Sunderland U23s recorded their first Checkatrade Trophy win with a 1-0 victory over Hartlepool at Victoria Park.
Donald Love secured the win with a side-footed finish just after the hour mark to secure the three points for the visitors in an encouraging display. The young Black Cats handed a club debut to summer signing Mika as well as giving starts to first team contenders Donald Love and Billy Jones.
The first 45 minutes were fairly open with Sunderland enjoying the better chances. Early on, Pools ‘keeper Adam Bartlett was called into action as he dealt with strikes from Josh Maja and Tom Beadling.
In the Sunderland goal, Mika wasn’t tested until the 39th minute when a long range effort was gathered comfortably by the Portuguese stopper.
On the stroke of half time Josh Maja had the ball in the net after converting a George Honeyman cross, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Early in the second half Maja was again unlucky to see his effort ruled out for offside after an excellent bit of build-up play by the youngsters, resulting in Tommy Robson’s drilled cross being turned home.
On 58 minutes, Hartlepool missed a glorious opportunity to go infront after an inviting ball across the face of goal was headed over by Heardman.
Just moments after seeing a penalty appeal turned down the visitors were in front, Josh Maja showed excellent hold up play and laid the ball off to Donald Love before the former United man coolly converted.
In the 79th minute Sunderland should really have put the game to bed as Maja finally beat the offside trap to get on the end of an excellent through ball only to fire straight at Bartlett from point blank range.
Hartlepool pressed for the equalizer late on but the lads saw out the game with little difficulty.
Mika Domingues - 6
Had a very comfortable debut but dealt with what he had to very efficiently and his distribution was sound throughout.
Billy Jones - 6
Was steady on his return from injury but evidently lacked match sharpness as his first touch and passing let him down on occasions.
George Brady - 7
Gave a dominant display at the back winning a lot of tackles and coping well in the air.
Michael Ledger - 7
Much like Brady, he coped well. Solid showing.
Ethan Robson - 7
Screened the back four well throughout the game and broke up play.
Tom Beadling - 6
Not quite as convincing as Robson but didn’t do a lot wrong.
Rees Greenwood - 7
Caused Hartlepool problems all night with his pace and direct running, as well as putting some dangerous balls into the box. Was occasionally frustrated in the final third, but a very good performance overall.
Donald Love - 7
A decent display in a more unfamiliar midfield position, started Sunderland attacks and broke up potential Hartlepool counters high up the pitch. Hopefully the goal will give him some much needed confidence going forward.
George Honeyman - 8
Was excellent throughout, showed great endeavour to win the ball back on occasions and caused Hartlepool problems from the left.
Josh Maja - 7
Missed a relatively straightforward chance late on, but showed great work rate throughout, as well as holding the ball up and bringing other people into play. Was unlucky not to get his name on the score sheet.
Tommy Robson - 7
Dealt with the Hartlepool wide players well and got forward alot. Provided the cross for Maja's second offside goal.
Carl Lawson - 6
Looked bright going forward.
Luke Molyneux - 6
Little time to make an impact but did nothing wrong.