Sunderland AFC U23 2-2 Wigan Athletic U23
Sunderland Under-23s were eliminated from the Premier League Cup in the final match of the group stage on Monday night as Wigan Athletic produced a late comeback to claim a point at Eppleton.
Zak Johnson’s first goal at U23 level gave the young Lads the lead shortly before half-time, before an own goal from Harry McGee doubled the Sunderland advantage.
Two yellow cards in two minutes for Lads goalkeeper Jack McIntyre – the second after conceding a penalty – enabled Wigan to halve the deficit through Harry McHugh, before Tom Costello equalised five minutes into injury time, denying Sunderland any chance of qualifying through the top two of Group E.
Michael Proctor led the side from the dugout on the night, with Mike Dodds alongside new Head Coach Alex Neil and assistant Martin Canning in attendance in Hetton.
Benji Kimpioka captained the side and started along with Tyrese Dyce, both players forced off either side of half-time due to rolled ankles.
Harrison Sohna, Tom Scott and Ethan Kachosa were among those also to start, with two trialists also playing the full 90 minutes as they enter another week being overseen by the Academy staff. Nicky Gyimah was absent due to being cup-tied, having featured in the competition on trial with Middlesbrough earlier in the season.
Trialist B had two early chances for the young Lads, firing just wide before seeing an effort saved by Sam Tickle. Dean Pinnington struck inches past McIntyre’s post from distance later in the half, before the Lads took the lead.
Harrison Sohna’s corner was twice only half-cleared by Wigan, the ball falling to 16-year-old Johnson to pounce and open the scoring three minutes from the break.
In the second half, Sunderland wasted no time in making it two, as Caden Kelly’s delivery was aimed for Trialist B, but his intervention was not required as McGee’s attempt to clear found its way into the net.
The Lads were in the ascendancy and Kachosa saw two chances go amiss as he pushed up to the right wing from right-back, and Costello headed just wide at the other end midway through the half.
It was from the 85th minute when Wigan began to claw their way back. As Chris Sze nearly found himself through on goal, the forward’s effort to round McIntyre saw the goalkeeper clip him just outside the area – the referee showing a yellow card.
The visitors sustained their spell of pressure and won a penalty 90 seconds later, Pinnington going down under another McIntyre challenge – a second booking and subsequent red being brandished. Trialist A took over goalkeeping duties with all three substitutes made and almost kept out McHugh’s kick, the power taking it under the stand-in ‘keeper.
And the Latics levelled in the fifth minute of six added on, as Costello finished from inside the six-yard box from Pinnington’s delivery, knocking out the young Lads who now return to focus on PL2 action at Eppleton against West Bromwich Albion next Monday.
SUNDERLAND AFC U23: McIntyre; Kachosa, Trialist A, Jessup, Newall (Fieldson 72’); Sohna, Scott; Trialist B, Kelly, Dyce (Johnson 24’); Kimpioka © (Gardiner 49’).
Subs not used: A. Richardson, Jones.