Blues edge tight clash

by Neville Pilkington

U21s suffer narrow home defeat.

Sunderland U21 0 Chelsea U21 1

Sunderland’s under-21 side suffered a narrow defeat to their Chelsea counterparts at the Academy of Light.

Despite coming into the game strongly in the second period, Chelsea had enough composure and professionalism about them to take the sting out of the game and make sure of the points.

Sunderland included Jordan Laidler and Mikael Mandron, who were both on the bench for the first team at Stamford Bridge, while Billy Knott made a return appearance before continuing his loan spell at Woking.

Ryan Noble had early chances for Sunderland but was too high with one and fired the other straight at Chelsea keeper Jamal Blackman before the visitors broke to take the lead in the 23rd minute.

A great long diagonal pass from the impressive John Swift found Connor Hunte out on the left and the winger cut in to drive through Sunderland keeper Joel Dixon into the far corner of the net.

The rest of the half was largely confined to midfield but Kevin Ball's side rallied well in the second half with the wind at their backs.

Noble side-footed straight at the keeper and then Scott Harrison headed powerfully over from Adam Mitchell's corner. 

The Londoners gradually regained their composure to impose themselves on the game, but Sunderland threatened late on when Mandron headed over with time running out.

Coach Kevin Ball said: "Despite the conditions, I thought it was a really good game.  There were some really good performances and I was delighted with the second half - I think we deserved something from the game."

Sunderland: Dixon, Marrs, Ferguson, Laidler, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell (Holland 75), Knott, Noble, Mandron, Smith.

Subs not used: E Robson, Wilson, Agnew, Beadling.