SUNDERLAND’S second string ended their Premier Reserve League campaign on a winning note after a comfortable 2-0 victory over a lacklustre Manchester City outfit last night.
The three points kept Keith Bertschin’s side in second place in Barclays Premier Reserve League Northern Group B – a point behind leaders Blackburn, though the top two could both be overtaken by Liverpool.
The encounter was restricted to the middle third of the pitch with City, bizarrely titled an elite development squad rather than a reserve team, lacking any intent and failing to create a clear-cut opportunity.
Sunderland hardly created an abundance of chances themselves, although they caused problems in behind and down the channels through the pace of Ryan Noble, fit again after a spell out with a groin strain.
But two goals in the five minutes either side of half-time proved sufficient for the Black Cats, who defended resolutely to close out the remainder of the scrappy encounter.
After an opening 40 minutes where both sides lacked any punch in the final third, Sunderland broke the deadlock thanks to Craig Lynch’s persistence.
City had been quick to halt Noble’s progress, through legal means or not, but the striker found room down the left five minutes before the interval thanks to John Egan’s break from the back.
Noble pulled it back to Lynch on the edge of the area, whose first touch was slack but then managed to get it past Reece Wabara.
Lynch lost his balance and was on his way to the turf, but had the presence of mind to trickle it under Erik Johansen for the opener.
Bertschin handed Lynch a more advanced role after the break with Matthew Fletcher moving to the left of midfield.
It paid immediate dividends four minutes into the second half when Wabara was far too casual on the edge of his own area and was robbed by Lynch.
Skipper Lynch squared for Noble, in acres of space 12 yards out, who powered it home.
Sunderland should have made it three in the 62nd minute when Noble flicked on Ben Wilson’s punt downfield to the feet of Fletcher, the wrong side of right-back Shaleum Logan, 20 yards out.
Fletcher had time to advance towards Johansen, but opted to hit a first-time lob with his weaker right foot which sailed harmlessly wide.
City striker Harry Bunn should have done better at the other end moments later when he charged down Liam Bagnall’s clearance but shot straight at Ben Wilson.
John Guidetti went as close to anyone for City with five minutes to go when his free-kick from 25 yards was tipped over the top by Ben Wilson.
Sunderland Reserves have one more game left – against Preston in the Totesport Cup semi-final on Wednesday, May 4 (2pm).
SUNDERLAND RES: B Wilson, Marrs, Adams, N Wilson, Egan, Bagnall, Mitchell (Gorrin 73), Knott (Elliott 88), Noble (Laidler 80), Lynch, Fletcher. Subs not used: Lamb, King.
MANCHESTER CITY: Johansen, Logan, Meppen-Walters, Kay (Robinson 17), Wabara, Kennedy, Poole, Mancini (Facey 46), Guidetti, Bunn, Helan. Subs not used: Benali, Karius. Booked: Wabara (28)