An entertaining workout saw Brighton & Hove Albion run out 2-0 winners against Crawley Town in the all-Sussex friendly at the Broadfield tonight (Wednesday).
Goals in either half from young striker George Barker and Andrew Crofts from the penalty spot gave Oscar Garcia’s side victory but there were some real positives for Reds, especially in the second half when many of Brighton’s first team stars had come off the bench.
Perhaps the biggest plus for Reds boss Richie Barker was seeing defender Kyle McFadzean come through his first full 90 minutes as he continues to make good progress from a virus which kept him out for much of last season. Nine other Reds players also played the full game.
The first real chance of the match fell to the visitors after ten minutes and was a good one. Jake Forster-Caskey found Lewis Dunk inside the box in space but he could only prod wide.
Soon after Nicky Adams tried his luck from range but his rising shot was well held by Albion stopper Tomasz Kuszczak.
On 20 minutes Albion full-back Inigo Calderon surged through a gaping hole to break into the box and his pullback found striker Baker, who looked odds on to score but was denied by a sublime lunging tackle from Reds defender McFadzean.
Former Lewes youngster Solly March then dragged a shot straight at Paul Jones from a free kick played short.
Brighton got themselves in front after 33 minutes. Kazenga Lua Lua turned Reds right back James Hurst inside out and Barker pounced on the loose ball to stab home from close range.
Crawley’s best chance of the half arrived two minutes from the break when skipper Josh Simpson’s cross from the right deflected out to Nicky Adams on the edge of the area, Dunk though raced out to block the shot.
At the start of the second half Dunk headed a good chance from a corner straight at Paul Jones before Crawley came close to levelling.
Nicky Adams, from the right bent a delicious cross in towards goal to find Jamie Proctor, whose free header was well saved by keeper Peter Brezovan, on for Kuszcak at half time.
Reds did have the ball in the net a minute later but Clarke was adjudged offside as he flicked Adams’ low free kick in at the near post.
It was the visiting Seagulls who then doubled their lead close to the hour mark. Half-time substitute Ashley Barnes went down under contact from Mat Sadler’s and Crofts just beat Paul Jones from the spot with 58 minutes gone.
Nicky Adams then saw a fine curling free kick from 25 yards just tipped over by Brezovan and then Simpson fired just high and wide from the angle inside the box as Reds offered much more of a threat than in the first 45 minutes.
Then came a raft of Brighton subs. First team players Gordon Greer, Andrea Orlandi, Matt Upson, Liam Bridcutt and Will Buckley all appearing on 65 minutes.
And one of those new arrivals, Bridcutt so nearly made an instant impression with a rasping left-footed effort from range which Paul Jones just got a diving hand to, to tip it onto his crossbar.
Crawley’s first and only changes arrived on 70 minutes, defenders Hurst and Sadler off for Mark Connolly and Joe Walsh in a straight swap.
It was then a case of different season, same story for Crawley’s Mike Jones who saw a vicious shot from the left cannon back off the crossbar, and soon after Adams picked out Clarke who headed down and wide.
With minutes to go a strong break down the right by Adams ended with Proctor curling just over the crossbar as a lively encounter came to an end.
Crawley: Paul Jones, James Hurst (Connolly 70), Mat Sadler (Walsh 70), Kyle McFadzean, Connor Essam, Billy Clarke, Josh Simpson, Jamie Proctor, Dannie Bulman, Nicky Adams.
Subs: Mark Connolly, Sergio Torres, Gary Alexander, Andy Drury, Joe Walsh, Jordan Adekunle, Alex Malins, Johnny Maddison.
Albion: Tomasz Kuszczak, Lewis Dunk, Adam El-Abd, Rohan Ince, Andrew Crofts, Inigo Calderon, Kazenga Lua Lua, Adam Chicksen, George Barker, Jake Forster-Caskey, Solly March.
Subs (times they came on): Peter Brezovan (45), Gordan Greer (65), Ashley Barnes (45), Andrea Orlandi (65), Leo Ulloa (65), Matt Upson (65), Liam Bridcutt (65), Will Buckley (65).