Sunderland U21s 2 Blackpool XI 3

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A very experienced Blackpool side were taken all the way by Sunderland U21s, but finally edged the match to win 3-2, writes Neville Pilkington.

Every player in the Blackpool team had been in the first team squad but the Sunderland side only included Chavis Mavrias and Cabral from their first team squad.

Sunderland started well and took an early lead after only nine minutes. A cross from the left by Mavrias found Lynden Gooch right side and the American looked up to curl a left-footed strike into the top corner.

On 23 minutes, Mikael Mandron was desperately unlucky with a 22 yard set-piece which curled over the wall and crashed against the post with the keeper beaten.

Blackpool replied by matching this a minute later when striker Steve Davies also hit the post with Sunderland keeper Max Stryjek nowhere near.

The Sunderland keeper pulled off some good saves before the break with the Seasiders looking dangerous with every attack but Sunderland were solid in defence to keep them at bay.

Three minutes after the interval, the lead was doubled when Mavrias floated in a centre from the left and Mandron rose high to flick a header over the keeper into the far corner.

But on the 71st minute came the first goal of the Blackpool comeback when Formose Mendy hit a screamer from 30 yards into the top corner.

They were level 7 minutes later when Nathan Delfonso slotted a low shot past keeper Stryjek after a through ball down the middle had split the home defence.

Nine minutes from time, Mendy put Blackpool into a winning lead with his second goal, a swerving low shot into the bottom corner.

Mandron nearly got the draw 3 minutes from the end but the Blackpool keeper saved well and one minute later he did put the ball in the net but was flagged for offside to deny Sunderland the draw that their overall performance probably deserved.

Coach Rob Stockdale said: “For an hour we were good against a experienced team. But we had several players such as Mandron, Honeyman and Gooch recently back from long term injury and it showed as they tired but the game will add to their match fitness.”

Sunderland: Stryjek, Cartwright (Sukar 54), McNamee, Beadling, Robson T, Gooch (Whatmore 65), Cabral, Honeyman, Smith, Mavrias, Mandron. Subs not used: Lawson, Purvis, Agnew.