Craig Liddle

Coach 'immensely proud' of youngsters

by Ashley Houghton

Liddle delighted with effort.

Academy coach Craig Liddle says he is ‘immensely proud’ of the young Black Cats after they narrowly lost in the semi-finals of the Barclays under-18 Premier League at Fulham on Wednesday evening.

The young Black Cats lost 4-3 in the capital, though Liddle says he is delighted with the side's efforts this campaign which has seen them get to the final four of the competition.

“From my perspective I’m immensely proud of the boys’ performance, especially in the second half,” Liddle said.

“We went 4-0 down and the way the lads come back was nothing short of fantastic which I think is a credit to them and credit to the way they’ve performed, especially during the second half of the season.”

George Honeyman, Victor Zapata-Caicedo and Carl Lawson scored for Sunderland as they fought back from four goals down to give the Cottagers a scary period of stoppage time.

And they could have taken it to extra-time had Zapata-Caicedo not had an effort controversially ruled out for offside.

“They were hanging on a bit at the end, they looked out of sight but we come back and had a go,” Liddle added.

“It was a credit to the lads – not only to their work rate but also to their ability as well.

“It’s a dubious decision, the linesman had a difficult decision to make in that he needs to decide who is interfering with play but obviously he’s deemed that is the case.

“We felt that had he give the goal and had it gone on to extra-time - there was only one winner."

Sunderland won Group One of the Barclays Premier League before winning a play-off match against Aston Villa to progress to the semi-finals.

And Liddle has been delighted with the way the young Black Cats have reacted since the turn of the year.

“Second-half of the season we couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys,” Liddle said.

“We’ve performed to a very good standard and the thing that has pleased me is the attitude and the application on a day-to-day basis."