Match report: Robson and O'Nien on target

South Shields 0-2 Sunderland

Sunderland started their 2019-20 preparations with a victory on Thursday evening, as South Shields were beaten at Mariners Park.

Ethan Robson’s well-taken finish ensured the Lads got off to the perfect start, as the first batch of Black Cats banked valuable minutes.

10 changes arrived at the interval, but the flow of the game continued and an opportunistic Luke O’Nien added a second soon after.

Duncan Watmore and Grant Leadbitter were both denied by the woodwork, as the Lads remained on top until the final whistle.

Jack Ross’ first starting XI of pre-season was a strong one, with new signings Lee Burge and Conor McLaughlin featuring alongside the likes of Dylan McGeouch, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Charlie Wyke.

And a batch of youngsters were also handed the chance to impress, as Jake Hackett, Jack Bainbridge and Benji Kimpioka lined up against the Mariners.

Sunderland crafted the first opening with less than two minutes on the clock, as McLaughlin fed Honeyman and the skipper’s ball flashed across the six-yard box.

Robson fired a free-kick over with ten minutes played, but two minutes later he stayed on target to cushion a pinpoint finish into the net from 12 yards.

After playing his part in the opener, similarly menacing play from Kimpioka quickly followed, as the Swede weaved one way and then the other before forcing a save Liam Connel, who also kept out Wyke’s follow-up.    

Shields best opening of the first half-hour arrived on 28 minutes, but Burge was on hand to claw the initial header to safety before Dillon Morse steered the rebound off target.

The Mariners went close again three minutes later, but Burge once again stood up to the task to tame David Foley’s thumping effort.

Sunderland made ten changes at the break, and they burst out of the traps.

Elliot Embleton should have added a second within moments of the restart, but the midfielder dragged an effort wide after the ball broke kindly in the box.

And Will Grigg was inches away from flicking O’Nien’s first-time cross the right side of the post seconds later.

With 53 minutes played, a second goal did arrive for the red and whites, as O’Nien toe-poked the ball home from close range.

Watmore provided the assist for the second and he saw an effort pushed onto the crossbar before the hour mark, and the frame of the goal was left shuddering again when Leadbitter’s long-range effort thudded against the woodwork.

All in all, a satisfying start to pre-season for the Lads.

Sunderland first-half: Burge, McLaughlin, Hackett, Loovens, Bainbridge, Robson, Kimpioka, McGeouch, Honeyman, Gooch, Wyke.

Sunderland second-half: Patterson, Flanagan, Baldwin, Bainbridge (Hunter 63), O’Nien, Hume, Leadbitter, Embleton, Maguire, Watmore, Grigg.

Subs not used: Sammut, Diamond, Abdelkader.

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