SUNDERLAND were narrowly beaten by old rivals Middlesbrough at Rockcliffe today, writes Neville Pilkington.
It was a fine game between two good sides with the Teessiders eventually just edging the contest.
Sunderland changed their formation from the three at the back plus two wing backs of recent games, to a more orthodox 4-4-1-1 line up.
Sunderland went ahead after only eight minutes when a corner taken by Dan Pybus was headed in at the near post by Irish defender Dan Cassey.
But the home side were level on the half hour mark when a cross from the left was headed in from near the penalty spot.
After this set-back, the visitors struggled and didn’t really regroup becoming rather edgy, but they were still holding on to the draw at half-time.
In the second half, the home side took the lead in the 65th minute when a corner whipped in from the right hit the back of a player’s legs and crossed the line for a rather scrappy goal.
Undeterred, the Wearsiders came back to equalise in the 75th minute when Ethan Robson curled a magnificent set-piece into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Straight from the kick off Boro regained the lead, sliding home a one-on-one with Sunderland keeper Greg Purvis for what proved to be the winning goal.
Coach Elliott Dickman said: “It was a very good game. We were disappointed with the unlucky goals but were happy with the performance overall.”
Sunderland: (4-4-1-1). Purvis, Robson J, Casey, Ledger, Hume, Pybus, Robson E, Wright, McEvoy (Molyneux 75), Blinco, Nelson. Subs not used: Colquhoun, Graham, Gianya.