SAFC U21 3-3 West Bromwich Albion
Sunderland Under-21s pulled off a stunning second-half comeback on Monday night, recovering from a 3-0 half-time deficit to claim a point against West Bromwich Albion.
The feat was made even more remarkable as all three goals were scored with 10 men, Max Thompson’s brace and Caden Kelly’s penalty all in the space of six second-half minutes.
Michael Spellman was sent off near the end of the first half for what the referee deemed to be an over-the-top challenge, with Ethan Kachosa shown a second booking after the break as the Lads had to defend the level scoreline with nine men on the pitch.
Albion wasted no time in taking the lead, albeit following a very controversial penalty call from the referee three minutes in. The official judged Zak Johnson to have fouled his man who appeared to fall over without contact, Jamie Andrews firing the kick past Jacob Carney.
Reyes Cleary made it two after just 12 minutes with a surge into the box and low shot into the bottom corner, and Modou Faal made it three just eight minutes later.
Following Spellman’s dismissal, the Lads came out a man light after the break but were not to be written off, Thompson side-footing home a neat finish to pull one back two minutes into the half.
Without even any time for West Brom respite, the striker added his second just a minute later with a close-range header to convert Kachosa’s cross.
And after Thompson was fouled in the area on 51 minutes, Kelly thrashed in the equaliser from the penalty spot to incredibly make it 3-3.
John Hewitson was forced to set up his side with just nine men for the final 27 minutes as Kachosa was given his marching orders, and a shape with two banks of four was deployed.
Sunderland had skipper Carney to thank on multiple occasions in the second half, denying Cleary, Faal and substitute Jovan Malcolm – this save the pick of the bunch, getting down incredibly to his left to stop the effort which looked destined to be an Albion winner.
Four changes were made by Hewitson on the night, including cameos for Tom Watson following his U18 hat-trick on Saturday, and Chris Rigg, just 15, for his second U21 appearance so far this season.
The resolute Lads however were not to be breached in the second half, and can be immensely proud of the point and the response.
SAFC U21: Carney ©, Kachosa, Johnson (Pye 46’), Jessup, Newall, Chiabi (Rigg 79’), Middlemas (Wilson 67’), Spellman, Kelly, Robinson, Thompson (Watson 84’).
Subs not used: Bond.