Stoke are one of the few clubs from outside of the north east that I’ve seen the first team, under-23 team and women’s team of. I’ve watched the under-21s/23s a few times now. I watched the under-23s as recently as August 2018, and I watched them a couple of years ago against Middlesbrough and in January 2015 when they played as an under-21 side. It’s only three months since I watched their ladies team at Sunderland, and I watched their first team play at Sunderland in January 2014 in the Premier League. Jozy Altidore was playing for Sunderland then! Following this game tonight, I should be at Hartlepool United vs Shildon tomorrow, and then that’ll be it until Saturday’s game at Easington. I’m not sure if I’ll be at a game next Sunday, but I will be at least somewhere the following midweek. This game tonight was my 107th of the season and that puts me 10 ahead of where I was at this point last season.
Stoke under-23s top Premier League Cup group with victory at Sunderland
Stoke City under-23s ensured they would finish top of Group A of the Premier League Cup with a 1-3 win at Sunderland on Monday night.
Jake Dunwoody put the visitors ahead in the 15th minute, and Gabriel Kyeremateng doubled Stoke’s advantage before the break.
Benji Kimpioka pulled one back for the hosts inside the final 20 minutes, but Thibaud Verlinden’s late strike ensured Stoke topped the group.
Sunderland named trialist Ruben Sammut in the starting XI.
Upon kick-off, little happened until Stoke took the lead in the 15th minute. Nathan Collins’ superb ball over the top found Tre Pemberton and he drove towards the byline. He pulled it back to Dunwoody whose curling effort from 18 yards picked out the far corner.
In the 25th minute, Stoke’s lead could have been doubled. Goalkeeper Max Stryjek failed to collect a Verlinden corner, and it bounced off a couple of players before a goalline clearance kept Sunderland’s deficit at just one.
Stoke weren’t creating a great deal, but they were creating more than Sunderland who literally created nothing.
A superb challenge from Jack Bainbridge denied Kyeremateng on the half hour mark, but Stoke doubled their lead just two minutes later. Verlinden’s pin point cross from near the corner flag picked out Kyeremateng who volleyed home from close range.
Sunderland had to wait until the 43rd minute for their first shot, and it wasn’t exactly a troublesome effort either. Bainbridge rose to meet a corner, but his looping header proved an easy catch for Nathan Broome.
Following the break, Kimpioka fired well over for the hosts, before Pemberton had the ball in the net for Stoke only to be ruled offside.
Halfway through the second half, an outstanding save from Broome preserved Stoke’s clean sheet. Jack Diamond drilled a dangerous free-kick towards goal, and it took a wicked deflection. However, Broome adjusted to make a superb save.
Five minutes later, Sunderland did pull a goal back. It came through another dangerous free-kick, this time slightly further out than Diamond’s effort. Kimpioka took command this time, and he curled a superb effort into the far top corner giving Broome no chance.
Verlinden forced a strong save from Stryjek as Stoke looked to regain their two goal cushion, before Sunderland were reduced to 10 men. Following a scrap in the middle of the park, Lee Connelly was shown the red card.
In the 87th minute, Pemberton’s pace meant he latched onto a long ball for the visitors. He drilled a low cross into the penalty area where Ethon Varian’s slight touch helped it onto Verlinden who drilled narrowly wide.
Verlinden was to get his goal late on though. The Belgium under-19 international weaved a way through numerous Sunderland players before beating Stryjek at his near post.
The result means Stoke City top the group, but Sunderland also go through as runners-up.
Full-time: Sunderland U23s 1-3 Stoke City U23s
Next up for me is Hartlepool United vs Shildon tomorrow.
Sunderland U23s: Stryjek, Hunter, Evans, Sammut, Bainbridge (c), Young (Taylor, 46′), Connelly, Neil, Kimpioka, Mumba (Kokolo, 64′), Diamond
Unused subs: Storey, Johnstone, Connolly
Stoke City U23s: Broome, Wara, Collins, McJannett (Forrester, 83′), Niakaté, Sørensen, Dunwoody (c), Jarvis, Pemberton, Kyeremateng (Varian, 74′), Verlinden
Unused subs: Gyollai, Twyford, Macari
Admission: £3 adults, £1 concessions
Attendance: About 190
Chips and gravy: £2.50
Referee: Simon Mather