U18 PL Round-Up: Sunderland and Leeds kick off 2022 with INCREDIBLE 12-goal thriller

The U18 Premier League resumed on Saturday after a Christmas break.

Only seven fixtures took place across the North and South divisions after numerous postponements due to Covid-19 and the weather, but those seven fixtures ended up providing enough drama for a full game week!

Here is our full round up of the action for the first time in 2022:

North

Sunderland 7-5 Leeds

Something quite special even by the U18 Premier League’s standards.

This level specialises in goal-filled games but nobody could have foreseen this.

Leeds took the lead through Luca Thomas, the former Man City man who was making his return from injury, after just six minutes but Sunderland responded through Harry Gardner.

Thomas restored Leeds’ advantage on 26 minutes and the visitors looked to be seeing that advantage into half time before a crazy first-half injury-time saw the game flipped on it’s head.

First Leeds had goalkeeper Harry Christy sent off, meaning they were forced into giving 14-year-old Owen Grainger an U18 debut.

In coming on, Grainger became the second-youngest ever goalkeeper to play in the U18 Premier League.

His first involvements however, were to pick the ball out of the back of the net as Gardner completed a first half hat-trick with two penalties in added time, giving Sunderland an astonishing 3-2 lead at the break.

Jenson Jones made it 4-2 on 58 minutes and from there, you’d expect Sunderland to run away with it against 10 men but Leeds refused to lie down.

Jay Buchan equalised within a minute but just five minutes later Sunderland were 6-3 up after Gardner notched his fourth of the afternoon and Chris Rigg scored his first of the season.

Still the Whites didn’t give up and got back to within a goal after Ben Andreucci curled in to make it 6-4 and Thomas completed his hat-trick from the spot to make it 6-5.

Sunderland finally wrapped up the game with eight minutes remaining through substitute Jake Thomas.

Derby 3-2 Nottingham Forest

Bottom of the table Nottingham Forest blew a 2-0 lead against rivals derby, eventually losing to an 80th minute strike from Darren Robinson.

It was the Reds who started the game on top, Detlef Esapa Osong powered his way through the hosts’ defence early on only to be denied by an excellent last-ditch tackle from a Derby trialist. From the resulting corner, Rams keeper Alfie Roberts made a stunning save to deny Ben Hammond’s close range volley.

Forest took a deserved lead on eight minutes, a brilliant kick from goalkeeper Aaron Bott opened the Derby defence up, Josh Powell then worked his way to the byline after a neat one-two with Dale Taylor, Powell cut the ball back to Osong who fired into the top corner. A superb opening goal.

Forest got their second on the stroke of half time in rather fortunate circumstances as Derby defender Eli Christie and Forest winger Kyle McAdam challenged for the ball on the edge of the Rams box, the ball ricocheted out of the challenge and flew past Roberts into the corner. A freak goal to put the visitors into a 2-0 lead before the break.

Derby responded early in the second half though, Malcolm Ebiowei cutting inside from the right and curling a beauty into the top corner.

Ebiowei was proving unstoppable for Forest, he almost scored a carbon copy of his first just a few minutes later and then did double his tally on 66 minutes to level the game. Again coming in off the right onto his left foot, he managed to weave his way into the box with a nutmeg before slotting the ball past Bott.

Robinson then slammed in the winner on 80 minutes, the ball came out to the edge of the box after Forest could only half-clear, the Derby midfielder kept his shot down well and the ball flew through a crowd of player and under the legs of Bott who was unsighted.

A fantastic derby-day comeback for the Rams.

Everton 2-2 Stoke

The third and final game this week in the North Division saw Everton and Stoke share the points.

Everton took the lead early on through Francis Okoronkwo but Stoke were level before half time thanks to George Lewis’ first goal of the season.

Ted Cargill put Stoke in front on 72 minutes but they managed to hold onto that lead for less than three minutes, Martin Sherif equalising for Everton.

South

Arsenal 3-2 Tottenham

Khayon Edwards was the hero yet again, scoring his 10th and 11th goals of the season to help Arsenal to a derby-day victory over Spurs.

Charles Sagoe Jr gave the Gunners the lead after eight minutes and then turned provider as Edwards doubled the lead on 21 minutes.

Spurs came back in the second half to tie the game with goals from Thomas Bloxham and Jaden Williams, only for Edwards to restore Arsenal’s lead with what proved to be the winner on 76 minutes.

West Brom 2-5 West Ham

There were seven different scorers as West Brom and West Ham played out another high-scoring game.

Divin Mubama opened the scoring with an early penalty and the Hammers were 2-0 up before the 10-minute mark when Callum Marshall scored on his U18 debut, just days after he joined the Academy of Football from Linfield.

The Baggies pulled one back on 24 minutes through Fenton Hoard and drew level after the break with Mackenzie Lamb.

The Hammers were clearly sparked back into life after West Brom’s comeback and turned on the style to run out 5-2 winners. George Earthy, Kaelen Casey and substitute Jemiah Omolu with the goals.

Leicester 2-1 Birmingham

Leicester took advantage of Chelsea and Southampton being out of action to open up a three point gap at the top.

The Foxes were 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Brandon Cover and Chris Popov. Cianole Nguepissi scored a late consolation for the Blues.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Norwich

Finally, there was a rare 0-0 in the U18 Premier League as Crystal Palace failed to unlock the worst defence in the Division, Norwich holding out for a shock point and their first draw of the season.

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