The story of the game as Sunderland start pre-season with comfortable win at South Shields
Sunderland strolled to a comfortable 2-0 win in the first game of their pre-season campaign.
Ethan Robson and Luke O’Nien scored the goals either side of the break, with Jack Ross getting 45 minutes into 22 of his players.
Here’s how the game went...
Sunderland XI: Burge; McLaughlin, Loovens, Bainbridge, Hackett; McGeouch, Robson, Honeyman; Kimpioka, Gooch, Wyke
Sunderland started in a flexible back five, with new signing Conor McLaughlin tucked infield and with Lynden Gooch and Jake Hackett as wing-backs.
The game started at a predictably sedate pace but Sunderland quickly began to establish dominance on the ball, with Ethan Robson and Dylan McGeouch playing some dangerous switches to the flanks.
Robson ought to have done better when he fired a free-kick over the bar from the edge of the area but within moments he was on the scoresheet.
George Honeyman caught a Shields defender in possession and the Black Cats quickly broke, Benji Kimpioka teeing up Robson who calmly fired his effort into the top corner.
It should have two just after, the lively Kimpioka again breaking and forcing a smart stop from goalkeeper Liam Connel, who recovered impressively to then deny Charlie Wyke from close range.
Sunderland continued to dominate but South Shields came close to equalising when Dillon Morse stooped to meet a corner, forcing a superb save from debutant Lee Burge. The follow-up was headed wide with the goal gaping.
Burge then denied David Foley from close range as the striker capitalised on some indecision in the Sunderland defence.
Sunderland’s early dominance had faded somewhat but Burge was not tested again as they made to the break with ease.
Sunderland XI: Patterson; O’Nien, Flanagan, Baldwin, Bainbridge, Hume; Leadbitter, Embleton, Maguire; Watmore, Grigg
Sunderland persisted with the same shape in the second period, Luke O’Nien dropping in at wing-back.
The Black Cats started well, and Elliot Embleton, playing as an agreement on his new contract nears, should have scored when a cross to the near post fell to him in the box.
Will Grigg went close soon after, turning a low cross from O’Nien just wide of the far post.
Sunderland were controlling the play and scored a second with a fine team move. Embleton moved the ball out wide, where Duncan Watmore combined with Grigg. Shields just about blocked their efforts but the ball fell for O’Nien who thumped home a confident finish.
Watmore was causing all sorts of problems with his energy and pace, hitting the bar from close range when a ball was cut back across goal.
The game was being played exclusively in the Shields half and the Black Cats went close to a third when Leadbitter, who had looked in complete control of the game throughout the half, hit the post with an audacious long-range effort.