Match report: U23s end season in defeat on south coast

Southampton U23 5-1 Sunderland U23

Sunderland under-23s round off their Premier League 2 campaign in disappointing fashion on the south coast this evening.

Lee Connelly had put the Black Cats in front, but the Saints marched back and scored five to run out comprehensive winners. 

Christoph Klarer and Tyreke Johnson scored two in as many minutes before Will Smallbone, Marcus Barnes and Alfie Jones added to the scoreline in the second 45 to secure three points. 

The evening started well for the young Black Cats as Connelly slotted home from a tight angle when he latched onto Owen Gamble’s ball down the right channel.

Connelly darted in between Saints’ centre-back and left-back and Gamble did well to pick him out as he swept a ball down the right side. The Scottish striker quickly composed himself to hook the ball beyond the on-rushing stopper.

Saints settled down began to see more of the ball but were frustrated as they initially turned the screw, when Johnson saw his effort rebound off the crossbar and then Will Smallbone poked the follow-up wide.

Johnson remained a threat though, and he inspired a swift turnaround as Saints gained full control with two goals in as many minutes.

The first came in the 26th minute when Sunderland failed to clear away a corner. Southampton recycled possession well and Johnson swept in a cross from the right for Klarer to touch home.

Moments later, Johnson turned finisher as he managed to move in behind of Jacob Young before finding the bottom corner through the Australian’s legs to give the hosts a half-time lead on the south coast.  

From there, Southampton slipped through the gears after the restart with Smallbone adding a third in the 54th minute. Jones went to ground inside the box and Smallbone made no mistake from 12 yards, with his penalty having just about enough on it to get past Anthony Patterson who went the right way.

Substitute Bares made it four despite Young’s best efforts to deny him and then Jones notched a goal for himself with 20 minutes left on the clock.

The result leaves Sunderland rooted to the foot of the table while Saints finish second and go into the play-offs for a place Division One.

Southampton U23: Lewis Ramsay, Vokins, Jones, O’Driscoll (Watts, 81), Klarer, Hamblin, O’Connor, Lundulu, Smallbone, Johnson (Ferry, 63)
Subs not used: Olufunwa, Rose, Barnes

Sunderland U23:  Patterson, Gamble, Young, Collins (Storey, 71), Kokolo, Neil, Connolly (Evans, 68), Hackett, Connelly, Mumba, Kimpioka
Subs not used: Johnstone, Ord, Miller

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