SUNDERLAND Under-18s began 2015 on a disappointing note – succumbing to a narrow defeat to an impressive Everton side at the Academy of Light today.
It was a fairly even game in terms of possession, but the Wearsiders lacked the decisiveness and general nous to their play that could have made the essential difference to affect the final outcome of the match.
Three minutes before the interval, the Merseysiders took the lead with what proved to be the winning goal as winger Michael Donohue cut in from the left, past two men, and hammered a righ-foot strike high into the far top corner.
There was a glorious chance to level seconds before the break, but Dan Pybus’s header was turned over the top by keeper Ciaran O’Loughlin.
Luke Molyneux rounded the keeper in the second half, but Everton’s James Graham made a great block to stop his goalbound shot from entering the net.
Play switched to the other end in a frantic finale, with Everton being awarded a penalty for hand ball. The spot-kick was taken by Liam Walsh, but Talbot pulled off a magnificent double save to prevent a goal.
He parried the original effort and then bravely pushed away the follow-up to safety from close range.
It made a final near miss to equalise all the more frustrating when Blinco hit a super strike that was heading straight for the top corner from eight yards but was brilliantly turned over in style by keeper O’Loughlin.
Afterwards, Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman was rather unimpressed with his side, saying: “We just didn’t do enough. The first half was disappointing, but we improved in the second period. Admittedly, their keeper made some good saves, but we should have done more.”
SUNDERLAND: Talbot, Casey (Lowrie 82), J Robson, McEvoy, Colquhoun, Ledger, Blinco, E Robson (Embleton 46, Pybus, Wright (Graham 65), Molyneux.
EVERTON: O’Loughlin, Yates, Robinson, Walsh, Thorniley, Graham, Donohue, Charsley, Brewster, Broadhead, Holland.