STOKE CITY'S Under-18s fell to their second defeat on the bounce after Sunderland claimed a 2-0 win at Clayton Wood on Saturday afternoon.
Goals in either half by Martin Smith and Thomas Robson were enough for the visitors to head back to Wearside with all three points.
The young Potters went into the game having narrowly lost 1-0 away to Everton last time out and were unable to sign off for the year with a victory.
After an even start where both teams worked themselves into promising positions but were unable to find a kill ball, it was the Potters who had the first meaningful effort on target. Derice Richards turned his marker on the edge-of-the-area and forced Peter Burke into a smart save after 13 minutes.
The visitors, who went into the match having scored 21 goals in their last seven games, added another to that tally just three minutes later through Smith.
Stoke were unable to clear their lines after Daniel Gyollai had denied James Stinson from point blank range and the ball was worked back into the area to Sunderland’s captain who fired in from eight yards.
The visitors were starting to dominate the encounter and had chances to extend their lead. Ethan Robson dragged his shot wide of Gyollai’s left-hand post, before Stinson should have done better with a free header from Luke Molyneux’s cross.
City were squandering possession far too easily in midfield and were almost made to pay as the half drew to a close. Lively forward Lynden Gooch raced past Ed Sanders and into the box before forcing Gyollai into a superb save from an acute angle.
It was the visitors who took their momentum into the second period and after Rees Greenwood was denied by a flying save from Gyollai, the Black Cats caught Stoke on the break to make it two.
Thomas Robson burst at the City defence and after finding himself just inside the area he let rip with a shot which sneaked inside the far post on 48 minutes.
Sunderland could have made it three just moments later but Greenwood curled an effort just over after finding space on the edge-of-the-area.
The introduction of Johnville Rene-Pringle and Kelvin Douglas from the bench gave City fresh impetuous in their search for route a way back into the game but Stoke were finding it difficult to break down a resolute Black Cats defence.
Richards saw a 20-yard effort deflected away for corner, before City’s final chance came and went when Douglas was unable to latch onto Rene-Pringle’s ball over the top with just the keeper to beat.
Stoke City: Gyollai, Banks, Strong, Lecygne, Sanders (c), Edwards, Richards, Monlouis (Douglas 76), Weston-Hayles, Coban (Rene-Pringle 46), Taylor (Pickerill 76). Subs not used: Kurasik, Shields, Shenton.
Sunderland: Burke, Ledger, T. Robson, E. Robson, Colquhoun, Beadling, Greenwood (J. Robson 84), Smith (c), Stinson, Gooch, Molyneux (McEvoy 73). Subs not used: Talbot, Blinco, Nelson.