U21s defeated despite second-half onslaught.
Aston Villa U21 2 Sunderland U21 1
Sunderland's under-21s suffered an unlucky defeat in an absorbing game against Aston Villa in the Midlands.
Early goals from Marc Albrighton and Graham Burke handed the hosts the initiative only for Sunderland to hit back through Alex Gorrin just before half time.
But try as they might, the visitors just couldn't find a way past Villa goalkeeper Craig Hill as they bossed the second half.
Hill made a string of excellent saves as the Villans clung on to gain revenge for their recent second-string defeat on Wearside.
First-teamer Albrighton handed the home side the initiative after just eight minutes, receiving a pass from Samir Carruthers before lofting a shot over Ben Wilson from 22 yards.
Burke added a second goal five minutes later, powering home via a deflection off Connor Oliver after ghosting in to meet Jordan Graham's cut-back.
A lively Sunderland side responded in fine fashion and Hill was forced to produce excellent saves to deny Jordan Laidler and Adam Mitchell before the visitors got themselves on the board.
Blair Adams tore down the left side and crossed for Gorrin, stationed on the edge of the six-yard box, to convert clinically.
Kevin Ball's side pushed on in the second half and came close when Adam Reed's goalbound shot was tipped over before sub Mikael Mandron saw a header touched onto the crossbar by Hill.
Sunderland continued to pour forward but just couldn't beat Hill, who rounded off an excellent display with a key save late on as he denied Mitchell from close range with the winger seemingly set to equalise.
Sunderland: Wilson, Marrs, Adams, Reed, Oliver, Ferguson, Mitchell, Gorrin, Laidler, Deacon (Mandron, 54), Lynch.
Subs Not Used: Joyce, Dixon, Armstrong, Harrison.