Silvestre Varela and Adil Nabi on target in victory
SILVESTRE Varela found the net as Albion claimed a 2-1 victory over Brighton in their Barclays Under-21 Premier League clash at the Ricoh Arena.
The Portugal international winger, recruited towards the close of the summer transfer window on a season-long loan deal from FC Porto, has been steadily stepping up his fitness levels and got an hour under his belt tonight.
Pulling on an Albion shirt for the first time, Varela connected with Kemar Roofe’s near-post corner to convert a well-taken opener just after the half-hour mark.
Adil Nabi rounded off a surging run to double Albion’s advantage on the stroke of half-time.
George Cole reduced the arrears for the visiting Seagulls in the 54th minute but the Baggies held firm to claim a deserved victory – their third of the season to date.
It leaves James Shan’s U21 side with an impressive nine points from their opening four matches in National Division 2.
Jonathan Leko posed a lively threat for Albion in the early stages, with his effort testing Seagulls stopper Joshua Smith.
It was Leko’s surging run which handed an opening to Nabi but he drilled his long-range effort narrowly over.
Nabi again tried his luck in the 15th minute as the hosts dominated the opening quarter.
And, having once more gone close through Kyle Howkins’ header, they finally got the reward they deserved in the 31st minute as Varela connected with Roofe’s near-post corner to slot home.
The visitors finally threatened in the 36th minute as Cole saw his long-range effort fly narrowly wide of Luke Daniels’ left-hand post.
But it was Albion who doubled their advantage just before half-time, Nabi finishing off a driving run with a finish across Smith.
Albion started the second period in the same way as they bossed the first, yet sloppy defending saw an umarked Cole reduce the away side’s deficit in the 54th minute as he converted well at the back post.
Varela made way for Samir Nabi just after the hour mark, before Chike Kandi and Leko were replaced by Joe Ward and Rees Wedderburn respectively.
Roofe, twice, and Samir Nabi both wasted chances to add to the advantage but it proved inconsequential as the Baggies ran out winners.
Albion: Daniels, Ezewele, Smart, O'Neil, Donnellan, Howkins, Roofe, A Nabi, Kandi (Ward 70’), Leko (Wedderburn 82’), Varela (S Nabi 61’).
Unused subs: Rose, Pace.
GOALS: Varela (31’), A Nabi (44’)
Brighton: Smith, Hunt, Barnett (Barry 55’), Rea, Dallison-Lisbon, Pappoe, Deen, Harris, Muitt, Starkey, Cole (Maguire-Drew 78’).
Unused subs: Wiltshire, Doherty, Barclay.
GOAL: Cole (54’)