Sunderland endured a double disappointment in Saturday’s 4-2 Barclays U18 Premier League Northern Division defeat at Wolves.
The Wearsiders failed to capitalise against a home side which was reduced to 10 men for 75 minutes, and promising striker Josh Maja has been ruled out for eight to 12 weeks with a back problem.
Maja was a big miss for Sunderland, though the visitors actually started well, creating plenty of chances from good possession, with winger Luke Molyneux a constant threat.
But, on 13 minutes, they fell to a sucker punch when Wolves broke quickly to take the lead.
Three minutes later, Andrew Nelson was through but was brought down by the Wolves keeper outside the box. He was the last man and was consequently sent off.
Undaunted, the hosts doubled the lead with a deflected shot from a right-wing cross and then made it 3-0 when full-back Denver Hume found himself up against two men at the back post.
Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman made a change at half-time, bringing on Elliott Embleton for Adam Bale.
There was an improvement and, on the hour mark, Nelson scored from close range following a goalmouth scramble to reduce the deficit.
The Wearsiders were now dominant, but the finishing was poor until Swedish frontman Joel Asoro finished well from a one-on-one.
Sunderland went all out to level and Dan Pybus was through, but he pushed his effort wide.
The miss seemed to deflate battling Sunderland and Wolves–who enjoyed doubles from Joe Delacoe and Ross Finnie–clinched the game with a fourth goal 10 minutes from time.
Coach Dickman said: “It was very disappointing. We should have done better, but credit to Wolves for defending well.”
Sunderland: Purvis, Lowrie (Gamble 62), Casey, Taylor, Hume, Molyneux (Boame 70), Pybus, Bale (Embleton 46), Wright, Asoro, Nelson.
Sunderland Under-21s are in action away to Leicester at the King Power Stadium tonight (7pm kick-off).