Kevin Ball

Development squad win at Darlington


Watmore bags the winner for under-21s.

Sunderland’s development squad won their first game of the season in a pre-season friendly victory over Darlington at Bishop Auckland.

Goals from Louis Laing, Jordan Laidler and Duncan Watmore earned the young Black Cats a 3-2 win in their second pre-season fixture.

Kevin Ball named an unchanged side from the 2-2 draw with Southampton as a strong squad travelled to face the Quakers.

Craig Lynch was the first Sunderland player to go close to scoring as he latched onto Alex Gorrin’s pass before seeing his shot well saved by the Darlington keeper.

Gorrin himself went close to breaking the deadlock on 16 minutes after good play by Billy Knott and Adam Mitchell but the Spaniard’s 20-yard curler went just over.

Knott was the creative outlet for the Black Cats throughout the first 45 and a fine solo run from the former West Ham and Chelsea attacker almost opened the scoring but his effort curled just wide.

Sunderland did take the lead shortly after the half-hour as good interplay between Lynch and the Black Cats’ trialist opened up space for Laing who drove home from 20 yards.

Ball made six changes at half-time as he looked to give time to all members of his squad with Watmore and Laidler joining four of last season’s under-18 side on the pitch.

Darlington were level after just ten minutes of the second-half as the Quakers were awarded a penalty following a collision in the area; Dixon saved the initial spot-kick before the Darlington striker bundled the rebound home.

It took just four minutes for Sunderland to regain the advantage, though, as Laidler converted from the spot after Liam Agnew’s initial shot was handballed by a defender.

A third goal in six minutes levelled the scores as Darlington’s centre-back found space at the back post from a corner and headed beyond Dixon.

Scott Harrison then spared the Black Cats’ blushes with a goal-line clearance as the Quakers broke on the counter but Watmore had the final say with a late winner.

The former Altrincham man slid home after a fine free-kick from Laidler to wrap up the first win of the campaign for the development squad.

Sunderland: Dixon, Marrs (Holland, 45), Ferguson, Gorrin (Laidler, 45), Harrison (McNamee, 45), Bardsley (Harrison [second stint], 70), Mitchell, Laing (Agnew, 45), Trialist (Lawson, 63), Knott (Honeyman), Lynch (Watmore, 45).