Martin Smith

Smith penalty seals friendly win

by Ashley Houghton

Development squad chalk up victory.

Sunderland U21 1 Middlesbrough U21 0

Martin Smith scored the only goal as Kevin Ball’s development squad came through tricky conditions to beat Middlesbrough in a behind closed doors friendly at the Academy of Light.

Smith’s 38th-minute penalty was enough for a young side who found it hard to play their natural game in the swirling wind on Wearside.

The Black Cats started brightly and went close on five minutes, Adam Mitchell and Liam Marrs played a neat one-two before the latter crossed to the back post for Jordan Laidler, but he volleyed over.

Mikael Mandron then went close to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes; the Frenchman saw his header saved by the Boro goalkeeper after a good cross from David Ferguson.

Boro nearly took the lead when Sunderland keeper Joel Dixon didn’t get enough on his clearance, but the stopper recovered in time to block Matthew Dolan’s stinging strike.

Smith then scored the only goal of the game seven minutes before half-time; he weaved his way into the area before being bundled over by Christian Burgess leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.

Smith picked himself up and rolled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

Boro started the brighter in the second half and Cameron Park blazed over from six yards after Marcus Rhoden scuffed his shot.

The visitors’ best chance of an equaliser fell to Rafael Peireira, who volleyed wide after good play from Andre Bennett.

Sunderland could have doubled their advantage ten minutes from time but substitute Tom Robson’s shot was well saved by the Boro keeper after good interplay with Mikael Mandron.

Sunderland: Dixon, Marrs, Ferguson, Gorrin (Agnew, 72), Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell (Holland, 68), Laidler, Mandron, Smith, E Robson (T Robson, 70).