Sunderland U23s lost emphatically tonight in their first league derby of the season against Newcastle United at St James’ Park, suffering an incredibly heavy defeat without ever really mustering up any semblance of fight against their local rivals.
First team squad members Denver Hume, Elliot Embleton, Ethan Robson and Luke Molyneux all started the game but were not able to add any quality to a Sunderland side that was lacking in both confidence and a game plan.
After a quiet opening quarter of an hour, with a couple of half chances for either team, Newcastle took the lead in the 18th minute when a Newcastle United free kick out wide landed on the head of O’Connor, who headed his effort onto the bar and Owen Bailey was on hand for the home side to tap it in.
Four minutes later Callum Roberts made it 2-0 when he ran onto a ball from the right and tucked the ball past Johnstone into the far left hand corner of the net.
Connor Shields almost pulled on back when he got on the end of a corner and sent it across goal but a Newcastle defender was on hand to clear it off the line.
Minutes into the second half Newcastle should have been three up - some horrific Sunderland defending allowed Callum Roberts a route through on goal, and with only the keeper to beat he put his shot wide of Max Johnstone’s post to save the away side from further embarrassment.
Ten minutes later the home side did indeed increase their lead through Luke Charman, who found himself through before finishing with ease past Max Johnstone to put the game to bed.
Sunderland were dominated in practically every area of the pitch and just weren’t sharp enough or competitive enough against their far superior opponents, who never really had to break a sweat in order to gain their heavy lead.
Charman then added another in the 70th minute to really bang home Newcastle’s dominance, finishing with ease as Sunderland’s defence failed to muster up any sort of fight.
With 84 minutes played it was 5-0 - Danish midfielder Elias Sörensen tucked away his first of the evening, increasing Sunderland’s embarrassment in front of the 3000 or so Newcastle supporters in attendance.
The home side then saw out the rest of the game with ease, taking home the three points and the local bragging rights on this occasion.
Sunderland’s result, in my opinion, falls mainly upon the shoulders of U23s head coach Elliott Dickman. His side didn’t look prepared for the task at hand this evening, just like they never really looked prepared throughout last season, and after a relegation it does make you wonder if he’s having a positive impact upon our U23s squad and whether or not fresh input is needed at that level.
With the rest of the club moving forward with new leadership over the summer, maybe perhaps its time that the same occurred with our second string.
Max Johnstone, 5/10: Could maybe have done better for the first but was pretty helpless for the others due to the poor defending in front of him.
Denver Hume, 5/10: Not great - wasn’t as energetic as he was in his recent displays for the first team and, in particular, his performance at right back in the cup last week.
Jordan Hunter, 5/10: Fairly anonymous and struggled as Newcastle controlled the game.
Jack Bainbridge, 4/10: Struggled to deal with the Newcastle forwards.
Brandon Taylor, 4/10: Same as Bainbridge really. Gave Charman far too much space.
Jake Hackett, 5/10: Like the rest, quiet and struggle to impact on the game.
Ethan Robson, 5/10: Looked like someone who hasn’t played a great deal recently.
Luke Molyneux, 5/10: Missed a chance at 2-0 that might have changed the game.
Connor Shields, 5/10: Unlucky not to score when his header was cleared off the line.
Elliot Embleton, 5/10: Not his usual self in a game he should have stood out in.
Lee Connelly, 4/10: Starved of service.
(SUB) Jack Diamond, 5/10: Didn’t really have an impact with the game already over.
(SUB) Benji Kimpioka, 5/10: May have started if the first team didn’t have injury issues with forwards. Like Diamond he only came on once the game was dead.
(SUB) Alex Storey, 6/10: Brought on at 4-0 down to help stem the flow.
Man of the Match: N/A.