It has been a season of highs and lows for Sunderland 2nds, but as the players head off for a winter break they will be hopeful of an improved second half of the campaign.

The team have been hampered by typical university timetable complications, and as such have rarely been able to field a full strength XI. Additionally, they’ve struggled to take chances in games and have been punished by more clinical opponents.

Sunderland lie in 4th place in the six team league, having claimed just one win from six games. Disappointing refereeing displays have also cost the team, with several results being decided by poor officiating.

The highlight of the season so far for Sunderland was undoubtedly their back-to-back league and cup wins at the end of October and start of November. A 3-2 extra time win at the University College of Football Business 2nds was followed by a superb 3-1 victory away to the University of York 3rds.

There have been numerous individual performances that stand out for the team over the first half of the campaign. Winger Martin Kelly consistently troubles opposition defences with his pace and has claimed a number of impressive goals this season.

Centre-back Callum Grice has slotted in during the past few weeks and has improved the defence immeasurably, while striker Matt Gibson provides a talented target man up front.

Midfield domination has been lacking for the team this season, though. Sunderland often struggle to get to grips with opponents who move the ball quickly through midfield, and tend to resort to skipping that part of the pitch altogether in response.

When the team have got their passing game going, however, they have outclassed the opposition more often than not. In the remainder of the season they have to concentrate on playing their own game, utilising the talented players they have in order to get more positive results.

Sunderland 2nds will return to action on February 1 when they travel to face Leeds Trinity 2nds who they narrowly lost to 3-2 in October.