if it’s a physical thing, but it’s not an excuse.
“If the players want to have careers they’ve got to get used to playing Saturdays and Tuesdays. We book these games so the players can build up that resilience to be able to play two games a week.
“I don’t think that was the problem though. It can be mentally difficult as well to recover properly, for players to gear themselves up to go again on a Tuesday after playing on a Saturday.
“We got caught a couple of times on the break towards the end and come away with a 3-0 defeat. It’s frustrating because I felt that on another day it could have been a different outcome, but credit to Brighton, they’ve got some good footballers and it’s the sort of test that we want to come up against on a more regular basis.”
Impact of subs
“The subs that came on had an impact, injecting tempo and urgency into our play. James Oliver and Connor Kurran-Browne are two lads that we recruited in the summer. They’ve had to be patient and obviously, we’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes so it’s important that when they get these minutes they take their opportunities.
“They both had a right go when they came on and showed glimpses of their qualities. It lets the boys know who have been in the team recently that they can’t take anything for granted. We’ve got 21 scholars all fighting for places and wanting to get in the team.
“That’s the nature of football, it’s competitive so you’ve got to want to better yourself, and if that means taking someone else’s spot so be it. It gives me food for thought looking ahead.”
Playing at category one academy
“It’s about exposing the players to different types of opposition. We possibly play against more direct teams in our league at times, whereas Brighton looked to pass the ball today and give us different problems that we might not always face in a league game.
“It’s great for them to play at the first-class facilities Brighton have got. We want to play on a flat pitch, which certainly should have helped us today. We had a couple of nice bits using the pitch how we like, but overall I expected better.
“I expected a more free-flowing, passing game from us with the quality we have in the group and how we’ve been playing lately. If you don’t get the basics right first and foremost, you’ll come unstuck no matter who you are.”
“We’re away to Forest Green Rovers Under-18s on Saturday. They’re an up and coming academy getting better and better. We’ll treat them with full respect and it’s important that we respond in the right way.
“The boys have shown this season that they can respond to setbacks, so it’s vital that we prepare well and put in a good performance.”