Sunderland finished their Barclays U18 Premier League season with a flourish, decisively beating Wolves 4-1 today in the final Group Two game to round off a promising campaign.
Wolves did have chances, but solid defending, allied to clinical finishing, was the essential difference between the two sides.
The game was played in perfect conditions, still and sunny. In goal for Sunderland was 6ft 4in highly rated New Zealand U-17 International Michael Woud and the youngster was almost faultless throughout.
Elliot Embleton and Dan Pybus ran the midfield in the early stages and, in the 18th minute, Embleton had a magnificent effort from the edge of the box tipped onto the post and away by Wolves keeper Harry Beasley.
But, after 22 minutes, they did take the lead when a shot by Pybus was deflected by a defender past the keeper from ten yards.
The visitors came back and Jordan Allan had only the keeper to beat but shot wide. There were other several near misses, but Woud made some outstanding blocks and saves to keep the lead at half-time.
Five minutes after the restart, the hosts doubled the advantage with left back Josh Robson surging forward to get to the line and pull back for Pybus to hammer his second high into the net.
Seven minutes later, they made it three when Pybus was brought down in the area and got up to claim his hat-trick from the spot-kick, scoring easily to the keeper’s right.
Shortly afterwards, Embleton curled another shot just wide, but, on 67 minutes, the Midlanders pulled one back with a penalty awarded for hand ball against Brandon Taylor, with Morgan Gilds-White scoring from the spot.
Minutes later, Woud had to go full length to keep out another fine effort by the visitors as they tried to save the game.
However, their efforts were in vain as Sunderland wrapped up the game in style five minutes from time.
Sub Dan Wright got down the left on the break and cut-back for Luke Molyneux to steady himself and superbly crash the ball into the top corner.
It was a fitting end to a keenly fought game in which Sunderland had the edge which was based on their well-taken goals.
Coach Elliott Dickman summed up the match by saying: “It was a good all-round display with great finishing by us to finish the season.”
Sunderland: Woud. Taylor, Casey, Storey, Robson J, Poame, Allan, Pybus (Wright 58), Molynuex (Hacket 85), Maja, Embleton. Subs not used: Talbot, Hickey.