Narrow defeat for U21s

by Stuart Vose

Second string defeated by Blues.

Chelsea U21 1 Sunderland U21 0

Sunderland suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Chelsea in a Sunday afternoon Barclays U21 Premier League clash.

A goal from Islam Feruz just before half-time at the London club's training ground was enough to give the Blues their third straight win.

The Black Cats had an opportunity to snatch a point when they were awarded a penalty midway through the second half, but Jordan Laidler saw his spot-kick saved.

Kevin Ball was pleased with his side's performance and praised his players for the way they responded to the missed penalty.

The defeat was the first in six outings for Ball's side, who saw striker Ryan Noble return to second-string action.

Chelsea fashioned a number of openings early on, although Noble when close for Sunderland when he fired wide just after the quarter-hour.

Goalscorer Feruz was amongst the home players to threaten Ben Wilson's goal, but Sunderland continued to battle and pass the ball around well.

However, Chelsea did get their noses in front just before the break when Milan Lalkovic fed the ball across the face of goal for Feruz to tap home his sixth goal in four games.

Unbowed, Sunderland came out fighting at the start of the second period and had a great chance to level when Mikael Mandron was fouled in the penalty area.

Laidler stepped up but keeper Jamal Blackman guessed correctly to turn the ball away, diving low to his right.

The penalty miss preceded an excellent spell by the visitors, who showed good character and continued to press.

Noble fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of goal before Mandron nodded just over from a free-kick as the Black Cats looked for the equaliser.

But the leveller wouldn't come and Chelsea almost extended their lead right at the death when sub Connor Hunte broke away only to see Wilson, who played well throughout, make a good save.

Sunderland: Wilson, Marrs, Ferguson, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Laidler, Gorrin, Noble, Mandron (Smith, 85), Honeyman (Thomas, 77).

Subs Not Used: Dixon, Joyce, T Robson.