Away win for under-21s

by Ashley Houghton

Development squad prevail at Leicester.

Leicester City U21 2 Sunderland U21 3

Sunderland’s development squad won a five-goal thriller against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Monday evening.

Billy Knott opened the scoring for the visitors, but Joe Dodoo and Ryan Watson gave City the lead before Jordan Laidler and Mikael Mandron struck late on.

The win maintains Sunderland’s 100% start to the new Barclays U21 Premier League campaign following last Monday’s victory over Bolton Wanderers.

And the youngsters will take heart from the win against a strong Leicester side that has collectively racked up just short of 500 senior appearances.

The Foxes were first to go close when Ben Marshall volleyed Alie Sesay’s cross wide at the back post before Tom Hopper then headed another Sesay cross onto the bar as Leicester started brightly.

The visitors took the lead when Duncan Watmore and Liam Marrs linked up well down the right, with the latter bursting into the box before cutting back for Knott who slotted the ball inside the near post.

Harry Panayiotou then went close to an instant reply for the hosts but his shot, from Knockaert’s cross, was straight at Joel Dixon.

Knott went close to a second on the half-hour after Mandron won the ball and crossed for the former Chelsea midfielder, who saw his shot well saved by Conrad Logan.

Leicester worked their way back into the game as the half went on and their best chance to equalise came when Sesay went close after a couple of Sunderland blocks thwarted the Foxes.

Watmore nearly rounded the first-half performance off with a second goal on the stroke of half time but, after good interplay with Knott, his left-footed curler was well saved by Logan.

The hosts equalised just 45 seconds after the restart as half-time substitute Dodoo got on the end of Zoumana Bakayogo's cross to score.

Watson then put the hosts ahead with a 20-yard drive and Dodoo nearly grabbed his second, and Leicester’s third, when he broke onto a loose ball in behind the Sunderland defence only to be thwarted by the onrushing Dixon.

Sunderland’s work rate was rewarded, though, as the young Black Cats were awarded a penalty after Bakayogo fouled Watmore inside the area and Laidler stepped up to calmly slot the penalty home six minutes from time.

The youngsters rounded off a fine evening as George Honeyman got in behind the Foxes’ defence and cut back for Mandron who finished superbly to maintain Sunderland’s 100% start to the campaign.

Sunderland: Dixon, Marrs, Ferguson, Agnew, McNamee, Harrison, Watmore, Gorrin (Laidler, 74), Mandron, Knott, Mitchell (Honeyman, 62).

Subs not used: Stryjek, Cartwright, Holland.