THERE was high drama as Sunderland failed to close the gap on the leading teams in the Barclays U18 Premier Leagye after going down 1-0 in the final minute at Liverpool today.
The visitors started brightly at a rain-battered Melwood Academy and could have easily taken the lead in the 18th minute when Ethan Robson seized upon a loose ball, jinked through the home defence but put the ball agonisingly wide of Ryan Fulton’s goal.
Liverpool responded with Sheyi Ojo playing the ball out to Ryan Kent, but his weak shot proved no problem for keeper Stryjek.
Sunderland were now in the driving seat with Andrew Nelson firing a tremendous shot, but keeper Fulton managed to push the ball around the post.
Fulton was again on hand to foil thre Black Cats on 38 minute when, following some nice passing play, Lynden Gooch struck a fierce, low shot, only for it to be tipped wide by the keeper’s outstretched right hand.
The second half was similar to the opening 45 minutes as Gooch fed Martin Smith, who, surging from midfield, let fly only for his effort to be blocked by defender Roberts.
The hosts’ best chance of the game then fell to Wilson, who curled a ball towards goal that Stryjek could only parry, with the ball falling to Daniel Trickett-Smith, who was unable to finish.
With only seconds remaining, Liveprool got the breakthrough when Ojo swept the ball out to Alex O’Hanlon, who crossed for 16-year-old midfielder Adam Phillips to head home, getting low down to finish off.
Straight from the restart, Sunderland advanced straight down on Liverpool’s goal and thought they had the equaliser, only to be foiled when the referee ruled the effort out for offside.
Coach Carlton Fairweather said: “I thought the lads played fantastic today,. When you look at the Liverpool side, it’s worth being one and two million pounds, yet we were the better team.
“We got the ball down well, created opportunities but paid the price for our poor finishing.
“If you look at the Liverpool players’ reactions, following our disallowed goal, you can see why I think we were robbed.”
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough outgunned Wolves 4-0, with Callum Cooke, Scott McCarthy, Priestley Griffiths and Jordan Jowers grabbing the goals.
LIVERPOOL: Fulton, Brewitt, Hart, Cleary, Roberts, Phillips, Wilson (Randall), O’Hanlon, Kent (Marsh), Trickett-Smith (Chirivella), Ojo
SUNDERLAND: Stryjek, J Robson, T Robson, Ledger, Beadling, Greenwood, Smith (Wright 75), E Robson, Pybus, Nelson, Gooch. Subs not used: McCarthy, McEvoy
* Read the biggest and best coverage of SAFC, plus much more, in the online Football Echo – available around 6.45pm on sunderlandecho.com