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Hartlepool 1-1 Sunderland: Young Swedish starlet saves the day! Match Report & Player Ratings

Sunderland salvaged a late draw thanks to Benji Kimpioka in a pre-season game today against local non-league opposition in Hartlepool United. Here’s how it went, and how the Lads rated.

Victoria Park during the warm ups today
Roker Report

Hartlepool United 1-1 Sunderland

An incredibly late goal from Benji Kimpioka saved Sunderland’s blushes as they scraped a draw with non-league Hartlepool United today at Victoria Park.

The team that started the game was largely unchanged from the one that finished Tuesday’s defeat at Darlington - new goalie Jon McLaughlin came in for the missing Robbin Ruiter in goal, Denver Hume started in the absence of Reece James from the squad, and on the bench was Swedish striker Benji Kimpioka, who with seven goals in three games for the U23s in pre-season has caught the eye of the first-team manager as he looks to properly assess all of his players over the coming weeks.

Sunderland started as the better of the two teams, and a lovely move from Callum McManaman when he turned two Hartlepool players inside out set the tone for the game.

On twelve minutes Sunderland had their best passage of the game to that point - some good passing led to McManaman again breaking down the right, but Lynden Gooch could only head his cross wide.

Sunderland’s good start continued, and Josh Maja’s shot just went wide of the post - sparing the blushes of the Hartlepool defence.

And then - disaster. Donald Love massively underhit a back pass under pressure and put Niko Muir through on goal, and he lifted his shot over Jon McLaughlin and into the net.

Honeyman was the captain in the first half, but he struggled with the pace of the game and was off the boil
Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

From there the half went downhill. Jack Ross’ side were poor in their decision-making on the ball and Lee Cattermole struggled to get involved in the game from the middle.

There was one good bit of play right before half time when Josh Maja released McManaman again with a quick pass, but again Gooch could only head the ball off target.

The teams went in at half time with Sunderland 1-0 down, and in truth it was difficult to work out which of the two teams were the non-league outfit.

Sunderland re-emerged after the break unchanged, with a slight pep in their step as they attempted to avenge their one goal deficit.

About five minutes into the half saw a real solid opportunity for us to get back level arise - a great pass from Denver Hume put Josh Maja in on goal, but his shot was turned around by the Hartlepool ‘keeper.

Another half chance soon followed, with a speculate effort from George Honeyman curling over the bar from distance.

Sunderland kept pushing for a leveller, and a real smart move started by Dylan McGeouch almost led to a goal - but Callum McManaman’s 20-yard strike just curled around the post.

Hartlepool then made ten changes on the hour mark, adding some fresh impetus to what had been a fairly flat and boring tie.

Lee Cattermole continued to labour through the game and really struggled with the pace of it all, eventually leaving the field along with Jon McLaughlin and Josh Maja with around 25 minutes left to play.

Sunderland then made a raft of further changes and looked energised. Benji Kimpioka, Chris Maguire, Luke Molyneux and Bali Mumba all showed a bit of quality in the final stages of the game but weren’t really able to make it count.

And with practically the final move of the game, young substitute Kimpioka saved the day with a low strike from 25-yards which nestled into the Hartlepool net - saving Sunderland’s blushes after what had been a terrible display from the lads in red and white.

Player Ratings

Jon McLaughlin, 6/10: Very vocal and looked comfortable. Couldn’t have done a thing with their goal in the first half.

Denver Hume, 5/10: Looked shaky initially but grew into the game a bit as it went on.

Tom Flanagan, 5/10: Struggled to deal with their striker in the first half, slightly better in the second.

Adam Matthews, 5/10: Didn’t get forward nearly as much as he should have.

Donald Love, 1/10: Really terrible. Gifted Hartlepool the lead and just kept humping passes nowhere near their intended targets. Gets a one cos he’s not actually a central defender.

Dylan McGeouch, 6/10: Some nice long balls and was very neat in his passing, but looked frustrated at the lack of movement around him.

Lee Cattermole, 1/10: Horrific both in and out of posession, looked miles off the pace. Ironic cheers as he left the field says it all. Terrible performance.

George Honeyman, 3/10: Ran about loads and did very little.

Lynden Gooch, 4/10: Did very little and was wasteful with the contributions that he did have.

Callum McManaman, 6/10: Had the beating of his man in one on one situations but didn’t have a great deal to work with.

Josh Maja, 5/10: Showed some nice touches but ultimately not much of a goal threat.

Max Stryjek, 5/10: Didn’t have a great deal to do.

Chris Maguire, 6/10: Showed some neat touches but doesn’t suit being the lone man up top.

Ethan Robson, 6/10: Looked loads better than Cattermole did in the holding role.

Andrew Nelson, 5/10: Put himself about a bit.

Bali Mumba, 6/10: Showed quick feet and some quick thinking - looks a bright prospect.

Luke Molyneux, 6/10: Always wanted the ball and seemed keen to impress in his favoured role as a roaming attacker.

Brandon Taylor, 5/10: Didn’t have much to do other than keep Donald Love in check.

(MOTM) Benji Kimpioka, 7/10: Produced the move of the match when he rinsed the Pools defender just inside the box, and then scored a fantastic goal. Looks promising.

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