Sunderland U21s 0 Chelsea 0: Ola Toivonen fails to impress

Some last-minute window shopping was performed at Eppleton CW ahead of the transfer deadline.

Sunday, 31st January 2016, 12:38 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st January 2016, 12:44 pm
Ola Toivonen

Scores of scouts took a pew to watch Sunderland Under-21s' goalless draw against Chelsea, as the table-topping Black Cats added another point to their tally.

But few would have sent glowing reports from a flat game, where both sides lacked precision in the final third.

None of Sunderland's players disgraced themselves, centre-halves Tom Beadling and George Brady were solid, and the Black Cats as a whole were improved in the second half.

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Yet there were too unforced errors from those in red and white, with the better performers in Chelsea's ranks, albeit they were similarly guilty of poor execution with their final pass.

Of course, with the emergency loan window opening a week after the transfer deadline, there is still a chance for Sunderland's promising youngsters to get more competitive football before the end of the campaign.

For the one loanee in Sunderland's ranks though, Ola Toivonen, there was precious little to suggest that he is set for a swift recall to the first-team picture.

Other than a superb chipped ball over the top which Rees Greenwood failed to control, Toivonen offered little. There was more of a contribution from fellow first-teamer Adam Matthews.

Chelsea were much the better side in the opening stages, with Mikael Mandron producing an early goal-line clearance to deny Trevoh Chalobah after the centre-half had flicked on Kasey Palmer's dangerous inswinging free-kick.

Sunderland again required a goal-line clearance to stay level midway through the first half when Jake Clarke-Salter's powerful header from a corner was headed away by Black Cats skipper Liam Agnew.

But with Chelsea's final ball poor, Sunderland's defences held firm, despite the intricate approach play of the visitors.

After Sunderland's severely limited attacking impact in the opening 45 minutes, U21 boss Andy Welsh made a change at the break with Carl Lawson replacing Martin Smith and Ethan Robson moving into his favoured central role.

Immediately, there was a better balance to the side, with the the Black Cats pushed further up the field too.

Both sides still lacked panache in their attacking play though.

Greenwood miscontrolled on a couple of occasions when he was the wrong side of the Chelsea defence, while Mandron's attempts to barge through the Blues defence came to naught.

Ethan Robson planted a free-kick into the diving arms of Chelsea keeper Bradley Collins in the last 10 minutes, but that was as close as Sunderland came.

Sunderland: Stryjek, Matthews, T Robson, Agnew, Brady, Beadling, Greenwood (J Robson 90), Smith (Lawson 46), Mandron, Toivonen (Nelson 71), E Robson. Subs not used: Talbot, Casey. Booked: Smith (2), Lawson (49), Greenwood (75)

Chelsea: Collins, Aina, Chalobah (Conroy 77), Clarke-Salter, Dasiva, Houghton, Dabo, Scott (Wright 71), Abraham, Palmer, MItchell. Subs not used: Baxter, Quintero, Wakefield. Booked: Aina (75)