Leicester U23s 0-0 SAFC U23s
Sunderland moved off the bottom of the Premier League 2 table as they managed to earn a hard-fought draw against high fliers Leicester City this evening at Holmes Park.
Despite missing a whole-host of U23s regulars, including Joel Asoro, Tom Beadling and Elliot Embleton, Sunderland managed to eek out a point in a game against a Leicester side which featured Nigeria international Ahmed Musa, a man who we managed to nulify in the second period - perhaps the main reason why we came away from the game with a clean sheet in tow.
Here’s how the game went, and how the lads rated.
Leicester were the side that started the game very much on the front foot, with Sunderland looking to defend first and foremost and hit the hosts on the break whenever possible.
And after riding through a spell of early pressure, a nailed on Sunderland penalty was waved away by the referee after Andrew Nelson was clearly fouled inside the eighteen yard box.
Though Leicester did look good when pushing higher up the field, they relied heavily upon the recklessness of Hamza Choudhury to get them out of bad situations - his repeated fouling was not picked up on by the officials until it became almost impossible to ignore it and Sunderland were left to try and find a way through Leicester’s stubborn defence without any good fortune by virtue of the referee’s whistle.
In fact, a nothing foul by Josh Maja saw him pick up a yellow card five minutes before half time - this after so many Leicester fouls went unpunished.
Nigeria international Ahmed Musa was a constant source of worry for the Mackems as he targeted our full-backs with ease, and even though his end product was actually very good, Leicester’s forwards just couldn’t put the chances away.
The two sides went in level at the break - and despite Leicester’s dominance, Sunderland will have felt aggrieved that they weren’t awarded what was a blatant penalty decision early in the game.
Half time: Leicester U23s 0-0 SAFC U23s
No goals yet at Holmes Park, but plenty of encouraging forward play... pic.twitter.com/fo9bZcry1u— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 20, 2017
Sunderland reverted to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system after the break, with Josh Maja making way for Rees Greenwood, who moved on to the left flank - Jack Diamond dropped in to the hole in behind Andrew Nelson, who played the lone role up top.
And with Sunderland looking more organised and compacted in midfield, Leicester didn’t have as much joy when getting down the flanks as they did in the first period, with the added protection in front of the full backs aiding Elliott Dickman’s side somewhat as they looked to eek out a goal on the break against their free-flowing opposition.
And with Sunderland looking more organised they managed to get a foothold in the game after the hour mark, with some good chances from set pieces just going wide, the best of which fell to centre half Alex Storey.
The football in the remainder of the half was played at a more methodical tempo, with Sunderland slowing down their opponents through their hard work and pressing off the ball.
Bar a strike late in the game from Andrew Nelson which curled wide, Sunderland rarely threatened their opponents and in the end they achieved a hard fought point against a very decent side who generally don’t struggle to score goals - one which I am sure Elliott Dickman will be pleased to be taking back with him and his side to Wearside this evening.
Full Time: Leicester U23s 0-0 SAFC U23s
James Talbot, 6/10: Tally was as steady as ever between the sticks, even despite having very little to do. With the first team goalkeeping situation up in the air we could do worse than to give this lad a chance because he’s got all the talent in the world.
Josh Robson, 5/10: Struggled to cope with Musa in the first half but improved in the second. Fantastic to see him get a game having been left out of the setup for the first half of the season.
Brandon Taylor, 7/10: Very assured in the absence of Tom Beadling.
Alex Storey, 6/10: Another that had a canny game. Was unlucky not to score in the second half.
Denver Hume, 6/10: Was captain for the evening, and didn’t seem too fazed by the responsibility. Got forward when he could and did quite well up against Musa when faced with tasking him.
Adam Bale, 6/10: Worked hard off the ball.
Chris Allan, 6/10: Very quiet but it wasn’t through a lack of effort.
Luke Molyneux, 8/10: The best player on the park again for Sunderland. Such a talented young man that continues to impress this season for the U23s side.
Jack Diamond, 5/10: Didn’t really impart himself too much on the game, but he’s only young (even in comparison to others in the team) and he’ll have nights like this one every so often.
Josh Maja, 5/10: Pretty quiet but the most important thing was that he got 45 minutes under his belt having barely kicked a ball since pre-season.
Andrew Nelson, 5/10: Gave us a presence up front which helped when trying to go from back to front quickly, but didn’t really get in goalscoring positions as often as he would have liked.
(SUB) Rees Greenwood, 5/10: Quiet.
(SUB) Lee Connelly, 6/10: Put himself about and got stuck in when needed.
Man of the Match: Luke Molyneux (again!).