COMEBACK kids David Meyler and Ryan Noble both got more valuable match practice under their belts as Sunderland’s second string cruised to what proved to be a comfortable Premier Reserve League victory at the Academy of Light yesterday.
On a warm and sunny afternoon, with the wind holding off, Blackburn made willing opponents and both teams largely cancelled each other in an opening period full of running.
Striker Jordan Cook almost forced his way through in the third minute, but his shot was partially blocked and then cleared.
And although both teams were busy and enterprising – Sunderland winger James McClean being particularly direct – there was little in the way of clear cut chances until the home team took the lead in the 24th minute when Cook finally found a way through.
McClean was the architect, firing in a corner from the right, with Cook sidefooting home right-footed at the near post from five yards out, but Rovers’ coaching staff would have been asking questions of their AWOL defence.
The visitors were far from downhearted and pushed for an equaliser before the break – three half-decent chances coming their way before the half-time whistle.
But they never really came close and Sunderland threatened to accelerate away after the break.
They would have been out of sight if Noble could have made the most of four clear-cut one-on-one chances.
Most of them were created by substitute Billy Knott, on for Meyler in the 50th minute, who regularly lofted long balls for Noble to run on to.
Unfortunately, the ball just wouldn’t run for Noble and the striker cut a disconsolate figure when he was subbed in the 66th minute.
By then though, Sunderland had doubled their lead, right-back Liam Marrs making a storming run forward in the 55th minute and riding challenges in the area before being tackled by centre-half Grant Hanley, who blocked but succeeded only in kicking the ball into his own goal.
If any of Noble’s efforts had gone in in the minutes that followed, it would have been game over.
As it was, Blackburn kept going, which made for an open end to the game – the visitors occasionally threatening to pull one back, Sunderland resolute in defence and occasionally looking to grab a third.
In the end though, the game petered out, with Rovers accepting there was no way back, as Sunderland’s Reserves notched up another good win.
SUNDERLAND RES: King, Marrs, Kilgallon (sub Liddle 76), Armstrong, Egan, Laing, Lynch, Meyler (sub Knott 51), Noble (sub Deacon 66), Cook, McClean. Subs not used: Wilson, Elliott.
BLACKBURN RES: Urwin, Ribeiro, Hanley, Linganzi, Anderson, Blackman, Goulon, Slew (sub Hitchcock 71), Cotton (sub Knowles), Morris. Subs not used: Pearson, Dilo, O’Connor.
Referee: Iain Turner.