By Andrew McDonnell (@AndrewSJourno)
Liam Henderson scored on his return to the side, but it wasn’t enough as a Sunderland XI edged past Morpeth Town 2-1 at Craik Park.
Andrew Nelson capitalised on a long clearance from ‘keeper James Talbot and lofted the ball over Karl Dryden to open the scoring on 12 minutes.
Wayne Phillips headed off the post before Henderson brought the hosts back into the game with a composed finish on the stroke of half-time.
Nelson got his second of the game three minutes after the restart, with the forward producing a brilliant finish to restore the Young Black Cats’ lead.
Morpeth now turn their attention to the second home pre-season game, as Spennymoor Town come to Craik Park on Tuesday evening.
A minutes applause was held before the game by all players, staff, officials and supporters in attendance for Bradley Lowery.
The hosts had the first chance in the game, Danny Carson helped the ball back inside to Keith Graydon, who then tested Talbot from range.
From there, the young ‘keeper cleared the ball up the field and after the ball bounced just outside the Morpeth penalty area, Nelson lifted the ball over the approaching Dryden and into the net.
Morpeth responded well after the goal and were close to equalising on 19 minutes, Carson’s shot was initially blocked by Denver Hume before the full-back struck wide.
Just after the half-hour mark, Chris Reid’s delightful ball over the top was helped on first time by Carson to Henderson, who struck across goal and wide of the post from a tight angle.
The hosts hit the woodwork six minutes before half-time, with Wayne Phillips’ diving header striking the foot of the post to Talbot’s relief.
An eventful half was rounded off by the hosts getting a deserved equaliser just on the stroke of half-time.
Ben Sayer’s ball over the back wasn’t dealt with and Henderson latched onto the defenders mistake and slotted the ball past the ‘keeper.
The Young Black Cats started the second half brightly and managed to get themselves back ahead in the game just three minutes after the restart.
Brandon Taylor gathered the ball out wide and played the ball into the area Nelson peeled away from his marker and volleyed into the roof of the net for his second of the game.
Sayer’s low cross was spilled by substitute Michael Woud three minutes later, but before Henderson could capitalise on the rebound, the ‘keeper gathered the ball.
Daniel Wright had a chance to double Sunderland’s advantage on 70 minutes, but manager to scoop Ben Kimpioka’s cross over the bar from a few yards out.
Kimpioka was involved in a break forward once more, he threaded the ball across to Oscar Krusnell, who cut back onto his left foot and curled just over the bar.
One last chance fell Morpeth’s way at the end, with Richard Pell heading wide in additional time, but the Young Black cats held on for their first victory in pre-season.
It was a great evening for the club, and Morpeth play host to Spennymoor on Tuesday night before travelling to Blyth AFC on Thursday night.
Morpeth Town: Dryden, Carson (Forster, 68), Turner, Coppen (Hiftle, 81), Reid (Pell, 81), Fry, Walton, Graydon, Henderson (Johnson, 81), Sayer, Phillips (Woodhead, 81)
Sunderland XI: Talbot (Woud, 46), J.Robson, Hume, Wright, Taylor, Storey (Bale, 46), Diamond (Kimpioka, 56), A.Trialist, Nelson (Hackett, 80), Allan, T.Robson (Krusnell, 68)
Subs Not Used: Yves Poame, Brotherton
Goals: 0-1, 12 min, Nelson; 1-1, 45 min, Henderson; 1-2, 48 min, Nelson
Referee: Peter Osgood
Assistants: Peter Hollerbum and Michael Green