Sunderland Primary Schools Boys have their sights set on the Harrison Cup title after a morale-boosting 10-0 victory over Stockton Boys.
The resounding success means that another victory at Nissan on Saturday, when Washington are the visitors, will guarantee a top-five place in the league, allowing them to compete for the title after the mid-season split.
Against Stockton, the game was very close for the first 15 minutes, with the Teessiders striking the post .
But Sunderland took the lead when Callum Pemberton fired an exquisite 40-yard diagonal ball, which released Lewis Sayers, who advanced to confidently beat the advancing keeper.
The Wearsiders took control from that point and great play down the left saw Shae Bungoni release Sayers, who fired across the six-yard box for the advancing Pemberton to fire home from close range.
The roles were reversed straight after when Pemberton drove to the by-line before squaring the ball to Sayers, who again finished confidently.
Sayers completed his hat-trick shortly before half-time after great interplay between Hodgson and Clay.
The goals kept flowing in the second half.
Kymani Severin opening his Sunderland Boys account when he drove from midfield, saw the pitch open up in front of him before firing into the corner from the edge of the area.
Oliver Dixon made it 6-0 when he fired a partially cleared corner into the top corner from 25 yards for a fantastic individual strike.
Sayers then added his fourth goal, curling a great strike over the keeper to finish a fine move.
He was also heavily involved in Sunderland’s eighth goal, firing over a cross which was helped into his own net by a hapless defender.
After James Sloan went close from 25 yards, defensive partner Daniel Atkinson went one better when he fired an excellent strike from distance into the bottom corner of the net.
Sunderland reached double figures shortly before full-time when the excellent Bungoni fired in a first-time cross which the keeper could only help into the net.
The boys were out of luck when they visited Middlesbrough’s Academy at Rockcliffe in the Premier League District Schools Tournament.
Sunderland began their opening game very well against much-fancied Redcar and Cleveland, with David Hodgson’s header striking the post and a free-kick from the same player causing havoc in the Redcar area.
The Teessiders, though, capitalised on two individual mistakes to win 2-0.
Sunderland responded well to the setback and totally dominated their second game against Middlesbrough.
Sayers released Severin, who smashed the ball against the bar in a one on one with the keeper. An almighty scramble in Boro’s goalmouth saw four Sunderland players try to force the ball home, but the final touch could not be found and Middlesbrough hung on for a 0-0 draw.
The third match, against East Northumberland, again saw the boys produce another encouraging performance to no avail, as a corner evaded everyone in the Sunderland box before striking the unfortunate Atkinson and rolling beyond keeper Ben Mulvaney to condemn the boys to a 1-0 defeat.
With chances of qualifying for the finals extinguished, Sunderland finally found their shooting boots in the final group game against East Riding.
A fine move saw Severin square the ball to Harry Clay. He moved it quickly onto Sayers, who slipped it past the advancing keeper for the team’s first goal of the day.
Fletcher Ramsey secured a 2-0 win with a looping header from Bungoni’s corner.
Apart from a six-minute period in the first game, the boys performed very well on the day and did not achieve the results that their performances merited.
The city side then suffered heartache in the Durham County Schools FA seven-a-side competition at the Academy of Light.
The day got off to the worst possible start with a 1-0 defeat in a very tight game against Darlington, despite being the better side.
From that point, Sunderland were excellent. They beat Durham 2-0 thanks to goals from Clay and Ramsey, then saw off Chester-le-Street 4-0, with Clay (2), Daniel Atkinson and Ramsey scoring.
The boys went into the final game against Washington level on points with Darlington, with a slightly superior goal difference and three points behind Washington.
Another good performance saw Ramsey and Dixon secure a 2-0 victory.
That moved Sunderland above Washington in the group, but Darlington’s 6-0 victory over Chester-le-Street meant that they won the trophy on goal difference, a bitter pill for the Wearsiders to swallow after a string of good performances.
The New Year started with the boys competing in the Durham County FA five-a-side championship at Stanley’s Louisa Centre.
The boys made the best possible start when a great move was finished off by Sayers’ fierce shot to edge out Washington 1-0.
A tough second game brought a 0-0 draw against North Tyneside, before a 2-0 defeat against Darlington, who capitalised twice on Sunderland losing possession from their own free-kicks.
A spirited performance against Durham sealed a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from Clay and Dixon, meaning that victory in the final game would guarantee runners-up spot for the boys.
A disappointing performance in a 1-0 loss to Chester-le-Street, though, saw Sunderland finish in fourth place.