U23s Report: Derby County 2-0 Sunderland

Derby County U23 2-0 Sunderland U23

Sam Lightle reviews all the action from Sunderland under-23s’ Premier League 2 match at Pride Park this evening.

The Black Cats suffered their second straight league defeat as Derby County produced a dominant display from start to finish.

A goal in each half from George Thorne and Offrande Zanzala saw the Rams collect their first three points of the Premier League 2 season.

Sunderland lacked any vigour and guile in the final third, but that changed with the introduction of Rees Greenwood who went close to equalising as his strike from 20 yards smacked the post.

Zanzala though, wrapped the points up with the last kick of the game, stroking home from the edge of the box.


Mika and Jack Rodwell’s inclusion meant Elliott Dickman was forced to make a number of changes with Adam Bale dropping to the bench. Max Stryjek, who started at Liverpool, wasn’t in the squad while James Talbot once again featured on the bench. Rees Greenwood started the night on the bench for the first time this season after missing the start of the campaign through injury.


Sunderland began the night with a five-man midfield that saw Elliot Embleton and Ethan Robson sit while Rodwell was given the freedom to roam forward and link-up with loan striker Andrew Nelson. Rodwell carved the first opening of the night for the lads, weaving his way past two defenders before his strike was charged down. Rodwell’s midfield partner, Embleton, was denied next. This time Embleton did exceptionally well to swiftly thread Nelson away. Nelson raced into the box and shifted it back into the path of Embleton, who had done well to make up the ground, however, his effort was turned behind.


Embleton’s creativity shone through as the opening half wore on, with the midfielder supplying some neat touches and showing a real desire to burst forward and support Nelson up top. But for Sunderland’s effort, Derby weren’t overrun and were arguably the better side in the first 45. George Thorne provided a strong platform in the Rams midfield, dragging an effort wide of Mika’s goal at the midway point of the half. Eight minutes later though, and Thorne ensured he sunk the Rams’ teeth in by placing Craig Forsyth’s cross from the left into Mika’s bottom right corner from the 18 yards. Derby lead.  


Derby went from strength to strength after going a goal up, merely picking up where they left off in the second period. Kellan Gordon went close twice, firstly powering his header over the bar from an in-swinging cross from the right. Gordon was then denied by Mika who gathered comfortably before Forsyth drilled a right-footed strike towards the stopper as Derby continued to turn the heat up. Chances for Sunderland began to dry up, with Denver Hume’s mazy run down the left their first forceful strides into the Ram’s half in the second period. Hume arrowed a ball in and Nelson was lively, darting towards the ball and firing it over on the half volley.


But while Nelson is a willing runner, he found himself isolated for large spells as the Black Cats struggled to get the ball into his feet. And it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Derby doubled their lead as Emil Riis Jakobsen got in between Sunderland’s centre-half pairing. Forsyth delivered an inch perfect cross from the left but Jakobsen nudged Tom Beadling in the back and the referee chalked the forward’s goal off for a foul.  Sunderland looked to summon up a late rally and went the closest they have gone all night when Greenwood smacked the base of the post after his curled effort had left the ‘keeper stranded. Derby responded with real vigour though, Zanzala stroking home a second with the final kick.

Derby County under-23: Barnes, Stabana, Forsyth, Thorne (Bateman, 75), Wassall, Cover, Gordon, Elsnik, Bennett (Thomas, 79), Jakobsen (Zanzala, 79), Babos
Subs not used: Raves, Karic

Sunderland under-23: Mika, J Robson (Gamble, 88), Hume, Rodwell, Taylor, Beadling, Molyneux, E Robson (Greenwood, 80) Nelson, Embleton, Diamond (Bale, 63)
Subs not used: Talbot, Allan

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