Sunderland U23 2-2 Leicester City U23
Josh Maja scored a brace for Sunderland at the Stadium of Light as the Lads twice came from behind to earn a Premier League 2 point against Leicester City.
However, it was a point which the Black Cats had to fight all the way for it as Foxes frontman Admiral Muskwe oozed confidence as he scored his fourth and fifth goals of the second – three of which have come against the Black Cats.
Muskwe firstly rounded Max Stryjek with five minutes on the clock to give Leicester the lead before Maja levelled things up shortly before half-time with a smart chip.
Six minutes into the second period, though, and it was 2-1 to the Foxes as Muskwe slotted past an on rushing Stryjek.
Sunderland pushed all the way in the closing stages, and earned a share of the spoils when Maja sent Daniel Iversen the wrong way from 12 yards as Ethan Robson was fouled inside the area.
On to Colchester United, next. . .
Elliott Dickman made four changes to his starting XI from the team that were defeated to Manchester United. The first-team quartet – Jan Kirchhoff, Lynden Gooch, George Honeyman and Donald Love – that played Monday’s match didn’t feature.
That meant Elliot Embleton, Joel Asoro, Dan Wright and Luke Molyneux returned to the starting line-up as the Black Cats continued to chase down their first Premier League 2 win in 2017.
With the Stadium of Light basking in sunlight, it was Leicester City who shone brighter in the opening exchanges, taking the lead inside five minutes through Muskwe.
The forward who proved to be a thorn in the Black Cats’ side at the King Power Stadium last August broke the offside trap and rounded Max Stryjek before slotting into an empty net.
Sunderland responded well, though, Josh Maja headed Denver Hume’s cross from the left wide and then good feet from Asoro saw him weave his way into the box as the Lads attempted to force the issue.
As the half wore on the visitors began to look extremely comfortably, Muskwe turned George Brady on the edge of the six-yard box but couldn’t quite squeeze his effort past Stryjek at his near post and instead crashed the ball into the sidenetting.
Meanwhile at the other end, frustration mounted for the Black Cats as Embleton and Maja both saw curled strikes from 20 yards comfortably saved by Iversen.
Patience was key, however.
With 38 minutes on the clock the Lads’ persistence paid off, Asoro pounced on a stray pass out to the left flank and fed Maja who showed great composure to chip Iversen as he came off his line.
The second period started in identical fashion to the first, Josh Knight got past Ethan Robson and powered forward before playing a defence splitting pass into Muskwe’s path who collided with Stryjek as he restored Leicester’s lead.
Muskwe was unable to continue for Leicester and was replaced by Spanish striker Raul Uche.
That aside, Sunderland had it all to do – again.
Asoro slipped Robson in between two Foxes but just as the midfielder looked to pull the trigger he went to ground inside the area which cued strong appeals for a penalty.
The referee wasn’t having any of it, though, and ordered to play to continue as the Black Cats slowly sunk their claws into the Foxes.
With bags of effort and commitment, Dickman’s side rallied in the closing stages but saw their play disrupted as Molyneux and Asoro were left in a heap on the floor following heavy challenges.
Robson drove the Black Cats on from the heart of midfield but could do little to inspire his team-mates to find their attacking spark in the final third as chances dried up.
The midfielder took it upon himself in the 86th minute, though, and in a similar position to the sensational free-kick he netted at Leicester City in August – the chance presented itself again.
Robson connected perfectly with the ball but this time Iversen made a splendid one-handed save to preserve the Foxes slender lead.
Sunderland pushed all the way in the closing stages, and earned a share of the spoils when Maja sent Iversen the wrong way from 12 yards as Ethan Robson was fouled inside the area.
Onto Colchester United, next. . .
Sunderland: Stryjek, J Robson, Hume, Brady, Brotherton, E Robson (c), Wright, Molyneux, Embleton, Maja, Asoro
Subs not used: Casey, Talbot, Poame, Gamble, Allan
Leicester City: Iversen, Johnson, Knight, Moore (c), Pascanu, Watts (Kaba Sherif, 62), Hammond, Dewsbury-Hall, Ndukwu (Wood, 78), Muskwe (Uche, 51), Gordon
Subs not used: Bramley, Martis