Under-21s denied by United

by Ashley Houghton

Development squad suffer narrow defeat in north west.

Sunderland’s development squad suffered their first defeat in six games as the young Black Cats went down 1-0 to Manchester United at Salford City’s AJ Bell Stadium.

Jesse Lingard scored the only goal of the game on a cold and windy evening in Greater Manchester.

Kevin Ball made one change from last week’s 2-0 victory at Wolves as Louis Laing replaced Liam Agnew.

Connor Oliver fired over from 25 yards inside the opening two minutes as Sunderland began with intent and a high-pitch press.

Joel Dixon then had to be sharp to deny United forward David Petrucci from six yards as the Italian forward latched onto Andreas Pereira’s cross.

Lingard saw his near post header headed off the line by John Egan before Pereira’s right-foot shot curled narrowly past Dixon’s left-hand post as the hosts continued to see more of the ball.

The young Black Cats were restricting United to efforts from range as Egan and Scott Harrison marshalled the back four well throughout the opening 45 minutes.

The hosts, however, did manage to get in front five minutes before the break as Lingard intercepted Andrew Cartwright’s pass and fired into Dixon’s left-hand corner from 25 yards.

Jordan Laidler went close to an immediate equaliser as the North Shields-based striker was denied by a good save from United stopper Joel Pereira after being played in by Louis Laing.

Egan prevented Janko from doubling the hosts’ advantage early in the second half with a fine block after the winger cut in from the left-hand side.

Petrucci then hit the post from Rothwell’s cut-back as United’s pacey front four continued to make life difficult for the Black Cats’ defence.

Dixon made a couple of good saves to keep Sunderland in the game – most notably down low to his right to deny Pereira.

Ball’s side came closest to equalising when Adam Mitchell fired a 25-yard free-kick against the bar after Lynden Gooch had been brought down by Guillermo Varela.

United hit the woodwork themselves in the closing stages as substitute James Wilson saw his deflected against the top of the bar.

Despite sending bodies forward in heavy numbers, the Black Cats couldn’t grab an equaliser and instead were denied for the first time this season.

Sunderland: Dixon, Cartwright (Smith, 53), Ferguson, Oliver, Harrison, Egan, Mitchell, Laing, Laidler, Honeyman (Lawson, 57), Holland (Gooch, 78).

Subs not used: McNamee, Burke.