SUNDERLAND gave a fine display to beat West Ham in their final home game of the Barclays U18 Premier League season at the Academy of Light today.
There was an explosive start when Rees Greenwood played a text book one-two with Andrew Nelson to send the striker clear inside 60 seconds, but Nelson’s shot was brilliantly turned round the post by West Ham keeper Tim Brown.
Two minutes later, the Londoners took the lead direct from Joe Powell’s corner which somehow bounced up and entered the net at the far post through a crowd of players.
The home team came back with another Nelson-Greenwood combination which finished with Greenwood’s cut back in just eluding the oncoming attackers.
However, they kept up the pressure with some great moves and finally equalised on 19 minutes with a well-worked goal. Nelson sent Jordan Blinco away down the left and then raced into the box to receive the return from Blinco and coolly sidefooted past Brown.
On 28 minutes, Sunderland Irish keeper James Talbot had to go full length to save as West Ham looked dangerous in a fast counter-attack as this good game ebbed and flowed from end to end.
The Wearsiders regained the lead a minute before the break with a wonder goal from Luke Molyneux. The winger cut in from the right and then hit a screamer from 18 yards into the roof of the net across the keeper with his left foot.
Shortly after the break, the same player fizzed in another strike which was just wide.
Once again, the match was nip and tuck, but the Hammers should have scored when a long ball over the top on 75 minutes put Jordan Brown clear, only for the big front man blazed over the bar.
Sunderland showed a lot of resolve to contain West Ham in the closing stages, limiting their efforts, but could have gone further in the lead when a free-kick on the edge of the box, taken by Greenwood, was saved one-handed by Brown as the keeper flung himself to his left.
But the final whistle came with Sunderland taking the three points with a hard-earned win.
It had been a brilliant game, skilful and played to a high tempo throughout between two good footballing sides – but the two super Sunderland goals deserved to win any match.
Coach Elliott Dickman summed up by saying: “It was one of the best games of the season. I was very pleased with the first half but the second half was more about character and determination which was also so pleasing.”
SUNDERLAND: Talbot, Taylor, McEvoy, Pybus, Casey, Storey, Greenwood, Embleton, Nelson (Bale 86), Blinco, Molyneux. Subs not used: Purvis, Graham, Colquhoun, Gainya