U21 side hit five at Arsenal

by Ashley Houghton

Mandron nets treble in superb away victory.

Arsenal U21 1 Sunderland U21 5

Mikael Mandron scored a hat-trick on his return to Sunderland’s development squad as the young Black Cats hammered Arsenal 5-1 at Boreham Wood.

Sunderland were outstanding from start to finish and goals either side of half time from Duncan Watmore and Craig Lynch added gloss to a scoreline that merited the performance.

Jon Toral replied for the hosts in the second half but Sunderland’s possession football from defence to attack was evident throughout.

Mandron will take the plaudits, and rightly so, but the Black Cats’ team effort was near perfect.

Coach Kevin Ball made six changes to the side that lost at Burnley the previous week with Watmore, Mandron, Liam Agnew, Tom McNamee, George Honeyman and Jordan Laidler all returning.

The young Black Cats showed class from the off in their patient build-up and possession football with Agnew, Lynch and Laidler at the heart of Sunderland’s creative midfield.

It wasn’t until the tenth minute that the visitors had an effort on goal as Mandron latched onto Lynch’s through ball and slid just wide from the corner of the box.

The away side continued to keep the ball and dominate possession with McNamee, Louis Laing and John Egan all supplying assured defensive displays whilst also seeing their fair share of the ball.

Sunderland were ahead just after the half-hour as Watmore cut in from the right and played a neat one-two with Honeyman before finishing coolly past Arsenal keeper Viviano.

The Gunners almost replied immediately as Thomas Eisfeld found some rare space behind the Black Cats’ defence and rounded Joel Dixon before clipping the outside of the post from a narrow angle.

Watmore volleyed over from 25 yards before the lead was doubled on the stroke of half time.

The former Altrincham man weaved into the area and forced a fine save from Viviano before the Italian was quick to deny Lynch on the follow-up, however Mandron was on hand to nod home the second rebound from inside the six-yard box.

Sunderland made it 3-0 after just five second-half minutes as Agnew found Watmore with a fine pass before the winger managed to find Mandron, who slotted home his sixth goal in six games with a fine finish.

Arsenal got one back just after the hour as Toral drove home from the corner of the box following some sustained pressure from the hosts.

The Gunners went close to a second minutes later as Tafari Moore pulled back for Chuba Akpom only for the striker to scuff wide from 10 yards.

Lynch nearly added a fourth for Sunderland with a 25-yard drive but Viviano was on hand to palm the midfielder’s stinging shot away.

Agnew, who orchestrated proceedings from midfield, found Watmore with a lobbed pass on the half-volley but the young winger steered over after cutting onto his left foot.

The same pair combined minutes later with Agnew feeding Watmore on the counter but the summer signing couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to beat Viviano.

Lynch made it 4-1 with a fine effort 15 minutes from time as he curled into Viviano’s bottom left hand corner from the edge of the area.

Substitute Adam Mitchell nearly made it 5-1 in the 82nd minute as Laidler fed through the County Durham-born youngster who did well to bring down the pass before forcing a fine save from Viviano.

Akpom drove a late shot over after good play from Toral but it was the Black Cats who would finish the match in style as Mandron sealed his hat-trick with a glancing finish from Mitchell's cross.

Sunderland: Dixon, Laing, Ferguson, Laidler, McNamee, Egan, Watmore (Cartwright, 89), Agnew, Mandron (Lawson, 89), Lynch, Honeyman (Mitchell, 75)

Subs not used: Stryjek, Moberg Karlsson.