Blackburn thoroughly deserved their decisive away win in the Under-18 Premier League at the Academy of Light yesterday.
Conditions were perfect for good football – no wind, warm and a greasy surface and Rovers certainly provided it.
Sunderland were on top in the opening phase. but. on 13 minutes, Blackburn broke to take an early led.
Winger Brad Lynch cut in to beat two men and force a super save from Sunderland keeper Michael Woud. but the ball fell to Callum Hendry. who scored easily from close range.
The hosts replied through Lee Connelly. who drove wide across the face of goal. but then Woud came out well to save from dangerous wide man Lynch. who was through on goal.
The visitors had the ball in the net again following a good move. but striker Dan Butterworth was ruled off side.
However, a minute before half-time, Rovers did double the lead. From a ball played in from the right, Lynch spun his marker and advanced to drive home past Woud.
It was nothing more than they deserved.
Sunderland were missing the influence of captain Adam Bale, who suffered a serious knee injury in a midweek friendly against Wearside League club Jarrow.
The former St Robert of Newminster School pupil had only been on the field for 30 seconds when an opposing player fell on his leg and is now out for the season with double ligament damage.
In the second period, the visitors kept pressing and Butterworth headed over from only two yards out, but Sunderland’s Jack Diamond also went close with a header.
On 80 minutes, Diamond was so unlucky when his shot was saved by Blackburn keeper Ben Ascroft, the ball rolling along the line for a fruitless corner.
There was immediate reaction from Rovers who switch to the other end to seal the game. Keeper Woud made a second brilliant parry, but the ball again fell to a Rovers player – this time sub Joel Steer, who tapped the ball home.
Five minutes from time, Ashcroft in the Rovers goal made a fine save and, in the resulting melee, Stefan Mols somehow twisted and headed from the line to deny the Wearsiders even a consolation goal.
As Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman said post-match: “We just couldn’t break down their strong defence.
“We had a good first half but the second goal gave them a boost and they were the better side in the second period.”
Sunderland: Woud, Howard, Young, Taylor, McAughtrie, Hickey (Fowler 70), Diamond, Allan, Connelly, Hacket, Kimpoida (Best 45).