SUNDERLAND’S development squad are still looking for their first win of 2013 after suffering a late 2-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers Under-21s last night.
Kevin Ball once again fielded a youthful squad with only Jordan Pickford, Craig Lynch and Ryan Noble with any real experience of first-team football.
Rovers by contrast had several senior players involved including former Sunderland midfielder Dickson Etuhu, as well as ex-Newcastle striker Leon Best, Fabio Nunes and Josh Morris taking the field.
Despite that, Sunderland took an early lead in the game at the Leigh Sports Village Ground when a Jordan Laidler free-kick took a wicked deflection, giving Rovers keeper Sandomierski no chance.
And the Black Cats almost doubled it soon after when Alex Gorrin was inches wide with a first-time shot.
Mikael Mandron also had a chance for Sunderland before Rovers’ Anton Forrester latched on to a ball over the top in the 40th minute, and slid his shot under Pickford to equalise.
Sunderland were still level when Etuhu and Best were withdrawn after the hour mark, but Rovers got the match-winner in the 85th minute when Nunes crossed and Forrester headed home.
The visitors had a late chance to level, but Lynch blazed wide.
Defeat leaves Sunderland still looking for a win in the Under-21 Premier League since the campaign resumed in January after the mid-season break.
Sunderland squad: Pickford, Wilson, Marrs, Ferguson, Joyce, Smith, Laidler, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Gorrin, Mandron, Lynch, Honeyman, Noble.