SUNDERLAND missed the chance to move to the top of the Under-21 Premier League tonight after suffering a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United.
Kevin Ball’s side succumbed to a first defeat in six outings as they couldn’t find an equaliser in their quest to consolidate their position in the league’s top four, who will compete in the end-of-season play-offs.
The game began at a high tempo with Connor Oliver shooting narrowly over from 25 yards before Sunderland keeper Joel Dixon was forced to produce a superb save to deny Davide Petrucci from point-blank range.
United took the lead five minutes before the break when Jesse Lingard intercepted Andrew Cartwright’s pass and fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Sunderland almost produced an immediate equaliser when Louis Laing sent Jordan Laidler clean through on goal, only to be denied by a smart stop from Joel Pereira.
Petrucci went desperately close to doubling United’s advantage in the 52nd minute when he fired against the post from Joe Rothwell’s pull-back.
But as the encounter entered it’s closing stages, Sunderland piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and went perilously close with nine minutes to go when Adam Mitchell’s curling effort came back off the post.
United were then denied by the woodwork themselves when James Wilson saw his shot deflected onto the top of the crossbar.
MAN UNITED: J Pereira, Varela, James, Blackett, Keane, Pearson, Janko (Wilson 72), Rothwell, A Pereira (Rowley 83), Petrucci, Lingard. Subs not used: Gollini, McNair, Rudge.
SUNDERLAND: Dixon, Cartwright (Smith 53), Ferguson, Oliver, Harrison, Egan, Mitchell, Laing, Laidler, Honeyman (Lawson 53), Holland (Gooch 77). Subs not used: McNamee, Burke.