U18s round off season with draw

by Neville Pilkington

Smith levels as young Black Cats take point.

Reading U18 1 Sunderland U18 1

Sunderland completed their league programme for this season with a well merited draw at Reading.

The Royals progressed to the semi-finals of this year's FA Youth Cup before losing to Fulham and proved difficult opponents, but the Wearsiders matched them to share the spoils.

In the first half, the young Black Cats came under a lot of pressure but Reading didn't create a lot and the away side counter-attacked well.  However, chances were at a premium at both ends.

The game opened up in the second period and Reading took the lead on 65 minutes, when they scored following a long diagonal pass over the top which was banged in by the overlapping full-back.

But Sunderland stuck at it, passing well, to level nine minutes later.

The goal came from captain Martin Smith, his 12th of the season.  A free kick was awarded on the edge of he box and Smith stepped up to bend the ball low round the wall into the bottom corner.

Ross Greenwood could have nicked it for Sunderland later but his goal-bound effort was well blocked.

It was nip and tuck for the rest of the game but the Wearsiders battled on for a well-earned point.

Academy manager Ged McNamee said: "Overall it was a great point against a good side away from home.  We have had a fairly successful season with lots of debuts from the U16s and have recovered well after a poor start."

Sunderland:  Talbot, Ledger, Colquhoun, Sukar, J Robson, McCarthy (Ellison, 77), E Robson, Smith, Greenwood, Blinco, Gooch (McEvoy, 60).