Crowds return to Stoke City, but under-23s stumble in playoffs

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Stoke U23s 0 Sunderland U23s (0) 2 – 17/5/21 7pm PL2 Div 2 playoff semi-final

The Stoke under 23 team are out of the PL2 playoffs. A brave effort & a treat for fans, but 2 second half goals sank them. We hope Gabby Adabambo’s injury is not serious as he was stretchered off after the second goal with a head injury. Here’s how the game unfolded in real time:
Supporters return to the bet365 stadium for the first time since the crowded debacle of the Cheltenham Gold Cup (that’s 14 months to everyone else), although it’s only for 2000 fans. Here Stoke’s excelling under-23s hope their long unbeaten run can snowplough them into the final next Saturday.
And Blimey. What a team! James injured-foot-in-mouth McClean is starting!! The rest look like Stoke’s first-team bench! William “Goal!” Forrester is captain, Connor Taylor beside him in defence, plus Dan Malone (midfield), Lewis Macari (left defender), Kieran Coates (right back), Ed Jones (left back)…the names just rattle off the tongue.
10.35 As Wright-Phillips’ pass leaves Stoke under pressure, Bill Forrester puts his boot right through a clearance and even wins a free kick. No nonsense Bill.
18.57 McClean puts the ball in the net but the whistle has already gone. He’s a steadying influence on these young players!
31.30 Stoke string a long set of passes together to try and frustrate Sunderland. Appreciated by the crowd who have quietened after their early rendition of Delilah etc.
34.40 Great header by Coates sets up Wright-Philips to cross, and James-Taylor’s header brings out a save in keeper Patterson, but hardly a great chance.
HT 0-0 and McClean is still on the pitch!!! Palace winning 2-0 in other semi vs Wolves.
45.40 Coates yellowed after pulling back a breaking player. This just after a great chance when Jones crossed for James-Taylor.
53.01 Sunderland actually have a chance from a Forrester conceded corner! Headed over thankfully. McClean has a clear cut chance but blasts it straight at the keeper.
55.58 0-1 ! As Stoke fail to clear, Hawkes shoots from the edge of the area into Stokes bottom right corner.
57.15 Goodwin on for James Taylor. And immediately Wright-Phillips goes down in a heap after a collision with keeper Patterson. Looks serious. Broken rib perhaps. Thankfully he recovers.
64.42 0-2 !! A free-kick conceded by Goodwin is headed in by Younger, and that should be the end of Stoke today. Meanwhile Adebambo is polaxed in the area during the goal, and he looks bad. Stretcher called for. Looks bad, replaced by Adam Porter.
73.09 Player booked for tripping McClean, and we see no dissent from James!  McClean then produces some decent chances from the left.
78.00 Sparrow on for Coates.
88.15 Stoke getting desperate with Porter blasting just over!
90.00 11 minutes of time added!! Stoke head just over.
90+5 Injured Dyce is helped off, & the fans sportingly applaud him off.
90+12 FT Stoke 0 Sunderland 2. The under 23 team are out of the playoffs. They would have played Crystal Palace who beat Wolves 3-2 AET in the other playoff. A brave effort from Stoke & a treat for fans. But that’s it for now.