Norwich City U23 1-1 Sunderland AFC U23
Sunderland Under-23s took home an impressive point from Carrow Road on Friday night, despite conceding a late equaliser to Norwich City.
The young Lads headed to the second-placed hosts in Premier League 2 Division 2 with a primarily teenage side and led for much of the contest in Norfolk, Caden Kelly firing Michael Proctor’s team in front after 15 minutes.
A dominant second half from Norwich saw Jacob Carney pull off a number of remarkable saves, alongside a spirited performance from the defensive unit in front of him, before Alan Neilson’s side finally levelled through Flynn Clarke with eight minutes to go.
The result leaves the youngsters 13th in the division with three games still to play.
A youthful squad travelled to East Anglia for the clash to begin April which included Under-18s Kelly, Zak Johnson, Adam Richardson, Henry Fieldson and Marshall Burke, alongside numerous first-year pros as Carney captained the side.
Harrison Sohna, Ethan Kachosa and Tom Scott were among the starting players, along with Cameron Jessup, Ugonna Emenike, Nathan Newall and Nicky Gyimah.
Kelly gave Sunderland an early lead with a great piece of initiative, as the Lads dispossessed Norwich and the young forward caught out the Canaries’ goalkeeper Archie Mair, sending a dipping strike into the net.
This came shortly after Johnson headed a corner delivery over Mair’s crossbar, but chances were admittedly at a premium as the game progressed. The Black Cats preserved the advantage heading in at the break, Oscar Thorn forcing Carney into a smart save and Kachosa sprinted back excellently to deny Liam Gibbs bearing down on goal.
In the second half, Norwich expectedly stepped up the intensity and forced several top saves from Carney, who most notably denied Clarke and Sean Stewart with shots destined for the corners.
Clarke consistently appeared the most potent attacking outlet for Norwich, and he eventually struck the hosts level with 82 minutes on the clock with a powerful finish after Gibbs’ shot had cannoned back off the upright.
No real threat of a winner at either end followed, and the Lads will take confidence from a positive result heading into the final run-in.
SUNDERLAND AFC U23: Carney ©; Johnson, Jessup, Emenike, Newall (Steels 60’); Sohna, Scott; Kachosa, Trialist, Gyimah; Kelly.
Subs not used: A. Richardson, Burke, Fieldson.