Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland AFC
Sunderland fell to a narrow defeat to Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Monday evening.
After losing Ross Stewart to injury during the warm-up, the Lads created the first chance on Teesside when Alex Pritchard fired over the top.
Boro stepped things up as the first half progressed and Chris Wilder’s side opened the scoring with 25 minutes on the clock, as Riley McGree slotted home.
Elliot Embleton and Amad came off the bench with 67 minutes played, but the next opportunity fell to former Black Cat Duncan Watmore.
Tony Mowbray’s side were dealt a further blow when Dennis Cirkin limped off ahead of the final 15 minutes, as it ended 1-0 to the Teessiders.
Sunderland suffered a huge setback ahead of kick-off on Teesside, as leading scorer Stewart picked up an injury in the warm-up and had to be removed from the starting XI.
Patrick Roberts replaced the Scotland international and his persistence crafted the Lads’ first opportunity, with Pritchard firing over the top after the winger seized possession in the final third.
Boro’s first real chance arrived on 22 minutes, but Anthony Patterson read the danger at his near post to deny Jonny Howson and McGree smashed the rebound over the top.
The midfielder made no mistake three minutes later, taking the ball in his stride before sliding a composed finish under Patterson and into the net.
The Lads had penalty appeals waved away before the break when Howson clipped Roberts, but replays showed the foul took place outside the box.
Ellis Simms threatened to fly through on goal following the restart, but Dael Fry managed to recover and thwart the frontman.
Patterson was forced into a flying save to deny Rodrigo Muniz with 63 minutes on the clock, as the striker’s free header was pushed to safety by the academy graduate.
Mowbray made a double change with 67 minutes played, as Embleton and Amad took to the field and the Lads continued their search for an equaliser.
Watmore, who spent seven years on Wearside, also came off the bench and he was immediately denied by Patterson, with the Black Cats dealt a further blow when Dennis Cirkin limped off.
Mowbray’s side continued to battle until the final seconds, but Boro held on to claim three points.
Middlesbrough: Roberts, Fry, Clarke, McNair (Dijksteel 51), Jones, Mowatt, Howson, Crooks, Giles, McGree (Watmore 68), Muniz.
Subs not used: Daniels, Hoppe, Smith, Forss, Bola.
Sunderland AFC: Patterson, O'Nien, Batth, Cirkin (Dajaku 75), Gooch (Wright 75), Evans, Neil, Clarke, Pritchard (Embleton 67), Simms, Roberts (Amad 67).
Subs not used: Bass, Matete, Alese.