Tolaj double inspires Albion win
Brighton & Hove Albion were crowned Sussex Senior Challenge Cup champions after a 4-2 win over Worthing in the final at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday night.
Worthing put up a good fight and never gave in. However, goals from Andy Moran and Cam Peupion as well as a double from Lorent Tolaj secured the win and the trophy for the Seagulls in front of an attendance of 3,087 people.
The game started out as a fairly even affair, with both teams forcing corners early on. As the first half went on, neither team were in control, but Worthing then drew first blood in the 24th minute.
After a one-two with Oliver Pearce, Reece Myles-Meekums roared into the box and was fouled as referee Dan Austin pointed straight to the box. Pearce took the penalty and comfortably converted it past Brighton goalkeeper James Beadle to give Worthing the lead with their first shot on target.
Brighton almost responded straight away in an almighty goalmouth scramble, but Worthing managed to get the ball out of danger, and they continued in attempts to double their lead.
However, their lead didn’t last longer than ten minutes as Brighton drew level in the 32nd minute. After a one-two with Jack Hinchy, Lorent Tolaj found Zak Struge who played a low cross back to him. He hit a wonderful effort past Worthing’s Harrison Male, much to the aggrievance of the Worthing fans who felt he was offside.
Tolaj soon doubled his tally in the 39th minute. After a misplaced pass from Worthing’s William Seager, Todd Miller found his striker, who didn’t need a second to find the net.
In the second half, Brighton extended their lead just before the hour mark through Peupion. James Furlong’s ball on the left-hand side was met by captain Jack Spong and he found his right back, who found the net.
They soon made it 4-1 as hero of the first half Tolaj got onto the end of a long ball before playing in Moran. He took two touches before beating Male in the 63rd minute, putting the game past Worthing.
Worthing gave themselves hope late on in the 83rd minute when defender Joel Colbran got the important touch from a Jasper Pattenden corner. However, this was not enough to encourage a Real Madrid esque comeback as Brighton finished the game deserve winners. There was a red card for Pattenden with just moments left, after he fouled Brighton substitute Marcus Ifil just outside the box. Being the last man, he could have no complaints.
After the game, Senior Development Phase coach Shannon Ruth spoke of the side’s win.
“Really pleased to get there in the end. We knew it wasn’t going to be straight forward. They’re a good side off the back of getting promoted. The first half was tight, and we're pleased with the reaction of the team that had to go a goal down and then managed to regroup half time and then out of halftime quite strongly. Pleased with the reaction and how well the players competing in the game.
“Their goal almost, you know, kicked us into to life a little bit. I think we were abit tentative before that and then as you say the goal kickstarted us off and then we remembered our game plan if you like and then started to put it into practice and scored a really good first goal and then it went from strength to strength and we got stronger as the game went on,
“I've got to say, these are a great occasion for them. They don't get to play in front of a crowd of this site very often. I thought the Worthing fans were fantastic and the Brighton fans that came in. That might have been one of the reasons why we started slowly, you know, getting a bit nervous.
"The crowd was full of noise, so I think it took us a while to warm to that. And then as I thought, we embraced it throughout, and the crowd made it a real good occasion."
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Brighton & Hove Albion-Worthing) Goals (2-4), Shots (12-9), Shots on Target (5-6), Offsides (3-6), Fouls (12-6), Yellow Cards (1-2), Red Cards (0-1).
Brighton & Hove Albion: Beadle, Peupion, Furlong, Turns, Jackson, Spong, Miller, Hinchy, Tolaj, Moran, Sturge.
Subs: Baker-Boaitey, Talley, Ifill, Hinshelwood, Chouchane.
Worthing: Male, Colbran, Webber, Seager, Racine, Armstrong, Pearce, J.Starkey, Kealy, Myles-Meekums, Pattenden.
Subs: Budd, Cox, Golding, O.Starkey, Parsons.
Match Report by Andy Davies