Graham Potter’s young guns bypass ‘physical’ Brighton Cardiff | Carabao Cup

If the next generation is going to see anything, the excitement surrounding Brighton is well underway. A team of several teenagers helped them extend their perfect start to the season and cruise in the third round of Carabao Cup Courtesy of expertly scored goals by Jacob Moder and Andy Zecheri. The victory represented a totally satisfying night’s work given that this team was virtually unrecognizable from the team that got off to a strong start in the Premier League. The only concern was the possibility of injury to Enoch Mwepo, arguably the top player in the game, with the summer signing ending late with the support of two medical staff.

Graham Potter had promised a young squad, and while he made sweeping changes from the team that beat Watford, they have played with the same calm that has served them so well so far. The average age of the players was only 20 years.

Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele gained first-hand experience of how challenging these tasks can be in January, when he made four saves on penalties to help avoid defeat in the FA Cup third round along the M4 at Newport of League Two. But here Brighton were the best since the whistle and, nine minutes later, Polish midfielder Moder passed Alex Smithies after a superb pass from Mwepo, a £18m summer deal from Red Bull Salzburg.

Brighton hit the ball with confidence, the defenders happily moved forward to start the attacks, and Zekeri should have doubled their advantage after 10 minutes, but he pulled his shot wide after it was fired by central defender Haydon Roberts. Mwepo proved difficult to contain and the right-back controlled a high pass before finding Taylor Richards on the edge of the penalty area but the 20-year-old sent his first shot over the crossbar. Cardiff, who himself made eight changes, started with a push but lacked rhythm and to make matters worse, Cardiff captain Sean Morrison, one of three players retained after Saturday’s win at Millwall, is due to injury.

Brighton had the ball in the first half from one side but Cardiff posed a threat from set-pieces. All of their eight goals in the league this season have been headers but top scorer Eden Flint was unable to connect at the back post when Will Foulkes sent in a thrilling cross, before James Collins later sent off another Foulkes header.

Cardiff apparently woke up during the break, and within six minutes of the start of the second half, midfielder Ryan Wintel converted a cross at a narrow range. Tavio D’Almeida, one of Cardiff’s two first-team players in the competition, curled a ball towards the back post, which Perry Ng sent into the penalty area, then thrust Wentel effortlessly towards goal. But any sense of progress was short-lived and by the time Collins sent a header down the crossbar from a shot from Josh Murphy’s cross, the visitors had increased their advance through Zekeri. Richards pushed the ball to Moises Kaisedou, who kept his balance to pick the striker, and hit the ball into the corner with a superb finish for the first time.

Cardiff introduced Welsh doubles Robin Colwell and Keefer Moore, much to the delight of supporting the house at Canton Stand but with 15 minutes of play it was Flint who almost found a way back into the match, only for Steele to head back to safety. Moments earlier, Brighton could have sealed the win but Smithis saved well to deny young striker Mark Leonard after Foulkes inadvertently pushed Mwipo’s pass into his path.

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