Leeds United U23s were dealt a frustrating blow in their Premier League Cup campaign after former Whites academy player Ethan Kachosa’s goal secured victory for 10-man Sunderland U23s at the Stadium of Light.
Mark Jackson’s side started the game poorly, and a series of sloppy passing handed control of the game to the hosts. The Black Cats made their domination count after 23 minutes when Caden Kelly’s corner was volleyed in by Cameron Jessup amid poor Leeds defending.
The visitors got back into the game before half-time courtesy of an excellent equaliser from Crycensio Summerville, who burst into life by weaving his way into the Sunderland area before unleashing a shot into the top-left corner.
Momentum was carried into the second half by Leeds, but it was Sunderland who scored against the run of play; Whites academy product Ethan Kachosa got on the end of a low ball into the area before squeezing in a finish at the far-post.
Chaos ensued with end-to-end action making it difficult to predict who would strike next; 16-year-old centre-back James Debayo saw a header cleared off the line after 66 minutes, before Sunderland charged down the other end of the pitch and forced U23s debutant Harry Christy into an excellent diving save.
Leeds thought they had a ticket back into the game when Black Cats substitute Joe Ryder was sent off in the 81st minute, having received two yellow cards in quick succession for almost identical fouls on centre-back Kris Moore.
But Sunderland frustrated the Peacocks’ efforts to find a second equaliser - the final chance of the game fell to Amari Miller, who cut inside only to wildly fire the ball over the ball.
It felt like an undeserved defeat for Jackson’s side. Sunderland deserved their first-half advantage, but Christy made big saves to deny Nathan Newell and Kachosa from putting the game beyond the visitors.
With the second half came countless opportunities for Leeds to add to Summerville’s brilliant goal; Max Dean, who received little service in the opening 45 minutes, had a good chance to score at the near-post after 51 minutes but opted to lead with his head rather than his feet and saw his diving header go wide.
Substitute Stuart McKinstry, who replaced Summerville during the interval, became a vital source of chances for Leeds with his excellent deliveries from open play and set-pieces, while Sean McGurk also showcased some impressive footwork throughout the second period.
Nohan Kenneh will wonder how he did not get on the scoresheet after replacing Pascal Struijk in holding midfield at half-time; his first chance came in the 57th minute when he rose well to receive a McKinstry cross, but directed his header at goal downwards, making it easy for Jack McIntyre in the Sunderland goal.
A 72nd-minute overhead kick from close range followed, but it was deflected wide for a corner. McKinstry played a short pass quickly and Miller caught Sunderland sleeping with a cross across the face of goal, but Kenneh somehow failed to get a connection before the defenders managed to clear.
McKinstry linked up well with Harvey Sutcliffe on the right flank to generate another chance for Leeds in the dying moments, who eventually got the ball to Kenneh in the area, but the defender couldn’t get the ball under control and turn to get a shot away. A minute later, another chance fell to the 18-year-old, whose uncontested shot from the edge of the area was straight at the goalkeeper.
The defeat leaves Jackson’s side bottom of the Group E table following their opening 2-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic U23s. Leeds U23s are next in action on Monday 18th October in a 19.00 kick-off away at Everton.
Harry Christy - 8
Impressed on his U23s debut. Made a couple of big saves to keep Sunderland at arm’s length in the first half. Not much he could do about the hosts’ opening goal.
He was the victim of poor defending again as Sunderland retook the lead but made an excellent diving save to deny Ryder during an end-to-end second half.
Connor Ferguson (off 56’) - 7
Busy game down the left flank for the full-back. Provided width well and allowed Miller to cut inside.
Kris Moore - 8 (MOTM)
Made his seniority in central-defence count next to the 16-year-old Debayo. Positioned himself well to win tackles and interceptions.
Was comfortable on the ball and capable of progressing the ball brilliantly from centre-back; these progressions attracted two fouls in quick succession from Ryder who subsequently saw red.
James Debayo - 6.5
Mixed passing output from the recent Watford acquisition in the first half. Asked questions of the Sunderland defence with searching long-balls but his short passing could be poor and stunted Leeds’ efforts to grow into the game.
Eventually grew into the game with the Whites and looked comfortable come the start of the second half. Saw an effort headed off the line as Leeds were once again chasing the game after the interval.
Harvey Sutcliffe - 6.5
Quieter than Ferguson on the opposite flank due to Leeds mainly focusing play down the left side in the first half. Failed to mark his man at the Sunderland corner which led to their opener.
Contributed with a handful of blocks and interceptions during the second half, and got more involved going forward following Sunderland’s red card.
Pascal Struijk (off 46’) - 7
Calm and collected presence that stopped Sunderland from wreaking total havoc during their long spell of domination in the opening 45 minutes.
Amari Miller - 6
Struggled to beat his man down the left side despite Leeds focusing their play down that side in the first half. In Leeds’ first fruitful attacking spell the ball fell to him outside the area but he got his technique all wrong and fired over.
Was unfortunate to not register an assist when he played the ball across the face of goal, only for Kenneh to somehow miss a connection from close range. Missed a last-minute chance by firing wildly over after cutting inside, again lacking technique.
Joe Snowdon - 6
More decisiveness required from the midfielder; had a real chance to equalise in the first half after receiving the ball from Summerville in a central area, could’ve passed or shot but held onto the ball too long and lost possession.
Switched to left-back following Archie Gray’s introduction, but had a quiet second half.
Sean McGurk - 7.5
Looked good on the ball, offered himself in deeper pockets of space to help Leeds progress the ball and tracked back well too. Showed good feet and had a shot blocked shortly after the Whites’ equaliser.
Became Leeds’ main threat on the ball alongside McKinstry following Summerville’s departure.
Crycensio Summerville (off 46’) - 8
Was invisible for much of the first half and his poor marking left him partly to blame for Sunderland’s opener. Made up for it with an exceptional solo effort to equalise, weaving his way into the area before finding the top corner.
Max Dean - 6.5
Didn’t receive much service in a first half Sunderland dominated. Held up play relatively well when he had the chance and got more involved in the build-up as Leeds got into the swing of things just before half-time.
Was far more central to Leeds’ attacks at the start of the second half. Had a good chance early on to score at the near-post but opted for a diving header rather than leading with his legs.
Nohan Kenneh (on 46’) - 6.5
Couldn’t quite match the presence of the more experienced Struijk in holding midfield but performed well enough ahead of the central-defenders. Attempted a great overhead kick in the area which was blocked by the Sunderland defence.
Should have headed in a second Whites equaliser but somehow failed to get a connection on a Miller cross following a quickly-taken corner from McKinstry. Had an uncontested shot on goal from the edge of the area in the dying moments but it was a weak effort straight at the keeper.
Stuart McKinstry (on 46’) - 7.5
Showcased his comfort on the ball down the right side and contributed with some good deliveries throughout the second period. Made set-pieces much more dangerous for Leeds, and ensured they didn’t miss Summerville’s influence.
Archie Gray (on 56’) - 6
Linked up play well and had some clever attempted passes blocked by Sunderland defenders. Otherwise a relatively quiet cameo from him.