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Youth Soccer
Monday, March 29, 2021
Tucker & Burnley Fall to Sunderland on the Road

Ne-Jai Tucker and his Burnley Under 23 teammates' play-off hopes weren’t quite blown off course but suffered a 3 – 0 setback at a wind-lashed Academy of Light.

In awful playing conditions, Sunderland produced the few moments of quality to hand Burnley only a second defeat in six games to slow their promotion push.

Burnley’s chances aren’t over as they remain in the play-off places with three games to go.

But they probably can’t afford to drop many more points if they are to hold onto a top-five spot following a ninth defeat of the campaign.

Sunderland extended their unbeaten run to four games as they struck twice before the break and then added a third early in the second half to effectively kill off any hopes of a Burnley comeback.

Sunderland included a handful of players who have been around their first-team set-up this season, including former Burnley defender Ollie Younger.

And two of them had a major impact as Jack Diamond – who has made 27 appearances for the League One promotion-chasers – created Sunderland’s first two goals before Chris Maguire added to his seven senior goals this season with a spectacular third.

A three-goal advantage arguably flattered the hosts, who probably saw less of the ball than Burnley and scored from each of their efforts on target.

But Steve Stone’s men rarely looked like scoring on a frustrating afternoon which saw them equal their heaviest defeat of the season.

The tone was set early on as Sunderland was gifted a lead with just three minutes gone.

A powerful, swirling wind never made it easy for defenders, and after a slip from Anthony Glennon, his colleagues failed to bale him out as Diamond hooked the ball inside for Josh Hawkes to lift a shot over stranded goalkeeper Lucas Jensen.

Burnley looked to recover from that blow with Anthony Gomez-Mancini trying to get things going and seeing a shot deflected wide.

But Burnley were 2-0 down before they created their best openings of the game.

Again, Diamond was the creator as the former Harrogate Town loanee crossed for Ellis Taylor to connect with a volley that flew in via a post and Clarets’ defender Richard Nartey.

A goal back before half-time would have kept Burnley in it and they had opportunities.

Firstly, Max Thompson teed up Joel Mumbongo for a shot that was blocked before Thompson volleyed over from a Lewis Richardson cross.

Youth-team midfielder Will Hugill then had a sight of goal just after the break but he fired wide and 10 minutes into the second Sunderland made the points safe.

Former Scotland international Maguire picked up the ball following a corner and from 25 yards arrowed a shot into the top corner to give Jensen – who had been a spectator for long periods – no chance.

Burnley then spent most of the remainder of the game camped in Sunderland’s half.

But nothing would drop for them in the penalty area and after drawing a blank in front of goal for only the second time in nine games, Stone’s men will need to show a response over the run-in to keep their promotion hopes alive.
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