Report: Southampton U23 0-2 Sunderland U23

An inspired second period saw Sunderland under-23s cruise to victory on the south coast in the Premier League 2 on Friday.

After a drab first half the match sprung to life after the break as Joel Asoro rifled the Black Cats in front following Elliot Embleton’s slipped pass on 50 minutes.

Seven minutes later Josh Maja joined in on the act and doubled the Lads’ advantage as Harry Lewis spilled Asoro’s thunderous ball across the face of goal.

Harley Willard struck the base of the post as Saints searched for an equaliser before both sides were reduced to 10 men as George Honeyman and Richard Bakary were given their marching order with 10 minutes left following a coming together.

However, the Lads remained untroubled and saw the game out to ensure they return to Wearside with all three points in the bag.

Ha’way The Lads!

Andy Welsh made two changes from the side that started Monday’s Checkatrade Trophy match at Wolverhampton Wanderers, James Talbot began the afternoon between the sticks while Dan Casey filled in at right back.

Like Monday, the Black Cats began the match in the ascendancy with Embleton proving to be a handful on the left flank.

The midfielder’s teasing ball into Harry Lewis’ near post had to be dealt as Honeyman was lying in wait before Maja opened his body out on the edge of the box and left Lewis scrambling across his goalmouth as his effort went a whisker wide.

It took Southampton time to find their groove but Lewis continued to be the busier keeper, Tom Beadling, fresh from his thunderous strike on Monday, sized up another long-range attempt only this time Saints’ stopper managed to tip it round the post.

Slowly but surely though the hosts took the bite out of the Black Cats’ play and began to limit their attacking options as Maja found himself isolated up top.

Willard tested Talbot at his near post but the Republic of Ireland stopper was largely untroubled in the opening period with both sides embroiled in a midfield duel.

Refreshed and recharged, the Black Cats raced out the traps at the start of the second 45 and into an early lead courtesy of Asoro.

The Swede powered the ball past Lewis following incisive passing in the middle of the park, minutes after Embleton had been guilty of squandering a glorious chance from the edge of the box.

Having been on the march towards the back end of the first period, Maja made sure the hosts were well and truly stopped in their tracks as he doubled the Black Cats’ lead on 57 minutes.

Asoro flashed a ball into the mix, Lewis failed to keep hold of it and Maja pounced to deliver the knockout blow.

Playing with a spring in their step, Welsh’s side continued to romp through the gears, piercing Saints’ backline with numerous lung-bursting passages of play down both flanks.

Like the first half, Saints grew into the match and should’ve halved the deficit when Willard’s arrowed strike rebounded off the post with 66 minutes played.

Sunderland though did well to temper the brunt of Southampton’s attack, ‘till a coming together with 10 minutes left saw Honeyman and Bakary sent for an early bath as they received straight red cards.

However, the Lads remained untroubled and saw the game out to ensure they return to Wearside with all three points in the bag.

Sunderland: Talbot, Casey, T Robson, Beadling, Brady, Ledger, Asoro (Lawson, 72), E Robson, Maja (Nelson, 82), Honeyman (Sent off, 80), Embleton (Molyneux, 90)       

Unused subs: Pain, J Robson

Southampton: Lewis, Bakary (Sent off, 80), Wood, Little, Cook, Jones, Willard (Vokins, 75), O’Connor, Barnes, Olomola, Johnson

Unused subs: Parkes, Rowthorn, Smallbone, Afolabi

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