Brighton & Hove Albion Under 23s boss Simon Rusk was absolutely delighted with his side's late comeback against League Two Crawley Town in the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup Final at the AMEX Stadium.
Trailing to an unfortunate Josh Kerr own goal, two late goals in the last eight minutes from the dangerous James Tilley and Kerr secured consecutive Sussex Senior Cup wins for the Seagulls.
Albion U23s manager Rusk was over the moon with his side’s late show and always believed his side could net a late winner.
He said: “I was really pleased with the performance tonight. We showed good levels of resilience and credit to the players. They tackled the game brilliantly.
“The players have given me every confidence to believe in them this year. The first game of the season against Norwich we went a goal down and then came back to win. We’ve done it a few times this season, like going 2-0 down away to Stoke and wining 3-2.
“This was a trophy at the start of the year that we wanted to win and thankfully we’ve managed to get the win and get the trophy, which is very nice.
Rusk also believes the Seagulls continued success in the Sussex Senior Cup can breed a winning mentality throughout the squad. However, he feels the rigours of managing a development squad is much different to first team management.
He added: “We are a development squad and what’s important is that we go into every fixture believing we can win it. If we don’t win it ultimately, it’s not a disaster. We can review what went wrong and it’s an opportunity for players to learn.
“In first team football you’ve got three points at stake and they are vital. We don’t have that intensity as a development team to have to get three points. That doesn’t mean we don’t go into games wanting to win, we do.
“I see that as part of the development, as part of being a team player in a winning team and, we have to create an environment that is realistic for professional sport. With that we do put an importance on winning.”
One final fixture remains for Rusk’s U23 Seagulls and that is the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-off final against Aston Villa U23s this Saturday at Villa Park (12 pm k.o.).
With promotion to Division 1 well within his sides sights, Rusk feels that being in the top tier of developmental football will greatly aide his players progress but accepted that even if promotion eludes them it will have been a successful season.
He added: “At the start of the year we wanted to perform well in every game and we felt that if we performed well, we’d win games. Now we’ve come this far, and we are in the final, it is important.
“It’s an opportunity for us to go and play against some of the biggest clubs in the world in the Premier League, your Manchester Citys, your Tottenhams, you Liverpools, your Arsenals, and we want to test ourselves as a group of staff.
“We want the players to be tested against the best possible players but equally we need to recognise how well the players have done to have that opportunity. Win, lose, or draw we won’t forget that.”