Sunderland AFC U23 1-3 Aston Villa U23
Sunderland Under-23s suffered defeat at Eppleton on Monday night despite what was in significant parts a spirited display against Aston Villa.
In an eventful game, Harrison Sohna’s terrific strike opened the scoring, before Brad Young levelled for Villa near half-time.
The visitors’ captain Hayden Lindley curled in a second after the break, added to by Indiana Vassilev’s strike to make it three, before Oliwier Zych denied Tom Scott from the penalty spot.
The fixture was a rearranged game from December after an initial postponement close to kick-off for a frozen pitch on the night. John Hewitson oversaw a young side which included several scholars, alongside three trialists – an alternative 3-4-3 formation started the game.
Jacob Carney again captained the team from between the sticks, with regulars Ellis Taylor, Ethan Kachosa and Cameron Jessup also in the line-up.
Zak Johnson suffered an ankle injury in the first few minutes after blocking a Villa shot, and was unable to continue after a medical assessment on the pitch.
Half-chances in the first half-hour included Sohna seeing an effort blocked, Carney denying Declan Frith and Travis Patterson’s shot swerving wide.
But 32 minutes in, the young Lads found the opener in stunning style, as Taylor played a short pass to his left for Sohna, who swept home a dipping strike over the head of Zych and into the far corner from 25 yards against his former club.
Nicky Gyimah on the right of the front three looked lively throughout in perhaps his best game in a Sunderland shirt to date, firing two first-half efforts just wide.
But Villa did respond before the break, Young doing excellently to take down a pass, beat his man and fire a left-footed shot in off the upright.
Nine minutes into the second half saw Sunderland pass up a great chance to regain the lead, as Trialist C was set clear and saw his lob over the on-rushing Zych bounce inches past the far post.
And despite it nearly being another excellent Lads goal, Villa punished it immediately as Lindley neatly opened up his posture and curled a shot into the far corner.
The visitors’ tails were up after taking the advantage, and Carney was forced into action with an incredible save, diving full-stretch to his left to react and deny Vassilev from close range.
Henry Fieldson, on for Johnson early-doors, then produced a strong block to deny Young.
It was to be three for the Midlands side with 14 minutes remaining, as Vassilev created himself space inside the area before finding the far corner with a left-foot strike.
A chance to get back into the game then sprung up for the Black Cats as Gyimah rapidly got in front of his man to reach a ball forward, being clipped for a penalty in the process. Scott stepped up, but saw a right-foot shot saved to his right by Zych.
Villa saw out the win in DH5, as the young Lads now focus on two remaining Premier League 2 fixtures against Birmingham City and Southampton.
SUNDERLAND AFC U23: Carney ©; Jessup, Johnson (Fieldson 8’), Trialist B; Trialist A, Sohna, Scott; Trialist C, Gyimah (Middlemas 83’), Taylor (Watson 75’).
Subs not used: Bond, Jones.