Wolverhampton Wanderers U21 1-0 SAFC U21
SAFC Under-21s were narrowly beaten in matchday two of the Premier League Cup on Monday afternoon, going down by a solitary goal to Wolverhampton Wanderers at New Bucks Head.
Dylan Scicluna headed the decisive goal soon into the second half for Wolves, as the Lads now look towards four more weekly PL Cup group fixtures before Christmas as the PL2 takes a back seat.
With Tony Mowbray’s first-team squad in a period of recovery before preparing to travel to the Dubai training camp and two Lads arriving in Qatar for World Cup involvement, Graeme Murty’s side consisted entirely of U21 and U18 players.
Zak Johnson – on the bench for the first team’s win at Birmingham City on Friday – captained the side, alongside Ben Crompton in defence who was returning to play in his hometown.
Tommy Watson, just 16, started on the left, with Caden Kelly returning to the starting XI and Jacob Carney named in goal.
A first half which eventually ended goalless was devoid of many chances at either end, though the Black Cats played with organisation and intent, an encouraging 45 minutes for the youngsters.
Watson took on the highlight chance of the first period, entering the area before driving a fierce right-footed strike towards goal, forcing Andreas Sondergaard to leap and tip it over his crossbar.
At the other end, Mitch Agboola’s header over the bar was the nearest Wolves got to an opportunity before the break.
In the second half, the game immediately opened up – Carney had to stand firm to thwart Jack Hodnett’s powerful hit, before Watson again worked an effort, deflecting out for a corner.
Wolves did break the deadlock just before the hour, a cross coming in from the right-hand side which looped up as the Lads attempted to clear, right onto the head of substitute Scicluna who made no mistake.
Sunderland sought an immediate response and forced two efforts, Kelly picking up Ethan Kachosa’s deep cross and curling a shot onto the outside of the post.
Michael Spellman then drove on and struck on target from 20 yards out, but was denied by Sondergaard down to his left.
Action continued inside both areas as the game was forced to open up further – Kelly was kept at bay by Sondergaard with a routine save, before Lee Harkin fired over from 15 yards out for the hosts.
The Lads stepped up the hunt for an equaliser as the minutes ticked down, forcing a succession of set-plays and seeing one more sniff at goal go just wide from Watson, but Wolves were able to survive and held out for the three group points.
We consequently remain at the foot of the Group H table in the PL Cup, but now seek a response with the first of four remaining group fixtures against Cardiff City next Monday night at Eppleton.
SAFC U21: Carney; Kachosa, Crompton, Johnson ©, Newall; Burke (Chiabi 58’), Sohna (Middlemas 58’); Spellman, Kelly (Robinson 77’), Watson; Gardiner.
Subs not used: Cameron, Wilson.