Sunderland moved into the fourth play off position with a well-deserved victory over rivals Newcastle at the Academy on Tuesday afternoon.
The young Black Cats were sitting a point behind Blackburn going into this game, and with Rovers going down 3-2 at Everton this victory all but seals their qualification for the play-offs.
Newcastle kicked off the game with the wind behind their back the superior hosts were well in control from the start playing good, low short balls to each other and were almost rewarded in the sixth minute when Alex Storey was played through in the area, but his effort hit the side netting.
The host continued to pressure Newcastle, and were unlucky not to open the scoring on 19 minutes when a fierce strike by Dan Wright could only be parried by keeper Smith, but Josh Maja’s follow-up flew over the bar.
The visitors had a few chances, but Sunderland continued to press forward but the resolute keeper Smith held Sunderland at bay.
Following the break, Sunderland’s power and dominance showed through and only the heroics of keeper Smith kept the visitors in the game.
The hosts could have opened the scoring early on in the second half when a fluent passing move gave Dan Pybus on opportunity to strike from the edge of the area, but fortunately for the Magpies the ball was tipped over.
Following that move, Sunderland continued to push and were duly rewarded with only 10 minutes remaining, an inch-perfect Luke Molynuex corner found the head of Andrew Nelson to power into the top corner of the net.
The Black Cats continued to push forward but again were denied by the heroics of visiting keeper Smith.
Coach Elliott Dickman said afterwards: “I thought we played very well and created numerous chances, their keeper was outstanding.
“It was a good reaction from the lads following the draw at Derby at the week-end and I’m looking forward to Friday’s game against Middlesbrough.”
Sunderland: Woud, Gamble, Hume, Wright, Casey, Storey, Molyneux, Pybus, Nelson (Taylor 84), Maja (Krusnell 65), Embleton. Subs not used: Poame, McCulloch, Allan
Newcastle: Smith, Trodd, Kitchen, Longstaff, Pollock, Bailey, Spooner, Lowther, Owusu, Heaney, Long. Subs: Johnson, Harker, Watts, Aziallonou, Allen