Sunderland U23 0-2 Southampton U23
Sunderland under-23s fell to defeat on Sunday afternoon as Southampton returned to the south coast with all three points.
Callum Slattery and Marcus Barnes chalked up the goals in either half as the Black Cats were made to rue a host of missed chances which cost them dearly in the end.
Luke Molyneux and Bali Mumba came into Sunderland under-23s’ side this afternoon. The winger, who is currently on loan at Vanarama National League side Gateshead, was able to play due to the terms of his youth loan while Mumba featured from the off to collect some valuable minutes in the tank.
However, the pair could do little to prevent Slattery’s opener inside two minutes as he sent his strike crashing past Max Johnstone to give Saints an early advantage.
Sunderland responded well as a bitterly cold breeze swept in from the North Sea, Dan Neil stooped low to meet Molyneux’s cross from the left, but he couldn’t direct his header on target as Saints escaped.
From there the Black Cats continued to grow, with Neil at the heart of everything good the Lads produced in what was a tough opening 45.
Elliott Dickman’s side continued to dig deep following the restart, with Mumba’s tenacious running almost paying off as he was sent tumbling. Molyneux collected the loose ball and then drove a fierce strike goalwards which forced Jack Rose to turn behind for a corner.
The winger was at it again moments later, this time checking back onto his left foot and then hooking his strike towards Rose’s near post. Unfortunately for the Black Cats, Saints’ stopper was equal to it once more.
Sunderland were made to pay for those missed chances with an hour played, as Barnes glanced home a second off a corner from the left against the run of play to strengthen Saints’ grip on the game.
Rose was then in inspired form once more to preserve his clean sheet as Jake Hackett and Jack Connolly – on for Neil – saw their efforts kept out as Saints sealed the points.
Sunderland U23: Johnstone, Storey, Hunter, Mumba, Taylor, Bainbridge, Molyneux, Hackett, Kimpioka (Connelly, 66), Neil (Connolly, 77), Kokolo
Subs: Young, Patterson, Bale
Southampton U23: Rose, Valery, Vokins, O’Connor, O’Discoll, Klare, Barnes, Slattery, Afolabi (Tella, 88), Smallbone, Johnson
Subs: Ramsay, Parkes, Hamblin, Jankewitz,