Sunderland Under-21 0 Blackburn Rovers Under-21 2
SUNDERLAND’S development squad lost the battle of the wooden spoon after failing to beat second-bottom Rovers and are now guaranteed to finish bottom of the league with two games left.
Kevin Ball’s youthful side conceded a goal from the Lancastrians’ first attack of the game and after spurning a hatful of decent chances – almost all falling to striker Ryan Noble – they conceded a second 20 minutes from time after a mistake by keeper Jordan Pickford.
Rovers took the lead just two minutes into the game when midfielder Micah Evans cut in from the right and pulled the ball back for John O’Sullivan, who side-footed back across Pickford from 12 yards.
O’Sullivan’s strike should not have proved a knock-out blow, with Sunderland carving out several decent chances before half-time.
They might have got back on level terms in the 18th minute when Mikael Mandron headed on to Noble, who outpaced the last defender down the right.
Noble closed in on goal, picking his spot and getting a powerful low shot away, but Rovers keeper Matthew Urwin produced a stunning block down to his right.
Noble had three more chances before the half-hour. The first was stopped when Hugo Fernandez Molina fouled him, the defender earning a booking in the process, while two clearer cut chances failed to see the striker find the target.
Rovers should have doubled the lead in the 38th minute when striker Jamie Maclaren was put clean through on goal but shot straight at Pickford, while the Sunderland keeper’s challenge on Anton Forrester five minutes later had to be perfectly timed or the keeper would have been off.
The last attack of the half saw Noble squander another fine chance which he lifted his shot wide from close range.
And though Sunderland were competitive after the break they never were able to carve out the quality of openings they had in the opening 45 minutes
Rovers produced the first really good chance after the break – Pickford doing well to get down to a fierce, low shot from James Maclaren in the 55th minute.
And they extended their lead in the 70th minute when Jordan Slew shot from right of goal and though Pickford got both hands to it, low down, he spooned it across himself and into goal.
The Black Cats might have got back into it with quarter of an hour remaining from a cleverly-worked free-kick but Jordan Laidler drove wide.
And a snapshot from substitute George Honeyman five minutes from time might have given the home fans some consolation but the effort flashed a yard over the bar.
Sunderland: Pickford, Marrs, Ferguson, Laidler, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Gorrin (sub E Robson 73), Noble, Mandron (sub Agnew 76), T Robson (sub Honeyman 65). Subs not used: Dixon, Beadling.
Blackburn: Urwin, Molina, Bauress, Brown, Payne, Daly, Evans (sub Wassi 87), O’Sullivan, Forrester (sub Cham 87), Maclaren, Slew. Subs not used: Dilo, Vicars.
Ref: I Turner. Att: 338