Sunderland U23s 1-1 Norwich U23s
It was honours even at the Stadium of Light today as Sunderland U23s drew 1-1 with Norwich, coming from behind after Jack Bainbridge scored his first goal since joining the club from Swansea in the summer.
Sunderland started the game in a lively manner, and the energetic Benji Kimpioka was a particular highlight as he worked tirelessly to put pressure on the Norwich defenders.
The issue, however, was that our defence just couldn’t deal with long balls down the channels - and after briefly threatening to make us pay, Norwich got themselves a goal from one half an hour into the game. Adam Idah tapped in from close range after a cross over the top found its way into the Sunderland box.
Norwich had numerous opportunities to double their lead, but simply couldn’t stick the ball away despite it appearing easier to miss on more than one occasion.
Sunderland continued to push for an equaliser and, just minutes before half time, Jack Bainbridge finished well as he met a corner ball with the inside of his right foot from just four yards out.
After half time it appeared the home side hadn’t learned from their mistakes, and another long ball just seconds after the restart flew over Storey’s head - but the Norwich forward could only hit the post after lifting the ball over Pattison.
The pace of the game continued in a frantic manner, and both teams played attacking football.
The introduction of Jack Diamond gave Sunderland something extra in the final third, and but for a superb sprawling save from the Norwich keeper he would have given us the lead after he cut inside from the left and rifled an effort towards goal.
Minutes later Norwich went again, and after the linesman missed another blatant offside they should have gone ahead - with an open goal to hit, the shot once again went wide.
The game petered out from then and ended a draw, with Sunderland perhaps feeling lucky that Norwich’s forwards had an off day.
Anthony Patterson, 6/10: Made some decent saves and his distribution of the ball was good.
Brandon Taylor, 5/10: Struggled out of position. Couldn’t cope with the long balls down the sides, and the Norwich winger often had the beating of him.
Jordan Hunter, 4/10: Struggled badly with the long balls that kept going over his head. Can tell left back isn’t his natural position.
Alex Storey, 6/10: Reads the game well.
Jack Bainbridge, 7/10: One hairy moment aside, he did well. Good finish for his goal.
Ethan Robson, 4/10: Very ineffectual. Wish he’d express himself more, he’s too safe and cautious and it’s that what holds him back.
Bali Mumba, 6/10: Made some good passes - the one player in the centre trying to force the issue.
Owen Gamble, 5/10: Not really a right sided midfielder and he wasn’t able to influence the game much from the wing. Better when he went to right back later in the match.
Jake Hackett, 5/10: Never in the game until he went off injured.
Lee Connelly, 5/10: Like Connelly, he was quiet. Worked hard though as he always does.
Benji Kimpioka, 7/10: Worked relentlessly hard throughout the game. Even when he is on his own up against two men he’ll often come out of the situation with the ball. Very bright and talented lad.
(SUB) Adam Bale, 7/10: Worked hard in front of the defence. His presence allowed Mumba to influence more further up the park.
(SUB) Jack Diamond, 7/10: Gave us more impetus in attack.