SUNDERLAND Primary Schools Boys inched closer to retaining their league championship by securing another Harrison Cup success, beating Redcar and Cleveland Boys in a stirring scrap.
The 2-0 victory at the Academy of Light kept the unbeaten young Wearsiders top of the table, with only three games to go, and all but killed off the visitors’ title challenge.
The opening goal, with 20 minutes to go, proved to be worthy of winning any match
While Redcar employed a direct style, and were only denied a 10th-minute opener by an excellent save with his legs by keeper Ben McDonald, Sunderland produced some excellent football.
From the clearance, great wing play from James Harrison saw him outrun the home defence and slide a fantastic pass through to Nathan Simpson. He showed great awareness to play in leading scorer Brandon Goldsmith, who saw his shot turned around the post by the Redcar keeper.
Redcar should have taken the lead when a forward was left unmarked from a corner, but he failed to keep his header down.
The home goal had an even greater escape on the stroke of half time when a cross evaded everybody to find a forward in the six-yard box, but, with an open goal at his mercy, he allowed the ball to roll under his foot and Sunderland survived,
The Wearsiders began to create chances in the second half, but Redcar remained resilient in defence.
It looked as if Sunderland would need something special to make the breakthrough, and the opening goal, with 20 minutes to go, proved to be worthy of winning any match.
Jude Percival found the ball on the edge of the box and thundered a right-foot screamer across the keeper and into the far corner of the net, giving Sunderland the lead and capping an outstanding individual display.
Sunderland quickly sealed the win with a second goal as Harrison cut in from the left and fired in a shot that the keeper failed to hold onto and the ball crossed the line, despite the best efforts of a defender who could only help it into the roof of the net.
Sunderland return to cup duty on Saturday when the holders visit Washington in the Derwent and Medomsley Cup quarter-finals.