Carlisle United 0 Sunderland 1

by Oscar Chamberlain

Mandron scores only goal in friendly win.

Sunderland continued their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 win over Carlisle United at Brunton Park.

Alfred N’Diaye, Connor Wickham and Billy Jones all went close as Gus Poyet selected a strong starting XI, but it was an injection of youth midway through the second half that provided the difference.

Mikael Mandron got the only goal of the game with 71 minutes played, powering the ball into the corner after playing a neat one-two with fellow Academy starlet George Honeyman, to secure a second consecutive pre-season win for the Black Cats.

An experienced starting line-up was named prior to kick-off, with the head coach calling upon the likes of Vito Mannone, Wes Brown, Emanuele Giaccherini and Wickham as the Black Cats stepped up their pre-season preparations. 

Sunderland made a bright start to the match and they tested the hosts early on through N’Diaye, who shot straight at Mark Gillespie after positive work down the right from David Moberg Karlsson.

With six minutes played the Blues mustered their first opportunity of the match when David Amoo broke down the wing, but the former Liverpool man overran the ball and was unable to test Mannone.

Amoo continued to threaten and one minute later he did test the shot-stopper, ghosting past Charis Mavrias and Modibo Diakite before smashing the ball towards the near post where Mannone made the save.

The Italian goalkeeper was named as the club’s 2013-14 Player of the Year and with 12 minutes played he showed his credentials once more, leaping to his left to turn Billy Paynter’s diving header around the post.

As the half wore on the Black Cats began to find their rhythm and they almost took the lead when N’Diaye’s 25-yard strike deflected inches over the crossbar.

Brown almost scored from the resulting corner, bundling the ball towards the line where a combination of Troy Archibald-Henville and Danny Grainger somehow managed to clear.

Wickham was next test the Blues’ backline but his first touch betrayed him and he was quickly closed down by Gillespie.

Defender Tom McNamee replaced the injured Modibo Diakite just before the half-hour and the youngster was immediately called into action, touching the ball beyond the reach of Paynter who would have had the goal at his mercy. 

Jordi Gomez notched his first Sunderland goal on Saturday in the 5-1 win over Darlington, and with 42 minutes played fellow new boy Billy Jones almost opened his account.

The former West Bromwich Albion defender twisted and turned past two defenders before slotting the ball between the legs of Gillespie, only to see his fine work undone by Grainger who swiped the ball off the line.

The final opportunity of the half fell to the home side and Amoo once again played a role, turning quickly in the box before having a shot blocked en route to goal.

Anthony Sweeney subsequently smashed the ball into the net but the flag was raised well in advance, meaning it ended 0-0 at the break.

The second half began as it ended with Carlisle on the front foot, but Mannone again thwarted their attempts to take the lead with a fine save down to his right.

With 60 minutes played the head coach made a host of changes, providing members of the first team with a deserved break and Academy youngsters with an opportunity to shine.

Eleven minutes later their quality shone through as Honeyman and Mandron combined well on the edge of the box, Honeyman creating space for his colleague to smash the ball low into the corner.

Carlisle responded well but the youngsters demonstrated maturity and composure to ensure the Black Cats’ one hundred per cent pre-season record remained intact.

Sunderland 1'-60': Mannone, Jones, Diakite (McNamee, 28), Brown, N’Diaye, Cabral, Gomez, Mavrias, Moberg Karlsson (Gooch, 53), Giaccherini, Wickham.

Sunderland 61'-90': Dixon, Cartwright, Beadling, McNamee, Robson, Agnew, Smith, Honeyman, Lawson, Gooch, Mandron.

Carlisle United: Gillespie, Symington, Grainger (Meppen-Walter, 66), Potts, O’Hanlon, Archibald-Henville (Thirlwell, 66), Amoo (Dempsey, 81), Sweeney, Paynter, Kearns (Gillies, 66), Brough.

Subs:, Rigg, Hanford.