A Josh Maja brace helped Sunderland Under-23s beat Southampton Under-23s 3-0 today to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Andy Welsh’s side took an early lead in the Premier League 2 Division 1 game at Eppleton CW.
Maja capitalised on a loose ball before coolly rounding Saints keeper Adam Parkes and slotting home from 12 yards.
Southampton, who had won both of their opening two PL2 matches this term, responded well, but Sunderland had the better chances and only a tremendous challenge from Ben Rowthorn denied George Honeyman a tap-in.
Saints’ Olufela Olomola forced Max Stryjek into an excellent save before Sunderland doubled their lead five minutes before the break, with Maja heading Josh Robson’s cross past Parkes.
Both sides struggled to build any momentum in a scrappier second half.
Sunderland’s patience paid off on the hour mark, though, Honeyman netting his third goal in two games, with a stylish finish, to put the Black Cats 3-0 up.
Southampton rallied late on but Sunderland’s youngsters held firm to see out the rest of the game and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Parkes had to make a couple of fine stops to deny a fourth goal for the hosts.
Sunderland’s next Premier League 2 game is away to leaders Everton on Tuesday, September 13, a match to be played at Goodison Park.
Everton top the table with three wins out of three, two points ahead of Sunderland, with Southampton in third on six points.
Prior to that, the U23s take part in the Checkatrade EFL Trophy, taking on League One club Rochdale at Spotland on Tuesday, September 6.
The other opening Northern Group F tie takes place on Wednesday night, when Notts County host Hartlepool United.
Sunderland U23s: Stryjek, J Robson, T Robson, Ledger, Brady, Greenwood, Wright, Embleton (Lawson 60), Honeyman (Casey 87), E Robson, Maja. Subs not used: Pain, Molyneux, Poame
Southampton U23s: Parkes, Valery, Cook, Jones, Wood, Gape, Rowthorn (Slattery 73), O’Connor, Willard (Mdlalose 65), Sims (Johnson 89), Olomola. Subs: Osborne, Vokins