by Matt Squires
The pre-season is typically an underwhelming period of football that consists of a number of friendly games between sides that would not normally come into contact with each other. As a result, most of the games are throwaways and are, ultimately, forgettable.
For fans of Brighton and Hove Albion, however, the pre-season of 2013 produced a remarkable revelation in the form of Academy prospect Solly March.
Late July saw Brighton entertain Norwich City at the Amex in a fixture that saw the Seagulls struggle to offer a response to the strength of the Premier League side. A dazzling individual display from the relatively unknown March, however, turned the game on its head, and his 87th-minute wonder strike earned the Seagulls an impressive share of the spoils.
March, an attacking midfielder from nearby Hailsham, East Sussex, has become an impressive prospect for the Albion. Still at the young age of 19, March is known for his astonishing pace and skill, whilst possessing the impressive strength required to challenge seasoned opposition.
Stints at local lower-league clubs Eastbourne Borough and Lewes FC and a brief spell at Chelsea first earmarked March as “one to watch”. Brought to the attention of the Albion in late 2011, March penned his first contract shortly after and went on to become an integral part of the Albion’s Academy squad.
Impressive displays at development level earned the youngster a place in the squad against Norwich, with March in turn producing a performance that firmly established him as the Albion’s newest star.
Since the Norwich game, the Albion have endured a shaky start to the season. An extensive injury list that includes star striker Craig Mackail-Smith and influential playmaker Liam Bridcutt left the Seagulls struggling to produce a consistent form. On a positive note, however, it has afforded Solly March vital game-time in the Sky Bet Championship.
Despite spending a considerable amount of the time on the bench, March has recently played a part in tough fixtures against the likes of Derby County and Burnley. Although his appearances may have been limited to a substitute role, his consistent involvement in the first team indicates that March may be in the long-term plans of Albion boss Oscar Garcia.
Brighton and Hove Albion are widely believed to be potential promotion candidates, but their inconsistent start to the current campaign has served as somewhat of a stumbling block. One constant amongst the troubles, however, has been the ongoing form of Solly March. With tricky games against the likes of fellow promotion chasers Wigan Athletic and Leicester City occurring in the coming weeks, the young midfielder’s influence may have come at the perfect time.