Practice makes perfect

by Stuart Vose

Academy boss McNamee reviews win at Ipswich.

Sunderland’s under-18’s saw their penalty practice pay off with a shoot-out win over Ipswich Town in the FA Youth Cup.

Ninety minutes plus extra time couldn’t seperate the young Black Cats and their opponents with the game at Portman Road locked at 1-1.

But Sunderland booked their spot in the fourth round of the competition with a 4-2 win in the ensuing penalty shoot-out.

The game wasn’t pretty at times but the players dug in

- McNamee on cup win

The youngsters had been practicing spot-kicks in training and their work paid off with a 100% success rate from the spot as Martin Smith, Ethan Robson, Rees Greenwood and Tom Robson all found the back of the net.

Speaking to after the game, Academy manager Ged McNamee said: “I thought the lads did really well in the shoot-out and the penalties were very good.

“To be fair we had practiced them for most of the week and the players were very confident. There was no-one who didn’t really fancy taking one.

“It was nice to go through but overall I was a little disappointed.

“One or two of the players found the occasion a bit too much. I spoke to the players afterwards and told them that we got out of jail to a degree.”

Ipswich opened the scoring late in the first half but were pegged back soon after the restart thanks to Lynden Gooch’s seventh goal of the season.

The American beat three players during a mazy run before firing a precise shot low into the corner of the net from the edge of the box.

Goalkeeper Max Stryjek also earned praise from McNamee for his performance during what the Academy boss felt was a hard-working display.

“Lynden’s been doing that all season,” he added. “He’s been scoring regularly and pulled out another good goal to get us back in the game.

“I thought Max did well – Ipswich put a lot of balls into the box and he dealt with it well.

“The team overall stuck together and worked their socks off. We’re probably a little disappointed with the quality, but credit to them because they rolled their sleeves up and kept going.”

He added: “I’ve been in situations where we’ve played really well, should have won and ended up losing on penalties. I can understand how Ipswich are feeling.

“This game is part of a learning process. We need to start well and not play the occasion.

“I know we can play better and the players know that, but we saw another side of them tonight. The game wasn’t pretty at times but they dug in.”