Sunderland under-23s 1-1 Chelsea under-23s
David Moyes watched with interest as Sunderland under-23s were held against Chelsea at Eppleton CW in their inaugural Premier League 2 game on Sunday.
The young Blacks Cats crafted the better chances but were wasteful throughout as the Blues somehow managed to hang in there.
Joel Asoro and Elliot Embleton squandered a host of fine chances in the first period as Andy Welsh’s side raced out the blocks, keen to build on last season’s title-challenging success.
Sunderland eventually made the breakthrough on the hour mark, Asoro capitalised on a defensive mix up and slammed the ball home from the edge of the box.
However, their lead was short lived as Dan Wright netted a cruel own goal to hand Chelsea a route back into the game.
It was harsh on the young Black Cats, given how dominant they had been in front of goal, but both sides were left to rue defensive errors and the game finished as a stalemate.
The new season is underway.
Welsh welcomed back a host of experienced heads to the development squad following a challenging pre-season.
Jordan Pickford started in goal and he was joined by Josh and Tom Robson, Michael Ledger, Rees Greenwood, George Honeyman and Asoro as the players who dropped into the under-23s having trained with the first-team over the last few weeks.
Embleton and Asoro were handed their competitive development team debuts and in the opening stages they looked the liveliest as the young guns flew out the traps.
Good combination play saw Asoro fashion his first clear sight of goal with just five minutes played, however the Swede dragged his attempt across the face of goal.
The second-year scholar then went on a lung-bursting run as he twisted in and out before his effort from range deflected behind for a corner.
At the other end, Chelsea created little as the central defensive partnership of Ledger and George Brady proved resilient enough to sniff out any danger.
But it was Asoro’s pace that continued to catch the eye and cause the Blues problems as his energetic runs saw him breeze past defenders with ease in the first half.
Wave after wave of attacks ensued at the end of the first-half as Sunderland looked to turn the screw, but right on the stroke of half-time Embleton lashed a guilt-edge attempt over the bar after neat work from Liam Agnew.
Chelsea began the second period much tighter as they looked to quieten Sunderland’s frontline down after they were allowed to run riot in the opening half.
More assured in possession, the Blues controlled the tempo of the play but rarely penetrated the Black Cats’ defence as patience became key.
With barely a sniff of the ball in the second 45, Asoro sensed danger and pounced.
A defensive slip up in Chelsea's rearguard presented the alert Swede with a clear sight of goal and he made sure he punished the Blues with a fiercely struck effort which flew past a helpless Nathan Baxter.
However, while Sunderland deservedly earned their lead, it lasted less than 10 minutes as Wright endured a moment to forget as his back pass was misjudged by Pickford and allowed Chelsea a bizarre equaliser.
Chelsea ended the game looking the more likely to find a winner, but Sunderland were resolute and earned a credible draw to begin their season with.
Sunderland under-23s starting XI: Pickford, J Robson, T Robson, Brady, Ledger, Wright, Agnew, Greenwood (Lawson, 63), Honeyman, Embleton (Molyneux, 63), Asoro (Maja, 82)
Unused subs: Stryjek, Casey