All square at Academy

by Ashley Houghton

Under-18s' eight-goal thriller with Pools.

Sunderland’s under-18 side drew their second pre-season friendly 4-4 with Hartlepool at the Academy of Light on Friday.

Jordan Blinco, Lynden Gooch, Ethan Robson and a trialist bagged the goals for the young Black Cats as they played their second game in four days in preparation for the beginning of the Barclays U18 Premier League campaign.

Thomas Mitchinson, Callum Wood, Callum Smith and Dylan Armstrong put Pools ahead on four occasions but Sunderland showed resilience against their older opposition.

Gooch was the first to go close for the young Black Cats when he turned sharply in the area to find space before seeing his shot saved by the Hartlepool stopper.

And, despite Sunderland’s early dominance, it was Pools who took the lead from a swift counter attack which was finished off by Mitchinson.

The Black Cats levelled six minutes later as a neat pass from Martin Smith fed Blinco who drove home from the corner of the area.

Rees Greenwood then went close for the hosts before Hartlepool regained the advantage when Wood was afforded too much space to head past Maksymillian Stryjek from close range.

It took just a minute for the Black Cats to level up as Smith was again the provider with another fine pass, this time for Gooch who slotted home.

Pools regained the lead on the stroke of half-time as Smith cut inside and saw his shot deflect past the hapless Stryjek and into the net.

Early in the second-half and Sunderland were level again as Robson fed the Black Cats sole trialist who rounded the keeper before tapping home.

Hartlepool, who were on the wrong end of a 4-3 defeat to Middlesbrough earlier in the week, took the advantage for a fourth time as Armstrong headed home after a neat move from the visitors.

Sunderland’s persistence to find a late equaliser was rewarded when substitute James Stinson was brought down by the Pools keeper and Robson stepped up to smash the penalty home.

Sunderland: Stryjek (Burke, 45), Ledger (Ellison, 45), T. Robson (Casey, 45), E. Robson, Colquhoon, Sukar, Greenwood (Stinson, 45), M. Smith (Greenwood [second stint], 66), Trialist, Gooch (McEvoy, 45), Blinco (T. Robson [second stint], 66).