U21s notch friendly win

by Ashley Houghton

Goals from Watmore and Knott seal victory at Harrogate.

Sunderland’s development squad completed their pre-season schedule with a fine win over Conference North outfit Harrogate Town.

Duncan Watmore and Billy Knott grabbed the goals for the under-21's after Alan White had given the hosts the lead.

The young Black Cats, who host Bolton Wanderers in their opening game of the Barclays U21 Premier League on Monday, finished a solid pre-season on a high with a fluid performance throughout.

Sunderland were behind on eight minutes, though, as Alan White bundled home Leigh Franks’ long-throw at the back post.

From the goal onwards the youngsters were excellent with multiple forward players going close to levelling the score with Watmore the first to go close after he curled just wide from Carl Lawson’s knock-down.

Lawson was again the provider as he set up Knott, who has been excellent throughout the pre-season games, but the Canvey Island-born youngster drove over from 20 yards.

Watmore eventually levelled for the visitors, adding to his pre-season tally after Lawson flicked on for the former Altrincham man to drive at the Harrogate defence and curl a fine effort into the corner.

And the Black Cats were ahead on 18 minutes as Knott curled a left-footed free-kick home from 22 yards.

David Ferguson and Adam Mitchell both went close to extending Sunderland’s lead before half-time as the Wearsiders began to dominate.

Chris Hall and Tommy Wright both had early chances to level up for Harrogate but the young Black Cats managed to overcome the early scares to re-exert their dominance.

Sunderland lacked composure to add to their tally with seven or eight players all having chances to double the advantage.

George Honeyman went closest when he latched on to a long ball before checking inside and seeing his shot saved low by Craig MacGillivray.

Sunderland: Stryjek, Marrs, Ferguson, Agnew (Honeyman, 64), Harrison (McNamee, 75), Bardsley, Watmore, Gorrin (Cartwright, 75), Lawson (Holland, 75), Knott, Mitchell.