STOKE CITY’S Under-18s failed to extend their three-game unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League after losing 2-0 to top-of-the-table Sunderland at Clayton Wood Training Ground on Saturday.
The Potters have been in impressive form in recent weeks, following up two successive draws with a 4-1 victory over Liverpool last time out.
But Sunderland showed why sit are at the summit of the league table, with a goal in each half by Steven McCarthy and Ethan Robson respectively.
Stoke made the brighter start with Charlie Ward playing in Kieran Monlouis to fire in a low cross across goal that found Derice Richards, but his shot was smothered by the Sunderland goalkeeper.
The home side looked set to take the lead six minutes in when Richards burst through the middle with a powerful run. The striker laid the ball off to Ward whose clever pass found Charles Weston-Hayles in acres of space in the box only for the referee to blow up for offside.
The visitors began to come into the game more and only a vital clearance from Eddie Lecygne denied them the opener. The Frenchman showed why there should always be a man on the line from a corner to clear Tom Beadling's goalbound header.
Kris Scott then tested Peter Burke in the Sunderland goal, and the Black Cats' 'keeper was on hand again soon after to save Ward's driven shot.
Richards tried to create a chance with a quick breakaway and, after beating his man, played in Hayles, but the striker’s touch took him too close to the 'keeper who gathered the ball.
And Stoke were made to pay for their missed chances just before half-time. Joe Hulme missed his tackle on McCarthy in the box and the winger went on to sidefoot the ball through the legs of Potters goalie Dale Eve and into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead.
Stoke introduced Ollie Shenton and Yusif Cobhan at half-time to give themselves more attacking options, but instead it was Sunderland who nearly increased their lead when the lively Tom Robson fired a powerful effort just wide from a tight angle.
Lecygne came close to getting a goal back when he won the ball on the edge of the box and hit a half-volley towards goal that the keeper pushed past his goal.
Ed Sanders headed over from the resulting corner and Ward's shot was deflected wide as the home side searched for an equaliser.
However, Sunderland doubled their advantage 59 minutes in. Tom Robson burst down the left wing and played a ball inside to James Stinson who was allowed too much room to lay off Ethan Robson who fired a low shot into the corner of the net past a stationary Eve.
Stinson then fired over when he should have done better before Eve was called into action to deny McCarthy.
Stoke had a great opportunity to pull a goal back five-minutes from time when Richards' flick played in Shenton inside the box, but the substitute could only fire his shot at the 'keeper with just him to beat.
Ward tested the Sunderland goalie with a 30-yard free-kick and missed Stoke's best chance of the match soon after. Shenton's cross found the midfielder just two-yards from goal but his tame effort was saved by the 'keeper when he really should have scored.
Sanders blocked a goal-bound shot in injury-time but the Potters will be left to rue missed chances, and poor defending for both of the Black Cats' goals.
Stoke: Eve; Westley (Cook, 70), Edwards, Sanders, Hulme, Monlouis; Scott (Shenton, 45), Lecygne, Ward; Richards, Weston-Hayles (Cobhan, 45)
Sunderland: Burke; Ledger, Sukar, Beadling, McNamee; Agnew, McCarthy (McAvoy, 87), Holland (Greenwood, 64), E. Robson (Wright, 93); T. Robson, Stinson