Hartlepool United 0 Sunderland 3

by Oscar Chamberlain

Three second-half goals secure third pre-season win.

Sunderland picked up their second win in 24 hours with a 3-0 victory over Hartlepool United.

Mikael Mandron was the hero on Tuesday night as the Black Cats edged past Carlisle United, and youth again provided the route to victory with eleven young stars coming off the bench to light up Victoria Park.

Carl Lawson opened the floodgates in the 70th minute with a beautifully-taken goal, with an Andrew Cartwright double topping off another memorable evening for next generation of Black Cats. 

Gus Poyet selected an entirely new starting XI to the one fielded at Brunton Park, with Costel Pantilimon, John O’Shea, Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson and Steven Fletcher all starting against Pools.

Adam Johnson also returned, featuring for the first time in pre-season after recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of the wins over Darlington 1883 and Carlisle.

Goalkeeper Vito Mannone endured a testing 60 minutes on Tuesday and fellow shot-stopper Pantilimon needed to be alert after just 45 seconds, turning Luke James’ low shot behind for a corner kick.

With five minutes played the Black Cats showed their first signs of intent through Max Clayton, who curled the ball inches wide of Scott Flinders’ post after good build-up play from Fletcher.

Four minutes later El Hadji Ba marched into opposition territory, leaving a host of Hartlepool players in his wake before finding Larsson who rolled the ball into Duncan Watmore, but despite a good burst of pace from the youngster his cross was blocked.  

Fletcher was next to test the home defence, curving his run perfectly to break the offside trap and latch onto a neat through ball from Ba, but he was forced wide and then denied as Flinders saved from a tight angle.

Johnson continued to ask questions of the Hartlepool defence and he went close with 25 minutes played, collecting an excellent cross-field ball from David Ferguson before charging into the box and smashing an effort just wide.

The former Manchester City winger then turned provider, unselfishly slotting the ball through to Fletcher who curled an effort past Flinders and onto the post.

One minute later the duo combined once more when Fletcher’s header landed straight at the winger’s feet, but despite finding Larsson with a clever pass the hosts held firm to clear the Swede’s goal-bound effort.

The home side made one change at the break with Jonathan Franks replacing Marlon Harewood, who failed to test the Black Cats defence during the opening 45 minutes.

With 58 minutes played Pools’ defence was almost breached but Fletcher was unable to connect with Clayton’s powerful cross.

Hartlepool continued to ride their luck, and three minutes later the Black Cats were almost gifted an opener when Darren Holden’s clearance flew inches over his own crossbar. 

That moment signalled a stoppage in play as Poyet elected to make eleven changes, providing the younger members of the squad with a further opportunity to shine following their earlier heroics at Brunton Park.

And it took just nine minutes for the head coach’s faith to be rewarded as Lawson shattered the deadlock, playing a neat one-two with Mandron before curling the ball home in emphatic fashion.

Three minutes later the youngsters were celebrating once more as Cartwright made it two, showing terrific determination to work the ball into the box before flicking the ball past Flinders.

The home side were simply unable to cope with the ruthless efficiency of their younger counterparts, and with 13 minutes remaining they were punished for a third time as Cartwright notched his second via a heavy deflection.

Despite being well on the way to victory the youngsters continued to surge forward, cruising to a 3-0 win to leave the head coach pondering places on the plane, with the Black Cats due to jet-off for a pre-season tour of Portugal on Friday.

Sunderland 1-61: Pantilimon, Watmore, Ferguson, Roberge, O’Shea, Cattermole, Larsson, Ba, Fletcher, Clayton, Johnson.

Sunderland 62-90: Cartwright, Pickford, Robson T, Harrison, Beadling, Agnew, Honeyman, Smith, Gooch, Lawson, Mandron 

Hartlepool United: Flinders, Duckworth, Holden, Parnaby, Austin, Bates, Walker, Miller, Harewood (Franks 46), James, Compton (Smith 73).

 Subs: Woods. Rafferty, Rowbotham, Nearny, Hawkins, Richards, Jones.

Attendance: 5,617 (3,252 away)