After two wins on the trot, it was disappointment for Sunderland Under-18s as they lost at home to Derby at the Academy of Light in the Barclays U18 Premier League today.
The young Black Cats twice came from behind to level and with only four minutes left the game looked to be heading for a draw.
But poor defending saw the Rams clinch the game with two late goals.
Early in the game, Sunderland’s Dan Pybus had a powerful drive tipped over the bar and then Josh Maja had the ball in the net but was flagged for a marginal off side decision,
Derby came back to take the lead on 32 minutes when Sunderland’s keeper Greg Purvis made a great save from Kellan Gordon’s shot, but striker Tom Mellors was there to follow up and roll the ball into the net.
The visitors still led at half-time, but, on the hour mark, the Wearsiders hit back to level with a delicate chip over the advancing keeper by Andrew Nelson.
On 72 minutes, Derby regained the lead with a brilliantly taken free-kick on the edge of the area by sub James Carvell, who bent the ball over the wall into the top corner.
Five minutes later, the Red and Whites equalised when Nelson was brought down in the area and Maja stepped up to drive the ball unerringly low into the corner to the keeper’s right.
But Derby finished strongly to take the game when Carvell sidefooted in a fast, low cross from Gordon from close range and, in the last minute, Gordon himself, to Sunderland’s despair, grabbed Derby’s fourth.
Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman said: “We did well to come back twice but we must learn to defend better.”
Sunderland: Purvis, Gamble, Hume, Wright, Lowrie, Bale, Molyneux, Pybus, Nelson, Maja, Ganyiu (Graham 46).