Sunderland AFC U23 1-3 Middlesbrough U23
Sunderland Under-23s suffered defeat at the Academy of Light on Monday afternoon, as a clinical Middlesbrough side took three points back to Teesside.
Despite a dominant first half for the young Lads, Boro took their two major chances before the break as Harry Green and Josh Coburn struck.
Ex-Sunderland man Coburn got his second shortly after the restart, before Tyrese Dyce’s consolation got the Lads off the mark – unfortunately with little bearing on the result.
Elliott Dickman began the game with Anthony Patterson in goal, with Tom Scott replacing the injured Sam Wilding – Stephen Wearne captained the side against his former club.
The Lads were stunned in the opening three minutes as Boro imposed an early marker, Green cutting inside and finding the net with a low left-footed finish inside the area.
From conceding the opener, the Lads were spurred into life and created numerous chances – Kenton Richardson going close with a left-footed hit saved by Luke Daniels, with Patrick Almond and Harrison Sohna both seeing efforts over the top.
Will Harris and Benji Kimpioka were thwarted by Daniels just after the half-hour mark, before Wearne volleyed Ethan Kachosa’s cross from the right just over the crossbar.
For all the chances towards the Boro goal, the Lads were sucker-punched seconds from half-time, when Coburn picked up Williams Kokolo’s square pass from the left and hammered home from close range.
And the visitors picked up where they left off immediately after the restart, Coburn shuffling the ball over the line as the Lads failed to clear.
A crucial clearance from Dyce denied Joe Gibson a fourth as Boro’s confidence rose further, but it was the same man at the other end who struck a consolation goal midway through the second half, firing home a clinical finish to give Sunderland hope.
Patterson made an excellent reflex save to thwart Gibson as Middlesbrough looked to simmer the tempo of the game down, before Sohna’s deflected strike bounced just wide.
As time went on, Boro saw the game out by winning several fouls and remaining organised, with the Lads now forced to lick their wounds and bounce back next Monday at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
After the defeat, Dickman said: “I’m disappointed with the goals we conceded and especially the timing of them. We have to manage those dangerous times better, but in the first half we played some good football and created a lot of chances. We need to look at being more productive in the final third, and should have been winning at half-time.
“It’s going to be difficult when we defend the way we have – Boro came out the traps well in the second half, but we allowed the game to fizzle into nothing in the last 15-20 minutes. We have to be harder to play against.
“We’ll look to learn from today and dust ourselves down, and we’ll work on reacting and bouncing back against Wolves.”
SUNDERLAND AFC U23: Patterson; Richardson, Younger, Almond, Dyce; Scott, Sohna; Kachosa (Kelly 79'), Wearne (c), Kimpioka (Newall 63'); Harris.
Subs not used: Carney, Jessup, Chapman.