Fixture pile-up catches up with young Black Cats in U18 defeat to Middlesbrough

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Sunderland produced a disappointing display to lose 2-0 at Middlesbrough in Saturday’s Under-18 Premier League game, writes Neville Pilkington.

It seemed as if the recent fixture pile-up had taken its toll on the young Black Cats.

Boro started well and Sunderland keeper Jack Newman had to make a good, early save. The Teessiders all but sealed the win with two goals in 10 minutes before the half hour was up.

After 17 minutes, a Boro corner was delivered to edge of the box and defender Nathan Guru smashed the ball through a crowd of players into the net.

They doubled the lead on 26 minutes when Boro broke quickly,following a Sunderland corner. The ball was switched from the right to the back post where Hayden Hackney came in to half-volley past Newman.

Sunderland sub Robbie Dunne forced a great save after coming on for the second half, but it was an isolated effort, despite an improved performance on the restart.

Despondent Sunderland coach Mark Atkinson said: ”This was overall a tired performance. We had a few half-chances in a better second period but still looked rather leggy.”

Sunderland’s final game is at home to West Brom this coming Saturday.

Middlesbrough U18s: Brynn, Guru, Hood, Gale, Wood-Gorden, Brahimi (Walker 56), Hackney, Wearne, Fletcher (McGill 73), Sinior (Watts 76), O’Neill. Subs not used: Flatters, Robinson.

Sunderland U18s: Newman, Derbali, Edmundsson, Howard, Evans, Greenwood, Hesson, Neill, Leonard (Slack 45), Trialist (Dunne 50), Kokolo (Devine 66). Subs not used: Patterson, Lilley.