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Lightning-fast start sees Under-21s overcome Sunderland

Mon 11 December 2023, 22:00|Tottenham Hotspur

An early quick-fire double saw our Under-21s edge Sunderland 2-1 in our Premier League Cup group stage clash in the north east on Monday night.

Hitting the front in the opening stages at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, Jude Soonsup-Bell got us on our way with five minutes on the clock, lashing home from the angle after working his way in the box. And then, within a minute, Rio Kyerematen had us two to the good as he picked out the corner of the net from the edge of the area for his second goal in as many games.

Despite our bright start, we were made to weather much of a storm as the game progressed with the hosts enjoying the lion's share of the ball although they struggled to find a way past the impressive Luca Gunter. That was until the final minute of stoppage time at the end of the second-half as the Black Cats finally broke our resolve with Harry Gardiner tapping home Ben Crompton's cross to provide them a late consolation.

Conceding that late goal will have frustrated the group deeply, especially considering how brightly they started, completely dominating the encounter in the opening stages - and making it count.

It was a dream start as, on a very chilly, wintery night in England's north east, we caught Sunderland cold with us racing into a 2-0 lead. Soonsup-Bell's opener was, quite literally, a stunner. Coming out of nowhere, the forward picked up the ball, drove into the box to beat a number of players before leathering it into the roof of the net to give us the advantage. Then on our very next attack, Kyerematen was given a rather surprising amount of time to pick his spot from the edge of the area to double our lead. Yago Santiago had the opportunity to wrap up the points within 11 minutes but his header from Soonsup-Bell's corner was gathered comfortably by Nathan Bishop.

From then on though, it was the hosts that looked most likely to find the back of the net as they battled hard to get back into the game - and they might have done had it not been for a number of important saves from Gunter. On 20 minutes, Luis Hemir Semedo would have hoped for a better connection in front of goal as he looked to divert a cross towards goal, but his effort was claimed by Gunter. Harrison Jones was then denied by our man between the sticks after being played through on goal before Oliver Bainbridge drove wide of the mark after a mistake at the back.

As we moved past the half hour mark, the chances continued to come for the Black Cats but Gunter continued to remain firm. First, Ben Middlemas' fierce effort from distance forced the England Youth International to readjust quickly to palm the ball away before he came out on top in a one-on-one first with Michael Spellman and then with Mason Burstow. On the stroke of half-time, Alfie Dorrington joined in on the heroics as he threw himself in front of another Burstow effort to block.

Moving into the second half and the hosts continued to create. First Burstow guided an effort wide of the target when one-on-one with Gunter before the 'keeper smartly claimed Hemir's instinctive hook towards goal. Yet, despite the number of efforts the Black Cats were enjoying, on the hour mark, we had another glorious opportunity make sure of the victory but Will Lankshear was unable to get the better of Bishop after being released by Donley.

That was about that for clear cut opportunities in the game as a number of substitutions by both sides, including the introduction of Jahziah Linton from the bench as the full-back marked his return from injury, began to change the flow of proceedings, although it didn't stop a late flurry of activity for the hosts in and around our box. And in the final minute of added time, Sunderland's pressure paid dividends as Gardiner was picked out in the area to break Gunter's resolve. However, it was ultimately just a consolation, as Wayne Burnett's side claimed their 12th win out of 12 in all competitions against Under-21 opposition.

Sunderland 1-2 Spurs (Premier League Cup)

Sunderland: Bishop, Crompton, Bainbridge, Burke, Fieldson, Triantis (Wilson 63), Spellman (c) (Ryder 81), Middlemas (Chiabi 77), Hemir, Jones, Burstow (Gardiner 63). Substitutes (not used): Chibueze.

Spurs: Gunter, Lyons-Foster, Robson (Linton 83), Dorrington, Ashcroft, Craig (c), Soonsup-Bell (McKnight 73), Kyerematen (Cassanova 73), Lankshear (Williams 88), Donley, Santiago. Substitutes (not used): Keeley.

Match data

Goals: Sunderland - Gardiner 90+5; Spurs - Soonsup-Bell 5, Kyerematen 6

Yellow cards: Sunderland - Burke 56; Spurs - Robson 52

Referee: Dean Watson

Venue: Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground

Weather: Clear skies with a light breeze, 2 degrees