U18 Preview: Sunderland v Aston Villa

by Ashley Houghton

Big game at the Academy this Sunday.

Sunderland's under-18's host Aston Villa at the Academy of Light on Sunday in the Barclays U18 Premier League play-offs.

The young Black Cats were the winners of Group One whilst the Villans topped Group Two after they beat Norwich City 6-1 on Thursday.

Whichever side comes out on top this weekend will then face the winner of the Elite Group, Fulham, next Wednesday for a place in the final.

The Wearsiders will take heart from their two victories against the Villans already this campaign; Mikael Mandron scoring twice on both occasions as ten-man Sunderland won 3-2 in Birmingham in September.

Martin Smith added to a double from the Frenchman in a 3-1 victory in November at the Academy of Light.

The U18s have been in excellent form, winning five of their last seven games and keeping four clean sheets in the process.

Villa hadn’t won a league game for two months before they recorded 6-1 victories over both Manchester City and Norwich in May.

James Stinson, who found opportunities limited in the first half of the season due to Mandron’s presence, is Sunderland’s leading scorer in 2013 with six goals in eleven games.

Sunday’s game kicks off at 11am at the Academy of Light and you can follow live updates on Sunderland AFC’s official Twitter account (@SAFCofficial).