Sunderland U23s 2-1 Exeter City U23s
Sunderland U23s ran out 2-1 winners this afternoon against Exeter City in the Premier League cup, with goals from Elliot Embleton and Luke Molyneux settling the tie in a fairly comfortable fashion.
Embleton in particular was outstanding throughout, whilst assured performances from Michael Woud in goal and Tom Beadling at the back ensured that it was the home side that escaped with a well-fought victory.
Here’s how the game went, and how the lads rated.
Sunderland, lining up in their typical 4-2-3-1 formation, started the game slowly and it was Exeter - who fielded a number of first team players, including striker Liam McAlinden - that initially looked to get a foothold in the game.
The Grecians worked hard and looked to put Sunderland’s back line under pressure from the off, trying to force mistakes from a very young-looking U23s side that included a number of players from the U18s squad.
But, as the half wore on, the Mackems grew in confidence and as Elliot Embleton began to dictate play, the pendulum started to swing in Sunderland’s favour.
Having dominated possession of the ball, Elliott Dickman’s side took the lead in the 36th minute through some rather fortunate circumstances - a long-range strike by the aforementioned Embleton took a number of deflections before finding its way into James Hamon’s net.
Sunderland then saw out the remainder of the first half in comfortable fashion, heading into the break deservedly ahead.
Half Time: Sunderland U23s 1 (Embleton, 36’) Exeter City U23s 0
The second period started in similar fashion to the first, with the away side playing with plenty of pressure and energy as they looked to force their way back into the game.
But they weren’t able to sustain it, and Sunderland doubled their lead.
Some good play by Joel Asoro led to Luke Molyneux moving inside, driving an unstoppable strike from range beyond the keeper to make it 2-0 to Sunderland.
Sunderland then made a pair of changes as they looked to see the game out, with Joel Asoro and Adam Bale making way for Owen Gamble and Rees Greenwood.
And despite looking fairly unthreatened after the goal, Exeter ramped up the pressure late in the game and got one back from McAlinden, who did very little else on the afternoon having been well-covered by Sunderland defender Tom Beadling.
Despite finding a way back in to the game, Exeter weren’t able to get another before time ran out and it was Sunderland that secured the victory in a very close-ran cup tie.
Full Time: Sunderland U23s 2 (Embleton 36’, Molyneux 58’) Exeter City U23s 1 (McAlinden, 85’)
Michael Woud, 6/10: Couldn’t have done much about the goal. Thought that he was fairly assured, other than that.
Denver Hume, 6/10: Quieter than usual but still got forward when he could.
Tom Beadling, 7/10: Did a great job of marshalling McAlinden, who is a first team striker.
Alex Storey, 6/10: Like Beadling, didn’t really put a foot wrong.
Harry Goode, 5/10: Exeter’s goal came down his side.
Ethan Robson, 6/10: Quiet. Kept things ticking along.
Adam Bale, 6/10: As ratty and boisterous as usual. Put all the leg work in so that Embleton in front of him could dictate play. Effective performance.
Elliot Embleton, 8/10: Influential throughout and moved the ball well. His runs from deep to link up play caused Exeter issues, particularly in the first half.
Jack Diamond, 6/10: Not his best display but still worked hard.
Luke Molyneux, 7/10: Scored a cracker of a goal. He’s the U23s most consistent player at the minute.
Joel Asoro, 5/10: Did very little, again. Played some part in the second goal but he has generally looked underwhelming whenever I’ve seen him for the U23s this season, and today was no different.
(SUB) Owen Gamble, 5/10: Not as effective as Bale but was played out of position.
(SUB) Rees Greenwood, 5/10: Didn’t offer much when he came on.
Man of the Match: Elliot Embleton.