SUNDERLAND Primary Schools Boys ended another successful season by retaining the Derwent and Medomsley Cup.
The Wearsiders’ seventh success in the competition in the last eight years made it five trophies in a magnificent campaign, six with the Inter-Association penalty shoot-out championship included – a feat never before achieved by a Sunderland Boys squad.
The Derwent and Medomsley Cup added to successes in the Harrison Cup (the league competition), the Peter Dunn Trophy and the Durham County Schools five and seven-a-side championships.
Sunderland beat league runners-up Redcar and Cleveland Boys 2-0 to win the Derwent and Medomsley final at the Academy of Light.
The game was a very tight affair with both sides creating chances.
Sunderland keeper Alex Bates, whose handling was outstanding throughout, kept the scores level with two excellent saves, the second of which saw him adjust his feet excellently after a wicked deflection to finger tip the ball past the post.
As the half wore on, Sunderland started to apply the pressure and took the lead when Ethan Hill capitalised on a mistake in the Redcar defence to sprint clear and deliver a perfect cross for Jack Wilkinson, who made no mistake as he buried the ball past the Redcar keeper from just inside the area.
Despite some excellent, patient build-up play from the back, a long clearance from keeper Bates created Sunderland’s second goal when his goal kick cleared the visitors’ defence and Wilkinson raced onto the through ball to again beat the Redcar keeper with another composed finish.
The second half flowed from end to end, with both defences performing heroics to keep chances to a minimum.
Redcar did look as though they were going to reduce the arrears when a through ball left a striker through on goal, but a tremendous last-ditch tackle by the outstanding Andrew Nelson rescued the home defence.
It looked like Sunderland had scored a third goal when the Redcar keeper fumbled a long cross, but despite strong claims that the ball had crossed the line from the Sunderland players, the referee waved play on and the game was to finish 2-0, leading to skipper Ryan Bruce lifting the trophy.
Earlier, Sunderland tied up their Harrison Cup success.
The Wearsiders won their first eight matches, capped by a 6-1 mauling of closest challengers Redcar and Cleveland, leaving them requiring only four points from the final four games to regain the championship.
Sunderland picked up three of those points with a derby triumph against Washington.
Early strikes from Joseph Ridley and Ethan Hill gave Sunderland a 2-0 interval lead, and they increased the advantage early in the second period when Harvey Cronin’s fine corner was headed powerfully home by Andrew Nelson.
Washington reduced the arrears when a defensive mix-up led to the outstanding Kieron Devlin putting the ball past keeper Alex Bates for an unfortunate own goal.
The 3-1 win meant that a draw or better in the next game at defending champions Chester-le-Street would be sufficient to regain the Harrison Cup.
Sunderland made an excellent start and raced into an early lead when excellent footwork from captain Ryan Bruce saw him dance past three opponents before teeing up leading goal scorer Ridley, who finished coolly into the far corner.
Bruce increased the lead when another surging run took him into the Chester-le-Street box before he crashed the ball past the home keeper.
Jack Wilkinson added a third when he latched onto a Nelson pass, drew the keeper and skipped around him before lifting the ball into the roof of the net.
It was soon 4-0 as the pass of the game from Finn Illingworth released Ridley, who produced another composed finish for his second goal of the game.
Ridley turned provider in the second half with an excellent ball over the home defence to release Henry Mupariwa, who finished confidently for a 5-0 lead.
To Chester-le-Street’s credit, they refused to lie down and they pulled a goal back, but it only spurred Sunderland on and Wilkinson completed a fantastic hat-trick with two outstanding finishes, the second of which he hammered into the home goal.
Chester grabbed a second consolation, but Sunderland’s 7-2 success, a 10th win out of 10, ensured the league title for the third time in four seasons.
Team manager Chris Lindstedt said: “The season will go down in history as the very first that the Association competed at nine-a-side, as opposed to 11-a-side, and the boys have certainly thrown down the gauntlet to future Sunderland Boys sides with their achievements this season.
“The hardest part of running Sunderland Boys is choosing the squad and, as a management team, we always hope that we have selected the correct squad.
“The achievements of the squad this season has proven, beyond any doubt, that this was the correct squad and, as an Association, we are extremely proud of the boys and their efforts this season.
“They have been an absolute pleasure to work with and are a credit to themselves, their families, their schools and the Association.
“We would also like to thank the parents of the boys for their support this season as they have also played their part in what has been an excellent season.”