SUNDERLAND’S first team can ill-afford a repeat of the second string’s scoreline after the reserves tasted defeat against West Brom yesterday.
The Black Cats’ second string ended a run of three successive victories after a 3-0 defeat against the Baggies, the visitors to the Stadium of Light this weekend.
But of more significance was another successful outing for David Meyler as the midfielder completed an hour before being withdrawn.
The 22-year-old made his comeback from an eight-month injury lay-off for the reserves last week and upped his progress yesterday, although he remains some way off first-team contention.
But Meyler couldn’t help a Sunderland side, featuring up-for-grabs defenders Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon, recover from an early setback at West Brom’s training ground.
The Baggies raced into a fifth-minute lead when Saido Berahino’s right-wing cross drifted over the head of England U18 keeper Jordan Pickford.
James McClean, an unused substitute for the first-team at Norwich on Monday, tried to reply but blazed his shot over from 25 yards.
Sunderland then found themselves 2-0 down when Kayelden Brown teed up Romaine Sawyers to beat Pickford from 12 yards.
Billy Knott almost halved the defecit but sent his shot just the wrong side of the post after good work by Craig Lynch.
And Knott again went close midway through the second half with a skidding drive that was gathered by Baggies stopper Luke Daniels.
Lynch was denied by Daniels’ block after Knott picked him out with a ball over the top.
But West Brom sealed victory with 10 minutes to go when Sawyers raced onto Liam O’Neil’s through-ball before beating Pickford.
WEST BROM: L Daniels, O’Neil, Dawson, Downing, Gayle, Berahino, Thorne (D Daniels 68), Mantom, Roofe, Sawyers, Brown (Edge 25). Subs not used: Rose, Garmston, O’Sullivan. Booked: Berahino (86)
SUNDERLAND: Pickford, Nosworthy, Egan (Laing, 60), Kilgallon, Bagnall, Lynch, Meyler (Deacon, 60), Armstrong, McClean, Knott, Tounkara. Subs not used: King, Elliott, Gorrin. Booked: Kilgallon (36).