U23 Play Brighton Report - Saliba Plays

By Matty Sadler
September 19 2020

Our U23s played at Brighton last night,I was keen to check out a few of the new players. After losing 2-1 to Southampton U23s last week we drew 2-2 with Brighton. We equalised following a Brighton penalty and then went 2-1 up, but Brighton equalised later on. We're still looking for our first win of the season at that level.

Saliba played the full 90. I thought he way off the pace personally and had a hand in Brighton's opener, but he did play a part in our second goal. Clearly not match fit. Daniel Ballard on the other hand, following on from his first two senior Northern Ireland caps, looked assured. Harry Clarke and Mark McGuinness trained with the first team ahead of West Ham game.

In terms of the new youth signings... George Lewis is raw but was exciting to watch on the left wing - pace to burn and worked hard, setting up Cottrell for our equaliser. Salah-Eddine looked skillful on the right wing but I'd like to see him having more of an impact on the game. Akinola, who from the highlights I'd seen prior looked much more of a ball-winning midfielder than a playmaker/ conductor, played as our deepest midfielder alongside Olayinka, making more of a workman-like midfield, which certainly hampered our build-up play. I would've preferred one of Azeez or Cirjan in there, adding a bit of quality on the ball, but both were unused subs.

Despite the young Guns not looking as fluid they still created, and failed to take, a number of chances, most of which seemed to involve Lewis/ Ben Cottrell/ Folarin Balogun in some form. Cottrell is tiny but has so much quality. Really interested to see how he develops.

They sttill look poor defensively at that level. Important to note that this is very much a new-look side though, following a number of first team promotions, new signings and departures in recent time.

Balogun recently tweeted an hour glass emoji, similarly to Aubameyang, hinting at some sort of decision on his future coming soon. There have been rumours of moves to Sheffield United and Burnley. Could be permanent or he might be extending before going out on loan. Hopefully the latter. We will see.

Brighton 2 Arsenal 2

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