Sunderland U21s kick off pre-season with a draw

The Young Black Cats were held to a 1-1 draw by non-league outfit Seaham Red Star.

Sunderland U21s kick off pre-season with a draw
Elliot Embleton hits the back of the net to level for his side. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

Sunderland's under-21 side began their pre-season campaign with a draw on Tuesday evening - non-league Seaham Red Star holding them to a 1-1 result.

Seaham took the lead after only three minutes, David Paul heading in from a corner early on, before Elliot Embleton's penalty saw the visitors equalise.

The Young Black Cats controlled the game and had more than enough chances to take the lead, and then go on to put the game to bed, but they couldn't apply that clinical touch required in the final third.

Plenty of new faces

The XI that coach Andy Welsh started with at Seaham Town Park was much different from that which they finished the U21 Premier League season with away at Tottenham Hotspur in April.

With several of the youngsters having flown out to Austria with Sam Allardyce and the first team, while several under-18s have made the jump up to the under-21s this summer, this came as little surprise. 

Some youngsters have been let go too, with Welsh bringing through almost an entirely new crop of players this season. Therefore, pre-season gives the new players chance to gel, with results not always to go their way just because of a terrific campaign last term.

With seven changes to the team that last started for the U21s, and nine made at half time, a draw is a result Welsh and Sunderland must be content with.

Sunderland coach Andy Welsh could take positives from Tuesday's result. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)
Sunderland coach Andy Welsh could take positives from Tuesday's result. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

Chances aplenty

With the centre-forward position in the team up for grabs following Mikael Mandron's exit, this game was a chance for 17-year-old Joel Asoro to make his mark as he was granted a starting berth.

After Sunderland conceded early on, the Swedish teenager had a whole host of chances too, but was unable to take any of them in his first under-21 appearance.

Asoro looked good off the ball with his movement and linked up well with teammates throughout the game, but struggled to really test the opposing goalkeeper.

At the break, he was replaced by another player making the step up from the under-18s - Andrew Nelson. The Englishman was lively from the off and tested Seaham's stopper more than Asoro, but was still unable to hit the back of the net.

The fact that Sunderland were able to create all these chances was certainly a positive though in a dominant, attacking performance. Next time out, they will just need to be sure of taking them.