County’s preparations continued to gather this afternoon, as Alex Reid’s first-half goal continued our winning start to pre-season against Brighton & Hove Albion’s U23s side.
The game was played behind closed doors at Brighton’s training ground, with live updates from the game not permitted, at the home side’s request.
There was a change in formation for Simon Rusk’s side on the manager’s return to his former stomping ground, as County reverted to the back three that served so well last season, with Liam Hogan, Lois Maynard and a trialist starting in defence.
Ethan Ross made his first start in the County goal, with Elliot Newby selected to play just behind a front two of Paddy Madden and Alex Reid. There was a familiar face in the Brighton line-up too, with 2008 promotion winner Gary Dicker starting in midfield for the Seagulls.
County first-half XI: Ross; Hogan; Maynard; Trialist; Southam-Hales; Collar; Hinchy; Rydel; Newby; Madden; Reid.
Sporting their stunningly vibrant pink third kit for the first time this season, it was an equally bright start from County on the pitch, on the front foot from the start as Will Collar saw a well struck shot from the edge of the area blocked inside the opening minute.
County continued to press, and after opening the scoring on Wednesday against Ashton, captain Liam Hogan came so close to making it two in two, nodding Macauley Southam-Hales’ corner delivery inches wide of the post.
Southam-Hales’ set piece deliveries continued to cause a problem for the Brighton defence, another in-swinging cross met by Lois Maynard inside the six-yard box, but Brighton just about managed to scramble it away.
The Hatters should have been in front on the half-hour mark, a devilish delivery from Ryan Rydel went right across the face of goal, with neither Newby or Reid able to turn it home from close range.
Brighton grew into the game as the half went on, Dicker lashing a shot narrowly over the bar from distance in their most meaningful attack of the half.
Just before half-time, County finally got the breakthrough as Ryan Rydel’s corner kick was bundled home inside the six-yard box by Alex Reid for his first goal of pre-season.
Just a minute later Reid very nearly turned provider, floating a lovely ball in for his strike partner Madden, who sent a looping header drifting inches wide of the far corner, and it remained 1-0 at the break.
Half-time: Brighton U23s 0-1 County (Reid, 43’).
Just as he did at Ashton on Wednesday, Simon Rusk again rang the changes at the break with nine substitutions, with only Jack Hinchy and Ryan Rydel keeping their places. Those two lasted until the 60 minute mark, before being replaced by Tom Walker and Ben Whitfield, who came on for his first County appearance.
County second-half XI: Hinchliffe; Keane; Palmer; Stott; Minihan; Croasdale; Hinchy (Whitfield, 60’); Rydel (Walker, 60’); Rooney; Alli; Quigley.
County set pieces continued to cause a problem for the home side in the second half, John Rooney seeing a shot from the edge of the area well held by the Brighton ‘keeper Talley.
Both teams continued to look comfortable on the ball, but it was County carrying the greater threat, Rooney again testing Talley after meeting Millenic Alli’s cut-back first time, before sending a dipping free-kick just over the crossbar a minute later.
Tom Walker took over free-kick duties for the next one, and again came so close to doubling the County lead with an effort deflected just wide, with the ‘keeper left wrongfooted. From the resulting corner, Alli saw a header blocked from point blank range.
The pressure at this point from Simon Rusk’s side was relentless, Whitfield and Ryan Croasdale both seeing shots well saved as we continued to turn the screw.
Having been so dominant however, a slip at the back so nearly let Brighton back into it as Moran bore down on goal, but Ash Palmer tracked back brilliantly to get the block in and snuff out the danger.
There was still time for County to come close again, Scott Quigley somehow managing to get a shot away whilst on the floor, and forcing Talley into a flying save.
There was to be no killer second though, as we saw out the remaining minutes with relative ease to make it two wins out of two in pre-season, with no goals conceded too.
Full-time: Brighton U23s 0-1 County (Reid, 43’).