Connect with us

Brighton and Hove Albion

Aaron Connolly targets first team as brace gets Brighton youngsters off to flying start

Published

on

Striker Aaron Connolly made the difference for Brighton under-23s against newly-promoted Wolverhampton last night after he scored a brace at The People’s Pension Stadium and continues to push for a place in the first team.

The first game of the Premier League Two season saw Simon Rusk’s team start with a 2-0 victory as he lined-up in a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, with Connolly spearheading the attack.

Manager Rusk said, “The challenge for Aaron is to take his goal-scoring form at this level of football to the next step. Like all young players, he has to wait and see what happens, maintain his attitude and keep working hard.”

Brighton kicked off last night attacking right to left against a Wolves team who had won promotion through a memorable 3-2 victory against Manchester United under-23s last season.

Rusk’s side were frustrated in the first half which saw few opportunities fall their way. A half chance came to Connolly when he nearly got on the end of a ball over the top but was muscled out of it by Wolves’ Dion Sanderson.

Wolves sat deep in a 3-5-2 formation and allowed Brighton to have the ball and pressed them in phases, Brighton defenders were caught out a few times just inside their own half which saw Wolves almost break through on goal if it wasn’t for some tactical fouls to stop them in their tracks.

“We need to be patient,” Rusk said to his players at halftime. “We can be a little bit more accurate and creative in the last third of the pitch with our offensive play but it is important we are playing against a very effective team who want to counter attack and break on us and we need to nullify that threat, stay patient and have the belief we will create a chance.”

The second half was much more open, Brighton had the bit between their teeth with players like Anders Dreyer and Connolly making some great runs to stretch the Wolves defence and get in behind.

Chances were falling to both teams and saw great saves from Brighton keeper Thomas McGill to keep them in it early on in the second half.

Brighton finally drew blood from the Wolves’ defensive pack on 76 minutes after a shot was blocked and fell nicely to Connolly in the six yard box who rifled the ball into the top right corner.

Two minutes later Brighton pounced again, a lofted through ball from Steven Alzate over the top of Wolves’ defence saw Connolly’s first time lob – from 18 yards out – over the onrushing Wolves keeper, Andreas Sondergaard and bounce into the net.

Speaking to the club’s website, Connolly said, “I want to play in the Premier League, and I want to impress the new gaffer (Graham Potter). I want to break into the first team here with Brighton and with the Republic of Ireland. You have to aim high and I hope I get the chance at both levels soon.

“With Ireland’s under-21s we played against the senior team before the Toulon tournament, and you can see the standard; where you need to be at to make it into the senior squad. Our under-21s manager is going to be the senior manager next year, so I hope I can have a good season for club and country.

“I didn’t make the squad last week for the Watford game. I expected that, and I have to be patient. I will keep working hard in the under-23s and I hope I get my chance. Neal [Maupay] and Florin [Andone] scored at the weekend, and you know Glenn [Murray] is going to score goals.

“To score a couple of goals and win 2-0 is a good start to the season. I had only played 45 minutes, but it was good to play 90 minutes after a little injury. It was a good win and happy to get two goals.”

Rusk added, “It was never going to be a straight forward win and the game was always going to cause us problems both when we had the ball and when we didn’t have the ball but I think in the end it was very professional from the players and there’s lots to take from that.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Brighton and Hove Albion

The incoming business Brighton and Hove Albion must do in the January transfer window

Published

on

Brighton and Hove Albion backed their manager last month with an improved contract extension that takes Graham Potter up to 2025.

It was not only a hands-off warning to other Premier League clubs, but a huge pat-on-the back for a job well done, so far.

Martin Montoya has been the regular right back for Albion this season

Martin Montoya has been the regular right back for Albion this season

The board like the style of football Potter has implemented and also how he has promoted young players into the first team, such as Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate.

But the question now is will the club back the head coach in the January transfer window and if so, where do Brighton need to strengthen?

Goalkeeper
Absolutely no problems here. Maty Ryan has been excellent this season and is second in shots saved in the Premier League with 63. He is a superb shot stopper with four clean sheets this season.

Not the tallest but very capable dealing with crosses and his distribution and playing out from the back has improved this season.

The emergence of Steven Alzate has been a huge plus for Brighton this season

The emergence of Steven Alzate has been a huge plus for Brighton this season

Concentration levels and focus is excellent. Brighton also have former Brentford stopper David Button as back-up to Ryan.

Defence
A right back/right-sided player has to be a priority for Albion. Potter has played both a traditional back four and wing backs this season. Martin Montoya has been a consistent performer on the right but he could do with some back up.

Steven Alzate has played the last two matches at right back but his best position is clearly midfield. Ezequiel Schelotto has worked his way back from a serious knee-injury but it’s unclear if he is ready to perform each week at Premier League level. A talented young flyer on the right will no doubt be on Potter’s wish list

Brighton are well stocked in central defence with Adam Webster, Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and Dan Burn all performing well throughout the season.

Aaron Connolly, 19, has two Premier League goals to his name this season

Aaron Connolly, 19, has two Premier League goals to his name this season

Ben White (Leeds) and Matt Clarke (Derby) are also out on loan and could be in first team contention next season. On the left, Burn has proved his versatility. The 6ft 7in defender has featured on the left of a defensive trio, left back and also left wing-back.

Solly March has also played left wing back but he and fellow left sided player Bernardo have both struggled with injuries this campaign. If March and Bernardo can stay fit (and it is an if), then Potter is likely happy with his options in this area.

Midfield
Albion are in good shape for this season. It is perhaps an area that will be re-assessed in the summer but unless an absolute bargain is available, there doesn’t appear to be a major panic for January.

Dale Stephens and Davy Propper have been consistent in the centre while Pascal Gross and Aaron Mooy have also proved their worth this season.

The future of Alireza Jahanbakhsh remains a bit of a mystery

The future of Alireza Jahanbakhsh remains a bit of a mystery

The emergence of Alzate has been a major plus and Leandro Trossard, despite his injuries, has and will likely prove to be a good addition. Yves Bissouma hasn’t had a run in the team and has had a disappointing campaign to date.

It probably will not be this January, but Brighton will at some stage have to evolve from the Propper-Stephens combination. Stephens is 30 and Propper, who has been linked with Ajax in the past, has indicated he would like to play in the Spanish or German league at some stage.

Attack
Brighton are a bit light up top and could do with a striker. Neal Maupay has six goals and has adapted well to life in the Premier League after two prolific seasons in the Championship.

Aaron Connolly, at the age of 19 and with two PL goals to his name, has greatly exceeded expectations since his introduction in the first team. Murray, 36, has not scored in the PL this season and has been utilised mainly from the bench.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh looked destined for the exit door in January but he randomly made his first outing of the season as a second half substitute against Wolves. Whether or not goes in January remains unclear. Much will depend on the fitness of March and Trossard. It also seems unlikely Jurgen Locadia and Florin Andone will return to first team action from their loan spells.

It’s quite an ask to leave Premier League attacking responsibilities to a 19-year-old, a striker from Championship and a player over 35. If a striker is available in January, Albion could well be tempted.

Conclusion
A right back and a striker are the areas Albion do seem light but Graham Potter already stated January is a notoriously difficult time to do business. The head coach has worked very well with the squad he largely inherited but no doubt he would like to add re-reinforcements to suit his style.

If that can be in January, then great but it might well have to wait until summer. A New Year signing would be a welcome boost but perhaps there is no major rush – Potter is, after-all, going to be at the club until at least 2025!

Continue Reading

Brighton and Hove Albion

Ian Hart / Will football's stance against homophobia continue at Crystal Palace vs Brighton?…Don't bet on it!

Published

on

By Ian Hart

Hats off to the Albion for joining in with the nationwide campaign last weekend to combat homophobia in football.

Despite the campaign, a number of Wolves supporters were ejected from the Amex Stadium last Sunday for homophobic chanting - Some Albion fans expect more abuse this Monday

Despite the campaign, a number of Wolves supporters were ejected from the Amex Stadium last Sunday for homophobic chanting – Some Albion fans expect more abuse this Monday

Rainbow flags, rainbow displays in the stands, even the players wearing rainbow laces, as I said all very admirable and great way of putting the very powerful message across.

But how long will this forward thinking outlook last? Not that very long unfortunately, sadly even on Sunday afternoon there were a number of Wolves supporters ejected from the Amex for homophobic chanting.

But if you thought that was bad then wait until Monday night when the Albion travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace in what is now dubbed the ‘M23’ derby.

Somewhat ironic that just a week after football’s credible stance against homophobia, the Albion travelling faithful will be subjected to homophobia on a scale rarely seen anywhere else on the Albion’s travels.

Every homophobic chant or slur you can imagine will get an airing at Selhurst Park on Monday night, aimed firmly at both the Albion side and their travelling supporters.
And what exactly will the Metropolitan Police do about it?

As intense as the ‘Derby’ is, unless it’s a positive result for the Seagulls it can sometimes be for the Albion travelling faithful one of the least enjoyable away days in the season.

Croydon Police will no doubt claim they don’t treat Albion fans any different to any of the 18 teams who visit Selhurst Park in the Premier League. From my own personal experience, and those of many friends I would beg to differ.

So therefore it will be interesting to see how the Police on duty on Monday night will deal with the obligatory homophobic abuse?

Come Tuesday morning, with the Rainbow displays of last weekend up and down the nation still fresh in the minds of every decent football fan, will there be a record number of ejections on Monday night for abusive and sexually related chanting? Don’t bet on it…

On the field this Monday. I’m going for the Albion unbeaten streak to stretch to three games with a 2-0 win.

AJ

So Anthony Joshua writes himself into boxing history as one of those legendary fighters who regained the World Heavyweight Championship, but was Saturday night’s points victory in Saudi Arabia the stuff of legends?

Maybe if your Joshua’s bank manager or accountant, with the Watford born fighter earning a reputed £52million for his victory over Andy Ruiz Junior.

His opponent for his part, still pocketed £10million, for a contest where his preparation contained too much pizza and Corona. As a boxing fan I was underwhelmed, that said Joshua did what he had to do.

The upshot is however positive for boxing fans around the globe.

It’s superfights for him now, no more ‘bums’ at Wembley or Cardiff, starting in May against either four or five in the World, hopefully Dillian Whyte, before next September, the fight we have been waiting for against the winner of the Wilder and Fury rematch.

I still believe that will be Tyson Fury, and unfortunately for AJ, I still believe there will only be one winner.

Continue Reading

Brighton and Hove Albion

Will football's stance against homophobia continue at Crystal Palace vs Brighton?…Don't bet on it!

Published

on

By Ian Hart

Hats off to the Albion for joining in with the nationwide campaign last weekend to combat homophobia in football.

Despite the campaign, a number of Wolves supporters were ejected from the Amex Stadium last Sunday for homophobic chanting - Some Albion fans expect more abuse this Monday

Despite the campaign, a number of Wolves supporters were ejected from the Amex Stadium last Sunday for homophobic chanting – Some Albion fans expect more abuse this Monday

Rainbow flags, rainbow displays in the stands, even the players wearing rainbow laces, as I said all very admirable and great way of putting the very powerful message across.

But how long will this forward thinking outlook last? Not that very long unfortunately, sadly even on Sunday afternoon there were a number of Wolves supporters ejected from the Amex for homophobic chanting.

But if you thought that was bad then wait until Monday night when the Albion travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace in what is now dubbed the ‘M23’ derby.

Somewhat ironic that just a week after football’s credible stance against homophobia, the Albion travelling faithful will be subjected to homophobia on a scale rarely seen anywhere else on the Albion’s travels.

Every homophobic chant or slur you can imagine will get an airing at Selhurst Park on Monday night, aimed firmly at both the Albion side and their travelling supporters.
And what exactly will the Metropolitan Police do about it?

As intense as the ‘Derby’ is, unless it’s a positive result for the Seagulls it can sometimes be for the Albion travelling faithful one of the least enjoyable away days in the season.

Croydon Police will no doubt claim they don’t treat Albion fans any different to any of the 18 teams who visit Selhurst Park in the Premier League. From my own personal experience, and those of many friends I would beg to differ.

So therefore it will be interesting to see how the Police on duty on Monday night will deal with the obligatory homophobic abuse?

Come Tuesday morning, with the Rainbow displays of last weekend up and down the nation still fresh in the minds of every decent football fan, will there be a record number of ejections on Monday night for abusive and sexually related chanting? Don’t bet on it…

On the field this Monday. I’m going for the Albion unbeaten streak to stretch to three games with a 2-0 win.

AJ

So Anthony Joshua writes himself into boxing history as one of those legendary fighters who regained the World Heavyweight Championship, but was Saturday night’s points victory in Saudi Arabia the stuff of legends?

Maybe if your Joshua’s bank manager or accountant, with the Watford born fighter earning a reputed £52million for his victory over Andy Ruiz Junior.

His opponent for his part, still pocketed £10million, for a contest where his preparation contained too much pizza and Corona. As a boxing fan I was underwhelmed, that said Joshua did what he had to do.

The upshot is however positive for boxing fans around the globe.

It’s superfights for him now, no more ‘bums’ at Wembley or Cardiff, starting in May against either four or five in the World, hopefully Dillian Whyte, before next September, the fight we have been waiting for against the winner of the Wilder and Fury rematch.

I still believe that will be Tyson Fury, and unfortunately for AJ, I still believe there will only be one winner.

Continue Reading

Popular

© 2019 The Crawley Comet | Privacy