Stoke City U23 1-1 Sunderland U23
Sunderland under-23s started their Premier League 2 season with a well-earned point against Stoke City at Harrison Park on Monday evening.
Stoke City took the lead in the first half through Gabriel Kyeremateng against the run of play.
The second half saw the Lads clinch a deserved point as Jake Hackett scored a superb free-kick.
Both sides would have taken a lot of positives from the game as they both got off the mark in the new Premier League 2 campaign.
Sunderland were the brighter of the two sides early on and some high pressure from Dan Neil resulted in a defensive turnover deep in Stoke territory, but striker Benji Kimpioka failed to capitalise on it as was adjudged to have been tackled fairly inside the Potters penalty box.
Neil continued the be a thorn in the Stoke defence and he nearly made the score 1-0 in the 12th minute, but his close-range effort was deflected over the bar.
Four minutes later, we had the breakthrough and it came via Stoke’s first real opportunity of the match.
Striker Kyeremateng finished into the top corner from close range, giving Anthony Patterson no chance in the Sunderland goal after a perfectly executed corner from Oliver Shenton.
The hosts nearly doubled their lead in the 20th minute as Tre Pemberton hit a beautifully chipped ball into the path of Jake Dunwoody, but the Stoke captain failed to beat Patterson despite having two bites at the cherry.
Sunderland nearly got themselves on level terms in the 32nd minute as Jack Diamond fired a 25-yard free-kick just wide and into the side-netting.
But Stoke could’ve easily doubled their advantage shortly after as left-back Ryan Corrigan found oceans of space and teed up Shenton, who saw his effort from just inside the area expertly tipped over the bar by Patterson.
Elliot Dickman’s men continued to harass their opponents with a high press and they were nearly rewarded before half time as Neil won the ball high up the pitch and played Lee Connelly in on goal. The Scotsman composed himself well but his effort was well blocked before the striker combined again with the midfielder once more only for Neil to strike the post.
Neither side looked like creating much in the early stages of the second half and the first chance fell to Stoke on 64 minutes.
Lasse Sorensen chipped in a delightful ball from the right wing, and striker Kyeremateng was unlucky to see his close-range header drift just wide of the left post.
Two minutes later, the Black Cats got the goal that their play deserved.
Hackett lined up a free-kick from just over 20-yards out and fired it with pace past the wall and in off the left-hand post leaving the keeper with no chance.
Stoke created the next chance in the game on the 82nd minute as Sorensen fired in a free-kick from the right wing and onto the head of substitute Kieran Coates, but his header went well past the post from close range.
Hackett then looked to add another stunning goal to his evening’s work in the 83rd minute, as he arrowed a 35-yard effort towards the top corner, but the Stoke stopper Blondy Nnandukeu managed to get his hands to it.
Owen Gamble then hooked his effort wide of the right post after excellent work from Diamond before Ryan Corrigan almost snatched it for the hosts right at the death, only to be denied by the crossbar.
Stoke U23: Nnandeukeu, Forrester, Corrigan, Sorensen, McJannet, Kigbu (Coates 68), Pemberton, Dunwoody, Kyeremateng, Shenton, Jarvis
Subs: Macari, Broome, A.Sankoh, M.Sankoh
Sunderland: Patterson, Mumba, Hunter, Sammut, Taylor, Bainbridge, Connelly, Neil (Gamble 72), Kimpioka, Hackett, Diamond
Subs: Collins, Abdelkader, Kokolo, Greenwood