A strong Sunderland u21 side fell to defeat at the Stadium of Light on Monday evening against Leeds United in Graeme Murty’s first match in charge.
The only goal of the game came as Leeds forward Wilfried Gnonto fired past Jacob Carney in the 53rd minute.
It was ex-Rangers boss Graeme Murty’s first in charge, and the new gaffer was able to select nine first team players in his starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Italy international Gnonto featured for the visitors, as did former Sunderland player Sam Greenwood, and Joe Gelhardt - players who all have Premier League experience.
It was a good test for our lads, most of whom were looking to get valuable minutes under their belts having not started many, if any, first team games this season.
Perkins, Joseph, Gelhardt and Gnonto all start again for the U21s tonight, as they take on Sunderland pic.twitter.com/Aqjjp0wG0r— Leeds United (@LUFC) October 10, 2022
The away side thought they had taken the lead in the 38th minute, but a well-placed block on the line from Trai Hume denied them the opener.
Leeds ‘keeper Kristoffer Klaesson was called into his first meaningful action in the 44th minute as he tipped an Amad Diallo free kick around the post.
The home side started the second half strongly as Leon Dajaku - playing alone up front - twice shot wide. The first was from a tight angle after he had beaten the Leeds offside trap, and the second came following a nice move from the hosts as Abdoullah Ba backheeled to the German at the edge of the box.
Leeds, however, hit back quickly as Cody Drameh struck the post just a minute before the opener. This came after Sunderland failed to clear the ball as it fell to Gnonto, who beat Carney despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to the winger’s strike.
Carney then made a couple of smart saves to keep the scores down - the first from former Sunderland man Sam Greenwood’s free kick, and then from Drameh as the right back looked to capitalise on an error by Zak Johnson.
The final chance of the game fell to the home side in the 84th minute, as Amad Diallo whipped a free kick to Dennis Cirkin, whose header went narrowly wide.
The defeat leaves Sunderland in 10th place in the Premier League 2 Division 2 table.
Despite defeat, there were positives to take for Sunderland.
Several first team players were able to get more minutes in their legs as they look to force their way into Tony Mowbray’s starting lineup.
There were also encouraging performances from French duo Ba and Edouard Michut, who seemed to create most of Sunderland’s attacks. It was, however, a frustrating evening for winger Diallo, as nothing seemed to come off for him.
There’s no shame in losing that game tonight - the Leeds side was full of talented players, and if anything it was a good fitness test for our lads who need the minutes in their legs.
Sunderland are next in action on the 23rd of October as they travel to Stoke, who are just one place above us in the table.