Under-23s: Sunderland 2 City 1

Exeter City fell to a 2-1 defeat away at Sunderland AFC in the under-23 Premier League Cup.

The Grecians conceded goals either side of half-time to trail 2-0 but showed a spirited fightback to get back into the match through Liam McAlinden and came close to getting an equaliser with an injury-time effort from Joel Randall that grazed the crossbar.

It was a slow start to the game in terms of chances from both teams with City’s best opportunity of the first half coming in the 32nd minute when Alex Byrne did very well to pick possession off Alex Storey in the final third and slide the ball into Matt Jay. Jay then squared the ball to McAlinden but his effort was wide of the mark.

It was just four minutes later when Elliot Embelton put the hosts into the lead. There seemed to be little danger as the Sunderland player lined up a shot from 25 yards but his effort took a couple of deflections on its way through and the ball ended up just inside James Hamon’s near post.

City responded well to going behind though with Kyle Edwards having a couple of efforts at goal before delivering a low cross for Matt Jay to glance a header just off target.

However, the Grecians started the second half slowly and Sunderland were further in front when Luke Molynuex cut in from the left and hit a 25-yard shot past Hamon.

City again responded well with Edwards, Alex Hartridge and substitute Ben Seymour all having efforts at goal saved. And City deservedly pulled a goal back when Seymour sent in a low cross for McAlinden to side-foot home with four minutes remaining.

It was at this stage City began to pile on the pressure and to create plenty of opportunities. McAlinden was unfortunate not to head City level as he glanced a header, from a corner, just wide, and then curled another effort just over.

Then Edwards had a shot from inside the box well saved by the impressive Michael Woud before Randall went the closest to an equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time as his shot, from an angle, grazed the Sunderland crossbar.

However, it was not to be for City and they will now look to their home match against Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday, December 4, to get back to winning ways in the group stage of the competition. You can buy tickets for that match, and the subsequent games at St James Park against Hull City and Sunderland by clicking on the following link.

Sunderland: Woud, Goode, Hume, Bale (Gamble, 70), Storey, Beadling, Diamond, Robson, Asoro (Greenwood, 70), Embleton, Molynuex. Subs not used: Taylor, Patterson, Wright

Exeter City: Hamon, Wilson, Hartridge, Down, J Storey, Byrne (Seymour, 73), Collins, Sparkes (Randall, 45), Edwards, Jay, McAllinden. Subs not used: Williams, Key, Egan