Reading U21 1-2 SAFC U21
SAFC Under-21s secured their first three points of the Premier League Cup campaign on Monday afternoon, overcoming Reading 2-1 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Midfield duo Tom Scott and Harrison Sohna scored the important goals for Sunderland, before Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan pulled one back for the home side.
The Lads consequently remain in the chase to qualify for the knockout stages with two must-win group games remaining.
The match saw Graeme Murty return to the club with whom he spent 11 years of his playing career, captaining a record-breaking, promotion-winning team.
Murty, John Hewitson and the Lads’ coaching staff were up against former Reading teammate Noel Hunt, and the starting XI included Dan Ballard, who returned for his first action in four months at centre-half.
The game started with half-chances at either end, Michael Spellman’s shot deflecting wide from the edge of the area before Femi Azeez struck the first of numerous attempts just off target.
Harry Gardiner went for an ambitious effort after intercepting a pass as he looked to catch goalkeeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke off his line, but the effort did not quite have the required connection.
Sunderland were sure to make amends just three minutes later as Scott found the net for the opener. Ellis Taylor’s corner delivery from the right-hand side was unable to be cleared by Reading, and Scott duly fired a low drive into the bottom-left corner from 15 yards.
Azeez and Kian Leavy were both thwarted by Jacob Carney as the Royals hunted an equaliser, whilst Taylor’s effort after cutting in from the right was deflected onto the roof of the net as the first half came to a close.
The Lads continued to play with purpose and the second goal arrived 11 minutes after the break. Spellman made a powerful run through the middle of the park and was brought down on the edge of the area.
The free-kick position suiting a left-footer, Sohna stepped up and curled an excellent strike low into the corner down to Boyce-Clarke’s left to make it two.
After Ballard was withdrawn with 63 minutes in the tank – Scott Dann of Reading similarly given around an hour of action – the Lads remained dangerous going forward, Sohna trying another effort which was this time saved.
But Reading did pull one back midway through the half, as Ehibhatiomhan lashed in a powerful hit from just inside the area on the right-hand side.
The final quarter of the contest was not to produce many more chances as the Lads stood firm and disciplined, defending from the front and pressing with intent.
The three points were seen out, and the youngsters will look to continue momentum for matchday five of six against Cardiff City in South Wales this Friday.
SAFC U21: Carney ©; Wilson, Ballard (Jessup 63’), Crompton, Newall ©; Chiabi (Kachosa 86’), Scott; Taylor, Sohna (Robinson 78’), Spellman; Gardiner.
Subs not used: Bond, Pye.