By Tim Hodges at the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Wrexham 1
The Albion drew with non- league Wrexham at the Amex this afternoon. During the latter stages of the match the Seagulls had four debutants on the pitch.
In the early stages it was Wrexham who were pressuring Albion. Jake Speight was looking extremly lively and was causing Romain Vincelot and Grant Hall a few problems.
Speight was very quick in and around the box. He was being supported up front by 38-year-old player manager Andy Morrell and Jamie Tolley just behind.
Peter Brezovan had to get down low to his left as Tolley let fly from just outside the box, a while later Tolley found himself with time a space on the edge of the D, but put his shot well wide.
As Wrexham contiuned to press Speight flashed a ball across the six-yard box which Matt Sparrow was on hand to clear.
Albion were getting to grips with the Conference side but were limited to long-range shots, from Kazenga LuaLua and Jake Forster-Caskey, although Will Buckley got free of his defender but Ashley Barnes could not get any power with his header from the resulting cross.
Before the half was out Brezovan dived bravely at the feet of Morrell and at the other end Mayebi spilt a cross, but no Albion player was on hand to connect to the loose ball.
Within two minutes of the restart LuaLua displayed all the skill, energy and precision that made him such at hit in League 1. He beat two men and teed up a cross into the six-yard box, which Forster-Caskey stabbed home to put Albion 1-0 in front.
Soon after, however, LuaLua pulled up sharply and was quickly substituted by Gus Poyet with Torbjorn Agdestein.
The Norwegain debutant linked up with Barnes who ploughed a central role.
Adgestein displayed some neat skill, beating his marker effortlessly at times but was just lacking that final ball.
Albion were enjoying the lions share of the play. But just as Yaser Kasim and Anton Rodgers took to the touchline in prepartion for their intoduction, Wrexham’s young Polish international Cieslewicz, ran at and past Ben Sampayo, and from the edge of the area he hit a shot which struck Hall and looped up over Brezovan for 1-1.
Wrexham and their fans went wild. At least one supporter had to be restained on the pitch by the stewards.
Albion now had six of the development squad on the pitch.
Rodgers was trying to find the range of his passing, more than once he tried to plant the ball into the penalty area, but just over hit his pass.
He was, however, linking up well with Adgerstein and at times Sampayo, but for all the pretty football, Albion could not penetrate where it would hurt Wrexham.
Then from almost out of nothing Rodgers hit a dipping half volley which went skimming over the bar.
Ashley Barnes, cutting in from the left, hit a belter of a shot which just dipped over.
From the other side of the pitch, Adgestein took a pass from Rodgers and fizzed a fierce curling shot narrowly wide.
Hall was striding out of defence with supreme confidence, on occasions he ran 30 or 40 yards with the ball. He really does look like a Lewis Dunk in the making, another home grown Lawrensonesqe type player.
But for all this confidence and possesion, Albion could not find a second goal. In fact towards the end, it was Wrexham who looked more likely to win the match.
In the final minutes subsitiute Keats got free down the left and got in a shot that Brezovan beat away. Tolley just failed to connect to the rebound.
Harris then skipped past Sampayo and drilled in a cross, only to see the ball flash across the six-yard box and roll out of play.
In the final seconds Jake Speight was one on one with Brezovan, but the Albion keeper saved the day with an unorthodox sliding tackle type save.
Albion will not realish the trip to North Wales, on a Tuesday night in January. But to procced in the F A Cup, 29 years after their greatest day, they must go back to the Racecourse Ground and try to see off their Conference Premier opponents.
Albion: Brezovan; Calderon, Vincelot, Hall, Sampayo; Navarro; Buckley, Forster-Caskey, Sparrow, LuaLua; Barnes. Subs: Ankergren Mackail-Smith, Agdestein, Bridcutt, Bergkamp, Kasim, Rodgers.
Wrexham: Mayebi; Obeng, Creighton, Knight-Percival, Ashton; Clarke, Harris, Tolley; Cieslewicz, Speight, Morrell. Subs: Maxwell, Keates, Clowes, Hunt, Little, Anoruo.
Ref: Darren Deadman (Cheshunt)
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