Sunderland U18s 3-3 Brighton & Hove Albion U18s
A 3-3 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Academy of Light on Saturday saw Sunderland exit the U18 Premier League Cup.
The Black Cats took a 16th minute lead through Ryan Gooch’s long-distance strike, before Cole Kiernan’s double made it three before the break.
The tide turned in the second period as the Seagulls netted three to draw level via Jack Spong and Lorent Tolaj’s brace, ensuring the Black Cats finished third in Group C.
The hosts had to weather the storm in a blustery opening 10 minutes as Brighton started on the front foot - Tolaj forcing Adam Cameron into a one-on-one save after five minutes.
The Lads slowly gained the upper hand however and took the lead in some style as Gooch shifted the ball into a yard of space before firing low into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards.
The Black Cats controlled proceedings after going ahead and limited Brighton’s attacking threat, remaining potent at the other end as Kiernan doubled the advantage on the half-hour mark.
The striker had Ryan Leonard to thank for putting the ball on a plate for him from the right-wing, before he slotted home from close range.
Not content with a two-goal lead, Kiernan added a sumptuous third three minutes later as he curled into the far corner from 25 yards following slick build-up play from Logan Pye and Sean Kennedy
The Seagulls were undeterred however and were left cursing Cameron, who made a fine save from Stefan Vukoje moments before Tolaj went clean through and fired wide.
Sunderland found themselves under immediate pressure in the second 45, and seven minutes into the half Brighton found a way back into the game as Spong rolled into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area.
The visitors capitalised on their spell of ascendancy again on the hour mark to halve the deficit when Tolaj rose to head Leonard’s cross home from close range.
Brighton completed their turnaround in controversial circumstances shortly after their second, when Tolaj again converted Leonard’s right-sided cross- despite claims the ball had gone out of play moments earlier.
Cameron then denied Tolaj a hat-trick as both sides searched for a winner, while at the other end substitute Lilyan Compper curled over from 20 yards.
Despite their efforts, neither side were able to find a fourth goal and both exited the competition with the Black Cats finishing third behind Derby County and Aston Villa.
Sunderland U18: Cameron; Smith (Compper, 80’), Pye, Edmundsson, Derbali, Ord, Gooch (Miller, 28’), Scothern, Kiernan (Bell, 52’), Leonard, Kennedy.
Subs: Basey, Foster.
Brighton U18: Rushworth; Packham (Roberts, 72’), Tutt, Weaire, Lopata, Clark-Eden, Vukoje, Shihab (Cashman, 72’), Tolaj, Spong, Leonard.
Subs: Rees, Tanimowo.