Eastbourne United AFC went down 3-2 against a very well drilled Brighton & Hove Albion XI at The Oval on Wednesday evening in a fixture arranged to mark the re-opening of the new look Oval.
On a warm summers evening, a bumper crowd packed into The Oval and were treated to a very good game of football.
United included recent signings Callum Sherriff, Matt Godley and John Summerbell in their squad, while Brighton had Anton Rodgers, son of Liverpool Manager Brendan, in their line-up.
United started the game at a fast pace and provided the first entertainment of the evening as Simon Catt tried an audacious lob over Albion keeper Daniel East from 25 yards, with the ‘keeper managing to back-peddle quick enough to tip the ball over the crossbar for a corner.
United got their reward for that their opening 8 minutes of play deserved when Liam Baitup pounced on an error in the Brighton defence to cooly slot past the onrushing East to put EUAFC ahead.
Brighton, who looked comfortable with the ball at their feet, attempted to get back into the match on 14 minutes, but Hailsham based Solomon March fired over and out of The Oval when well placed in the area.
Albion did equalise however ten minutes later, as Shamir Goodwin produced a deft flick to beat Adam Sargent in the home goal.
With 7 minutes of the first half remaining, Liam Baitup doubled his tally with an early contender for goal of the season.
Baitup found a Mark Goodwin cross slightly behind him and with his back to goal, flicked the pacy ball around the Albion defender and fired home into the roof of the Albion net to the applause of everybody inside The Oval.
United took a 2-1 lead into half time and both sides made changes in the second half.
With 20 minutes played of the second half, Albion were awarded a free-kick 20 yards from the United goal which sub ‘keeper Andy Albon saved well before the follow up was knocked back across goal for Rob Hunt to tap into an empty net and make the scores 2-2
United did not give up and kept pushing their Professional opponents all the way, but a mistake in the United defence on 69 minutes saw the ball roll past ‘keeper Albon and the unnamed Brighton substitute pounced to place the ball into the back of the net to make the final score 3-2 to the seagulls.
Despite the result, United were never outplayed by their higher level opponents and can come away from the fixture and draw on a lot of positives ahead of the coming season
UNITED: Sargent, Sherriff, Lee, Stracey, Jules, Featherstone, M Goodwin, Catt, Cooper, Baitup, Del-Gaudio
Subs: J Bunn, Albon, Barden, Summerbell, Godley
ALBION: East, Sampayo, Jesson, Richards, Morales, Jones, Oatway Jnr, Rodgers, Dickinson, S Goodwin, March
Subs: Barry, Rae, Akubuine, Hunt, Peake, Wiltshere, Cousins