Sunderland U23s 1-2 West Ham U23s
Sunderland’s team included Duncan Watmore, who is on his way back to full fitness having suffered a knee injury last year, along with Rees Greenwood, Tom Beadling and Elliot Embleton.
Sunderland are lined up like so.— Roker Report (@RokerReport) September 24, 2017
Embleton providing the link to Watmore, who is alone up top. pic.twitter.com/9ms07CKhMT
The home side started the game brightly, and a number of half decent opportunities fell to England U21s cap Watmore early on - in truth, had luck been on his side he might have ended the first period with a goal or two.
Despite Sunderland’s early pressure it was the Hammers that took the lead, through a well worked goal courtesy of Spanish youth international Toni Martinez - his header, a relatively simple finish, was comfortably dispatched and put the visitors in front in the 21st minute.
And they doubled their lead eight minutes later through Norway international Martin Samuelsen, who finished well after West Ham capitalised on some bad decision-making from Sunderland left back Denver Hume - this time, Martinez turning provider to put the Londoners even further ahead.
Having squandered a number of half decent early opportunities, Sunderland got themselves back in the game when right winger Luke Molyneux scored on 36 minutes, firing at pace past Nathan Trott and in to the West Ham net.
Half time: SAFC 1-2 WEST HAM.— Roker Report (@RokerReport) September 24, 2017
Watmore has yet to score but has looked lively. Good goal from Molyneux.
Any questions, hit me up. pic.twitter.com/jiYamm0mg0
After half time Sunderland started well again, and should have got themselves level early on.
Some fantastic work from Duncan Watmore down the left hand side brought the West Ham keeper well off his line, and with the goal open Elliot Embleton headed wide - a sitter.
As the second half drew on, all of the pressure came from Sunderland, eagerly trying to find a way back in to the game - a long range shot from Chris Allan that was well saved and a volley from Rees Greenwood that went over the bar were two of the better openings Sunderland carved out for themselves midway through the second period.
Quality ball over the top from Watmore to Embleton ends up wasted. Another Chris Allan strike too. Can’t fault #SAFC’s effort here— Roker Report (@RokerReport) September 24, 2017
In the 70th minute Duncan Watmore made way for Andrew Nelson, and immediately the former Hartlepool loanee caused problems down the left hand side, forging an opportunity which almost resulted in Sunderland’s leveller.
The latter stages of the game were mostly dominated by the home team, but as West Ham looked to frustrate it was looking increasingly unlikely that Elliott Dickman’s side would get back in the game.
When Sunderland’s last chance in added time, a shot-cum-cross from Sonny Best, flew across goal it was apparent that it just wasn’t Sunderland’s afternoon, and despite an encouraging performance it was the Hammers that returned back to the South with three points in the bag.
Michael Woud - 6/10: Had a quiet outing. Couldn’t have done too much about the goals.
Owen Gamble - 6/10: Supported Molyneux well down the right hand side. Comfortable.
Denver Hume - 6/10: Made a costly error in judgement in the build to West Ham’s second goal and generally struggled down the left hand side. Got forward well, though, and worked very hard.
Adam Bale - 6/10: Shielded the defence well. An industrious performance.
Brandon Taylor - 5/10: Struggled up against Martinez. Only played the first 45 minutes.
Tom Beadling - 6/10: Assured. Didn’t have all that much to do, really.
Luke Molyneux - 7/10: Took his goal really well. One of Sunderland’s better performers.
Chris Allan - 6/10: Quiet. Had a few strikes from range that were comfortably saved.
Duncan Watmore - 7/10: Incredibly busy, should have perhaps scored a few but looked sharp and doesn’t appear to be too far off what is required for him to step back in at first team level.
Elliot Embleton - 7/10 (MOTM): Very tidy on the ball but wasted a couple of gilt-edged chances. Will rue missing that open goal in the second half. Otherwise, though, our most influential player.
Rees Greenwood - 6/10: Got better as the game wore on but really don’t think he did enough in the opening 45.
Alex Storey (sub) - 6/10: Came on at half time for Brandon Taylor. Didn’t have too much to do as it was all Sunderland in the second half.
Andrew Nelson (sub) - 6/10: Busy. Ultimately didn’t have too much time to influence proceedings, though.
Sonny Best (sub) - 5/10: Replaced Greenwood - wasn’t on very long.