MIKAEL Mandron’s equaliser earned Sunderland Under-21s a share of the spoils against 10-man Manchester United tonight.
Sunderland fought back from going a goal down at the Stadium of Light, yet Robbie Stockdale’s side were unable to make their man advantage count after United first-teamer Tyler Blackett was handed a straight red early in the second half.
In front of more than 30 scouts, Mandron, who was able to feature under the terms of his youth loan at League Two Shrewsbury, grabbed a well-taken goal and could have added a couple more to his tally.
George Honeyman impressed in the nunber 10 role for the Black Cats, Lynden Gooch was lively on the flanks, while there was a welcome second substitute’s outing for Duncan Watmore, in his comeback from a broken leg.
United keeper Joel Castro Pereira was tested in the seventh minute when Mandron won the ball on the edge of the area and Honeyman curled a shot towards the bottom corner which was pushed behind by the stopper.
But it was the visitors who went ahead in the 19th minute after managing to scramble the ball home.
Striker James Wilson found the ball in space down the left-hand side of the area and hit a shot towards the far corner which was deflected towards the six-yard box and headed on by James Weir.
Sunderland stopper Joel DIxon was caught off his line and the ball looped back off the bar, before Weir’s follow-up effort was blocked by the keeper.
But it came back to Andreas Pereira who eventually managed to bring the ball under control before smashing it into the net.
Mandron levelled proceedings in the 33rd minute when Honeyman showed quick feet in the penalty area, laid it off and the striker drove the ball low into the net from the edge of the box.
United were reduced to 10 men eight minutes into the second half when Blackett was dismissed for an idiotic off-the-ball push on Martin Smith, seconds after the Sunderland midfielder had been booked for a foul.
Despite the man disadvantage, Pereira immediately went close to regaining the lead with a free-kick from 25 yards which dipped awkwardly for Dixon, but was pushed away by the keeper, before Weir wasted the rebound.
Sunderland somehow failed to get their noses in front in the 74th minute when Gooch delivered a perfectly-weighted inswinging cross from the left.
It fell nicely for Smith at the back post, whose header was partially kept out by Pereira, but with the ball dropping ominously back towards goal, it deflected off Mandron and over the bar.
Weir almost snatched it for United with four minutes to go when he received Andy Kellett’s lay-off on the edge of the area, but saw his curling shot turned away by Dixon.
Watmore then came close to winning it in stoppage time with a first-time left-foot shot from 25 yards which drifted just wide of the upright.
SUNDERLAND: Dixon, Ledger, T Robson, Agnew, McNamee, Beadling, Gooch, Smith (Watmore 62), Mandron, Honeyman, Lawson (Greenwood 74). Subs not used: Burke, J Robson, Nelson. Booked: Smith (52)
MAN UNITED: J Pereira, Love, Thorpe, Blackett, James, Grimshaw, Harrop (Goss 46), Weir, Wilson (Fletcher 39, Kellett 84), A Pereira, El Fatouri. Subs not used: Willock, O’Hara. Sent off: Blackett (53). Booked: Goss (88), A Pereira (88)