In the sixteenth round of matches of the 2017/2018 PL2 Division One campaign, Terry Westley’s West Ham United Development Squad play host to Elliot Dickman’s Sunderland Development Squad in what is set to be an intriguing East London battle.
The young Hammers will be looking to bounce back instantly from a disappointing League defeat away at Swansea City a week ago, while the Young Black Cats were also in action last week, Sunday to be more precise when they went down 1-3 at home to Arsenal in the PL2 just before a Durham County Cup exit at the hands of Dunston in midweek, the hosts are the favourites for this one.
The encounter is scheduled to take place tonight (Monday 5 February 2018), with a kick-off time of 7 PM GMT and as is custom with Development Squad ties, no live Television coverage available for viewing in the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, there will also be no live Radio commentary of the match to listen to, but never fear, if you head over to MooreThanAClub on Twitter you can be sure to find live build-up, updates and reaction from the Essex affair.
National League outfit Dagenham & Redbridge’s regular home Stadium of the Chigwell Construction Stadium will host the visit of the North East club, located in Dagenham, Essex, it has been the permanent home of the U23s since the start of the 2016/2017 season.
Opening all the way back in the year of 1916, the cosy venue has a capacity of just over 6,000 and a record attendance of around 500 below that number, this evening’s matchup will spell the first ever time that AFC have been visitors to the arena.
Irons Boss Westley has had to deal with the blow of losing many of his key young starts to loan moves throughout the January Transfer Window and as a result, will be without the likes of vice-captain Moses Makasi, Martin Samuelsen and Antonio Martinez.
However, there is some positive news in that new signing from Solihull Moors and forward Oladapo Afolayan is in line to make his Hammers debut, meanwhile, the likes of first-team stars Jose Fonte and Winston Reid may feature on their comebacks from injuries.
Whereas, Black Cats Manager Dickman is in a similar position in terms of loans, though will still have his usual pool of talent to select from when it comes to picking his own starting Xl.
Exciting goalkeeping talent Michael Woud may feature, along with defender and New Zealand full International Sam Brotherton, further up the field, midfielder Luke Molyneux and African attacker Jean-Yves Poame are sure to prove a real handful.
The Development Squads of West Ham United and Sunderland have met five times in this decade, a fixture that spans across the various restructures of Football at that level in recent times.
Out of those meetings, the London club have the edge on the record, winning on three occasions in that time, by the score-lines of 1-2 in 2014, 2-0 later that year and 1-2 in autumn 2017.
Tonight’s visitors’ only triumph in this fixture in recent times came in the penultimate year of the U21 Premier League a 3-0 home win, the only draw arrived in East London in 2011.
The last time that the two teams faced off with each other, back in late October of 2017, the away side that day, the East Londoners, reigned supreme at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground thanks to goals from Martinez and Samuelsen, rendering a Molyneux consolation useless.
The Reserves and Academy of Sunderland Association Football Club were formed in 1879 as Sunderland and District Teachers and have produced many young talents since then.
These have historically been the likes of Michael Gray, Jack Colback, and Jordan Henderson, and in more recent times names such as Duncan Watmore, George Honeyman, Jordan Pickford and Lynden Gooch.
In terms of Trophies, their Academy have twice lifted the FA Youth Cup, though the Development Squad, or U23s have been a bit starved of this kind of success over the years.
Nowadays, under former professional player Dickman, the Young Black Cats currently occupy tenth position in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table, just two spots off bottom place and a full eight points and four positions off the Irons in sixth.
So, now that the Victoria Road scene had been well and truly set for an exciting night of PL2 action in East London, can the Claret & Blue starlets claim a likely victory to try to force their way back into the top four?
Or, will the young talents of Sunderland cause an upset on the road to boost their hopes of Division 1 survival? Think you know? Be sure to head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to cast your late score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.