U21s impress at Leeds

by Stuart Vose

Coach praises youngsters after competitive friendly clash.

Sunderland's development squad acquitted themselves well in a 2-1 defeat to a strong Leeds side at United's Thorp Arch training ground on Tuesday afternoon.

Coach Kevin Ball and his players faced an opposing team packed with experience, with the likes of Michael Tonge, Michael Brown and Stephen Warnock all featuring.

Sunderland produced a fine first-half display before Leeds opened up a 2-0 lead with a pair of quick goals.

Mikael Mandron halved the deficit from the penalty spot but the visitors couldn't find an equaliser despite peppering the home defence.

Sunderland hit the crossbar twice and also had an effort cleared off the line, and coach Ball took plenty from the game afterwards.

“It was a really good test for the players,” he told safc.com. “Leeds included a number of senior players – they had a massive amount of experience.

“A number of them have played 20 first-team games this year so it was a great challenge for us.

“In the first half, football-wise I thought we were the much better side.

“Physicality came into it a little bit but I thought the players more than coped with that against a Leeds side who competed quite strongly at times.

“We got the ball down well, created chances and we were really pleased with the first half. The downside was we then conceded two quick goals which is something we've got to be better at.

“But I don't look at the result as much as the other sides of the game. The resilience of the players is awesome and that's something I've said before.

“They stayed strong and kept going – we changed the system slightly and battered Leeds after that.

“Mika did well with the penalty; under the youth loan with Fleetwood he can also play for us to get some game time.

“Credit to Mika because he worked very hard and it was an emphatic finish.

“Taking the result and putting it to one side, it's difficult to be disappointed with the game.”

Sunderland: Dixon, Cartwright, T Robson (Ferguson), Oliver, Harrison, McNamee (Agnew), Mitchell (Holland), Laing, Mandron, Laidler, Honeyman (Lawson).