Connor Wickham

Connor's two-goal show

by Neville Pilkington

Wickham nets double in U21s' win over Villa.

Sunderland U21 2 Aston Villa U21 0

A well taken brace from Connor Wickham saw Sunderland notch a comfortable win over Villa in the Barclays Premier U21 League.

The Sunderland side included both Wickham and Ji Dong-won in order to give both first team squad strikers much-needed match practice.  Both had good games but Wickham's finishing and link-up play was the big plus in Sunderland’s performance.

Dong-won had a chance in the first minute after being fed by Craig Lynch, but the Korean turned the ball wide of the post from a good position.

Villa came back and Michael Brennan forced a full-length save from home keeper Jordan Pickford from a set piece.

But in the seventh minute, the Wearsiders took the lead.  Adam Mitchell flicked the ball over Villa's Courtney Cameron to Wickham, who controlled and gained a yard on his marker before drilling a low shot past Villa keeper Craig Hill.

They then continued to press and Villa's Daniel Devine hacked away a low Dong-won cross just short of the line.

The visitors came back into it and had their best chance of scoring when Graham Burke turned in the area and hit a low shot only to see it rebound off the post before the ball was hacked away.

Dong-won had two quick chances to register shortly before half time but blazed over the top with the first and drew a brilliant save by Hill from the second when he hammered a cross by Blair Adams goalwards from close range.

A minute before the break, his fellow striker Wickham showed him how to do it,  although the Korean did contribute towards the second goal by dispossessing a Villa player in midfield before putting Wickham through. 

The striker bore down on goal before belting the ball low past the advancing keeper. It was a decisive strike almost contemptuous in its execution.

The nearest a rather toothless Villa came to scoring was another set piece from Brennan which again was turned round the post by the diving Pickford.

Lynch glanced wide for the home side from a corner but the game was already won and for the rest of the match Sunderland simply consolidated their two-goal winning margin.

Sunderland:  Pickford, Marrs, Oliver, Egan, Adams, Mitchell (Ferguson, 55), Gorrin, Reed, Lynch, Wickham (Laidler, 78), Dong-won (Deacon, 78).