Kevin Ball and Robbie Stockdale

Development squad in derby win

by Ashley Houghton

Youngsters go top after 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough.

Sunderland U21 3 Middlesbrough U21 2

Liam Agnew scored twice for Sunderland’s development squad as the young Black Cats returned to the top of the Barclays U21 Premier League with a 3-2 win over Middlesbrough at Eppleton CW.

Luke Williams had given Boro an early lead before Mikael Mandron levelled from the spot for the hosts.

Agnew’s spectacular 25-yard drive gave the home side the lead before Williams’ second, on the stroke of half time, levelled the scores.

Former Sunderland youngster Jonathan Burn was dismissed for the visitors for a late tackle on Mandron before Agnew struck the winner 15 minutes from time.

Kevin Ball made two changes to the side that lost at Liverpool last Monday with Agnew and Adam Mitchell replacing Cabral and David Moberg Karlsson.

Boro took the lead after just three minutes as Williams found space 25 yards from goal and drove the ball beyond Joel Dixon.

George Honeyman went close to levelling for the hosts but he fired Mitchell’s cut-back straight at Jayson Leutwiler in the Boro goal.

Mandron was the next Sunderland player to go close but he couldn’t get enough power behind Duncan Watmore’s cross to test Leutwiler.

Boro had a goal disallowed after 20 minutes as Andy Haliday fed Jordan Jones, with the latter offside when the ball was played.

Scott Harrison then headed David Ferguson’s free-kick straight at Leutwiler after Mitchell was brought down by former Black Cat Burn.

Sunderland’s best chance of the first half fell to Watmore, who found space in behind after good interplay with Honeyman, but the former Altrincham man saw his snapshot saved by Leutwiler.

Mandron levelled for Sunderland from the spot eight minutes before the break as Adam Jackson handled Mitchell’s cross.

Williams almost replied immediately for the visitors but he lost his balance and couldn’t get his shot on target from just inside the box.

Burn was sent off for Boro just before half time for a late tackle on Mandron on the edge of the area.

Agnew scored a superb goal on the stroke of half time to give the home side the advantage; the central midfielder driving a stunning strike into Leutwiler’s top corner from 25 yards.

The visitors levelled in the final minute of the half as Liam Marrs was penalised for handball and Williams stepped up to bag his second of the game.

However, Agnew grabbed his second of the evening 15 minutes from time as he followed up a goalmouth scramble to neatly volley home from the edge of the area with his left foot.

Fewster headed Andre Bennett’s cross wide as Boro searched for a reply before Mitchell nearly added a fourth for the hosts with a 20-yard drive which Leutwiler saved impressively.

Substitute Carl Lawson was denied his first goal of the season by another fine Leutwiler save as the young Black Cats exerted their dominance in the final stages.

Good play by Mandron opened up the chance for Watmore to add a fourth in the final few minutes but the winger stabbed a left-footed shot wide.

Mandron himself showed pace and power to beat Kieran Weledji to a through ball but the 18-year-old striker was denied by Leutwiler’s smart low save.

Sunderland: Dixon, Marrs, Ferguson, Agnew (Cartwright, 90), Harrison, McNamee, Watmore, Gorrin, Mandron, Honeyman (Lawson, 68), Mitchell (Holland, 90)

Subs not used: Egan, Burke.