Andrew Nelson bagged a stoppage-time winner as Sunderland climbed to fourth place in the Barclays U18 Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool today.
A third successive win has taken the young Black Cats a point above Blackburn in the hunt for a top-four finish, and a place in the play-offs.
Second-top Liverpool started the brighter on a cold, wet, windswept morning.
The Reds’ first opportunity came early as Toni Gomes cut inside from the right, going past two Sunderland defenders only to scuff his shot, which was easily collected by keeper Michael Woud.
Liverpool continued to press and made the breakthrough in the 12th minutes as Gomes slipped behind the defence to slot the ball home.
The goal seemed to trigger the hosts into action, with Elliott Embleton going close two minutes later.
It was end to end football for the rest of the first half, with both sides going close on several occasions, notably when Andrew Nelson beat keeper Shamal George to the ball in the box before George went crashing into him, but the referee waved play on.
Sunderland seemed to grow in confidence in the second half and it was only a matter of time before they equalised, and Luke Molyneux went close to a spectacular equaliser, but his bicycle kick rattled the upright. .
Liverpool held out until the 78th minute.
The hosts won a free-kick on the edge of the area, which was duly dispatched with a fierce drive by Embleton, whose effort crashed into the right corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance.
Sunderland pressed for a winner, and went close several times, but, just as a draw looked certain, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, captain Dan Wright played a beautiful ball through the Liverpool defence for Nelson to run onto. He controlled it well and attempted to chip George, who managed to get a hand to the ball, but Nelson duly dispatched the rebound.
Coach Elliott Dickman said: “It was a very hard first half, particularly with the windy conditions. Liverpool made it very difficult, as they are good side. I am very proud of the lads showing the grit and determination enabling them to win the game.”
Blackburn are next up for Sunderland, at the Academy of Light on Tuesday (12.30pm).
Sunderland: Woud, Gamble, Hume, Bale (Diamond 63), Taylor, Storey, Molyneux, Wright, Nelson, Embleton, Krusnell. Subs not used: Hackett, McCulloch, Poame.
Liverpool: George, Lewis, Johnston, Masterson, Parker, Brimmer (Kane 55), Nicholas (Dhanda 68), Alexander-Arnold, T Gomes, Alves (Owens 82), Ejaria