Swansea City U23s 1-0 Sunderland U23s
Sunderland under-23s were relegated from the Premier League 2 on Monday evening following a narrow defeat at Swansea City.
Elliott Dickman’s side knew victory was a must heading into the game if they were to have any hopes of closing a two-point gap between themselves and safety, but they were second best throughout and were fortunate to be level at the interval.
At the King Power Stadium, Derby County needed a point to secure their survival at the Black Cats’ expense and they led Leicester City at the break, with things going from bad to worse at the Liberty Stadium as George Byers struck for Swansea following the restart.
The Lads battled to find a route back into the game, but they were unable to find one and news of a late comeback from Leicester against Derby only served to add to their bitter disappointment.
Relegation means the under-23s will compete in the Premier League 2 Division Two during the 2018-19 campaign.
BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL
Sunderland entered the game knowing that three points were vital if they hoped to avoid the drop, but their fate was out of their own hands with Derby, who faced Leicester at the King Power Stadium, two points clear of the Lads ahead of the game while also boasting a superior goal difference. Luke Molyneux once again led the line for Dickman’s side, as he looked to build on an impressive run of five goals in as many games. Max Stryjek and Elliot Embleton were also included in the starting XI.
SWANS ON TOP
Swansea started brightly and controlled possession in the opening five minutes, with Max Stryjek forced into a fine save to deny Liam Cullen one on one after the ball broke kindly in the box. The home side remained on top as the half progressed and with 22 minutes played they struck the woodwork, with Byers’ 20-yard free-kick clattering against the base of the post. And there was further bad news from the King Power Stadium, as Derby edged in front through Timi Elsnik’s wonder goal.
The Lads were made to work hard for any time on the ball, but a gritty defensive performance ensured it was level at the interval despite Swansea’s control of the ball. And following the restart, they should have taken the lead when the home side failed to clear and Molyneux failed to connect after the ball dropped in the box. Seconds later, they were punished, Byers heading home on 52 minutes to inflict a huge blow to the Black Cats’ survival hopes.
NO WAY BACK
Conor Shields entered the fray with 24 minutes remaining as the Lads pushed for a route back into the game, but the home side remained relatively untroubled while looking far more likely to grab the next goal. Williams Kokolo and Lee Connelly were also introduced late on, but there was no way back. To add to the frustration, had they found a comeback, and three points, safety would have been secured, with Leicester scoring twice late on to defeat Derby. Instead the Black Cats were relegated to the second tier.
Swansea City U23s: Benda, Lewis, Blake, Evans, Harries, Cabango, Marić, Dulca, Baker- Richardson (Biabi 68), Byers, Cullen (James 72).
Subs not used: Zabret, Evans, Davies.
Sunderland U23s: Stryjek, Gamble, Hume, Bale, Taylor, Storey, Diamond (Connelly 72), Embleton, Molyneux, Mumba (Kokolo 72), Kimpioka (Shields 65).
Subs not used: Derbali, Patterson.