George Honeyman

Youngsters secure play-off place

by Ashley Houghton

Honeyman and Stinson seal vital win.

Sunderland U18 2 Liverpool U18 0

Sunderland's U18's secured their place in the play-off stage of the Barclays U18 Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Liverpool at the Academy of Light.

The young Black Cats knew only a win would do as they entertained the Merseyside outfit, and they duly delivered with two fine goals from George Honeyman (pictured) and James Stinson.

After last weekend’s 6-3 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland showed two changes with Tom Beadling and Andrew Cartwright coming in for Ethan Robson and Steven McCarthy.

The young Black Cats started with real intent as Honeyman broke from the kick-off to cross just wide of Ryan Fulton in the Liverpool goal.

Liverpool were keen to make amends for their 4-0 defeat at Stoke in midweek, and they went close to opening the scoring when Jordan Rossiter shot wide from 25 yards.

The Reds went close again moments later when Jerome Sinclair, who became Liverpool’s youngest ever first-team player earlier this season, turned and shot forcing Peter Burke into a good save.

Sunderland gained the advantage from a cleverly worked set-piece on 17 minutes. Cartwright rolled his corner to the centre of the area and Honeyman reacted quickest to smash into the top corner.

Cartwright, who was playing his first under-18’s game since January, was instrumental throughout the first-half, and he provided a wonderful cross for Stinson to double the lead but he volleyed against the underside of the bar from 12 yards.

Honeyman was equally threatening for the young Black Cats and he went close to grabbing a second when he curled a left shot against the bar from 20 yards.

Liverpool tested the Sunderland back line throughout the second half but failed to create many notable chances as Beadling and Tom McNamee were resolute in their defence of the Black Cats’ goal.

Robson then went close to sealing the game as Stinson set the ball kindly for the schoolboy on the edge of the area but the youngster’s shot was well saved by Fulton.

Sunderland did wrap the game up in the closing stages as Stinson, who ran his heart out throughout the game, struck a crisp left foot drive into the top corner to record his sixth goal of the campaign.

The win means Liddle’s side top Group One of the Barclays U18 Premier League and they await news of the winner of Group Two who they will meet in a play-off match to decide who progresses to the semi-finals.

Sunderland: Burke, Ledger, Sukar, Agnew, Beadling, McNamee, Honeyman, Smith, Stinson, Cartwright (E Robson, 51), T Robson.