Mikael Mandron

Sunderland U18 3 Aston Villa U18 1

by Neville Pilkington

Well-deserved win for youngsters.

Sunderland bounced back from last week's defeat at Southampton with a resounding win against Aston Villa at the Academy.

Conditions were perfect for good football - warm, sunny and still -  and both sides delivered, playing a thoughtful game and careful with possession.

It was the visitors who took an early lead when Charlie Ward hammered past Sunderland keeper Joel Dixon high into the top corner from at least 20 yards out.

Craig Liddle's side came back well to gradually get back into the game.

It took them until 38 minutes to level with a magnificent move.  George Honeyman, out wide on the right, passed quickly inside to Mikael Mandron who immediately transferred the ball for Martin Smith to crash high into the net from 12 yards.  It was fast-flowing football at its best.

The home side could have increased the lead shortly after the half-time break when Smith robbed a defender to fire just over the top.

Then captain Liam Agnew chipped a delightful pass over the top for Honeyman to swivel and volley straight at the keeper when a few yards to either side would have resulted in a goal.

However, it was Honeyman who was instrumental in the leveller on 55 minutes when he went down the left hand side with the ball for fully 20 yards before cutting back for Mandron to sidefoot high into the roof of the net.

Callum Hope curled a deflected shot just wide as the hosts pressed home their advantage.  Their supremacy at this stage was due in no small measure to a very hard-working midfield of Agnew, Smith and Ross Holland who began to dominate proceedings.

They were rewarded with a clinching goal on 78 minutes.  Sub Ethan Robson made a lot of ground down the left before playing in Honeyman who beat a man to get to the line and pull back a pinpoint centre for Mandron to decisively head home.

It must have been most rewarding for Mandron's father, who was over from France for the game, to see his son notch a well-deserved double.

The goal stifled any comeback for hard-working opposition who had played attractive football and never gave up.

Coach Craig Liddle summed up by saying: "After last week we gave a good reaction and became the dominant side against a good team.  We showed good character after falling behind to get back to 1-1.  In the second half we played confidently and put in a really good shift to see the game out."

Sunderland:  Dixon, Martin, Lane, Agnew, Noble, Sukar, Holland (McCarthy, 88), Smith, Mandron, Honeyman (McGrath, 84), Hope (Robson, 66).