Sunderland U18s suffered their second defeat of the Under-18 Premier League season on Saturday, losing out 4-1 a strong, powerful Stoke City side, writes Neville Pilkington.
The young Black Cats could have scored twice in the first five minutes but goal-line clearances by Stoke kept them at bay.
Then the Potters hit back with three goals in a stunning 13-minute spell.
The first goal came on 15 minutes when a low cross by Mohamad Diallo wasn’t dealt with and Venancio Da Silva Monterio was able to slide home.
Three minutes later, the lead was doubled when the defence was split for striker Jordan Greenidge to fire past Sunderland keeper Michael Woud.
It was all Stoke now. From a corner, a header hit the bar and fell into the grateful arms of keeper Woud.
But, on 28 minutes, the Potters did make it three when captain Louis Silva crashed home a left-wing corner after losing his marker.
Jake Hackett showed good footwork as Sunderland tried to recover and striker Sonny Best hit a left-foot shot just wide for their best effort in the half.
The Wearsiders did improve in the second period, but, on 63 minutes, Nicklas Jokelaien put the game out of reach at 4-0 with a downward header from a left side cross that no-one reacted to in the home defence.
Nine minutes from time, Sunderland grabbed a consolation goal when a fierce Fergus McAughtrie strike was parried by the keeper and Ben Kimpioka was able to force the ball into the net.
Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman said: “Once again, poor defending let us down. After the first 15 minutes, when we played quite well, we fell apart and three goals in 13 minutes killed us off.”
The Wearsiders will hope it is third time lucky when they visit Middlesbrough this Saturday.
Boro drew 1-1 with Wolves at the weekend, following a 2-0 victory at Stoke on the opening day.
Sunderland U23s visit the King Power Stadium tonight for a Premier League 2 clash with Leicester.
Sunderland: Woud, Taylor, Storey (Howard 65), Young (Leonard 55), McAughtrie, Bale, Hickey, Allan (Fowler 80), Best, Kimpioka, Hackett.