Peter Burke

Home point for U18s

by Neville Pilkington

Keeper's super show helps earn share of spoils.

Sunderland battled gamely to come from behind to earn a tough point against a powerful West Brom side at the Academy.

The young Black Cats had Eire keeper Peter Burke to keep them in the game with a string of outstanding saves but they kept going to level and their commendable commitment and attitude finally gave them a share of the spoils.

Sunderland opened the better side and a great pass down the right channel by Martin Smith played in James Stinson, but the striker dragged his shot wide of the far post.

West Brom hit back for Joel Ambalu to fire in from outside the box but Burke tipped the ball over at full stretch. Minutes later it was Ambalu again who beat his man and went on to crash the ball against Burke's near post.

Nathan Thomas replied for the hosts when he cut in from the left to hit a fierce shot which Albion keeper Jack Rose saved low down to his right.

Up to the interval the game was largely confined to midfield as the sides battled for supremacy.

The Baggies came out the stronger team after the break and Ambalu hit the post again three minutes after the restart.

Five minutes later, the powerful West Brom man did get his reward when he chested down inside the area and planted the ball inside the far post past Burke with the outside of his right foot.

Ross Holland went close when he struck the ball just over the bar but it took another brilliant save by Burke from Albion's Reece Hayes to keep the deficit down to a single goal.

Sunderland had the keeper to thank for still being in the game but they fought back to level in the 63rd minute. Jassem Sukar made the goal with a long ball in from the left which took a slight deflection to find Liam Agnew, and the captain flicked the ball high into the net from four yards out.

Samir Nabi then drove over from a good position in front of goal from 15 yards with only Burke to beat.

However, Sunderland finished the game as the stronger side after this and were still level at the final whistle to gain a hard-earned draw.

Sunderland: Burke, Ledger, Robinson, McNamee, Sukar, Agnew, Smith, Holland, Thomas (McCarthy, 88), Lane (Greenwood, 60).