Match Report: SAFC U21s 3-3 West Ham United U21s (5-3 pens)

Sunderland Under-21s booked their place in the Premier League 2 Play-Off semi-finals following an extraordinary 5-3 penalty shoot-out victory over West Ham after the game ended 3-3 draw after extra time.

West Ham entered the interval with a one-goal advantage thanks to Gideon Kodua close-range strike before captain Ellis Taylor expertly levelled proceedings with a powerful strike inside normal time.

Patrick Kelly and Callum Marshall put the Hammers ahead twice inside extra time, but a moment of brilliance from Caden Kelly and a Tommy Watson tap-in took the two sides to penalties.

Five perfectly placed penalties later and an Adam Richardson save sent Eppleton into a frenzy as the Black Cats booked their spot in the PL2 semi-finals.

Graeme Murty was forced to make one change: Chris Rigg returned to the young Black Cats’ starting XI to replace the injured Marshall Burke.

The match was all square inside the opening 20 minutes, with both teams sharing possession but failing to create any clear-cut opportunities - goalkeepers Richardson and Jacob Knightbridge having little to do.

Sunderland came closest to breaking the deadlock on 28 minutes when Taylor’s in-swinging corner from the left-hand side came within a whisker of connecting with the head of Henry Fieldson at the back post – Knightbridge’s outstretched finger enough to tip the ball over for another corner.

The host's first shot on target came on 33 minutes, Caden Kelly picking his spot before stinging the palms of Knightbridge from 25 yards out

Seconds later, West Ham had a chance of their own. Callum Marshall cut inside Sunderland’s 18-yard box before firing through a host of bodies and forcing Richardson into a low stop.

The visitors took the lead on 40 minutes, Kodua collecting Kaegan Casey’s knockdown from a corner before drilling the ball past Richardson from six yards out.

Tommy Watson had the supporters off their seats in the final few minutes of the first half, but the winger's attempt from the edge of the box rippled the wrong side of Knightbridge’s net.

The Black Cats opened the second half in the ascendance, Kelly whipped his free-kick comfortably over Knightbridge’s near post following a blatant trip on Harrison Jones as he advanced towards goal.

The hosts continued to apply the pressure, and after several short passes, Watson fired wide of Knightbridge’s near post from an acute angle.

Taylor came within inches of a spectacular equaliser after some neat build-up play from Kelly and Watson, but the right-backs bending effort from 20 yards out curled wide of Knightbridge’s far post.

A few minutes later, Taylor made no mistake; this time, the defender controlled the ball before emphatically pinging his strike into the roof of Knightbridge’s near post to level the score on 84 minutes.

Nothing could separate the two sides in normal time, so an additional 30 minutes were added as the two teams entered extra time.

Taylor nearly doubled his tally for the evening on 96 minutes, albeit from a wicked looping deflection that almost wrong-footed Knightbridge at his front post.

The visitors took the lead again on 105 minutes when Kelly found Richardson’s bottom corner from the edge of the box.

The Hammers almost added a third inside the first few minutes of second half extra time when Michael Forbes turned inside the host’s danger area, but his shot clipped Richardson’s post.

Sunderland levelled again on 110 minutes, Kelly with a wonderfully executed bending effort from the edge of the box after Watson initially regained possession on the left-hand side.

West Ham were awarded a penalty three minutes later when Oliver Bainbridge was adjudged to have fouled Kamarai Simon-Swyer inside the box.

Lewis Osford stepped up and beat Richardson but not his post as his effort cannoned back off the woodwork before being roofed clear of danger.

After a scramble inside the Black Ctas’ box, Marshall poked the ball past Richardson on 117 minutes to put the Hammers ahead for a third time.

Sunderland didn’t give up and equalised on 119 minutes, Watson tapping home from a yard out after Knightsbridge initially denied Trey Ogunsuyi from point-blank range.

Taylor, Jones, Kelly, Middlemas, and Watson all dispatched their spot-kicks with confidence before Richardson saved Keenan Appiah-Forson attempt to send Sunderland into the last four with a 5-3 penalty shoot-out victory.

Up next for the young Black Cats is a trip to London to face Reading in the Premier League 2 play-off semi-final. Date and time will be confirmed in due course.

SAFC XI: Richardson, Taylor ©, Bell, Fieldson, Bainbridge, Middlemas, Rigg (Ryder 70’), Kelly, H.Jones, Watson, Ogunsuyi.

Subs not used: Chibueze, Tutierov, Lavery, J.Jones.

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