Strikes from Dire Mebude and Will Dickson saw City into an early two-goal lead, before Ben Middlemas reduced the arrears moments before the break.
Dickson hit the post soon after the restart, while Isaac Smith made a vital goal line clearance at the other end in a closely contested second 45, which saw both sides reduced to ten men following an off-the-ball scuffle just before the hour.
But while we were unable to extend our advantage, Ben Wilkinson's youngsters held firm to close out a deserved three points in our Under-18 Premier League North campaign.
City enjoyed the lion’s share of the play in the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who went closest to an early goal.
Just after ten minutes, Louis Salkeld stole in at the far post and, after plucking a looping ball out of the air, smacked an effort off the underside of the City crossbar.
The Under-18 Premier League champions responded soon after with a chance of our own when Dire Mebude beat onrushing Sunderland stopper Adam Richardson to a ball over the visiting defence.
However, the ‘keeper’s blushes were spared by his team-mate Joseph Ryder, who did just enough to prevent the winger from firing towards an empty net.
But in a mirror image of that initial chance, City took the lead on 25 minutes when Mebude raced onto an incisive pass in behind from Isaac Smith, rounded Richardson and coolly slotted home.
And the winger turned provider eight minutes before the break, latching onto Smith’s ball over the Sunderland defence before feeding Dickson for a one-on-one finish.
Ben Wilkinson’s men were seemingly in the ascendancy, but the visitors halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time when Middlemas picked up a loose ball, jinked his way through a number of challenges before firing in at Murray-Jones’ near post.
However, City rallied after that setback, and Dickson was the width of a post from poking home his second of the match after stealing in down the right flank inside three minutes of the restart.
Both sides were desperate to turn an evenly matched second half in their favour, but the game threatened to spill over when an off-the-ball scuffle saw Kane Taylor given his marching orders for City, while Sunny Singh was also shown red for his role in the altercation.
And City were thankful to Smith soon after in a breathless five-minute spell, as our centre-half cleared off the line after Middlemas had intercepted Murray-Jones’ loose ball out from the back.
Sunderland were indebted to Richardson for a string of fine saves from Barrington and substitute Daniel Ogwuru, but that did nothing to detract from a gutsy display from Wilkinson's side.
How we lined up
Matthew Wittingham sat in front, with Josh Adam and Nico O’Reilly completing the midfield three.
City XI | Murray-Jones, Samuel, Taylor, Whittingham (Breckin 56’), Smith, Susoho (C), Adam (Galvez 76’), O’Reilly, Mebude, Barrington, Dickson
Subs | Honor
Sunderland XI | Richardson, Salkeld, Bainbridge, Cain (Watson 77’), Fieldson, Williams, Dowling, Singh, Middlemas, Kelly (C), Ryder
Subs | Cameron, Bell, Waters
What it means
The victory moves City up to second in the Under-18 Premier League North table, ahead of both Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers by virtue of having a better goal difference.
Ben Wilkinson’s youngsters are six points behind Blackburn, but have two games in hand on the league leaders.
City return to Under-18 Premier League North action on Saturday. November 20 when we play host to Leeds at the CFA.
Kick-off is 12pm.
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