Match report: Sunderland U21s 2-0 Villa U21s
Connor Wickham hit a brace as Sunderland notched a win over Villa in the Barclays Premier U21 League.
The Black Cats side included the goalscorer as well as fellow first-teamer Ji Dong-won as Martin O'Neill looked to give his senior stars some match practice.
Sunderland may have won the game but Villa started impressively and could have ahead early on.
In-form Michael Drennan forced a full-length save from home keeper Jordan Pickford from a set-piece as Gordon Cowans's men looked to push forward.
But in the seventh minute, the Wearsiders took the lead.
Adam Mitchell flicked the ball over Courtney Cameron to Wickham, who controlled and gained a yard on his marker before drilling a low shot past Villa keeper Craig Hill.
They then continued to press and Villa's Daniel Devine hacked away a low Dong-won cross just short of the line.
Villa once again came back into it and Graham Burke had a good chance to level matters.
The young Irish forward turned in the area and hit a low shot only to see it rebound off the post before the ball was hacked away.
Dong-won had two quick chances to register shortly before half-time but blazed over the top with the first and drew a brilliant save by Hill from the second when he hammered a cross by Blair Adams goalwards from close range.
A minute before the break, his fellow striker Wickham showed him how to do it.
The striker bore down on goal before belting the ball low past the advancing keeper.
The nearest Villa came to scoring after the break was another set-piece from Drennan which again was turned round the post by the diving Pickford.
Lynch glanced wide for the home side from a corner but the game was already won and for the rest of the match Sunderland simply consolidated their two-goal winning margin.