Late Laidler strike secures home point.
Jordan Laidler scored a late equaliser as Sunderland’s under-21s secured a home draw against Fulham.
The Black Cats’ first game of the second league phase was somewhat marred by the conditions with a howling gale affecting proceedings at the Academy of Light.
Fulham came from behind to take the lead with goals either side of the break, but Laidler had the final say with a crisp finish from close range.
The visitors began well, hitting the post early on, but it was Kevin Ball’s hosts who took the lead on the quarter-hour.
A right-wing corner was met by Laidler, whose shot was parried by Fulham keeper Csaba Somogyi only for the alert George Honeyman to stab the ball home from inside the six-yard box.
However, the away side were level 10 minutes later. Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford brought down Ryan Williams and Lauri Dalle Valle squeezed home the penalty beyond Pickford’s despairing dive.
Laidler was denied a goal 10 minutes before the break when he raced through but was unable to find a finish.
The wind worsened at the start of the second period with both teams struggling to impose themselves on proceedings.
However, Fulham grabbed the advantage nine minutes into the half, cashing in following a defensive mistake.
Wade Joyce’s backpass to Pickford dropped short, allowing Tom Donegan in to lift the ball into the roof of the net despite Joyce’s best efforts on the line.
But fair play to Sunderland, who responded as sub Nathan Thomas headed a deep cross over the bar before Mikael Mandron was inches away from converting a superb feed from close range.
Thomas then saw a fierce drive well saved, but Ball’s youngsters weren’t to be denied and eventually levelled the match four minutes from time.
It was Thomas in the thick of the action again, crossing well from the right for Laidler to take a step back from his marker and hammer the ball into the roof of the net to secure a point.
Sunderland: Pickford, Marrs, Callaghan, Joyce, Harrison, Ferguson, Mitchell, Gorrin (Smith, 66), Mandron, Laidler, Honeyman (Thomas, 63).
Subs: Wilson, Holland, McNamee.