Exactly what happened as TEN-MAN Sunderland U23s defeated Leeds United U23s in the Premier League Cup

Sunderland U23s returned to action at the Stadium of Light against Leeds United U23s in the Premier League Cup this afternoon.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 10:02 am

Goals from Cameron Jessup and Ethan Kachosa were enough to hand Sunderland their first points in Group E of the Premier League Cup against a Leeds U23 team playing a division above the Wearsiders in the Premier League 2.

Elliott Dickman’s men were looking to bounce back in Group E after a disappointing 3-0 loss to Mansfield Town U23 in their opening game of the competition early last month.

Since that defeat, Sunderland had only won once, against West Brom last weekend, in their following four Premier League 2 fixtures

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That included three defeats on the spin to Birmingham City, Middlesbrough and Wolves.

Dickman’s starting XI was notable for the inclusion of 23-year-old first-team defender Arbenit Xhemajli as his side lined up in a 4-2-3-1 shape not dissimilar to the system deployed by Lee Johnson for first-team fixtures this season.

The Kosovan international had been out since October last year with a serious knee injury but made his long-awaited return to action in the heart of Sunderland’s defence.

The Black Cats, however, did not field U23 regulars Oliver Younger, Kenton Richardson, Tyrese Dyce and Will Harris, with the quartet likely to feature in the first-team squad’s Papa John’s Trophy clash with Manchester United U21s at the Stadium of Light this Wednesday.

Sunderland passed the ball well in the opening minutes with Ben Middlemas, playing in the number 10 position, looking lively.

It was Caden Kelly, though, who registered the first effort of the afternoon for the home side but his side-footed effort was well wide of Harry Christy’s post.

Ethan Kochosa, playing on Sunderland’s right-hand side, looked lively and managed to win his team’s first corner of the game with some intelligent play down his flank.

Sunderland built on their early pressure through a Kelly free-kick, which found the head of the returning Xhemajli but the defender’s header looped high over the goal.

Leeds began to grow into the game and registered their first effort on goal through Harvey Sutcliffe in the 15th minute.

The resulting corner, however, was handled with ease by the commanding Jack McIntyre, a summer arrival from Everton.

Two minutes later Sunderland’s left winger Nathan Newall showed great pace down Leeds’ flank to lose his man but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

And it was Sunderland who deservedly broke the deadlock midway through the first half after Cameron Jessup powered a header past Christy.

Minutes later, though, striker Harry Gardiner was helped off the pitch with an injury to his lower leg and was replaced by Joe Ryder.

Newell then again miscued and sent a good opportunity over the bar as Sunderland looked to turn their first-half dominance into more goals.

Leeds United winger Amarl Miller fired a similar chance over the woodwork for the visitors following clever play down Sunderland’s right-hand side.

And the pressure finally broke as Crysencio Summerville broke through Sunderland’s defence to curl a finish past McIntyre and level the scores.

Leeds ended the half on top after five minutes of added time produced pressure on McIntyre’s goal but an exciting half ended level.

With Wednesday’s Papa John’s Trophy game against Manchester United U21s in mind, Xhemajli was withdrawn at half-time alongside captain Stephen Wearne.

Henry Fieldson and Tom Scott replaced the pair respectively.

Leeds started the second half as they ended it and forced a tremendous save from McIntyre from point-blank range, the goalkeeper diving to his right to parry the effort out for a corner.

But Sunderland re-took the lead on the counter-attack when Newell broke down the right-hand side, his low pass eventually finding the lively Kachosa, who finished well.

Substitute striker Ryder then blazed over the bar from a tricky angle as Sunderland looked to add to their tally for the afternoon.

The Whites, however, immediately went after an equaliser as their chief playmaker Sean McGuire failed to make a crossing opportunity count on Leeds’ right-wing, later kicking the advertising board in frustration.

Moments later McIntyre once again produced a tremendous save to deny Leeds a second.

Archie Gray was unlucky not to wriggle into Sunderland’s box as he was cynically pulled nack. Leeds fashioned a chance from the resulting free-kick but it was headed away by Sunderland.

Defender Fieldson showed superb commitment to produce a tremendous tackle and block to deny Leeds once again before sub striker Ryder was shown a second yellow by the referee leaving Sunderland to finish the game with ten men.

McIntyre was then booked for time-wasting as the Sunderland goalkeeper looked to close the game out amidst intense late Leeds pressure.

Gray again had a golden opportunity to draw Leeds level late on in the fixture but the shot was tame and straight at the Sunderland goalkeeper.

Miller then blazed high and wide over Sunderland’s goal following good work down Leeds’ right-hand side.

McIntyre once again took his time over the resulting goal kick and the referee blew up just after to hand Sunderland a 2-1 victory over Leeds United and a first in the Premier League Cup this season.

Next up, the Black Cats will face Newcastle United U23s in a junior Wear-Tyne derby at home on Monday, October 18.

Sunderland U23 starting XI: McIntyre, Johnson, Bainbridge, Wearne (C) (Scott 45), Jessup, Xhemajli (Fieldson 45), Kachosa, Kelly, Gardiner (Ryder 30), Middlemas, Newall

Unused subs: Bond, Lohia

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