Laidler and Smith secure 2-0 win for the young Black Cats.
Sunderland’s development squad closed the gap on Barclays U21 Premier League leaders Fulham to one point with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light.
Jordan Laidler and Martin Smith bagged second-half goals for Kevin Ball’s side on an evening of thorough profession and work ethic from the young Black Cats.
Sunderland, who haven’t played a competitive fixture in three weeks, were efficient off the ball and constantly probing when in possession as they extended their unbeaten run to three league games.
The young Black Cats battled hard in the early stages and, despite seeing more of the ball, struggled to break down an experienced Magpies’ backline that featured Paul Dummett, Remie Streete and Massadio Haidara.
Dummett and Newcastle midfielder Alex Gilliead both headed wide in the opening half hour with the first real chances of the game.
Ross Holland fed through Laidler for the young Black Cats’ first chance of the first-half, though the North Shields-born frontman fired wide on the angle.
Michael Richardson found rare space in between Sunderland’s central defensive pairing of Tom McNamee and Scott Harrison ten minutes before the break but he headed straight at Jordan Pickford in the Black Cats’ goal.
England U19 international stopper Pickford had to be sharp to deny Gilliead an opener early in the second-half as the Magpies’ wide man cut in from the left and fired a low shot down to the Washington-born keeper’s right.
Ball’s side continued to push for an opener, though their efforts looked to be in vein as George Honeyman fired across the six-yard box and Laidler’s faint touch steered the ball wide at the far post.
However, Laidler was presented with the opportunity to make amends when Connor Oliver was bundled over by Streete just inside the penalty area with the Sunderland striker stepping up to send Jak Alnwick in the Newcastle goal to his right but firing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Laidler could have doubled the advantage minutes later as he showed power to beat Dummett and latch onto Pickford’s long kick before firing wide from just inside the area.
Smith was denied a goal after being on the pitch for just eight minutes as he latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area and saw his curling effort excellently saved low to his left by Alnwick.
However, the Redby-born youngster, who captains Sunderland’s under-18 side, was not to be denied a dream Stadium of Light debut as he latched onto Lynden Gooch’s through ball and exquisitely poked past Alnwick.
Ball’s side return to action at Everton next Monday evening knowing a win could take them back to the top of the Barclays U21 Premier League.
Sunderland: Pickford, Cartwright (Smith, 70), Ferguson, Oliver (Beadling, 72), Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Laing, Laidler, Honeyman, Holland (Gooch, 77).