The story of the day as dominant Sunderland claim pre-season victory at Harrogate Town

Sunderland head to Harrogate Town in their fourth pre-season friendly of the summer.

By Mark Donnelly
Saturday, 24th July 2021, 5:45 pm

The Black Cats have drawn with National League North opposition in Spennymoor Town and York City this summer, while putting in an impressive performance against Scottish top flight side Hearts last weekend.

And head coach Lee Johnson will be hoping for another encouraging display as the side head to North Yorkshire once again – this time to take on League Two outfit Harrogate Town

The game, which will be played behind closed doors, could see Luke O’Nien make his first public appearance of pre-season after penning a new contract.

Harrogate Town v Sunderland AFC: Live stream, match updates, latest score, team news and transfer latest from pre-season friendly

Summer signings Corry Evans and Callum Doyle could again feature, but the fixture is set to come too soon for Alex Pritchard.

Away from the clash, Sunderland are also hopeful of some boosts when it comes to player recruitment in the near future.

Our team of Phil Smith and Mark Donnelly will be bringing you the latest from The EnviroVent Stadium.

FT: Harrogate Town 0-4 Sunderland AFC (Embleton 11, 15, Winchester 40, Taylor 68)

Last updated: Saturday, 24 July, 2021, 15:17

  • Sunderland head to Harrogate Town in their fourth pre-season friendly.
  • Luke O’Nien, Bailey Wright, Will Grigg and Carl Winchester could all return.
  • The game will now be played behind closed doors after a late update.
  • Sunderland XI: Patterson, Winchester, Neil, Evans, Doyle, Flanagan, Diamond, O’Nien, O’Brien, Stewart, Embleton

And welcome to our live blog!

Sunderland are on the road again for their fourth pre-season friendly - as they return to North Yorkshire to face Harrogate Town.

The League Two side will provide another stern test for Lee Johnson’s men, who will be hoping to claim victory after a frustrating draw at York City in midweek.

I’m Mark Donnelly and, along with Phil Smith, I’ll be bringing you all the key action, updates and analysis from The EnviroVent Stadium throughout the afternoon.

So, let’s get cracking...

Sunderland hopeful of major defensive transfer breakthrough

Sunderland are hopeful of a major defensive transfer breakthrough - after reportedly making a fourth bid worth more than £1m – including add-ons – for Exeter City ace Josh Key.

Key, who made 43 appearances in League Two last season, has got two years remaining on his Exeter contract. He can play in midfield and full-back.

Sky Sports report: “The offer is said to be worth upwards of £1m including add-ons.

“Talks have been ongoing for a number of weeks.”

A brilliant reaction!

Why is today’s game now being played behind closed doors?

It was announced on Friday evening that the friendly fixture would unfortunately now be played behind closed doors.

Harrogate Town released the following statement:

It is with regret that we are announcing Saturday 24th July’s pre-season fixture against Sunderland will now be played behind-closed-doors.

At just after 2pm on Friday 23rdJuly the club received a letter from North Yorkshire County Council Safety Advisory Group who had identified a number of issues that made them uneasy about the match going ahead with a crowd.

We are working with the SAG to address the points they have raised for future fixtures.

All supporters who purchased a ticket for the fixture will receive a full refund.

The fixture will be available to watch live free of charge via Sunderland AFC’s official website.

Anyone who had already purchased a stream at £10 via will be refunded.

We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.

How can I stream Harrogate Town v Sunderland AFC?

There will be a live stream of today’s fixture on

You can find full details on the club’s official website.

The pre-match view from Harrogate Town

Former Sunderland midfielder Paul Thirlwell - who is currently Harrogate’s assistant manager - has been speaking ahead of the game...

Anytime you play Sunderland, it’s the same with the Gaffer when we play Sheffield Wednesday this season, you do get that extra buzz and it’s only natural when it’s against a team you’ve supported all your life and one that I was lucky to play for as well.

Paul Thirlwell

The latest team news from the Sunderland camp ahead of today’s game

Sunderland are hopeful that Luke O’Nien may be able to return to the fold after a shoulder injury saw him miss out against Hearts and York City.

Lynden Gooch may miss out though after he was withdrawn in the first half during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw.

Bailey Wright, Carl Winchester and Will Grigg will continue to be assessed - while the game is set to come too soon for Alex Pritchard.

The Black Cats are once again set to include a number of young players in their side for the game.

Predicted Sunderland travelling squad: Lee Burge, Anthony Patterson, Kenton Richardson, Oliver Younger, Tom Flanagan, Callum Doyle, Tyrese Dyce, Nathan Newall, Luke O’Nien, Corry Evans, Dan Neil, Elliot Embleton, Josh Hawkes, Sam Wilding, Ellis Taylor, Aiden McGeady, Jack Diamond, Ross Stewart, Aiden O’Brien

The Sunderland squad have arrived!

Carl Winchester, Luke O’Nien and Will Grigg are all here after missing the midweek game at York City.

Alex Pritchard is also here, but isn’t expected to be involved.


And here’s here how Sunderland line-up: Patterson, Winchester, Neil, Evans, Doyle, Flanagan, Diamond, O’Nien, O’Brien, Stewart, Embleton

And on the bench: Grigg, Dyce, Richardson, Wilding, Hawkes, Taylor, Younger, Burge, Kimpioka

It looks like a 4-3-3 for Sunderland, with Diamond and O’Brien either side of Stewart.

We’re expecting Carl Winchester to play at right-back with Luke O’Nien at left-back.

There’s no Gooch, Wright or McGeady today.

And here’s the Harrogate Town team...

Not long to go now...

And Sunderland are going through the final stages of their warm-up.

As expected, the side are set to line-up in a back four - but it’s Dan Neil standing as a left-back, not Luke O’Nien...

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