Picture credit:Wearside by Sides

Sunderland U18s went close to earning a point at Premier League Under 18 leaders Manchester United.

Mark Atkinson’s youngsters took a surprise lead just before the half-hour mark as Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka netted from inside the area.

The Black Cats resisted any United pressure up until the 64th minute before Aidan Barlow headed home at the far post.

And the Red Devils’ winner came 18 minutes towards the end when Barlow provided the opening for Mason Greenwood.

While it was a positive performance for Atkinson, the Black Cats continue their inconsistent start to the campaign – having won just twice in eight outings.

After picking up their second win of the season following an impressive 4-1 victory at home to Blackburn Rovers, the visitors started on the front foot and got their rewards in the 25th minute.

Sunderland worked the ball into the hosts’ penalty area but with plenty of work still left to do, Mbunga-Kimpioka beat two men before a neat one-two with Bali Mumba capped off a fine opener.

The Reds reacted to mount pressure on the Black Cats, and the visitors defence was breached just after the hour mark.

James Garner desire to win the ball back for hosts allowed Nishan Burkart to pick out Barlow from a low cross, where the striker’s quick reactions allowed him to nod the ball past keeper Anthony Patterson.

Eight minutes later, Barlow turned from goal scorer to provider when he angled a cross into the area as Greenwood got the vital touch to bundle the ball in the Reds’ winner.

A defeat 2-1 for the Black Cats seems a respectable result against a side who had hit six in their previous two games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough.

Next up for Atkinson and co is an away trip to their Teesside rivals on Sunday, where a win would see Sunderland go level on points with Boro.

Manchester United: Fojticek, Barrett, M. Dunne, Laird, Williams, O’Connor (Garner), Barlow, Levitt, McGhee (Bughai), Greenwood, Burkrt

Subs not used: Thompson, Baars

Sunderland: Patterson, Young, Mumba, Kokolo, Hackett, Hickey, Mbunga-Kimpioka, Evans, Derbali, Connelly, Diamond

Subs not used: R. Dunne, Woud, Best, Howard, McAughtrie