Brighton & Hove Albion U21 v Bolton Wanderers U21

2pm  20 April 2015

Under 21 Premier League, Division Two
Brighton & Hove Albion U21 1 Bolton Wanderers U21 0 (att 84)

Brighton aren't keen on spectators watching games at their impressive new training ground in Lancing. Under 18 games on Saturday morning are "behind closed doors", and just 100 tickets are made available for Under 21 games, free but available only to season ticket holders.

I'd contacted the club, explaining my interest in attending (admittedly an odd concept for a club not used to dealing with groundhoppers), but was firmly, although politely, rebuffed.

Undeterred, I managed to make contact with someone who knew someone else who was a Brighton season ticket holder. After a pre-match rendezvous in Worthing I headed to the grandly-titled American Express Elite Football Performance Centre with a prized match ticket.

I was still a little concerned at the possibility of stringent ID checks on arrival, but the security guy controlling access to the car park was happy to let me in once he saw my ticket, and after that I didn't need to show it at all.

Spectators congregated in the reception area, from where teamsheets were available, before being escorted to "pitch 4", where we were permitted to stand behind a wooden fence along one touchline.

Had the fixture been a "sell out" I could have understood Brighton's refusal to allow me a ticket officially, although I'd question why they don't stage the games at a larger venue. However, it was clear that not many season ticket holders were spending their Monday afternoon watching an Under 21 match.

Those with better things to do were wise, as the game was as dull as any I've seen this season. Brighton's winner was an 89th minute penalty which I reckon was only the second shot on target in the entire game.

Bolton had the better of the first half, but shot wide when chances came. Brighton were better after the break, and did hit the crossbar before their very late winner.

Clubs like Brighton can be proud of their academies, but all too often games at this level are full of players who are technically adept, able to pass accurately and retain possession, but lack the creativity needed to unlock similarly well-drilled opposition.

Still, my sole aim with this was see a game at what I feared might be the only youth/reserve team venue that I wouldn't get into, so in a way the quality of the entertainment was secondary. Thanks again to those who helped make this visit possible.





Google Maps shows Brighton's new training centre in the process of being built. Click here for a map showing the approximate location of the pitch

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