Laidler scores only goal in opening-day victory.
Sunderland U21 1 Bolton Wanderers U21 0
Sunderland’s development squad began their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign with a 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at the Academy of Light.
Jordan Laidler scored the only goal of the game late in the second half as the under-21 side continued their fine run of results from pre-season.
Conditions didn’t help the young Black Cats play at their fluid best but their gritty determination prevailed against a solid Wanderers outfit.
Joel Dixon was forced into a couple of early saves for Sunderland before Andre Moritz crashed a shot against the bar for the visitors.
Laidler, who operated in an attacking role after featuring in central midfield for much of last season, had the hosts’ best chance of the half when he found space on the edge of the area and curled a left-footed shot just wide.
And the North Shields based midfielder went close again on the stroke of half time as his 25-yard strike looked destined for the top corner only for Jay Lynch to tip the ball over.
Sunderland perhaps lacked a cutting edge in front of goal but they weren’t short of chances as Billy Knott and Liam Agnew linked up on the edge of the area, with the latter seeing his dinked shot saved before Laidler’s rebound was deflected wide.
Knott was again involved in some neat interplay on the edge of the Bolton area, this time with Alex Gorrin before the former Chelsea youngster shot wide.
The development squad did eventually take the lead with 16 minutes remaining as Liam Marrs broke down the right and crossed for Laidler who nipped in front of his man before finishing from close range.
The young Black Cats travel to Leicester City’s King Power Stadium next Monday looking to notch a fourth successive win, including pre-season games.
Sunderland: Dixon, Marrs, Ferguson, Cattermole (Agnew, 45), Harrison, Bardsley (McNamee, 45), Watmore, Gorrin, Laidler, Knott (Honeyman, 65), Mitchell.