It was honours even as Sunderland Under-18s fully deserved a good away point at Stoke in the Barclays U18 Premier League’s Northern Division today.
But with a little more care while creating the last pass in the final third, it could have been all three points from a tough, hard match.
Sunderland fielded a young team, with regulars defender Dan Casey, midfielder Dan Wright and striker Andrew Nelson all travelling with the U-21s for the game at Chelsea on Monday. Jake Hackett, from the U16s, made his debut at this level on the left side of midfield.
The Wearsiders just edged a goalless first half – they had the better opportunities but none were clear cut. Probably the best was a super ball by Denver Hume which fizzed across the face of the goal, with none of the forwards able to get a touch.
The second period, continued in the same vein, but, five minutes after the restart, Stoke took the lead with the defence unable to get in a decisive tackle to prevent a midfielder breaking clear too easily to finish.
Sunderland came back strongly from the setback and equalised on 63 minutes with a super strike from Elliott Embleton, who got the ball on the edge of the box and crashed a fierce drive into the top corner with his left foot.
Ten minutes later, excellent pressing won the ball to put Luke Molyneux through, but he was just wide with his finish.
Minutes before the end, Joel Asoro had another good chance for the winner, but he dallied and was finally crowded out by the converging defenders.
After the game, Sunderland coach Elliot Dickman said: “I was pleased with the display from a young team – we worked hard and if we had taken more care we could have won it”.
Sunderland: Purvis, Gamble, Taylor, Storey, Hume, Molyneux, Bale, Embleton, Hacket, Poame, Asoro.
Subs not used: Lowrie, McCullock, Diamond, Hickey.