U18s Thrash Brighton in Pre-Season Opener
Tuesday, 9th Jul 2019 17:48 by James Ager
Town's U18 side started their pre-season friendly fixtures with a comprehensive 5-0 thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion at Playford Road on Tuesday afternoon with Allan Viral grabbing a brace and Harley Curtis, Ola Bello and Nyan Mesuria also on the scoresheet.
Twelve of this season's new intake of 13 new first-year scholars were involved with six of those featuring in Adem Atay and Kieron Dyer's starting line-up.
And within five minutes of the start the young Blues had taken an early lead. Liam Gibbs played a good ball through to Curtis on the right, and his low ball across the area was turned home by Frenchman Viral.
Blues' keeper Antoni Bort made a good block at his near post to thwart a Brighton attack soon after, and that proved crucial as Town went and doubled their lead 10 minutes before the break.
Diminutive right-back Ben Wyss released Curtis and the powerful attacker, who scored for the U18s in last season's FA Youth Cup, held off his man before firing the ball across the keeper and into the far corner of the net.
Two minutes later Curtis had an opportunity to get his second of the game but his powerful penalty was well-saved by sub keeper Fynn Talley, after Colin Oppong had been bundled over by Brighton captain Ben Clark-Eden just inside the box.
However, Town did add a third with the final kick of the half - Curtis fed a ball through to the on-rushing Gibbs and his cutback was easily converted by Viral from close range.
The Blues changed their entire team at the break but they continued to dominate much of the possession, as well as creating plenty of chances.
On 64 Bello netted a fourth goal when Lewis Reed laid the ball off to Curtis - who had come back on to replace the injured Dylan Ruffles - and although his shot was blocked, the ball fell kindly to Bello and he produced a crisp finish from twelve yards out.
On 77 Reed was again the provider as he released Mesuria, who had come back on to take the place of Curtis on the right side of midfield, and he confidently found the far corner of the net.
Games at this stage of the season are always about getting minutes for the players but it was an impressive start for Atay and Dyer, who will have been impressed by not only the team performance, but a number of individual displays too.
Curtis was a constant threat in his role wide on the right, while Michael Bareck held the ball up well in the second half and looks like he will cause a number of problems for defences over the coming season.
For the first time in 24 years the U18s won’t be playing a pre-season with a game at Southwold with the annual trip to play on the Common not featuring in this summer’s programme.
The Blues youngsters are in action again on Saturday at Reading in a game which is behind closed doors.
U18s: Bort (Alley 46), Wyss (O'Reilly 46), Smith (Clifford 46), Cutbush (Baker 46), Fehrenbach (Kabongolo 46), Stewart (Baggott 46), Curtis (Ruffles 46 (Curtis 60 (Mesuria 71 (Wyss 82)))), Gibbs (Alexander 46), Oppong (Reed 46), Mesuria (Bareck 46), Viral (Bello 46).
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