After an impressive run in the competition, our Under-21 side bowed out of the Checkatrade Trophy at the quarter-final stage away to Sunderland.

As the only academy team left in the competition, the Blues gave it their all at the Stadium of Light, but it was Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch's goals either side of half-time which proved the difference.

What happened

Paul Harsley’s side held their own throughout the first half, keeping calm and controlled on the ball and we enjoyed a majority of the possession in the opening 45 minutes.

The young Blues impressed from the off with the first chance of the game falling to 16-year-old Jayden Braaf.

The winger – who terrorised the Black Cats down the left flank - was unlucky not to find the target with a curled effort, but his attempt had just a bit too much power and skimmed wide of Robbin Ruiter’s far post.

However, after holding the home side out for more than 20 minutes, Sunderland broke through.

The League One side secured the lead in the 22nd minute when, after a tussle at the mouth of goal, the ball was returned out wide to Duncan Watmore, who took full advantage of some space and sent a low-flying effort past Blues keeper Dan Grimshaw into the bottom corner.

Watmore tried his luck again moments later, but Grimshaw was prepared. Our keeper launched into the air and cleanly snatched the ball away from danger, and was called to action just minutes later to palm away Bryan Oviedo’s superb free-kick.


                        DUEL : Benjamin Garre vies for possession with Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole
DUEL : Benjamin Garre vies for possession with Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole

Returning after the break, the Blues had a point to prove.

While the Black Cats were physically much bigger and stronger than our mostly-teenage side, we still managed to produce a classy display, showing both maturity and composure in our play.

Nabil Touaizi tried his luck with a curling effort from the edge of the box, but it came to nothing as it drifted just wide – and for all our endeavours, the young Blues just couldn’t seem to get a break.

Sunderland then doubled their lead on the 66th minute.

City sought to keep the Black Cats quiet, but substitute Lynden Gooch was able to wriggle free and – from nowhere – unleashed a powerful strike which looked virtually impossible to save.

Luke O’Nien then pushed for a third, but an incredible block from Grimshaw stopped his effort on the line, before our keeper then clawed the ball away with his right hand.

The City keeper produced a series of crucial saves, but that off-the-line clearance was most certainly the pick of the bunch.


                        BLUE STEEL : Nathanael Ogbeta puts City on the front foot
BLUE STEEL : Nathanael Ogbeta puts City on the front foot

It was an formidable challenge for our academy side, and was probably one of the toughest tests Paul Harsley's side could have faced, but we exited the competition with our heads held high at the Stadium of Light after a memorable campaign.

How we lined-up

Dan Grimshaw took his place in goal shielded by a back four of Nathanael Ogbeta, skipper Colin Rosler, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Jeremie Frimpong.

Iker Pozo was employed in his defensive midfield role alongside Tom Dele-Bashiru and Tommy Doyle.

Jayden Braaf and Benjamin Garre flanked Nabil Touaizi up front.

What's next

City's EDS squad are back in Premier League 2 action away at Liverpool on Monday, February 4th, kick-off 7pm.