By Neville Pilkington
Sunderland gave a positive, assured display to beat Boro in a very competitive friendly match at the Academy today.
The old adage that goals change games was never truer as Sunderland went into a half-time lead when they could so easily have been a goal down.
The game opened evenly and a strong Boro side were playing well but first chance fell to the Wearsiders, a cross from the right finding Mikael Mandron who tried to control but was unable to connect on the turn from a good position.
On 21 minutes, George Honeyman played a shrewd again to Mandron who seemed to be brought down with his back to goal but penalty appeals were waved away by the official.
The Teessiders came back and Scott McCarthy shot fiercely but Sunderland's Eire keeper Peter Burke got his angles right to save comfortably.
The young Black Cats were showing strongly all -round and Liam Agnew hit the bar with a super effort from 15 yards.
But two minutes before the interval came the pivotal moment of the game.
Only a wonderful save by Burke kept out a shot from Boro's Fewster from only two yards out. Sunderland raced away from the let off to gain a free kick at the other end, from which Andrew Cartwright crashed home a fierce curler into the top corner to give the hosts the lead.
The second period was again even by way of possession but it was Craig Liddle's lads who grabbed the all-important, vital second goal on the hour mark.
American front man Lyndon Gooch had come on at half-time and the Californian soon made his mark, swivelling to hit a low strike into the far corner from fully 18 yards for the clincher.
Coach Liddle summed up: "It was a good all round performance against a good side."
Sunderland: Burke (Maddison 46), Lane (Noble 55), Burn, Sukar, T. Robson, Holland, Cartwright, Agnew, Honeyman, Mandron (McGrath 55), Smith (Gooch 46).