Jordan Laidler

Under-21s hit four

by Stuart Vose

Laidler scores twice in win over Magpies.

Sunderland U21 4 Newcastle U21 0

A quick-fire double from Jordan Laidler set Sunderland’s development squad on their way to a fine 4-0 friendly win over near neighbours Newcastle United.

The game was organised to give the under-21s additional match practice as they get set to ease back into league action later this week.

Laidler struck twice in the first 10 minutes at the Academy of Light before Adam Reed and substitute Mikael Mandron added further goals in the second half.

Kevin Ball’s side were on top throughout but were grateful to impressive goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for two key first-half saves.

Ball shuffled his pack ahead of the game with midfielders Connor Oliver and James Armstrong both deployed in central defence.

But it was Laidler who stole the show early on, opening the scoring after just four minutes.

Newcastle keeper Jak Alnwick parried Alex Gorrin’s shot from the edge of the box but Laidler was ideally placed to crash the rebound in off the underside of the crossbar amidst fruitless appeals for offside.

Newcastle almost got themselves back in it straight away when dangerous frontman Adam Campbell broke through, but his shot was well saved by Pickford down low.

And Sunderland doubled their advantage almost immediately with Laidler in the right place at the right time once more.

A powerful shot from Reed cannoned against Alnwick’s left-hand post, rolled along the line and hit the other upright before being converted by the lurking Laidler with a flat-footed Newcastle defence nowhere to be seen.

It would have been three inside 20 minutes soon afterwards had Alnwick not produced a superb full-length save to parry away Craig Lynch’s screamer.

At the other end Campbell was denied by a brave save from Pickford, who threw himself at the striker’s feet as he prepared to pull the trigger.

It was a key stop as the hosts went on to dominate the rest of the game in front of senior boss Martin O’Neill, watching on from the home dugout.

Lynch twice came close to scoring in the latter stages of the first half, forcing a good save from Alnwick from Adam Mitchell’s cross before blasting wide having skipped past three players.

The one-way traffic continued in the second period as a precise corner produced a free header for Armstrong, who could only nod the ball into the arms of Alnwick.

But a third goal was in the offing and it arrived from the penalty spot just before the hour.

Roarie Deacon was brought crashing down in the box and Reed kept his cool to send Alnwick the wrong way from 12 yards.

Newcastle’s attacking forays were few and far between and always found their match in Pickford, who produced an excellent save to tip away Dennis Knight’s free kick with 20 minutes to go.

Captain James Tavernier also blasted just over the top but Sunderland had more than earned their clean sheet and bagged a fourth goal for good measure two minutes from time.

Blair Adams’ cross from the left was parried by Alnwick to Mitchell, who flashed the ball back across goal for sub Mandron to tap home from close range.

Sunderland: Pickford, Marrs, Ferguson, Armstrong, Oliver, Mitchell, Lynch (Adams, 70), Reed (c) (Joyce, 70), Gorrin, Deacon, Laidler (Mandron, 67).