Sunderland Boys Under-15s will look for glory on Monday when they meet Bishop Auckland in the Inter-Association Hospital Cup final at Maiden Castle in Durham (4.30pm kick-off).
The city lads produced their own version of Liverpool’s Dortmund revival to rally from two goals down to beat Chester-le-Street and Washington 3-2 in a dramatic semi-final.
The semi-final was switched to the 3G surface at Gateshead Stadium to get the tie played. With the city boys having only just edged through against Chester-le-Street and Washington in a thrilling English Schools Trophy tie earlier in the season, they expected a tough test, and got it.
Thomas Scothern and James Thompson worked hard from the off for Sunderland, but chances were few and far between until, 10 minutes from half-time, Declan Sproston advanced from defence, straight through the Sunderland side to finish convincingly.
Sproston doubled the Chester lead in the second half, converting a penalty after a foul by Robbie Sinclair.
Sunderland changed formation to try to turn the tie around, going three at the back, despite a colossal display out of position by Nathan Simpson, and five in midfield with the introduction of Josh Elcote, behind a front two of Nathan Proctor and Jack Mckenzie.
Sunderland got their opponents on the back foot almost instantly and they pulled a goal back when Jack Mckenzie was in found in the box. A great first touch set him up to finish with a powerful shot.
The Wearsiders kept pressing and deservedly equalised when, trying to get on the end of a corner, lively winger Thomas Hunter was fouled and Proctor confidently converted the resulting spot-kick.
Sunderland were on fire and Proctor put Mckenzie through to finish with precision for a 3-2 lead, after good work on the left between Hunter and Scothern.
Chester laid siege to Sunderland’s goal in the closing stages, but Jak Wright, Nathan Simpson, Robbie Sinclair and Joe Lennox showed great resilience to hold firm in a tense finale, with wingers Hunter and Brad Allen coming deep to help out.
Sunderland managed to play just one league match in March, with Nathan Proctor grabbing the only goal in a 1-0 home victory over Newcastle.
The Wearsiders produced a performance to be proud of, creating the majority of the chances and defending strongly to see out the win.