Report: Lads open pre-season with draw

Spennymoor Town 2-2 Sunderland AFC

Sunderland’s pre-season training friendly at Spennymoor Town resulted in a 2-2 draw at the Brewery Field on Saturday afternoon, with goals either side of half-time from Aiden O’Brien and Ellis Taylor.

Joe Tait and Jason Kennedy swung the pendulum the hosts’ way shortly after the break to cancel out O’Brien’s opener, but teenager Taylor supplied the leveller with 22 minutes remaining.

Lee Johnson’s first-team squad featured throughout the first half in County Durham, with Michael Proctor overseeing a youthful side for the second 45.

The first chance of the contest arrived just three minutes in, when Lynden Gooch’s well-crafted pass picked out Ross Stewart who squared for Will Grigg, but the striker found himself off balance as he looked to divert it towards goal.

Stewart then had the ball in the net himself following an excellent pass, but the assistant’s offside flag denied him, before O’Brien cannoned a shot back off the post midway through the half.

However, it was not to be long before the forward got his next opportunity, this time opening the scoring as Spennymoor’s trialist goalkeeper dropped an airborne cross, providing O’Brien a simple finish.

The hosts’ key opportunity to level the score came 35 minutes in, as Glen Taylor got in behind and saw his square pass crucially intercepted by Tom Flanagan, before trying a shot himself which arrowed just wide past Lee Burge’s full-stretch dive.

Grigg then provided Stewart with a headed chance eight yards out, which the striker nodded just onto the roof of the net, prior to Jack Diamond testing the Spennymoor stopper from 20 yards out, forcing him into a low diving save.

The second half saw the introduction of many of the club’s Under-23 squad, with all 11 players being rotated at the interval.

The home side also made numerous changes, and flew from the traps in the half, turning the game on its head early on. Firstly, Joe Tait sent a bullet header high into the net from a free-kick delivery, before Jason Kennedy fired home from close range as the Lads failed to clear their lines.

As the chances dried up for the Moors, the young Lads grew into the contest and earned their just rewards midway through the half, 18-year-old Taylor hammering a sweet left-footed strike home from just inside the area to level.

The best opportunity carved out following the equaliser was a chance for Spennymoor’s Taylor once more, who fired wide in the final minute whilst one-on-one with Anthony Patterson – seeing the pre-season opener play out to a 2-2 draw.

Sunderland AFC: Burge (Patterson 46), Gooch (Kachosa 46), Diamond (Dyce 46, Newall 80), Winchester (Wilding 46), Wright (Jessup 46), Flanagan (Almond 46), Neil (Sohna 46, Scott 80), Embleton (Wearne 46), Grigg (Harris 46), Stewart (Taylor 46), O’Brien (Dunne 46).

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