Ged McNamee

Young Black Cats claim point

by Neville Pilkington

Under-18s draw with Arsenal.

Sunderland U18 1 Arsenal U18 1

Sunderland's under-18's claimed a share of the spoils against Arsenal at the Academy of Light.

The youngsters turned in a good performance and only desperate defending in the second half by the Londoners prevented Sunderland from claiming a deserved first win of the season.

The inclusion of Ethan Robson stiffened the midfield and American Lynden Gooch caused big problems up front with a hard-working display and could easily have claimed a hat-trick.

Two first half set-pieces from the edge of the box taken by Ethan Robson and Martin Smith forced great saves from Arsenal keeper Josh Vickers, but the best chance of the half fell to Tom Robson who shot wide from a few yards out from Smith's accurate low pass.

But three minutes after the break the young Black Cats did take the lead with a super goal. A fast three-man move opened up the defence with Dylan McEvoy finding Gooch who laid off first time for Rees Greenwood to finish just inside the post.

Only a great save by Sunderland's keeper Max Stryjek prevented the Gunners from hitting back with a whipped in set-piece but the Gunners did level soon afterwards.

Defender Ryan Ellison's back-pass fell short and Arsenal's Kaylon Hinds ran on to smash past Stryjek.

The Wearsiders came back strongly from the set-back but just couldn't force the winner in the time remaining. Gooch, Smith and Greenwood all came close to winning the contest.

Academy manager Ged McNamee said: "I was so pleased with the lads - it was a really good response from the Newcastle game. We dominated and did enough to win but hopefully we are now on our way."

Sunderland: Stryjek, Ellison, Ledger, E Robson, Colquhoun, Beadling, Greenwood, McEvoy, Gooch, Smith, T Robson.

Subs not used: Stinson, Talbot, Blinco, J Robson.