U23 match report: Lads earn point on the road

Stoke City U23 0-0 Sunderland U23 

Sunderland under-23s collected a point on their travels this evening as they played out a goalless draw at Stoke City. 

The Potters enjoyed the bulk of possession and chances, but the young Black Cats sunk their claws in and made life difficult for the hosts as the game finished level. 

Frustration was rife within the Sunderland camp as preparations begun for tonight’s trip to Clayton Wood. Having experienced a Wear-Tyne defeat last time out in heart-breaking circumstances – when the Lads conceded a last-minute winner after leading 2-0 – Elliott Dickman called for a more ruthless nature from his places in all areas of the pitch. 

And credit where it’s due as Sunderland produced a dogged, determined display at Stoke City’s training ground on a cool Monday night in January.

While the Potters controlled much of the match, dominating possession and forcing the Lads to defend in numbers throughout the opening 45, when they did get in behind, they came up against an experienced youth player between the sticks in Max Stryjek. 

Playing his first minutes since returning from his loan spell at Vanarama National League side Eastleigh, Stryjek was in inspired form as he denied Ollie Shenton and Jake Dunwoody in the opening minutes.

Moussa Niakate offered a big threat down the flank, fizzing in a dangerous cross which Dunwoody failed to make a sweet contact with and really ask any further questions of the Sunderland rear-guard.

Belgian-born midfielder Thibaud Verlinden was then denied by the towering Pole after a low strike before Daniel Jarvis met Verlinden’s pin-point cross but once again, Stryjek was there to keep Sunderland level. 

The Black Cats offered little in the opening 45, with Dan Neil’s long-range effort the only notable chance, however, there were strong appeals for a penalty early in the second 45 as Jack Diamond was brought down after weaving his way through.

No penalty was the verdict, though, as Stryjek was called into action moments later to deny Dunwoody once more.

Verlinden continued to ask questions of Sunderland in the second 45, sending in a cross towards Gareth Jennings, but Sunderland’s Polish stopper was more than alert to deal with the danger comfortably.

Jarvis then crashed a strike off Neil before Benji Kimpioka lifted his strike over the bar as he went through on goal with only the Stoke stopper to beat.

The chance came and went in a flash, and with that so did the Lads’ opportunity to snatch all three points.

Stoke City U23: Gyollai, Thandi, Collins (Forrester, 46), Wara, Niakate, Sorensen, Dunwoody (Pemberton, 77), Shenton, Verlinden, Jennings (Varian, 72), Javis
Subs not used: Kanuric, Balde,

Sunderland U23: Stryjek, Hunter, Young, Taylor (Evans, 46), Storey, Hackett, Neil (Connolly, 76), Connelly, Mumba, Kimpioka, Diamond
Subs not used: Edmundsson, Johnstone, Leonard

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