SUNDERLAND Broom firsts endured A 4-2 defeat in a hard-fought clash away to Durham University thirds.
Two players dropped out on the morning of the game, leaving Sunderland with just 11 players against a much younger side in the North East League Premier Division.
Durham duly opened the scoring, getting lucky with a deflection which sent keeper Richard “Nemo” Whitham.
Good play down the right saw Anthony Dixon, Neale Holmes, Mark Wilkinson and Andy Wilkinson take control of the match, moving the ball with speed into the D, where Matt Dench hammered it home into the top corner.
Soon after, a lucky pass found a Durham striker in front of goal and a reverse shot was too fast for Whitham, as the hosts regained a 2-1 lead.
Sunderland kept fighting, though, and made good ground with speed, leaving last weeks hat-trick hero, Andy Wilkinson, to smash a shot into the bottom corner. At 2-2, the game was end to end, with Holmes a true hero in the middle of the pitch for the visitors.
The Durham keeper made some outstanding saves to keep his side level, then the students got lucky as Andy Scollen and Matt Dench mixed up a quick pass routine to go on to fire home a decisive third goal.
Sunderland had plenty of possession in the final 15 minutes, with several shots saved or flying narrowly wide.
Then, in the last 30 seconds, Durham capitalised on a defensive lapse and extended their lead to 4-2.
Sunderland I: Richard Whitham, Chris Brown, Neil Sparrow, Andy Scollen, Sam Middleton, Neale Holmes, Matt Dench, Glen Olsen, Mark Wilkinson, Andy Wilkinson, Anthony Dixon.
The firsts host Jesmond Parish Church firsts on Saturday, while the second visit Morpeth fourths on Sunday.