Southampton U21 2-2 SAFC U21
Sunderland Under-21s were denied a superb victory against Southampton at Staplewood Academy after a 93rd-minute equaliser from the hosts.
Ellis Taylor’s free-kick gave the young Lads an early lead, which was doubled when Harry Gardiner got on the scoresheet in the second half.
Will Merry pulled one back midway through the second 45, before Samuel Amo-Ameyaw levelled the scoring in stoppage time.
Graeme Murty and John Hewitson travelled to the South Coast with a team exclusively made up of Academy players, as Taylor captained the side and Chris Rigg started in midfield.
Zak Johnson, Caden Kelly and Tommy Watson were also among the starting XI, and a lively start saw the Lads dominate chances as Kelly twice went close.
Ben Middlemas’ clever run infield from the right saw him reach a ball ahead of Saints goalkeeper Oliver Wright, going down under his challenge and drawing a free-kick 20 yards from goal.
Taylor stepped up and sent a low shot straight into the bottom-left corner, opening the scoring after 13 minutes.
The Lads defended resolutely when called upon – Tyler Dibling’s shot wide the only real attempt in anger from the hosts – whilst Watson, Kelly and Ben Crompton all went close.
Emerging for the second half a goal to the good, Sunderland remained assured and looked the more potent going forward, as Gardiner was denied by the offside flag as he tapped in the rebound from Watson’s strike.
But just two minutes later, a second bite of the cherry proved successful when Wright parried Kelly’s strike from 15 yards, enabling Gardiner to add a second after reacting first.
Middlemas and Tom Scott then went close to trebling the tally for the Lads, but the last quarter of the game saw the tide turn as substitute Merry tucked away Dom Ballard’s pull-back.
Ballard himself almost equalised but was denied by Adam Richardson in the Sunderland goal, but a marauding run from Amo-Ameyaw was topped off with an accurate low strike to make it 2-2 at the final whistle.
SAFC U21: Richardson; Wilson, Johnson, Crompton, Taylor ©; Rigg, Scott; Middlemas (Thompson 72’), Kelly (Chiabi 90+3’), Watson; Gardiner (Moore 85’).
Subs not used: Cameron, Jessup.