Sunderland's Under-23s have been in action tonight in the south-east. Elliot Dickman's side lost by a goal to nil against a Tottenham team who have struggled for most of this season but who were the better side this evening.
Spurs had only won four times in sixteen attempts in Premier League 2 before tonight, but their victory lifts them to within two points of a Sunderland side who have now only won one of their last six league games.
Tottenham's Under-23 squad play some of their competitive matches at the home of League Two outfit Stevenage F.C and the Lamex Stadium was the scene of tonight's encounter.
Sunderland lined up with fringe first team players Joel Asoro, Ethan Robson and Rees Greenwood in the starting eleven. But the likes of Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman were spared the trek to Hertfordshire - a hint perhaps that both will be involved in the senior squad for the trip to Everton on Saturday.
Stryjek (GK), Robson J, Hume, Wright, Casey, Ledger, Molyneux, Robson E (c), Asoro, Embleton, Greenwood. Subs: Brotherton, Talbot (GK), Gamble, Taylor, Poame
The remodelled Under-23 side which took to the field tonight was somewhat lacking in experience compared with previous incarnations this season and were a goal down early on. Tottenham prospect Kaziah Sterling robbed Sunderland goalkeeper Max Stryjek, who had a nervy first half in a busy evening, to net in the 5th minute.
Sunderland grew into the encounter and striker Joel Asoro had the best of the visitor's chances - including a shot which hit the post in the second half and forcing the Spurs goalkeeper into a couple of decent saves. But it was the home side who finished the game strongly and Spurs should have added to their lead with a handful of excellent opportunities.
Defender Michael Ledger was on the pitch in what will be his last appearance in a Sunderland shirt for some time. It was confirmed this afternoon that Norwegian top-flight outfit Viking Stavanger will sign the centre-half on loan in a season-long deal. The 19-year-old returned to Wearside last week following a successful initial trial and will return to Scandinavia in the next few days.
The Eliteserien - Norway's top tier - kicks off at the beginning of April and Stavanger have a string of friendly matches lined up in preparation - one every Friday night for the next few weeks.
According to the most recent UEFA coefficient - which ranks Europe's domestic leagues - the Eliteserien is slightly below the level of the Scottish Premier League but above that of football in the likes of Cyprus, Hungary, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.
And speaking of which - the Republic of Ireland is where Sunderland's other freshly announced departure is heading. Defender Tommy Robson has joined Irish Premier League side Limerick for the rest of the season. The 21-year-old left-back had been skipper of the Under-23s until today - his namesake Ethan took over the captain's armband for tonight's game.
Robson might get his first taste of action as Limerick host Sligo Rovers on Friday night. The League of Ireland is another competition which runs through the summer rather than winter months. The season in Eire begins this week and will conclude at the end of October.