Hartlepool United 1 Sunderland 2: Jeremain Lens free-kick wins it late on for Black Cats

Josh Maja puts Sunderland in front from the penalty spot. Picture by Frank Reid.
Josh Maja puts Sunderland in front from the penalty spot. Picture by Frank Reid.

Jeremain Lens' 90th minute free-kick sealed a 2-1 friendly win for Sunderland over North East neighbours Hartlepool United at Victoria Park.

Sunderland had taken the lead in the first half through a Josh Maja penalty before the hosts equalised through new signing Ryan Donaldson midway through the second half.

The Black Cats sealed victory late on thanks to Lens' set piece, which curled into the top left hand corner of the net from 25-yards out to seal the win against National League side Pools.

There was no Vito Mannone in the Sunderland squad with the Italian stopper on the verge of a £2million move to Championship rivals Reading.

Instead, Simon Grayson handed the gloves to Max Stryjek, with Mika on the subs bench.

Sunderland lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with James Vaughan and Josh Maja supported by George Honeyman wide left and Joel Asoro wide right.

Both sets of supporters stood for an emotional minute's applause for Blackhall youngster Bradley Lowery priod to kick-off with supporter's chanting 'There's only one Bradley Lowery'.

There was little to cheer when it came to the game itself with clear cut chances few and far between in the opening 25 minutes.

The clearest chance fell to Lewis Hawkins, who was played in by Michael Woods after Rhys Oates had dispossessed Billy Jones in the 20th minute.

Hawkins rounded Stryjek but his shot was poor, the ball rebounding off the post via the boot of Lamine Kone.

It was competitive and Sunderland almost took the lead 27 minutes in, Asoro's quick feet setting up Honeyman but his effort from six-yards was blocked by the Pools defence.

New signing Tyias Browning, who partnered Kone at centre-back, bombed forward before picking out Vaughan with a pinpoint cross.

Vaughan steadied himself before blazing his overhead kick high over the Town End stand.

It wasn't long before Grayson's men did take the lead, Asoro broke into the penalty area before being cut down by former Sunderland defender Louis Laing.

Maja stepped up and fired his effort high into the top right hand corner of the net in the 37th minute, giving Loach no chance in the Pools goal.

Sunderland almost doubled the lead just before the break, Maja seeing his free-kick from 25-yards pushed round the post by Loach in the Pools goal.

Half-time Pools 0 Sunderland 1

There was very little of note in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, with Grayson making a triple substitution in the 59th minute.

John O'Shea, Donald Love and Jeremain Lens all on for the Black Cats. Within two minutes of the subs, Pools almost took the lead.

Padraig Amond forcing a low save from Stryjek in the Sunderland goal. The hosts didn't have to wait long to equalise.

Former Newcastle United trainee Ryan Donaldson broke free inside the area and poked the ball home past Stryjek in goal in the 63rd minute, a tidy finish from the attacking midfielder.

Grayson made another triple sub with 20 minutes remaining with Didier Ndong, Wahbi Khazri and Papy Djilobodji getting further minutes under their belts.

Lens saw an effort deflected wide for a corner, from which Darron Gibson blasted a shot high over the crossbar.

The second half fizzled out with neither side able to build any kind of momentum in the final stages of the game until the closing minutes of the match.

Scott Harrison brought down Maja in full flow with referee Geoff Eltringham awarding the free-kick 25-yards from goal.

Up stepped sub Lens to curl home the winner in the 90th minute.

Maja was the standout performer for Sunderland, doing his chances of further first team football this season no harm at all.

Sunderland head to Bradford on Saturday as the pre-season preparations continue.

Full-time: Pools 1 Sunderland 2

Pools: Loach, Magnay (C), Laing, Harrison, Adams, Newton (Donnelly, 70, (Richardson 79)), Hawkins, Woods, Donaldson, Oates (Munns, 21), Amond.

Subs Not Used: Catterick, Travers, Risborough, Mondal.

Goals: Donaldson (63)

Sunderland: Stryjek, Jones (Love, 59), Matthews (Khazri, 70), Browning (O'Shea, 59), Kone, Cattermole, Asoro (Lens, 59), Gibson, Honeyman (Ndong, 70), Vaughan (Djilobodji, 70), Maja.

Subs Not Used: Mika.

Goals: Maja (37, pen), Lens (90)

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

Attendance: 4,728 (2,579 Sunderland fans)