Kevin Ball glasses

Defeat for U21s

by Ashley Houghton

Young side lose out at Eppleton.

Sunderland U21 0 Blackburn Rovers U21 2

Sunderland’s development squad went down 2-0 to Blackburn Rovers at Eppleton CW in the Barclays U21 Premier League.

Goals from John O’Sullivan and Jordan Slew earned Rovers the win against a young side that included multiple scholars, plus a schoolboy - second-half substitute Ethan Robson, who will join the club's U18 squad this summer.

Jordan Laidler and Mikael Mandron both featured for Kevin Ball’s side after appearing on the bench for Paolo Di Canio’s first team in the recent games against Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Rovers were ahead after just a minute; Micah Evans wriggled past two Sunderland defenders before sliding through to O’Sullivan who hammered past Jordan Pickford from the edge of the area.

The Black Cats, to their credit, reacted well to the goal and, after an excellent interception from Tom McNamee, they could have equalised but Mandron volleyed Adam Mitchell’s cross wide.

Ryan Noble looked certain to get the hosts back in the game when Mandron’s flick-on played him through, but the young striker saw his effort well saved by Matthew Urwin.

Noble again went close on the stroke of half-time; Pickford saved well from Jamie MacLaren and set Mitchell on a quick break only for Noble to send the winger's pass over.

Blackburn were more composed in the second half and they went close when MacLaren found space on the edge of the area only to be thwarted by a fine save from Pickford.

The visitors doubled their advantage in the 70th minute; Slew received the ball wide on the right and his shot from 25 yards crept under the otherwise impressive Pickford.

Sunderland kept working for a way back into the game; Laidler pulled the strings in midfield and shot just wide after David Ferguson set the ball on the edge of the area.

The Black Cats' best late chance fell to George Honeyman but he saw his effort tipped over by Urwin after Liam Agnew had played him in.

Sunderland: Pickford, Marrs, Ferguson, Laidler, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Gorrin (E Robson, 74), Noble, Mandron (Agnew, 77), T Robson (Honeyman, 65).