Kevin Ball seems to have a midas touch at the moment after being newly installed as manager of the Development Squad at the Stadium Of Light, as he saw a stronger, but still youthful side take on non-league side Spennymoor United last night.
Spenny lined up two former Sunderland academy products of their own in the form of Keith Graydon and Lewis Dodds, as the team in black and white seemed stronger from the off, and dominated for large spells - still, it was a good test of the kids' defensive mettle.
Jordan Pickford furthered his claims to be the first team's third choice stopper next season with a string of great saves in the first half. A close range volley was dealt with in stunning fashion and the England U18 international did well do turn a vicious strike from Anthony Peacock round the post as the home side knocked on the door.
Sunderland also fielded a trialist in their ranks, Amadou Diallo. Once of Monaco, and chased by Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle previously, and he did ok as he looked to impress. Often too much as in the first half he blazed a shot wide with much better options available to him.
Both teams enjoyed further chances. Glen Taylor was denied by Pickford while Adam Mitchell for Sunderland warmed the hands of the home side's keeper. Still, at the break things remained 0-0.
In the second half it was a string of substitutions which dragged the visitors back into things. If it was a boxing match, Sunderland certainly lost the first half on points - Roarie Deacon, Mickael Mandron, Wade Joyce and others were brought into freshen things up.
Lewis Dodds, Glen Taylor and Mark Davidson all should have had Spenny out of sight in the game as chances were squandered by the hosts, so it was a surprise when Sunderland nicked things at the death.
While Spenny may have had the experience, they lacked fitness, and with seven new teenagers on the pitch int he second half, they just couldn't keep up, which was what allowed young Spaniard Alex Gorrin to score a late winner.
Gorrin collected the ball on the edge of the area and waited for a chance to present itself. Disguising a shot as a pass, the ball rolled in to the far corner leaving the home side scratching their heads as to how they didn't win this one.
Manager Kevin Ball told the Shields Gazette after the game;
They all showed a great attitude. In the second half, we brought on a lot of substitutes and some young lads, which made it even more testing for us.
But we hung on and showed the right sort of commitment and spirit, and we got our reward at the death with a well-taken goal.
The kids next travel to Gateshead on August 3rd.