It was honours even as Sunderland Under-18s drew 1-1 against rivals Middlesbrough in the Under-18 Premier League yesterday, writes Neville Pilkington.
Sunderland just about shaded the match overall, but Boro took the lead in a rather scrappy game in the 29th minuteat the Academy of Light, with a wind-assisted goal by Bilal Brahimi.
The opener came direct from a corner, with the wind taking the inswinging ball over Sunderland keeper Jack Newman into the top far corner of the net.
The setback came after Sunderland’s Robbie Dunne had a goal disallowed for an infringement that gave Boro a free-kick just outside the box.
Undeterred, the Wearsiders gradually exerted pressure to come back and deservedly level matters in the 72nd minute.
Kane Evans found Sam Greenwood, who crashed home a super strike, high into the top corner, in off the bar from outside the area.
Sunderland had captain Jordan Hickey sent off for two yellow cards eight minutes from time, but the 10 men had done enough to share the spoils.
Afterwards, Sunderland coach Mark Atkinson summed up by saying: “Our application and attitude was spot on. The conditions didn’t help and we needed to show a little more quality with balls in the final third.”
Sunderland’s point consolidated seventh place. The young Cats visit Boro on Saturday, in the penultimate match of the campaign, before finishing off at home to West Brom on April 28.
Sunderland: Newman, Kokolo, Scothern (Edmundsson 69), Best (Leonard 37), Connelly (Slack 75), Evans, Hickey, Hesson, Derbali, Greenwood, Dunne. Subs not used: Devine, Howard.
Middlesbrough: James, Robinson, Wood-Gordan, Dodds, Guru, Brahimi, Sykes (Sinior 19), Watts, Walker, McGill (Wearne 64), O’Neill.