Sunderland U18s 1 Wolves U18s 0: Victory at last as Connelly comes up trumps
Sunderland finally secured their first win of the Under-18 Premier League Northern Division season, claiming a hard-fought victory over a dangerous Wolves side at the Academy of Light today.
After taking a first-half lead, the Wearsiders were made to fight all the way by committed opposition before eventually claiming that elusive success.
They nearly had an early setback when only a brilliant save by tall keeper Michael Woud prevented Wolves striker Jordan Allan’s close-range header from making the breakthrough.
But the Wearsiders came back strongly to go in front with a picture goal by striker Lee Connelly in the 12th minute.
It came from an astute pass into the box from Allan which found Connelly, who turned cleverly and hammered a left-footed shot high into the roof of the net at the near post.
Wolves came back and winger Ryan Giles was through but blazed high and wide as Woud came out to narrow the angle.
Minutes later, Woud again made a super save low to his left to keep the lead intact.
Later in the half, Allan made a twisting run deep into the penalty area but saw his shot saved by Wolves keeper Rory Brown.
Sunderland had to be resilient after the break to keep the visitors at bay.
Central defender Alex Storey made several brilliant blocks and Woud gave the hard-worked defence some respite, coming out and claiming some high crosses.
They were also helped by some wayward finishing by Allan and Giles, but Sunderland held out to claim a confidence-building conquest.
As an elated Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman said afterwards: “At last – its been a long time coming.
“I was very pleased with the effort and commitment – we really stuck at it to claim the clean sheet.”
The first win was also a fitting send off for departing Academy manager Ged McNamee, who is stepping down after 20 years with the club.
Sunderland: Woud, Hickey (Gamble 57), Krusnell, Allan, Storey, Young, Best, Hackett, Diamond (Fowler 21), Connelly, Kimpioka. Subs not used: Howard, Patterson.
Wolves: Brown, Carr, Ball, Watt, Sanderson, John, Perry, McKenna, Allan, Samuels, Giles.