Brighton & Hove Albion were knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the second round stage after a 1-0 defeat to Southampton at the Amex Stadium, writes James Hilsum for brightonandhovealbion.com
Substitute Charlie Austin came off the bench to score a late winner for Mark Hughes’s side, which settled a cagey cup tie between the two Premier League clubs.
Chris Hughton rotated his squad and gave David Button, Will Collar, Ben Barclay and Viktor Gyokeres their debuts, while club-record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh was handed his first start.
There was a nervy moment for the Albion defence in the opening ten minutes when Button was forced into a reaction save to keep out Mohamed Elyounoussi’s header, before Barclay cleared away Maya Yoshida’s follow-up strike.
Down the other end, Yves Bissouma drove forward into space only to see his right-footed shot go over the target.
Gyokeres was next to run at the Saints defence, as he made a surging run forward, but the Swede also saw his strike rise over the bar.
Jahanbakhsh was next to try his luck on his full home debut, but the winger saw his long-range attempt narrowly miss the target.
The long-range shots kept coming, this time courtesy of Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong, who fired just past David Button’s near post.
Markus Suttner was then forced to divert Manolo Gabbiandini’s dangerous cross wide and over the bar, in a lively first half hour.
The Italian was involved in the thick of the action again, and forced Button into a fine two-handed stop to his left-hand side.
Soon after, some good link-up play involving Steven Davis and Armstrong resulted in the latter’s curling effort narrowly clearing the top corner.
Elyounoussi took advantage of a lapse in concentration in the Albion defence and took aim from distance shortly after the re-start, but Button was on hand to make a comfortable save.
Following a spell of Saints pressure, Bissouma broke forward down the right flank and picked out Gyokeres, and the Swede’s effort was pushed away by Angus Gunn.
Pascal Gross had two bites of the cherry when his first effort was blocked before he fired the rebound over with his left foot.
James Ward-Prowse then tested Button with a swerving set-piece, but the Seagulls shot-stopper was equal to the strike and pushed it clear.
Jahanbakhsh and Beram Kayal both saw their shots blocked down the other end in a spell of Albion pressure, before Gyokeres forced Gunn into a save at his near post.
Both sides were creating chances, as Davis whipped in an enticing cross towards substitute Sam Gallagher, but the latter couldn’t make contact with his attempted diving header.
Gallagher was denied by Button again moments later, while Jahanbakhsh was thwarted by Gunn straight down the other end.
Southampton were nearly gifted the lead when Button was caught out by Gallagher, who rolled the ball to Austin in space, but Bernardo was there to make a crucial block on the line.
But the Saints broke the deadlock in the 88th minute with the two substitutes combining, as Austin nodded home Nathan Redmond’s cross to put Mark Hughes’s side in front.
Aaron Connolly was introduced late on in a final roll of the dice for the Seagulls, but Hughes’s men held on to secure a place in round three.
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton admitted it was going to take a moment of quality to break the deadlock at the Amex Stadium, as Charlie Austin’s late header clinched a 1-0 victory for Southampton in the Carabao Cup.
The Seagulls came close on a number of occasions against the Saints, but Austin’s 88th-minute header made the difference, and Hughton felt his team performed well enough to take the game to a penalty shootout.
He said, “I couldn’t fault the players – the game looked like it was going to be a draw, and it was going to take that little bit of quality to change that.
“We got into some really good areas and created chances – Viktor’s [Gyokeres] header was probably the best chance we had. They had a similar chance and scored it.
“It was always going to be that one moment that changed things, and unfortunately it came for them.
“The big disappointment is that the game was heading for a draw, and that really would have been a fair result.”
Albion gave three under-23 players their first-team debut, as Ben Barclay, Viktor Gyokeres and Will Collar all played 90 minutes – and Hughton commented on their involvement, as well as identifying Southampton’s strengths.
“It’s not as if they haven’t trained with the first team – Ben Barclay has been with us right through the pre-season period.
“It was a step up for them against a very good side, they’ve got a lot of depth in their squad and their team selection showed that, with the changes they were able to make.
“I don’t think Southampton have any injuries at all, whereas we’ve had to be mindful, with some of the problems we’ve got, looking ahead to Saturday.
“But I thought we were right in it for the large majority of the game. It really could have gone either way.”
Yves Bissouma was the only player to retain his place in the starting line-up that played against Liverpool at Anfield, and Hughton praised the Malian midfielder for his energetic performance under the Amex lights.
“I thought Bissouma was excellent. He’s a talent and it’s really about adjusting to the game here, and to the way that we play.
“He’s still picking up on the language and there’s certainly more to come from him. It was another good opportunity for him tonight.
“He’s a good individual that wants to play, and he certainly gives us something different to what we already have in that midfield group.”
ALBION: Button; Collar, Barclay, Bernardo, Suttner; Jahanbakhsh, Kayal (Connolly 90), Bissouma, Gyokeres; Gross (Propper 63); Locadia.
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Balogun, Montoya, Stephens, Knockaert.