Sunderland Under-18s threw away the chance of the first back to back wins of the season by conceding two goals in the last five minutes against West Brom at the Academy of Light today.
It was an even game played in perfect conditions, but the Wearsiders had played well and, unlike West Brom, had taken their chances before the fatal late collapse.
The best chance in the early stages fell to the visitors, with Sameron Dool’s 25 yard shot crashing against the bar, with Sunderland keeper Michael Woud beaten.
Sonny Best and Lee Connelly both went close before Sunderland opened up a hitherto tight West Brom defence with a picture goal to take the lead just before the break.
It was Ben Kimpioka who made a powerful diagonal run from right to left before flicking the ball between two defenders. Connelly was onto it in a flash, rounding the keeper and hammering home into the empty net.
It was a great way to end the half for the hosts.
Sunderland carried on the offensive in the second period, with a mazy run by Jack Diamond only thwarted by a last-ditch tackle, but the visitors hit back and Woud had to make a super reaction save from a point-blank Nabi header to keep the lead.
The hosts went two up in the 65th minute following quick thinking with a set piece by Jake Hackett.
With the visiting defence still lining up a wall, Hackett played the ball out wide to Kimpioka, who cut in to sidefoot into the far corner of the net.
But, with only five minutes remaining, the Baggies were back in it with Nabi converting a penalty awarded for a high tackle bringing down an attacker in the area.
Worse was to follow with one minute left.
From a corner taken on the right, Woud made a super stop, but the ball rebounded to Jordan Piggott, who gleefully banged in the loose ball.
As Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman lamented afterwards: “It was so disappointing – an utter disaster in the last five minutes.
“We had done enough to win but have got to learn to see a game out.”
Sunderland U18s: Woud, Gamble (Howard 79), Krusnell, Allan, Storey, Young, Best, Hackett, Diamond (Fowler 63), Connelly, Kimpioka (Leonard 83)
West Brom U18s: House, Meredith, O’Shea, Piggott, Melbourne, Bradley (Phillips 65), Dool, Nabi, Harper (Forss 45), Morrison (Soleman 83), Pierce