Sunderland Under-18s suffered a third successive defeat at the start of the U18 Premier League season, losing 3-0 away to Middlesbrough.
Down to 10 men for most of the game, following the dismissal of defender Brandon Taylor after only 15 minutes for pulling back striker Mitchell Curry in a one-on-one situation, the young Black Cats contained Boro until finally conceding three goals in the last phase of the match.
The dismissal of Taylor was pivotal to the outcome and Sunderland were up against it for the rest of the game.
But they fought well, with only one striker, and made Boro, coached by ex-Sunderland Academy coach Craig Liddle, work hard to take all three points at Rockliffe Park.
Michael Woud tipped over a Connor Mally strike as Sunderland defended gamely. But Boro made the breakthrough on 75 minutes as former Washington St Robert’s pupil Curry produced an excellent finish from Mally’s cross, with tiring Sunderland not getting tight enough in their marking.
Woud kept Sunderland in it with a tremendous stop to deny livewire Curry, but poor marking at a Ben Liddle corner proved costly as Mally headed home for 2-0.
In the last minute, Tyrone O’Neil – denied by a good Woud save moments earlier – completed the scoring with a fierce strike into the top corner from close range.
Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman said: “The lads gave their all and were devastated that they could not hold out.
“There were some positives – we kept our shape well and showed great determination. Hopefully they will have learned from the game’.
Middlesbrough: Hemmings, Hegarty, Reading, Dale (O’Neil 46), Cook, Renton, Lambert, Liddle, Curry, J Wilson (M Wilson), Mally
Sunderland: Woud, Gamble, Taylor, Hickey, McAughtrie, Kimpioka (Fowler 70), Allan, Bale, Hackett, Best (Young 15), Connolly (Diamond 46)