Exactly what happened and who impressed as Sunderland under-23s reach play-off final with Stoke City victory

Sunderland’s under-23 side are potentially just two games away from promotion – as they head to Stoke City in a promotion play-off semi-final.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 9:16 pm

The Black Cats’ second string have enjoyed a remarkable campaign and finished their regular season in fifth place in Premier League 2 Division 2.

That meant Elliott Dickman’s side now head into the play-offs where they will face a Stoke City side who finished second in the league – with the winners going on to face either Wolves or Crystal Palace in the final.

2,000 fans are set to attend the game as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

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Stoke City v Sunderland AFC U23: Team news and match updates from Premier League 2 play-off clash
Stoke City v Sunderland AFC U23: Team news and match updates from Premier League 2 play-off clash

Sunderland are likely to include the likes of Josh Hawkes, Dan Neil and Oliver Younger in their squad, while Lee Johnson could opt to use the clash as an opportunity to hand minutes to some returning first-team players.

We’ll be providing lupdates from the clash at the Bet365 Stadium throughout the evening, with team news, analysis and more from the play-off game.

FT: Stoke City 0-2 Sunderland U23 (Hawkes 57, Younger 66)

Last updated: Monday, 17 May, 2021, 19:11

  • Sunderland travel to Stoke City in their Premier League 2 Division 2 play-off (7pm kick-off),
  • Elliott Dickman is likely to include the likes of Josh Hawkes, Dan Neil and Oliver Younger in his side.
  • Team news is expected at 6pm.

And welcome to our live blog!

It’s a big week for Sunderland and it begins with the club’s under-23 side - who head to Stoke City looking to take a step towards promotion to Premier League 2 Division 1.

Our man Mark Donnelly is at the Bet365 Stadium and will be providing live updates right here throughout the evening...

What are the rules and format of the Premier League 2 play-offs?

Two teams are promoted from Premier League 2 Division 2 each season – the league winners (who this year are Leeds United) and the winners of the play-offs

Four teams take part in the play-offs with 2nd playing 5th and 3rd facing-off against 4th in one-legged semi-finals. The games have to be played at the main ground of the team who finished higher in the league.

The winners of each semi-final then face off in a final which is held at the main ground of the finalist who finished highest in the league.

This year’s play-off fixtures are as follows:

  • Stoke City (2nd) v Sunderland (5th)
  • Crystal Palace (3rd) v Wolves (4th)

The early team news from the Sunderland camp...

Sunderland are expected to include the likes of Anthony Patterson, Dan Neil, Oliver Younger and Josh Hawkes in their side for the semi-final.

Recent trialists such as Tom Scott could also be involved.

Lee Johnson could also opt to use the game to hand opportunities to some players in need of fitness ahead of the League One play-offs.

Last XI (v Stoke City, D 1-1): Anthony Patterson, Kenton Richardson, Oliver Younger, Tom Flanagan, Jake Vokins, Stephen Wearne, Dan Neil, Sam Wilding, Josh Hakwes, Tyrese Dyce (trialist), Will Harris

Our team are in place at the Bet365 Stadium...

Sunderland are here!

And as expected, the usual contingent of under-23 players have travelled.

Josh Hakwes, Dan Neil, Oliver Younger and Anthony Patterson can all be spotted from the lofty perch the press have been given here.


And here’s how Sunderland’s U23 side line-up: Patterson, K Richardson, Trialist, Wilding, Younger, Almond, Wearne, Hackett, Harris, Neil, Hawkes

And on the bench: A Richardson (GK), Dunne, Wombwell, Trialist, Trialist

It looks like a 4-3-3 for the Young Black Cats this evening, with Neil set to play just behind Harris with Wearne and Hawkes on the flanks.

There’s no first-team players involved tonight ahead of the League One play-off semi-final on Wednesday evening.

And here’s how Stoke line-up...

Yes, that is THE James McClean starting for the hosts...

Some details on the three trialists involved tonight...

Sunderland have named three trialists in their under-23 squad to face Stoke City.

Tyrese Dyce, formerly of Premier League side West Brom, starts the game at left back. The youngster also featured against Stoke in the side’s final game of the regular season.

And on the bench are Tom Scott and Ethan Kachosa – the latter of whom has reportedly signed a deal on Wearside, but was listed as a trialist on the teamsheet.

Scott is on the books of Northampton Town while Kachosa was previously with Leeds United and has impressed for Sunderland’s under-18 side in recent weeks.

Not long to go now!

And Sunderland are going through the final stages of their warm-up.

The side are preparing as a back four as expected, with trialist Tyrese Dyce at left-back.

2,000 fans are here tonight!

It’ll be the Stadium of Light on Saturday - with 10,000 in attendance.

The teams are out at the bet365 Stadium - and how great it is to hear fans roar a team onto a playing surface again!

Sunderland enter the field first, with Stoke not far behind (you can probably guess which team received the biggest roar!)

Stick with us for live updates from today’s game...

1 - Aaaaaaand we’re off!

Sunderland get the ball rolling in front of a vocal Stoke crowd!

4 - A cagey opening

No real chances to note as of yet, but it’s Stoke who have had the first corner of the game after Almond was adjudged to have got the final touch on a deflected clearance.

Jones’ delivery was deep but dangerous, and Harris had to rise well to head it away.

6 - Almost a scare for Sunderland!

McClean whips a cross in from the left and Dyce slips as he looks to control it on his chest.

James-Taylor is there and ready to pounce but Younger does well to hack it away before the Stoke man can connect.

10 - Better from Sunderland...

The Black Cats are having a better spell of possession but are still yet to really fashion a chance.

Harris thought he was through a few moments ago but the flag was raised as he prepared to bear down on goal.

Mark Proctor is the man issuing most of the instructions from the Sunderland dugout tonight.

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