In a must win match, Manchester United’s u21s travelled to Sunderland in a bid to advance to the next round of the EFL Trophy.
Due to international fixtures and injuries, Neil Wood was forced to field a very young side but fortunately Sunderland faced many of the same problems and resorted to using their u23s side.
It took just a matter of minutes for the former Mackem, Joe Hugill, to be through on goal after intercepting an under hit back pass. After rounding the keeper, all that had to be done was to slide it into the open net but Hugill just narrowly missed as it struck off the far post.
Charlie McNeill was chasing in for the rebound for an easy tap in but slipped before he could get his shot off, allowing Sunderland to scramble a clearance away.
The early danger to Sunderland kicked them into life and they got on top of the match and bombarded United’s box including a looping volley which had Dermot Mee rooted in goal but fortunately it hit off the inside of the post and back out.
Sunderland controlled the match for much of the first half, outnumbering United’s light two man midfield.
As the first half reached its later stages, United managed to creates some opportunities through the trickery of Dillon Hoogewerf and his link up play with Charlie Wellens down the right wing.
One instance saw Hoogewerf jink and dribble past a number of Sunderland players into the box before having his left footed shot blocked. But it ricocheted to the feet of Zidane Iqbal who fizzled a low shot which deflected off the post and opened another opportunity to McNeill.
Unfortunately, the usually clinical striker could not find his feet and snatched an effort into the side netting.
United went into half having worked their way back into the match and were hoping to remain on the front foot in the second half but it was to be the home team who would strike first.
Sunderland’s relentless pressing paid dividends when Hugill played a loose back pass straight to his former side at the edge of United’s box. Mee initially made a great save but the rebound landed to the onrushing Tyrese Dyce, who smashed it into the roof of the net, giving Mee no chance as he scrambled out.
It was only seven minutes later when United responded with an equaliser though. A short corner played to Charlie Savage, the Welshman found his midfield partner Iqbal at the edge of the box who feinted and curled a beautiful strike into the top right corner to make it 1-1.
Both teams began going back and forth but it was Sunderland who would take the lead just 10 minutes later.
A clever passing move from Sunderland saw Alvaro Fernandez get caught out and Sunderland were in down the right side.
A cut back cross found the wide open Stephen Wearne who capitalised on United’s midfield failing to track the runners and he headed home to put Sunderland in the lead.
United tried to make their way back into it with a flurry of attacks which saw glaring misses from McNeill and Hugill, who both had a night to forget with their finishing.
Ultimately, the final whistle came with United losing 2-1, meaning they were knocked out of the cup competition.
United: Mee, Wellens (Jurado 90+2), McShane, Hardley, Fernandez, Savage, Iqbal, Hoogwerf (Forson 81), Mather, McNeill, Hugill (Norkett 80)
Subs not used: Vitek, Murray, Bennett, Ennis.
Read our player ratings for this match here.