An impressive young Sunderland side won 3-1 at South Shields in Stephen Ramsey’s testimonial last night.
Ramsey was honoured for his 10 years of service at the Evo-Stik League club ahead of the game as he led the Shields team out.
Both teams played well in front of a big Mariners Park crowd of 1,405.
However, Sunderland got the better of the Mariners with goals from Ethan Robson, Tom Beadling and Owen Gamble.
Shields found themselves a goal behind within six minutes after Craig Baxter was penalised for a handball in the box, and midfielder Robson converted the penalty.
Shields improved as the first half went on, but they came up against an in-form goalkeeper in James Talbot.
Sunderland were always dangerous though, and almost went further ahead when a strike from Luke Molyneux was grasped at the second attempt by Shields’ trialist goalkeeper.
In the second half, the Mariners almost drew level when Luke Sullivan’s header was cleared off the line.
At the other end, Robson and Andrew Nelson went close, but Shields were beginning to get a tighter grip on proceedings.
They thought they had levelled when an Andrew Stephenson shot was deflected and incredibly saved by a wrong-footed Talbot, who was then beaten on the rebound by Carl Finnigan. However, the flag went up for offside.
Four minutes later, Sunderland went two goals ahead as a Beadling free-kick nestled in the bottom corner.
The Mariners responded well, with Finnigan firing low into the net to pull one goal back in the 73rd minute.
But they were unable to find an equaliser, and, with Shields pushing for a goal, the Black Cats added a third late on as substitute Gamble slotted home.
Sunderland U23s: Talbot, J Robson, Hume, Beadling, Storey, E Robson, Allan, Bale, Molyneux, Diamond (Gamble 77), Nelson