How Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock fared in first Sunderland appearances
Laurens De Bock and Joel Lynch made their first Sunderland appearances as the U23s fell to a 3-2 defeat against Middlesbrough.
Benjamin Kimpioka put the Black Cats ahead from the penalty spot but the visitors got the equaliser their play deserved just before the break, Stephen Walker converting after Brandon Taylor brought down Isaiah Jones.
Walker scored again from the spot shortly into the second half, Bali Mumba penalised for a push as a cross came into towards the far post.
It was three just after the hour as Jones raced free down the left, crossing low for subsitute Rumarn Burrell.
The Black Cats pulled a goal back when the lively substitute Williams Kokolo was rewarded for his persistence, crossing for Lee Connelly who had the simplest of finishes.
Connelly forced a fine save from Harry Flatters in the Middlesbrough goal as the game entered the final stages, the Black Cats staging a rally that at one stage in the second half had seemed unlikely.
Middlesbrough were able to hold on as the U23s continue to search for their first league win of the season.
Lynch completed an hour in front of manager Jack Ross, while Laurens De Bock played the full contest.
Here’s a closer look at how they fared….
Lynch gained 60 valuable minutes, with Ross hopeful that he will be nearing contention for place in the squad ahead of the trip to Bolton Wanderers this weekend.
He came close to scoring just minutes into the game, towering above his marker near the six-yard box and heading just over the bar.
The centre-back was a vocal and imposing presence, winning the vast majoirty of his aerial duels and showing the physicality he will bring to the side.
There were some tidy interceptions, and a yellow card for one particularly robust challenge near the edge of his area.
Perhaps understandably, there were one or two moments of uncertainty with his defensive partner Brandon Taylor, lively Middlesbrough forward occasionally springing clear to meet balls over the top.
Lynch looked in good order, and a fine defensive block just before the break marked a steady showing.
LAURENS DE BOCK
De Bock describes himself as a defender first and foremost, perhaps going against the modern trend for attacking full-backs who play high up the pitch and focus on their end product.
That was in evidence right from the early stages, with De Bock comfortably getting the better of his opposite number.
The Belgian made some smart interceptions and showed good awareness in stepping in to win a number of standing tackles.
His positioning was sound and Middlesborough soon found themselves focusing their attacks down the opposite flank, where Mumba had shown plenty of quality on the ball but an understandable vulnerability off it.
On the ball, De Bock kept it simple.
He never game it way but there were few opportunities to get into the final third and cross.
There was one glorious crossfield pass in the first half, opening up the game with an excellent switch.
A fine piece of defending saved his team from conceding a late goal on the break, covering well and forcing the forward to overrun the ball, allowing his goalkeeper to gather.
His quality was clear and getting through 90 minutes will bring him closer to first team contention.
Sunderland XI: Patterson; Mumba, Lynch (Bainbridge, 59), Taylor, De Bock; Dunne, Sammut, Hackett (Gamble, 72), Neil (Kokolo, 65); Kimpioka, Connelly
Subs: Abdelkader, Greenwood
Middlesbrough XI: Flatters, Dodds, Reading, Hackney, Wood, Dale, Folarin (Spencer, 72), Malley, Walker (Burrell, 59), Wearne, Jones
Subs: Robinson, Hood
Bookings: Lynch, 19 Hackett, 65 Malley, 85 Spence, 90