U21 Report: SAFC U21 5-7 Middlesbrough U21

SAFC U21 5-7 Middlesbrough U21


Sunderland Under-21s returned to Premier League 2 action with a crazy encounter against Middlesbrough at Eppleton, as the visitors emerged 7-5 winners.


All five of the Lads’ goals came in the second half, but were somehow not enough as Boro hit four more after the break, having led 3-0 from the first 45 minutes.


Michael Spellman, Caden Kelly, Ethan Moore, captain Ellis Taylor and an own goal from visiting ‘keeper Liam Roberts comprised the Sunderland scoresheet, whilst Matthew Hoppe (2), Sonny Finch (2), Pharrell Willis, Jack Stott and Joe Gibson netted for the Teessiders.


Graeme Murty and John Hewitson named a team which included Chris Rigg after the 15-year-old’s first-team debut at the weekend, whilst Nathan Newall, Harrison Sohna and Ben Middlemas were also among the starters.


A difficult first period ensued, as Hoppe opened the scoring after five minutes and Willis doubled it with eight to play in the half, both with composed efforts from inside the area.


Finch added a third shortly before half-time to rub salt in the wounds, as the Lads looked to rally ahead of what would be a jaw-dropping second 45.


Gibson made it four with a near-post shot which found its way in just 75 seconds into the half, but Spellman made it two goals in two games with a well-taken close-range finish straight from the resulting kick-off to make it 4-1.


Hoppe struck a clinical finish for five midway through the half as he claimed his second of the night, but there were six more to be scored.


Taylor’s corner was barely dealt with by the Boro defence as Kelly thrashed in a sweet volley for 5-2, before Finch claimed a brace with 15 minutes remaining to restore Boro’s four-goal buffer.


The madness was far from over, as half-time substitute Moore registered his first goal at U21 level this season by converting the rebound as Roberts denied Taylor.


Remarkably, it remained a 6-3 scoreline for 12 minutes until the 88th, when away skipper Stott found the net for seven.


An astute piece of attacking play by Taylor saw him cut in and fire past Roberts in the final minute of normal time, the first of two late Sunderland goals to reclaim pride to the final score.


Kelly’s shot from 12 yards then found its way in via a combination of goalkeeper and post in added time to pull it back to 7-5.


The most unorthodox of defeats but one nonetheless to restart the PL2 campaign for the Lads, who now quickly return to the drawing board before welcoming Norwich City to the Academy of Light this Friday afternoon.


SAFC U21: Carney; Wilson, Crompton, Newall, Pye (Bainbridge 59’); Rigg (Burke 76’), Sohna; Taylor ©, Middlemas (Kelly 59’), Spellman; Gardiner (Moore 46’).


Subs not used: Richardson. 

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