Sunderland fall to defeat against Leicester City youngsters after dreadful second half showing
Sunderland fell to defeat against Leicester City U21s after a woeful second-half performance at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats had the lead at the break but now require a positive result at Scunthorpe next week to stand any chance of progressing in the leasing.com trophy.
Parkinson had promised to freshen up his side in the run-up to this game but with the chance to book a place in the knockout stages with a win, he named a strong side and bench.
Fringe players in his tenure so far were given a chance to impress but other than a start for Benji Kimpioka, there was very little in the way of U23 presence in his matchday squad.
The onus was on getting the job done ahead of the final group stage game away at Scunthorpe United last week, but the visitors missed an outstanding chance to take the lead just eight minutes into the contest.
Callum Wright did well to meet a Darnell Johnson corner at the front post, flicking on an effort that George Hirst should have done better with, the young striker unable to connect from a yard out under presure from Conor McLaughlin and Alim Ozturk.
Sunderland steadied and began to pose a threat, Laurens De Bock stinging the palms of Tobias Viktor Johansson on his return from injury with a long-range effort.
The hosts took the lead when Chris Maguire won a free-kick 20 yards from goal, just to the left of centre. The attacking midfielder dusted himself down and stepped up to curl an exceptional effort into the top corner.
Leicester looked bright in possession, a frontline with plenty of pace occasionally troubling the Sunderland defence.
George Thomas had Jon McLaughlin scrambling across his goal with an effort from range as he pounced on a loose pass from Dylan McGeouch, the ball flashing just wide of the par post.
The game settled into a fairly sedate tempo, both sides looking to spring their attackers clear but lacking a touch of quality in the final third. Sunderland spurned a great chance to go ahead just before the half hour mark when Ozturk sprung Duncan Watmore clear with an escellent ball over the top.
He droved forward and squared the ball for Marc McNulty, but a miscommunication between the Scot and Kimpioka allowed the Leicester defence to recover and clear.
The away side missed a pair of good opportunities themselves shortly after, both Admiral Muskwe and Hirst failing to gather good balls behind the defence in time to get a shot away.
Sunderland sufffered a significant setback when Ozturk, making his return from injury, pulled up off the ball and headed immediately down the tunnel.
Jordan Willis replaced him and the hosts finished the half the strongest, unlucky to see a goal ruled out as Grant Leadbitter was booked for taking a quick free-kick that McNulty turned over the keeper and into the far corner.
Parkinson’s side had looked in relative control but the game turned on its head just minutes into the second half.
Leicester drew level from the spot after Conor McLaughlin brought Callum Wright down in the box, Hirst emphatically converting despite McLaughlin guessing the right way in the Sunderland goal.
A lax Black Cats defence were caught out again when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall spun away from McGeouch on the edge of the area, firing an oustanding effort into the top corner.
Sunderland laboured in their attempts to find an equaliser, the visitors growing in confidence and going close when Wright got away from McGeouch, dragging his effort just wide.
Parkinson threw on Aiden McGeady and Will Grigg to try and rescue something from the contest, but it was Leicester who looked the most incisive on the break and McLaughlin had to do well to block George Thomas’ effort as the midfielder burst through on goal.
The Black Cats should have taken the contest to penalties in stoppage time, with botjh Leadbitter and Maguire missing gilt-edged opportunities when the ball fell to them in the box, but the young visitors were able to hold on for a deserved win.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; McLaughlin; Ozturk (Willis, 36), Flanagan, De Bock; Leadbitter, McGeouch; Watmore (Grigg, 73), Maguire, Kimpioka (McGeady, 69); McNulty
Subs: Power, O’Nien, Hume, Patterson
Leicester City U21s XI: Johansson; Benkovic, Thomas, Muskwe (Eppiah, 69), Johnson, Hirst, Wright (Leshabela, 83), Ughelumba, Dewsbury-Hall, Clark, Thomas
Subs: Davies, Tee, Arlott-John, Gyamfi, Kranthove
Bookings: Leadbitter, 45 McLaughlin, 48 Benkovic, 74 Hirst, 78