SUNDERLAND’S second string suffered their first defeat since January after being hit by two late goals at Arsenal last night.
Ryan Noble and Matthew Fletcher had twice pegged back the Gunners, before a young Black Cats side eventually succumbed to a 4-2 defeat in the final 10 minutes.
Former Arsenal and Middlesbrough striker Jeremie Aliadiere, training with Arsene Wenger’s men, almost handed the hosts a dream start when he fired wide in the opening 30 seconds of the Premier Reserve League clash at Barnet’s Underhill ground.
But Arsenal didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough after Roarie Deacon collected Rhys Murphy’s pass and rolled the ball past Ben Wilson.
The advantage lasted just two minutes though as Adam Mitchell fed Fletcher who drilled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner past Jens Lehmann.
German stopper Lehmann, playing his second game since coming out of retirement to boost Arsenal’s goalkeeping options, was then called upon to deny Noble.
Craig Lynch had a shot cleared off the line early in the second half.
But it was Arsenal who regained the lead seven minutes after the interval when Daniel Boateng fed Aliadiere, who cushioned the ball into the net off the post.
Again Sunderland hit back swiftly, with Noble heading past Lehmann.
But the Gunners took the lead for a third time with 10 minutes to go when substitute Joshua Rees found the net from close range.
Luke Freeman then sealed the win when he let fly with an unstoppable left-foot shot into the top corner.
H Former Sunderland striker Martyn Waghorn, now at Leicester, could be out for the rest of the season because of injury.
H NOTTINGHAM FOREST have been unsuccessful in their bid to have Chris Cohen’s red card against Leeds rescinded.
The midfielder was sent off after 36 minutes for a challenge on George McCartney before Forest went on to lose 4-1 to their npower Championship promotion rivals at Elland Road.
ARSENAL RESERVES: Lehmann, Hajrovic, Boateng, Miquel, Meade, Henderson, Ozyakup, Deacon (Frimpong 65), Murphy, Aliadiere (Aneke 65), Freeman (Rees 76). Subs not used: Shea, Ebecilio
SUNDERLAND RESERVES: B Wilson, Bagnall, Adams (Watson 82), N Wilson, Egan, Laing, Mitchell (Marrs 80), Knott, R Noble (Laidler 75), Lynch, Fletcher. Subs not used: King, Lamb.