Sunderland beat Leicester with late penalty

Charis Mavrias in action against Leicester
Charis Mavrias in action against Leicester

LIAM AGNEW’S late penalty secured a second victory of the campaign for Sunderland Under-21s, as several of the Black Cats first-team fringe men earned a run-out.

Agnew’s spot-kick provided just rewards for the hosts at the Stadium of Light tonight after Sunderland eventually made the most of their superiority.

Danny Graham, Cabral, Charis Mavrias and Costel Pantilimon were all handed run-outs in front of the watching Gus Poyet and Lee Congerton, with the latter two undoubtedly sniffing an opportunity to be involved in this weekend’s visit of Arsenal.

Mavrias was a bright spark out wide - along with fellow livewire winger Duncan Watmore - and saw a shot cleared off the line, while Pantilimon made a couple of decent stops, albeit he was largely a bystander.

As for Graham and Cabral - both drafted onto the bench in Saturday’s 8-0 mauling at Southampton due to a speight of injuries to the first-team squad - there was little to suggest they can force their way back into Poyet’s plans.

Graham spurned a gilt-edged opportunity, while Cabral was his usual lethargic self in strolling around the middle of the park.

Leicester midfielder Hamza Choudury was very fortunate to escape with only a yellow card in the 11th minute after an awful studs-up challenge on Mavrias, which prompted an ugly melee between the two sets of players.

Only a superb goal-line clearance prevented Mavrias breaking the deadlock in the 23rd minute after the Greek winger collected Graham’s square ball, in space on the right-hand side of the area.

Mavrias beat the goalkeeper with his first-time right-footed shot, but Leicester centre-half Alie Sesay managed to divert it behind off the line.

Four minutes later, Graham produced a shocking miss after Agnew had committed Leicester stopper Adam Smith and pulled it back to the striker.

There were a couple of Leicester players on the line, but with the goal at his mercy, Graham managed to slide it wide from eight yards out.

Leicester had spent most of the first half on the back foot, but they should have gone ahead four minutes before the interval when Jack Barmby’s pinpoint left-wing cross found Joe Dodoo at the far post, who managed to volley wide from six yards out.

Ex-Hartlepool loanee Barmby went close himself within three minutes of the restart when he hit an angled drive from 20 yards which was tipped behind the post smartly by Pantilimon.

Moments later, Graham’s clever reverse pass sent Duncan Watmore through on goal, but the winger’s left-footed effort was blocked well by the body of Smith.

Leicester had grown in confidence since the first half hour though and they went close again in the 57th minute when Dodoo diverted the ball into the path of substitute Kris Scott, six yards out, whose scuffed prod was grasped on the line by Pantilimon.

The woodwork denied Sunderland in the 65th minute when Andrew Cartwright’s ball over the top beat the Leicester offside trap.

It came to David Ferguson down the left-hand side of the area, who powered a left-footed shot against the outside of the near post.

Substitute Martin Smith fired into the side netting twice during the closing stages, before Sunderland were handed a spot-kick with three minutes to go after Rees Greenwood was tugged back by Leicester full-back Joe Davis as he burst into the box.

Agnew stepped up and sent the penalty down the middle with conviction.

SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Cartwright, Robson, Oliver, McNamee, Ferguson, Watmore, Cabral (Smith 71), Graham (Greenwood 71), Agnew, Mavrias (Lawson 65). Subs not used: Dixon, Sukar. Booked: Cartwright (73)

LEICESTER: Smith, Davis, Chilwell (Scott 32), Choudhury (Kennedy 90), Sesay, Elder, Pearson, McCourt, Hopper (Stankevicius 66), Dodoo, Barmby. Subs not used: Maddison, Miles. Booked: Choudury (11), Barmby (19), Scott (77), Pearson (79)