Sunderland Boys beat rivals to seal league title

INVINCIBLES: Back row: Harry Gardiner, Nathan Simpson, Lewis Connolly, Ben McDonald, James Harrison, Jude Percival. Front row: Ellis Cowell, Lewis Lukeman, Brandon Goldsmith, Lucas Bullock, John Anderson, Noel Partridge.
INVINCIBLES: Back row: Harry Gardiner, Nathan Simpson, Lewis Connolly, Ben McDonald, James Harrison, Jude Percival. Front row: Ellis Cowell, Lewis Lukeman, Brandon Goldsmith, Lucas Bullock, John Anderson, Noel Partridge.
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SUNDERLAND Primary Schools Boys retained their league title in style, beating closest challengers North Tyneside 5-2 at the Academy of Light.

The Wearsiders remain unbeaten at all levels this season, with the Harrison Cup triumph – for the fourth time in five seasons – adding to previous successes in the Peter Dunn Trophy and the Durham Schools five-a-side championship.

Sunderland still have a Derwent and Medomsley Cup final to look forward to, with Middlesbrough or East Northumberland their opponents.

In the decisive Harrison Cup clash, Sunderland took the lead early on when a surging run from Nathan Simpson saw him upended just outside the box for a direct free-kick.

Jude Percival picked his spot and fired the ball across the wall and into the bottom corner of the net – his third goal in three games.

It was soon 2-0, with James Harrison’s corner causing mayhem in the visitors’ box. The ball fell to Lucas Bullock, who fired a shot goalwards which the keeper could only parry and Harry Gardiner pounced to hammer the ball home from close range.

North Tyneside refused to lie down and a series of great saves from keeper Ben McDonald kept the two-goal margin intact.

The visitors finally got the better of the strong defensive pairing of John Anderson and skipper-for-the-day Lewis Connolly to deservedly pull a goal back on the stroke of half-time.

Sunderland moved a huge step closer to the championship when they hit a third goal early in the second period.

The excellent Ellis Cowell set Lewis Lukeman free down the left and he fired in a cross which the visiting defence cleared only as far as Harrison on the right wing.

The Castletown Primary wingman then took on the full-back and fired in a great cross which found schoolmate Cowell, who volleyed home at the far post for a 3-1 advantage.

Cowell’s strong running gave North Tyneside problems and when a defender flattened him, Bullock stepped up to fire a free-kick goalwards which was deflected, by the head of a visiting defender, past the helpless keeper.

North Tyneside grabbed a second consolation goal when Sunderland failed to deal with a corner, but the home side regained the initiative to finish in command.

Leading goalscorer Brandon Goldsmith struck the outside of the post and then a surging run and shot by Noel Partridge forced an excellent save from an overworked North Tyneside keeper.

The fifth goal finally arrived late on when the ball broke to Bullock, on the edge of the area, and he looked up and curled a magnificent shot into the top corner of the net to complete the scoring.