Everton U23s 0-1 Sunderland U23s
Sunderland stole all three points right near the end away at current title holders Everton today on Merseyside, winning by a goal to nil after Luke Molyneux scored with five minutes left on the clock.
Played at a tempo most unlike an U23s game, Elliott Dickman’s side managed a win and a clean sheet against a strong Everton side that featured a number of first teamers and that had won their previous five fixtures.
Paddy McNair got another hour of game-time under his belt, but unfortunately Josh Maja - who was named in the starting lineup - picked up a knock in the warmup before the game and missed out.
Sunderland U23s: Talbot, Gamble, Hume, McNair, Taylor, Beadling, Molyneux, E Robson, Greenwood, Embleton, Asoro. Subs: Woud, Storey, T Robson, Bale.
The opening ten minutes were fairly frantic, with both sides playing at a decent tempo as they looked to get a foothold in the game.
The first decent came for the home side, as former England U21 international Luke Garbutt shot wide with Sunderland escaping luckily after some good play from Jose Baxter.
Though the pace of the game was frantic there wasn’t a great deal of quality in the opening exchanges, with Sunderland struggling to find away through Everton’s rigid back-line.
Denver Hume, Luke Molyneux and Rees Greenwood all looked to get forward where possible but, with Everton sitting tight it was difficult for the lads to make a breakthrough.
Everton ramped up the pressure but Sunderland were able to ride through it, managing to restrict the toffees to a series of half chances and unclaimed crosses into the area.
The last chance of the half came from an Everton free kick, given away after Paddy McNair fouled recklessly on the edge of the Sunderland area. Luckily for him, Luke Garbutt was only able to strike the ball straight in to the wall.
Half Time: Everton U23s 0-0 Sunderland U23s
Sunderland started the better of the two sides in the second period, with a chance for Elliot Embleton from a free-kick spurned as the midfielder shot under the wall.
Moments later, Denver Hume raced forward from left-back and played in Ethan Robson inside the Everton area, but his tame effort was collected comfortably by experienced goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Then handbags ensued after a foul on Embleton led to a melee in the centre of the pitch, which saw two Everton players and Luke Molyneux enter the referee’s notebook.
Paddy McNair saw out an hour or so before making way for promising youngster Adam Bale - the Northern Ireland international struggled to impact on the game but will have been pleased to get some minutes under his belt as he strives towards attaining full fitness.
After their bright start Sunderland sat off the current BPL2 Champions, who looked the more likely to score the first goal as the half wore on.
The Black Cats looked the more physical of the two sides and when Tom Robson - making his first competitive appearance of the season - came on for Joel Asoro, it was clear that Elliott Dickman’s side were looking to stay tight and win at least a point.
Everton continued to press forward as the half drew on but, then, Sunderland stole it with just five minutes left to play through Luke Molyneux.
Finishing well to the keeper’s left hand side, the winger - who has impressed so far this season - put his side ahead right when it looked like the game was headed for a draw.
Everton were all over Sunderland as the end of the match drew close and they had a superb opportunity when a Luke Garbutt cross was headed wide by Donkor at the death.
Overall it was a solid performance in a very enjoyable game between two decent sides. Having ended Everton’s solid winning streak of five straight victories, Sunderland earned themselves a massive three points as they look to pull away from the foot of the Barclay’s Premier League 2 table.
Full Time: Everton U23s 0-1 Sunderland U23s
James Talbot, 7/10: Very steady, commanded his area. Made a superb save when the game was still 0-0 to keep us in it.
Denver Hume, 8/10: Had an excellent game. Broke forward wherever possible and defended his side of the pitch well.
Tom Beadling, 7/10: Another very assured, solid performance. Looks ready for first team football but whether he gets it here or elsewhere is anyone’s guess.
Brandon Taylor, 6/10: Looked fairly comfortable alongside Beadling.
Owen Gamble, 6/10: Didn’t venture forward as much as his partner on the other side of the pitch but, regardless, played decent.
Ethan Robson, 6/10: Pressed Everton well. Should have scored but otherwise a strong performance.
Paddy McNair, 5/10: Quiet, but the fact he got an hour is great news.
Elliot Embleton, 6/10: Moved the ball well and kept play ticking over nicely.
Luke Molyneux, 8/10: Lively in the first half, quieter in the second but scored the all-important winner. I like him though - works very hard and tries to fashion chances.
Joel Asoro, 4/10: One good run aside, he did nothing. Wasn’t supposed to play down the middle but Maja’s injury forced him inside, and the Everton defenders handled him with ease.
Rees Greenwood, 4/10: Struggled, particularly in the second half. Needs to put his poor form behind him and start afresh, I feel.
(SUB) Tom Robson, 5/10: He exists! Played right wing for a bit but didn’t get too involved, just helped to keep the side organised when the game was drawing to a close.
(SUB) Adam Bale, 6/10: I love this lad. Came on and just belted a few people hard in order to slow the game down. He’s a proper throwback.
Man of the Match: Luke Molyneux. Very active and took his goal well. He’s in good form.