Sunderland U23 0-1 Aston Villa U23
Sunderland under-23s were left thinking what might’ve been as they slipped to defeat this evening against Aston Villa.
Harvey Knibbs scored the game’s only goal as Villa deservedly led at the midway break.
The Black Cats though, didn't give up without a fight and came clawing back in the second, with Jack Diamond and Owen Gamble going close to securing a share of the spoils.
Elliott Dickman made two changes to his side for tonight’s visit of Aston Villa, with Jordan Hunter and Jacob Young coming in for Alex Storey and Lee Connelly. Shuffling his pack slightly, following last Monday’s heavy defeat, Dickman opted for a back five while Williams Kokolo led the line.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, headed to the north east having enjoyed a bright start to the campaign. With four wins from their opening six matches, the Villan’s sat fourth knowing victory at Eppleton would take them to within a point of the summit.
However, it took time for them to get going, though, as Diamond fashioned the first opening from distance as Matija Sarkiv held the strike from distance.
But once the visitors hit their stride you got the sense it was only a matter of time before they punished the Black Cats. Callum O’Hare and Corey Blackett-Taylor looked contenders to do that, pulling the strings and carving out numerous openings.
And when the breakthrough did eventually come, it was no surprise that Blackett-Taylor played at least some part in it as his blocked shot fell kindly for Knibbs to slot home with 35 played.
Blackett-Taylor continued to be a torn in the Sunderland side after the midway break, powerfully bursting his through the lines before Anthony Patterson did excellently to bat away Knibbs’ venomous drive from inside the box.
A Sunderland fightback came but it lacked the clinical nerve needed as Diamond did well to pounce onto a loose ball and drive over the halfway line before finding Kokolo down the left. The Frenchman unselfishly rolled it back to Diamond, but the finish wasn’t there as Sarkic saved to his right.
The Villa stopper then turned away Gamble’s effort before appeals for a Sunderland penalty, as Diamond went to ground, were dismissed.
Gamble was later presented with another opening but again, Sarkic was equal to it as Villa secured the points.
Sunderland under-23s: Patterson, Taylor, Hunter, Bale (Neil, 75), Bainbridge, Young, Diamond, Gamble, Kimpioka (Connelly, 46), Hackett, Kokolo
Subs: Storey, Johnstone, Connoll
Aston Villa under-23s: Sarkic, Walker, Revan, Bazeley-Graham, Bedeau, Clarke, Blackbett-Taylor (Prosser, 79), Doyle-Hayes, Knibbs (Sea, 65), O’Hare (Cox, 79), Rowe