Sunderland U23 2-1 West Bromwich Albion U23
Sunderland under-23s collected their first points of the season as they held their nerve to see off West Bromwich Albion at Eppleton Colliery Welfare.
Luke Molyneux opened the scoring just before the 20-minute mark, slotting home after an error in the Albion ranks.
While conditions were difficult for both sides, the visitors were strong throughout but struggled against an inspired Anthony Patterson in the Sunderland ranks.
But just as they finally made the breakthrough - with Kyle Edwards pouncing on another defensive error – Jack Diamond regained the Lads’ advantage to seal all three points.
Armenian international Gael Andonian was a surprise inclusion in the under-23s line-up. The 23-year-old, former Marseille player, has been on trial at the club for the past few weeks following a six-month loan spell at Veroia. A defender by trade, Andonian featured at the back alongside Jack Bainbridge while Anthony Patterson replaced Max Johnstone in goal.
And the trio, along with their team-mates, were up against it early on as West Brom looked to get straight onto the front foot at a rain-swept Eppleton Colliery Welfare.
Patterson was arguably the busier of the two ‘keepers, making a decent stop away to his left in what was a largely scrappy opening 15 minutes.
And with that in mind, it was no surprise how the opening goal was scored on 22 minutes. Molyneux, alert as usual, capitalised on a defensive mix-up and calmly slotted home in a game which had very few chances.
From there, West Brom continued to see a lot the ball but never really opened the Black Cats up as Sunderland were disciplined, well drilled and patient in their approach.
The Baggies kept up their pressure following half-time, quickly peppering Patterson’s goal with a range of efforts. Patterson, though, dealt with them admirably as Nick Clayton-Phillips stung his palms before seeing strong appeals for a penalty dismissed just seconds later.
While Sunderland looked comfortable, Albion’s pressure was steady but consistent and with 65 minutes played they levelled through Edwards who latched onto Jack Bainbridge’s poor back pass before finishing past a helpless Patterson.
But refusing to lie down, the Black Cats responded almost immediately from kick-off as Diamond showed good feet in the box before sending his effort beyond the Albion stopper at his near post, with the aid of a slight deflection to collect all three points.
Ha’way The Lads!
Sunderland U23: Patterson, Taylor (Storey, 63), Hunter, Bale, Bainbridge, Andonian, Connelly, Gamble, Molyneux (Diamond, 63), Hackett, Kimpioka
Subs: Johnstone, Connolly, Kokolo
West Bromwich Albion U23: House, Mears, Howkins, Healy, Townsend, Azaz, Wilding, Leko, Edwards, Clayton-Phillips, Morton (Soule, 86)
Subs: Brown, Griffiths, Meredith, Harmon